The Thompson Submachine Gun

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Brubz, May 7, 2021.

  1. Brubz

    Brubz Member

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    Who doesn't love those old black-and-white gangster movies you know the ones with James Cagney and Edward G Robinson with their Thompson submachine guns that never seem to run out of bullets.
    Those were fun but what about the so-called Tommy Gun? How many rounds did that round magazine hold what caliber does it use and how reliable was it you never see them Jam in the movies.
    Also does anyone these days make a semi-automatic version of it seems like it would be popular with collectors?
     
  2. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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  3. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    The "L" drum holds 50 rounds and the "C" drum holds 100 rounds (duh!). .45 ACP of course. The original drums are fairly reliable, if properly greased. Repro drums vary, but the Taiwanese "Crosby" drums are pretty good.
    Yes, Kahr makes a semi but I wouldn't recommend it. For one thing, it needs a shorter barrel to look right but that needs a Form 1 and a $200 "making" tax to turn it into an SBR. And the gun is too heavy for a semiautomatic.

    A collector would be better off building a "dummy" gun using a Richardson (or Philly Ord) receiver and a Russian re-import parts kit. This project would set you back about $4,000 but that's still a lot cheaper than an original WW2 M1928A1 full automatic, that would run at least $25,000.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
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  4. halfmoonclip

    halfmoonclip Member

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    The movie Tommy Guns were Thompsons, and were the original versions; the somewhat cruder M1 and M1A1 were the WWII version. These latter were unable to take the drum magazines.
    Got to shoot a '28 version many years ago; the thing was beautifully fit and finished, and had a very deliberate rate of fire. Cool as they look, I don't recall it felt especially good in the hands, and it was heavy.
    Auto Ordnance/Thompson makes a semi-auto version, with a longer 16" barrel to avoid the '34 Federal Firearms Act. This, ironically, was aimed at the Thompson, along with some other weapons used by the 'machine gun bandits' of the 30s.
    Current production also includes a 9mm iteration,and both it and the .45 now fire from a closed bolt.
    There are more modern Pistol Caliber Carbines, really semi-auto subguns, available today, but they don't have the mystique of the Thompson.
    Moon
     
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  5. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Neat guns... I would love to add a M1 Thompson to my M1 Garands and M1 Carbine... that would make a M1derful trio of WW II American hardware ;).

    Stay safe.
     
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  6. milsurpguy

    milsurpguy member

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    Weren't all or nearly all those machine guns used by the bad guys stolen from the guard or police?
    Maybe they should have secured their guns better. Unless that was the point, you know accidentally arm the bad guys then pass laws against said guns.
     
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  7. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    Best use of a Tommy gun in film (I have never counted the rounds in that magazine):

     
  8. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    The .45 Thompson that first got my attention was wielded by Vic Morrow in the 60's TV show Combat. The movie Public Enemies has some excellent .45 Thompson gun play as well as several other firearms.
     
  9. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Alte Schule
    The funny thing about that was Vic Morrow hated lugging around that Thompson so much so, that the Props Department built him one primarily out of wood for him to carry, with the real thing being reserved for close-ups and scenes when he had to fire it!
     
  10. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    I suppose I'm a "collector" and as such represent what's "popular" with my particular group of fanatics, and for me, an Auto-Ordinance barely makes it onto the very bottom of my "wanna" list - meaning I'll probably never ever get one, unless I've got so much money I have no idea what to spend it on. I guess that hardly makes it "popular" with me. Reason? Collectors in general want the "real thing", not reproductions or simulacrums. The Auto-Ordinance would make a fun "range toy" but that's a lot to spend on a toy that has no other instrinsic value to me.
     
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  11. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I gave up on getting a Thompson.
    Just too much money involved.
    I settled for a semi-auto Suomi, instead, with a drum and three stick magazines.
     
  12. deputy bruce

    deputy bruce Member

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    When I was 6 years old 1956 Dad took me to the FBI building in Washington DC. While I was there a big FBI man ask me'' Hey Sonny would you like to see a machine gun fire?'' Sure would, He took my hand and took me with out Dad to a room that was setup for a indoor firing range and He fired a 1927 Thompson machine gun. wow what a day He gave me some of the spent shells and the man size target that I kept till it fell apart many years latter I am 71 now and I can still remember that day.
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Alexander A: "The "L" drum holds 50 rounds and the "C" drum holds 100 rounds (duh!). .45 ACP of course."

