Thompson Sub Machine Gun (1918-1944)

Thompson Sub Machine Gun (1918-1944)

Thompson Sub Machine Gun (1918-1944)

The first Thompson sub machine gun appeared in 1918. Designed as a trench fighting weapon it appeared too late for this role and became famous as a weapon of choice for gangsters for the next 20 years, although the US navy did use a small number of them. In 1940 the British Army decided that it needed large numbers of these weapons and a large order was placed. The Tommy gun was unique in that it used a form of retarded blowback operation and was the first gun to use a drum magazine, designed so that you could carry more ammunition when moving between trenches. Various versions were made during its production life, mostly simplified version for ease of wartime manufacture and maintenance, but when production halted in 1944 1,400,000 had been made.

Length - 32in; Weight - 10lb 9oz(4.82Kg); Magazine - 20 or 30 box; Cyclic rate - 700 rpm.

Rare and Historic Thompson Submachine Guns

These prototypes and odd variants of the Tommy Gun were displayed at the Michigan Antique Arms Show, and we got an up-close look.

There are many Thompson submachine guns that have become actual parts of history, whether it be because of their wartime service or their heavy use on both sides of the law during Prohibition and the gang wars. Recently, at the Michigan Antique Arms Show, a number of historical, rare, and experimental Thompsons were on display. Range365 sent photographer Peter Suciu to get a look at some of the most interesting examples.

“Dunrite” Bulletproof Vest made by the Detective Publishing Company of Chicago, IL. – Recovered at the home of Frederick R. Burke.

Recovered Dec.14 in Stevensville, MI at the home of Frederick R. Burke, after the killing of St. Joseph Police Officer Charles Skelly—this vest is one of three vests pictured in photographs taken at the time of the recovery of the weapons used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It is one of two vests still in possession of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Police Department.

This is the same type of vest pictured in Peter Von Frantzius’ Sporting Goods Catalogue from the period. Vests of this type were recovered from Von Frantzius’ shop during the Cook County Coroner’s Investigation into the Massacre.

Prototype Thompson Magazines

While it was nice to have a gun capable of firing 1500 rounds per minute, you must have a means of supplying the firearm with ammo. Here are some of the early prototype designed for the type XX (20 round) box magazine, the type L (50 round) drum magazine, and the type C (100 round) drum magazines.

XX Box Magazine – All of the prototype magazines were serial numbered, however never to a particular gun. The prototypes are also shorter in length and have a one piece formed follower.

Type L 50-Round Drum – These are very early prototypes for the 50-round drum magazines. The drums were wound up, like a toy, before the cartridges were loaded. When the cover was closed, the spring tension was released to feed the ammo.

Type C 100-Round Drum – This is an early prototype of Colt’s production 100-round drums. Notice there’re no loading instructions on the front face as there are on the production models and there is no detent on the winding key face, which is typical of the production drums.

Salesman’s Kit Thompson

This is a well traveled Thompson Submachine Gun. Built in Cleveland, Ohio in 1919, it was assembled into a complete salesman’s kit. This kit included the Type C and Type L prototype drums and prototype type XX 20-round box magazines, and all of the canvas equipment—five cell single flap pouch, Model 1919 gun case, Mills-made L drum and C drum pouches.

The package was then sent with an Auto-Ordnance salesman to Warsaw, Poland—the country at the time was in the middle of a revolution, fighting with the Ukrainians against the Bolshevik Army. The salesman had hoped to sell some Thompsons to the Poles and the Ukrainians. In August, 1920, when it looked like the revolution was failing, the salesman panicked and gave the kit to Col. Elbert E. Farman, Jr., who was the U.S. Military Attaches to Poland.

Col. Farman passed down the kit through his family to a nephew Brig. gen. Robert Richardson III. Gen. Richardson is said to have used the Thompson as a boy, borrowing it from his uncle to go squirrel hunting on various military posts.

The gun was registered in 1968 by Gen. Richardson and remained in his possession until 2002.

