Thompson Auto Ordnance 1911


January 21, 2011, 08:26 PM
I am considering a Thompson Auto Ordnance 1911 in trade but I am not at all familiar with the pistol. Does anyone have any opinions on this gun?

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January 21, 2011, 09:14 PM
I wanted a Colt S/S Delta Elite in 10mm, but in 1989 money was tight so for $179 I bought a new Auto Ordinance "tenth of a mm auto". That was what the slide had engraved on it ( .10 MM ) - turned out you could chamber and fire one or two 10mm auto cartridges in it before it jammed.

It took radiusing the chamber throat, replacing the ejector, lowering the ejector port, tweaking the extractor and replacing the magazine to make it reliable and a trigger job to make it shoot-able. I was able to do most of the work and the only cash outlay was for the magazines and ejector.

I put a grip panel scope mount on it, attached a red dot sight and shot bowling pins with it. A 190 grain bullet at maximum velocity really sent those pins off the table.

If the trader will let you take it to the range then you'll have some idea what you're really getting into.

January 21, 2011, 10:25 PM
Based on my experiences with Thompson Auto Ordnance...

Walk away.

January 21, 2011, 10:31 PM
Auto Ordnance made decent frames once upon a time, as even a few pros were using them to build their race guns, but they were few and far-between and Colt and SA still dominated. As far as whole guns go, they were probably a bit more reliable than AMT, but that's not saying much.

January 21, 2011, 10:46 PM
Now that AO is part of Kahr i wonder if much has changed?
How long has Kahr owned them now?
Im a member of the Kahr forums so i guess i could ask their but it isnt like you guys are busy or anything right? lol

But i too heard all the not so good things about their 1911's.
Which is sad as almost anyone can make a decent 1911 these days, Well except Kimber that is. <~~~~~ 100% joke guys, Don't kill me!

January 21, 2011, 11:07 PM
I own an auto ordinance 1911. it's a 2006 model i bought used. I guess it comes down to what you are using it for. I like mine for plinking and would trust it for when shtf. It has jammed here and there and it has fixed sights. Bottom line its a cheap 1911 that i dont care if it gets beat up and worn out. Have not found any rounds it will not feed.

January 21, 2011, 11:14 PM
I place Auto Ordnance 1911s in the same category as Charter Arms revolvers. There was a very brief period when they made some 1911s that were not great but good enough to build on. The vast majority of them though, as Tuner warned, walk away. They have some serious dimensional problems as well as subpar machining and drilling.

January 21, 2011, 11:17 PM
Das-all the paperwork with my auto ordinance says it's made by kahr, 2006 model. The receipt says 349.00 NIB

January 21, 2011, 11:29 PM
Thanks PKGinc, Im not surprised to see Kahrs name on the paperwork, But that does give a good idea of some time-line.
Well i do wonder when a company is bought out and taken over just how far does the new parent company stick its nose into the newly obtained companies business.

If Kahr went in and revamped everything and were bent on quality and finish like they are with the Kahr line of guns then things should be vastly different than the past record AO once had.
Ive never really heard about any influence being pushed onto AO.

I love a good 1911, Even ones i cant afford.
But i gotta admit i havent seen much new from Kahr except the new CM9 which is hardly anything thats a big surprise.

January 21, 2011, 11:50 PM
PKGinc, your thompson will digest HP ammo without problems? The paper attached to mine when purchased new, advised to shoot only ball ammo. After having it polished at the ramp and barrel, it will shoot anything loaded into it.

January 22, 2011, 12:26 AM
I have an older AO and I was refinishing it a couple of days ago and noticed a hairline crack running all the way across the top behind the breech from the first row of the serrations, never saw it until I gave it an acid bath.

My poor mans version of a ceramic coat (I used Duplicolor high heat ceramic paint) came out pretty nice but I will still have to replace the slide, the frame has the curved mainspring housing and no front checkering, not a bad finish on the frame but the slide looks like crap especially with the cheap looking Thompson embossing.

Personally I think its good for a first timer 1911 custom job, not an all out high dollar job but a good starting platform for a novice.

The new Kahr GI 1911 being sold have had excellent reviews and have been said to best show what WW2 era Colts looked like. And the price is good.