    L and C are Roman Numerals for 50 and 100.

    The original stick or box magazine was the Type XX (20 rounds, Roman X = 10). The "C" was hefty, clumsy, heavy and maybe useful in fixed or fortified positions.

    The "L" though lighter than the "C" was hard to swap out under combat conditions compared to the XX stick. The British Army who bought and used Thompsons and were the first to fight the Nazis in WWII became disenchanted with the drum magazines and sent them back to the US in exchange for more XX magazines.

    US Army Ordnance came up with the XXX magazine as a relacement for the L drum and XX stick magazines after experienting with two XX's welded face to face "flipper" style. (The Marlin UD42 used by the OSS in 9mm used flipper dtyle magazines, two 25 rd magazines welded face to face.)

    The 1950s B movie Machine-Gun Kelly had the 1930s gangster played by Charles BRonson) using a Thompson with XXX magazines before they were actually produced.
     
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  14. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 Member

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    I think he had the ultra-rare M drum that held 1000 rounds. It would have been really cool if he’d relit his cigar on the barrel of the Thompson.
     
  15. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    "... Vic Morrow hated lugging around that Thompson so much ..."

    M1 Thompson with loaded XXX stick weighed 10 to 11 pounds.
    M1928 Thompson with loaded L drum weighed 13 to 14 pounds.
    M1 Garand rifle weighed 9.5 to 10 pounds.
    For short guns firing psitol ammo the Thompsons are HEAVY.

    (weight variance within models is largely the density of the wood in the stocks)
     
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  16. lightman

    lightman Member

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    They make for a fun range toy! I've had the pleasure of shooting one. A friend loaded one with target grade ammo once and that was an experience! The lite target loads were not powerful enough to lock the bolt back and he had to hold it until it was empty! ;)

    Loved seeing those old WW2 movies with all of those old rifles. Liked the Gangster movies too, with the Thompsons, Bar's and '97 Winchester shotguns. And the prison guards had some neat stuff.
     
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  17. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Personally, I think the 1927-A1 T1B-14 doesn't look too bad with its 14" barrel and permanently mounted compensator that makes for a no-tax stamp required 16.5" barrel length.

    T1B-14.jpg

    Regarding weight, yeah 13 pounds feels like 18 pounds with me in middle age. But 20 years ago, 13 pounds felt like 8.

    Iffin' you know what Imma sayin'. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
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  18. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Look at the dates. The NFA came out in 1934. Until then you could go into a gun store and buy a machine gun. States and localities started restricting or taxing various weapons, so you just drove to the next town or next state over.

    It is my understanding the majority of the firearms used by the bad guys then were legal purchases. After '34 there was an uptick in smuggling, theft from police stocks and armories, ad hoc taking of arms from gunned down police and security guards, and prices for guns already in private hands (esp non-registered MGs like war trophies etc) went up.
     
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  19. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    The film "the Rocketeer" has some fun Thompson action too
     
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  20. JR24

    JR24 Member

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    Yep, wife bought one years back. It's pretty fun but the length of pull is pretty uncomfortable for most folks and it's a heavy beast, especially with the 50 round drum, which I had to track down one because why not.

    She has to shoot it from the hip and is quite accurate with it that way, and the heavy beast sure does eliminate about any recoil so that's neat.

    Fun range toy, but not much else.
     
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  21. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    Just can't get past that ridiculously long barrel, on the repros. Weight is also a factor, but that stork barrel makes the new ones look
    dorky.
     
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  22. Brubz

    Brubz Member

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    Thanks for all the input that's what I love about this forum I learned so much:cool:
     
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  23. Brubz

    Brubz Member

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    As a kid I loved that show that and Have Gun Will Travel where must-see TV for this guy
     
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  24. Brubz

    Brubz Member

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    I love that movie I had a huge crush on the woman in that film and now I can't even remember the actresses name!:oops:
     
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  25. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    A standard violin case can be set up to hold a C drum and an L drum in the lid, and the gun and detached buttstock in the body of the case. I can post pictures if you like.

    The problem is the weight, especially with loaded mags. The case (meant for a lightweight violin) will fall apart if carried by the handle. It can work if cradled under the arm.

    The so-called "FBI" case has the same problem. It can't handle the weight of the gun, ammo, and the accessories. I think these were meant to be kept in the trunk of a car, and not carried.
     
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