The Models of 1919 – Evolution of the Perfect Submachine Gun

After a series of tests, it was determined that .45 ACP was the caliber best suited for use with the Blish Locking System. A series of 40 guns were manufactured, known collectively as the Models of 1919. This “family” of guns represents a series of ongoing design changes, so no two guns were exactly the same. The guns were manufactured at the Auto-Ordnance Engineering facilities in Cleveland, Ohio. The three guns pictured here, along with six other guns housed int he West Point Museum, are the only known surviving examples of the original 40 prototypes.

Another angle of the Models of 1919 guns. Peter Suciu

Serial No. 7: Manufactured as a “Pocket Machine Gun,” this gun was meant to be in the hands of a soldier or police officer so as to “out shoot the bad guys.” This gun has a rate of fire of 1500 rpm. The gun fires in full-auto mode only.

Serial No. 11: This was the first of the Model of 1919 guns to have at truly functioning select-fir mechanism. This gun’s rate of fire is around 1200 rpm. The rear sight and the buttstock attachment assemblies were added much later to finalize the designs prior to the Colt’s production contract.

Serial Number None: This gun has no factory serial number, which raises the question of just how many of these guns were produced. However, this gun is the near-final design configuration, both internally and externally. This gun was carried by two different police officers in their patrol cars in the Cleveland area. This prototype has never failed to fire or function.

The Blish Pistol and the Blish Principle

The pistol shown here is the “Blish Pistol.” It’s the working prototype used by Capt. John Blish to demonstrate the “Blish Principle,” to the U.S. Patent Office and later to the engineers for Auto-Ordnance. The photo to the right shows Blish pointing to the “Blish Lock” used in the Thompson Submachine Gun.

The Blish Principle says that certain metals, set at particular angles, of themselves and without mechanical aids of any kind, become alternatively adhesive and repellant under alternating high and low pressures.

When the Blish Pistol is fired, the bronze wedge is held firmly in place by the high chamber pressures. When the chamber pressures drop enough, the wedge releases, allowing the lock to be pushed downwards. The spent shell is then ejected rearward out of the chamber by residual pressure and then deflected to the right by the ramp. As the lock is lowered, the energy is used to cock the mechanism to fire the next shot. The gun uses a Luger barrel and is chambered in .30 Luger (7.65mm).

The First Colt Made Thompson

Auto-Ordnance and Colt’s Patent Firearms entered into a contract to build 15,000 Thompson Submachine Guns on Aug. 18, 1920. These guns were all to be built in the Model of 1921A configuration. Originally, this design did not have a buttstock, front or rear sights included.

By march of 1921, production of the new guns was nearing completion of the first finished guns. Last minute changes to the design had required retooling and handwritten changes to the original contract. These changes included the addition of front and rear sights and a removable buttstock and frame attachment. Production was far enough along that receivers and trigger frames were made prior to these contract changes. The trigger frame for Serial No. 41 was completed without a buttstock attachment and was scrapped out due to the design changes. A new trigger frame was then created, incorporating the buttstock attachment, similar to the trigger frame on Serial No. 44.

On March 30, 1921, the first two Thompsons were shipped from the Auto-Ordnance offices at Colt’s factory in Hartford, Connecticut. These two Thompsons, serial numbers 41 and 44, were shipped to Camp Benning, Georgia to the U.S. Army Infantry School, Dept. of Experiment.

In 1951, a young paratrooper, assigned to the 511th Airborne at Fort Benning, does a favor for the unit armorer by putting back together several M1911 pistols for inspection. The armorer returns the favor by giving the paratrooper choice of some Thompson submachine gun receivers. These receivers were set to be destroyed .The Thompson by this time was bing phased out of “Substitute Standard” and being destroyed.

The paratrooper picked out Serial No. 41 at random and took it home with him. The only parts to Serial No. 41 were the receiver, fore grip mount, barrel, and rear sight. The barrel and fore grip mount were already torch cut. The rear sight was replaced later with a better looking WWII Lyman sight by the paratrooper. The receiver was registered during the 1968 amnesty.