January 22, 2011, 07:43 AM
Auto Ordnance made decent frames once upon a time

Thompson AO never made anything in-house. All parts were supplied by outside vendors, and everything except the barrels, pins, and springs were investment cast.

I have an older AO and I was refinishing it a couple of days ago and noticed a hairline crack running all the way across the top behind the breech from the first row of the serrations

That's a recoil stress crack, and is pretty common with AO's "Supplied by the Lowest Bidder" investment cast slides. Being that it's the most likely place for even a machined barstock slide to fracture, a casting can't hope to stand up to as much use. A good quality cast frame is as good as a machine frame, with little difference in durability and service life...if any. The slide is a different story. The slide and barrel assembly is the gun. The frame is essentially just a gun mount and a housing for the controls. All the high stresses are in the slide.

In the 80s, AO pistols were cheap. NIB, they could often be had for less than 200 bucks out the door, and the guys who jumped on'em in droves were bustin' slides left and right if they shot'em hard. The lucky ones noticed it before the rear end of the slides broke completely off and realized what it meant. The unlucky ones sometimes found themselves in the ER waiting for a surgeon to come in and remove the slides from their faces.

Blue Line
January 22, 2011, 07:52 AM
I've had one since the mid eighties and haven't had one problem, great gun that goes bang when the trigger is pulled. If your looking for a fancy race gun, it aint. This gun is just like the gun I had in the Army and thats what I wanted. Can't beat it for the price. Mine is 45 acp.

January 22, 2011, 08:04 AM
I had an early 90s 1911, and it was stiff and rickety, traded from a friend for a guitar. The front sight popped out. I got rid of it at the first opportunity.

January 22, 2011, 08:35 AM
My AO frame took the ceramic paint well, I baked it at 350F for two hours, not as good as the NIC brand of ceracote I hear but so far it looks pretty darn good.

The stripper I used was nothing more than a top quality toilet bowl cleaner, took the blueing off immediately, left it with an almost parkerized look, I gave it two light coats in every nook and cranny, inside and out including the rails.

When I do another possibly this one all over again the next time I will have a bead blast cabinet and the ceracote or the Brownells moly-cote epoxy spray.

January 22, 2011, 08:40 AM
Had one, POS, stay far away.

January 22, 2011, 08:42 AM
I bought a AO with the SN below 10K...guy had fitted bushing/match barrel and trigger. Polished ramp and fitted slide. About 5K rds later, no bobbles at all! For me, it has been good.I wouldn't buy a new one!

January 22, 2011, 08:56 AM
I bought an auto ordnance receiver at a pawn shop and put a tactical solutions 2211 upper on it. It is my best shooting 22 and that receiver has the best trigger of any of my 1911's. I can't comment on the upper, but the lower is first rate IMO. I do believe that the reason this lower was for sale was that the upper had split.

January 22, 2011, 08:58 AM
and buy a RIA... many Auto Ordinance are "Challenging" pistols and I assume you want to shoot it rather than "fix" it.


The "Thompson" name was owned by Numrich-they sold the auto pistols and a semi auto version of the Tommy gun...they are now made by Kahr.

Nicky Santoro
January 22, 2011, 09:10 AM
And now for something completely different......

I have a West Hurley (pre Kahr) AO bought NIB 25 years ago. After polishing the feed ramp and replacing the mag with Wilsons and MecGars, it's been 100%.

January 22, 2011, 10:14 AM
I bought an AO 1911 back in the mid 80's will in the Marine Corps. Parkerized finish and a good shooter, much better than my issued colt (rattle trap). Later I sold it. Now years later I have another, but in the deluxe model. I bought it about 1 1/2 years after Kahr bought them. The pistol I got would malfunction constantly, I sent it in for repair, when I got it back it functioned a little better but was still malfunctioning and also it would eject brass straight up, they would bounce off my head, then round # 7 would send the brass directly into my forehead, I sent it back again to Kahr ( I had to pay the shipping again ) but it finally works, but after my experience I just want to get rid of it and be done with AO.