The gun then somehow made its way to Mexico, where its receiver was destroyed and the remaining parts were sold int he U.S. as a parts kit. The trigger frame to 44 has many interesting features similar to that of the Model of 1919. Many of the internal parts have “Prussian bluing” on them. This is a machinist “paint” used to make scribe lines on metal more visible. These lines and bluing are still visible.

Thompson Accessories

In this case are examples of the 100-round and 50-round drum magazines for the Thompson, a Colt era blank adapter made for the Thompson (the only known example) and a Maxim Silencer made for the Thompson SMG along with four BSA box magazines.

The Birmingham Small Arms Thompsons

The Thompson platform was tested by several European nations early in 1922 and 1923. The only country interesting in buying a production run was Belgium. The Belgian Army was interested only if some “minor” changed could be made. These included the requirement for the gun ob chambered in 9mm Luger and to by styled more like a rifle.

Auto-Ordnance turned to Birmingham Small Arms, an English arms company, and this new style of Thompson was created: the Model of 1926 in 9mm.

BSA went on to created several variants of the Model 1926 in several different calibers including .45 ACP, .38 Super, 9mm Bergman, 7.63 Mauser, and .30 Mauser.

Prototype Plastic Thompson Type L Drum Mag

During WWII the U.S Military spent a lot of resources tying to increase production and to utilize newer and less critical materials.

One of these experiments resulting in an L type drum produced from an early Bakelite plastic reinforced with hemp rope. U.S. Army Ordnance contracted with the Prophylactic Brush Company to produce 50 such drums for experimental purposes. The company made plastic toothbrushes and hairbrushes before the war, but didn’t have the expertise to make a polymer Thompson drum mag.

The result used a redesigned rotor and ramp system that resembled some of the earliest magazine prototypes. The early plastic was very brittle and fragile, plus it tended to crack after being exposed to the sun. The hemp reinforcement helped, but made the material heavier. Things were over before they got started when it was realized the Bakelite and hemp mags were heavier than the metal drum mags. The project was abandoned.

WWII Experimental Thompsons

Here are some experimental Thompson Submachine guns made during WWII, including a model chambered in .30 Cal., an A.O. Prototype Model T2 in 9mm, and a rifle-length A.O. BSA variant with a more traditional buttstock.

In 1941, the U.S. Ordnance department began looking fora less expensive submachine gun that was capable of bing chambered in both 9mm and .45 ACP by the substitution of as few parts as possible.

Auto-Ordnance submitted the T2 Thompson designed by engineer Douglas Hammond. One model of the T2 was chambered in .45 ACP, the other in 9mm. These guns were simple blowback designs with very ore parts and wood stocks. However, when the guns were compared against competitors’ entries, they were found to be overly complex and the M3 “Grease Gun” was eventually chosen to fill the role and replace the Thompson.

Cutaway Tommy Gun

This cutaway Model of 1928 Thompson Submachine Gun was used for training purposes and exposed the inner workings of the firearm so its function could be visualized.

Baby Face Nelson

A display featuring a Thompson Submachine Gun, with drum magazine, once used by notorious Depression era outlaw Baby Face Nelson. His real named was Lester Joseph Gillis and went by the alias of George Nelson, though the media and the public knew him better as Baby Face Nelson, a moniker given to him due to his youthful appearance and small stature. He was known to hate the nickname.

He was a noted bank robber in the 1930s and entered into a partnership with John Dillinger, helping him escape from prison in Crown Point, Indiana. He was later labeled, along with the rest of the Dillinger gang, as “public enemy number one.” Nelson killed more FBI agents than any other person. He was fatally shot by FBI agents during the famous shootout known as The Battle of Barrington.

The Stainless Steel Thompson Little is know about this unique Thompson with a stainless steel receiver and trigger frame. There were two different variations produced, one styled as a Model of 1928 and the other as an M1A1. The guns were likely intended for use by amphibious units to reduce corrosion from salt spray and moisture during naval operations.

The Savage Aluminum Thompson Early in 1943, Savage Arms produced 40 prototype Thompson which had upper and lower receivers made from a new grade of aluminum. The goal was to reduce both weight and manufacturing time for the Thompson. Some of the guns were also made with stocks and forearms of early plastic. The plastic was too fragile and weighed more than the wooden components.

The Savage Model of 1921 While not truly a prototype, this variant was made when an order was received by Auto-Ordnance after all the Colt produced Model of 1921s were sold. AO would take a Savage produced model of 1928 and insert the appropriate internal parts to create a Model of 1921. Then the markings were re stamped not he outside of the receiver.

Design details

The Thompson, especially the early Model 1921, has a fairly high rate of fire at 900+ rounds per minute (rpm), higher than many other submachine guns of smaller caliber. This rate of fire, combined with a stock with excessive drop, increases the tendency of the weapon to climb off target in automatic fire however, proper shooting techniques can alleviate this somewhat. Compared to modern 9mm submachine guns, the .45 Thompson is quite heavy. By the standards of the day, the Thompson was one of the most effective and reliable submachine guns available.

Due to its association with gangsters and World War II, Thompsons are highly sought as collector's items, with an original M1928 in working condition easily fetching US$20,000 or more. Semi-automatic versions are currently produced by the Auto-Ordnance Company, a division of Kahr Firearms (no relation to the original Auto-Ordnance Company). A total of approximately 1,700,000 of these weapons were produced by a number of companies (Auto-Ordnance, Savage and Colt just to name a few), of which 1,387,134 were M1 and M1A1s.

The Tommy Gun Goes to War

A widespread lack of infantry weaponry for all armed forces in World War II prompted the U.S. Army to contract with the new owner of AOC, Russell Maquire, for 20,405 Thompson guns, now designated the M1921A1. By early 1942, half a million Thompsons had been manufactured. (By this time, the “Tommy gun” became the most famous submachine gun of the war. AOC was quick to see the importance of the nickname and quickly patented it). The majority of those deployed were the more soldier-proof Model 1928A1, and starting in that year, the famous Model M1A1. These were made more cheaply and robust than the 1928A, and had fewer parts. The former could fire 725 rpm, while the latter model shot at a rate of 600 rpm.

As the only submachine gun in its inventory, the Tommy gun was used by the early in World War II. It was perfect for close-quarter fighting and usually fired from the hip. In the jungles of the South Pacific, U.S. Marines used the gun in conjunction with the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) to good effect: the former’s tracer rounds acted as a passable target marker for a squad’s BAR man.

British Commandos and U.S. GIs in Europe both liked the Thompson for its rugged dependability and knock-down firepower, and it was certainly in the fighting across Europe that the Thompson excelled. It worked best in a temperate climate, and proved its worth many times over in the house-to-house combat of Italy and Northwestern Europe. Soldiers quickly developed effective fire tactics to use their M1A1s to maximum effect. For example, soldiers armed with the semi-automatic M1 Garand Rifle were often placed on point, with Thompson-armed men behind, more M1s following, and an M1 Carbine in the rear. This combination provided a comprehensive fire pattern, with long-range shooting suited for the Garand, close work by the Thompson, and intermediate range fire by the .30 caliber BAR.


Persuader and Annihilator

There were two main experimental models of the Thompson. The Persuader was a belt-fed version developed in 1918, and the Annihilator was fed from a 20 or 30-round box magazine, which was an improved model developed in 1918 and 1919. Additionally, the 50- and 100-round drum magazines were developed.

Model of 1919

The Model 1919 was limited to about 40 units, with many variations noted throughout. The weapons had very high cyclic rates around 1,500 rpm. ⎙] This was the weapon Brigadier General Thompson demonstrated at Camp Perry in 1920. Almost all M1919s were made without buttstocks and front sights, and the final version closely resembled the later Model 1921. The City of New York Police Department was the largest purchaser of the M1919. This model was designed as an automatic Colt .45 to "sweep" trenches with bullets.