January 22, 2011, 11:45 AM
Thanks for the plethora of responses, gentlemen. From What you have posted and after a lot more digging for info I have decided to pass on this gun. Your input is appreciated.

January 22, 2011, 12:32 PM
Now Springfield Armory also does not make anything in house either. They use lots of Turkish MIM parts as well. Springfield Armory also uses 9 mm titanium firing pins and real heavy spring to pass the CA drop test. They also refuse to supply any replacement parts for their products and are not affiliated in any way with the original Springfield Armory in Springfield Massachusetts. They are a private import company owned by the Reese Brothers in Illinois. Their products are made in Brazil and Croatia.

Jolly Rogers
January 22, 2011, 02:13 PM
Ragtop5969, is there some issue you have with Springfield Armory?
Comparing SA with AO WRG 1911's is not an even fight. Springfield uses all forged frames and slides. I have no idea where the MIM parts used in the 1911's come from but they are high quality and have a low failure rate. I would bet they come from Brazil also. The base parts (frame and slide) are widely accepted for custom builds by top gunsmiths. Their customer service is about as good as it gets.
Overlooking the Brazilian source of the forgings for the frame and slide the Professional is built in Illinois.

January 22, 2011, 03:28 PM
I have no issues at all with Springfield at all. Just stating facts. Call Cindy or Dave Williams and they will tell you that their 1911 pistols are assembled in Mexico and warehoused in Texas where Dave makes frequent trips to for quality control. The fact that they will not sell any replacement parts is also a true fact.

The only American built 1911's that come to my mind are A/O in MA, Para in NC, Kimber in NY, Colt in CT, STI, Wilson and S&W.

MIM parts, mostly Turkish have, found there way into just about every 1911 these days from what I see working on them. I guess it is the economy!

January 22, 2011, 03:55 PM
Thompson track record has not been good. Some people claim they have made improvements recently with Kahr taking over.

I personally have not looked at one in years. I would not trade for one the chances of getting a lemon are too high and even if it runs it is not worth much. There are much better budget 1911s on the market. To the OP what are you trading for it?

PS I believe that the lower end STIs like the Spartan are made in the Philippines.

Jolly Rogers
January 22, 2011, 07:10 PM
Posted by Ragtop5969
Call Cindy or Dave Williams and they will tell you that their 1911 pistols are assembled in Mexico and warehoused in Texas where Dave makes frequent trips to for quality control.

I have 2 Springers and got my first in 2007. I have read 5 or so forums that have Springfield subforums for 5 years steadily and have never read such a statement. :scrutiny: I did read one post that Taurus and Springfield were co opting production but that was quickly dismissed. Let us see what a storm of comments this one causes.

January 23, 2011, 01:48 PM
rellascout -

PS I believe that the lower end STIs like the Spartan are made in the Philippians.

That would be located between Ephesians and Colossians - right? :D

Couldn't resist :evil:, but probably a good place to be -better than in the middle of Revelation! :eek:

January 23, 2011, 02:38 PM
Nice catch... LOL

January 23, 2011, 02:46 PM
I had 3 of the auto ordnance pistols back in the early 90's. I shot truck loads of ammo through those guns and never had any issues of any kind.

January 23, 2011, 08:28 PM
I think this comment is after the fact of the OP question but since there are few and far between threads about the Auto Ordnance 1911's I ll just leave it here and see how it flies.

I will be ordering a new Caspian slide with Novak cuts for mine, and then piece by pied of either Ed Browns or other higher quality parts I am replacing the mag stop, the slide stop, new trigger just for looks.

I don't see any problems with the frame, a little bit rough maybe on the inside, externally it looks fine. It will be my first 1911 build, I'm split about making it modern cool or just modern GI looking, I have plenty of other shooting pistols but none offer the challenge like a 1911 build.

January 23, 2011, 09:53 PM
If you're looking for a "plain", no frills (authentic) 1911, consider the (new) IAC Regent Model R100, made in Turkey and imported by Interstate Arms Corp. Priced at $559 or less, it was given a very favorable review in the Oct. 2010 issue of the NRA American Rifleman. The review was particularly complementary regarding the quality of the metal work and machining, as well as fit and finish.

It handled a variety of loads during testing including .45 JHP +P loads.

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