  • Caliber: .45ACP (11.4x23mm), .22LR, .32ACP, .38ACP, and 9mmP ⎚]
  • Weight (empty): 3.75 kilograms (8 lb 4 oz)
  • Length: 808 millimeters (31.8 in)
  • Barrel length: 267 millimeters (10.5 in)
  • Cyclic rate of fire: 1,500 rpm (actual delivered, about 700)
  • Capacity: 20- or 30-round box 50 or 100-round drum 18 rounds .45 Peters-Thompson shot cartridges
  • Range: 55 yd (50 meters)

Model of 1921

The "Anti-Bandit Gun": 1920s ad of the Thompson Model of 1921 for United States law enforcement forces

M1921 was the first major production model. Fifteen thousand were produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance. In its original design, it was finished more like a sporting weapon, with a blued, finned barrel and vertical foregrip. It is a semi-blowback weapon incorporating the Blish lock. The M1921 was quite expensive to manufacture, with the original retail cost around $225, because of its high quality wood furniture and finely-machined parts. The Model 1921 was famous throughout its career with police and criminals and in motion pictures. The weapon had a relatively high 800+ rpm rate of fire.

Model of 1923

The Model 1923 was introduced to potentially expand the Auto-Ordnance product line and was demonstrated for the United States Army. It fired the .45 Remington-Thompson cartridge from a 14-inch (35.5 cm) barrel, with greater range and power than the .45 ACP. It introduced a horizontal forearm, sling, bipod and bayonet lug. The M1923 was intended to fill the role of the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), but the Army was satisfied with the BAR and did not give the Model 1923 much consideration, so it was not adopted.

BSA Thompsons

In an attempt to expand interest and sales overseas, Auto-Ordnance partnered with and licensed Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in England to produce a European model. These were produced in small quantities and have a different appearance than the classic style. The BSA 1926 was manufactured in 9mm and 7.63 Mauser caliber and were tested by various governments, including France in the mid 1920s. It was never adopted by any military force, and only a small number were produced. ⎛]

Model of 1927

The M1927 was the semi-automatic-only version of the Model 1921. It was made by modifying an existing M1921, including replacing certain parts. The "Thompson Submachine Gun" inscription was machined over to replace it with "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine", and the "Model of 1921" inscription was also machined over to replace it with "Model of 1927." Although the Model 1927 was semi-automatic only, it was easily converted to fully automatic by utilizing certain M1921 parts, and is classified as a machine gun under the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Model of 1928

The Model 1928 was the first type widely used by military forces, with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps as major buyers through the 1930s. The original M1928s were M1921s with weight added to the actuator, which slowed down the cyclic rate of fire, a United States Navy requirement. With the start of World War II, major contracts from Britain and France saved the manufacturer from bankruptcy. This model was standardized as the M1928.


The M1928A1 variant entered mass production before the attack on Pearl Harbor, as on-hand stocks ran out. Changes included a horizontal forend, in place of the distinctive vertical foregrip ("pistol grip"), and a provision for a military sling. Despite new United States contracts for Lend-Lease shipments abroad to China, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as the needs of American armed forces, only two factories supplied M1928A1 Thompsons during the early years of World War II. The weapon was mostly used in the United States military by the Marine units in the Pacific Theater. Though it could use both the 50-round drum and the 20- or 30-round magazines, active service showed the drums were more prone to jamming and extremely heavy and bulky, especially on long patrols. 562,511 were made. Wartime production variants had a fixed rear sight with out the triangular sight guard wings and a non-ribbed barrel both like that found on the M1/M1A1.

In addition, the Soviet Union received M1928A1s, included as standard equipment with the M3 light tanks obtained through Lend-Lease. The weapons were never issued to the Red Army, however, because of a lack of .45 ACP ammunition on the Eastern Front, and were simply put in storage. As of September 2006, limited numbers of these weapons have been re-imported from Russia to the United States as disassembled "spare parts kits", the entire weapon less the receiver (as required by Federal law).

The M1, formally adopted as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1, was a result of further simplification. The bolt was modified and rate of fire was also reduced to approximately 600-700 rpm. The M1 utilized a simple blowback operation, the charging handle was moved to the side, and the flip-up adjustable rear sight replaced with a fixed aperture (peep sight). The slots adjoining the magazine well allowing use of the drum magazine were removed, as were the Cutts compensator, the barrel cooling flanges, and the Blish lock.

Fire Controls MI Thompson Front lever is selector switch set for full auto.

The less expensive and more-easily manufactured "stick" magazines were used exclusively in this version, with a new 30-round version joining the familiar 20-round type. Wartime production variants omitted the triangular rear sight guard wings.

The M1 also has a permanently attached buttstock, and was first issued in 1942.

Both sides of the Thompson M1A1

The multi-piece firing pin of the M1 was supplanted by a simplified firing pin machined into the face of the bolt. The 30-round magazine was very common. Wartime production variants omitted the triangular rear sight guard wings.

The M1A1, formally adopted as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1A1, could be produced in half the time of the M1928A1, and at a much lower cost. In 1939, a Thompson cost the government $209. By the spring of 1942, cost reduction design changes had brought this down to $70. In February 1944, the M1A1 reached a low price of $45 each, including accessories and spare parts. By the end of 1944, the M1A1 was replaced with the even lower-cost M3 (commonly called "Grease Gun").

Model 1927A1

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic only version of the Thompson, produced by Auto-Ordnance (West Hurley, New York) for the civilian gun market from 1974 to 1999. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different and operates from the closed bolt. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. This weapon should not be confused with the earlier M1927 produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance, although its name and designation references the earlier weapon.

Model 1927A3

The Model 1927A3 is a semi-automatic, .22 caliber version of the Thompson produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley.

Model 1927A5

The Model 1927A5 is a semi-automatic, .45ACP version of the Thompson produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley. It featured an aluminum receiver to reduce its weight, since it has no buttstock.

The Tommy Gun – A Brief History

Despite advances in firearms design and technology, the Thompson sub-machine gun (TSMG) remains one of America’s most iconic firearms.

The Great War (WW1), 1914-1918

In 1917, Brig. Gen. John T. Thompson (the man in charge of small arms production for the US Army), wanted to create a small machine gun that could be “fired from the hip and reloaded in the dark” — a gun designed to quickly clear enemy trenches.

The Thompson Gun Hits the Market, 1921

Not in production until after the war, the fully-automatic Thompson M1921 was sold (in limited quantities) to the US Military, federal agencies, and police departments. Marketed as the “Anti-Bandit Gun,” the TSMG garnered a lot of press – but at $200 (a hefty price tag in 1921) sales were slow especially among civilians.

The Gangster Years, 1920s-30s

With its high rate of fire and large magazine capacity, the Thompson became the weapon of choice for the gangster set. Popularized by celebrities of organized crime like Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly, and immortalized by shocking news stories of machine-gun-powered mob wars, the rat-a-tat-tat of the Tommy Gun became known as “The Chicago Typewriter.” Interestingly, the TSMG also became the favorite of the lawmen who brought the mob legends to justice.

The Tommies Go To War, 1939-1975

By the end of the 30s, the TSMG had been field-tested in several military skirmishes in Europe and Asia. But as WW2 heated up in Europe, orders for the TSMG exploded. With some modifications, the M1928 Thompson (along with the M1 and M1A1) was sold in massive numbers – initially to the French and British, then to American and other allied forces as the war expanded. After WW2, the next generation of automatic weapons gradually replaced the TSMG for military and law enforcement applications.

Present Day

The Thompson remains in limited production today. Popular with gun collectors and enthusiasts, the Auto-Ordnance Corporation offers several models — typically sold as a semi-auto, chambered in .45 cal and outfitted with the traditional large-capacity drum and stick magazines.

[Thompson With Machine Gun]

Photograph of John J. Melfi sitting in a guard shack in Bopfingen, Germany, with a Thompson sub-machine gun on his lap.

Physical Description

1 photograph : b&w 13 x 9 cm.

Creation Information


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Provided By

The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum

This Museum is located in Abilene and serves as a display and teaching museum for the study of World War II and its impact on the American people. It primarily contains 12th Armored Division World War II archives, memorabilia, and oral histories, along with selected equipment and material loaned or donated by others.

The original design process for the Thompson was quite lengthy, and involved numerous drawings and prototypes. The gun was redesigned for use in World War II to make a simpler model that was easier to mass-produce. The Thompsons produced after World War II were assembled out of surplus parts by a company that had bought Auto-Ordnance's inventory. When the parts inventory began to run low, Auto-Ordnance was sold to Kahr Arms, a manufacturer of guns, other weapons, and parts, as well as many other metal products. At this point, Kahr wished to make complete Thompson guns out of new parts. Kahr's engineers consulted the scores of original drawings for historical accuracy, and also went through a process known as reverse engineering.

In reverse engineering, engineers take apart a finished product and figure out how it was made. Drawings are made from already available parts, instead of new parts being made from engineers' drawings. To make the Thompson according to modern methods, a drawing for each part was produced using computer software known as computer aided design, or CAD. Next, a separate set of drawings were made, called machine or shop drawings. These are blueprints that show exactly how each part needs to be cut. These drawings are converted to computer codes that can be read by the actual cutting machines.

Richard Jordan Gatling was born in 1818 in Hertford County, North Carolina. Gatling helped his father develop machines for sowing and thinning cotton. In 1839 Gatling invented a screw propeller for ships and went on to develop agricultural machines, such as a hemp-breaking device and a steam plow.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Gatling focused his efforts on armaments. In 1862 he invented the weapon that has bore his name ever since, the Gatling gun. Considered the first practical machine gun, the Gatling gun was capable of firing 250 shots per minute. It consisted of 10 breach-loading rifle barrels—cranked by hand—rotating around a central axis. Each individual barrel was loaded by gravity feed and fired while the entire assembly evolved. Cartridges were automatically ejected as the other barrels were fired. It was operated by two people: one fed the ammunition that entered from the top, and the other turned the crank that rotated the barrels. At first, the Union Army was uninterested in Gatling's invention, but General Benjamin Butler (1818-1893) eventually bought several Gatling guns. They worked so well on the battlefield that the government finally agreed to adopt them in 1866, but by then the war was over.

After the war, Gatling continued to improve his gun. Eventually, it was capable of firing 1,200 shots per minute at all degrees of elevation and depression. Gatling's gun was used all over the world and remained in the United States military arsenal until 1911.

Thompson Sub Machine Gun (1918-1944) - History

The Thompson Sub-Machine gun AKA the Tommy Gun, is synonymous as an iconic American piece of weaponry that was romanticized by the roaring twenties outlaws, G-Men and the American soldiers that led the United States to victory in World War II. Outright, it is one of the most recognizable firearms in history and has only become more of a symbolic gun that represents a period of time and has created legions of loyal fanatics throughout the world.

Invented by Gen. John T. Thompson in 1918 during World War I. Gen. Thompson envisioned a the weapon as being a “one-man, hand-held machine gun” in .45 ACP as a “trench broom” for use in the ongoing trench warfare of World War I. Unfortunately, by the time the guns were coming off the assembly line, WWI had come to a close and was left for the civilian market. It was a costly weapon that the average person could not afford and it subsequently became infamous during the Prohibition era, being a signature weapon of various organized crime syndicates in the United States. The Thompson submachine gun was also known informally as the “Tommy Gun” and “Chicago Typewriter.”

Because of their quality and craftsmanship, as well as their gangster-era and WWII connections, real deal Thompsons are highly sought as collector’s items and fetch for tens of thousands of dollars.

The original fully automatic Thompsons are no longer produced, but numerous semi-automatic civilian versions are still being manufactured by Auto-Ordnance. These versions retain a similar appearance to the original models, but they have various modifications in order to comply with US firearm laws.

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic replica version of the original Thompson. The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has a barrel length of 16.5 in (420 mm) (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 in (270 mm) for the fully automatic versions). Under federal regulations, these changes make the Model 1927A1 legally a rifle and remove it from the federal registry requirements of the National Firearms Act.

With that in mind, D4 Guns is happy to say that we have a couple of these semi-automatic replicas is in our inventory.

These variants we possess are in the WWII configurations with horizontal foregrips and charging handles

on the side. In particular, one of these Thompsons is cerakoted in OD Green with the allied star insignia on the side of the gun modeling the Tanker version of this classic firearm.