The Tommy Guns or Thompson submachine gun is an American firearms, invented by John T. Thompson in 1918, Tommy Guns became infamous during the Prohibition era. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals. The Thompson was also known informally as: the "Tommy Gun", "Trench Broom", "Trench Sweeper", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Piano", "Chicago Style", "Chicago Organ Grinder", and "The Chopper".
Thompson submachine gun was favored by soldiers, criminals, police and civilians alike for its ergonomics, compactness, large .45 ACP cartridge, reliability, and high volume of automatic fire. It has since gained popularity among civilian collectors for its historical significance.
Thompson then envisioned a "one-man, hand-held machine gun" in .45 ACP as a "trench broom" for use in the on-going trench warfare of World War I. Payne designed the gun itself and its stick and drum magazines. The project was then titled "Annihilator I", and by 1918, most of the design issues had been resolved. However, the war ended before prototypes could be shipped to Europe.
Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the U.S. military, serving during World War II and beyond. There were two military types of Thompson SMG. The M1928A1 had provisions for box and drum magazines. It had a Cutts compensator, cooling fins on the barrel, employed a delayed blowback action and its charging handle was on the top of the receiver. The M1 and M1A1 had a barrel without cooling fins, a simplified rear sight, provisions only for box magazines, employed a straight blowback action and the charging handle was on the side of the receiver. Over 1.5 million military Thompson submachine guns were produced during World War II.
Because of their quality and craftsmanship, as well as their gangster-era and WWII connections, Thompson submachine gun are sought as collector's items. There were fewer than forty pre-production prototypes. The Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut was contracted by the Auto-Ordnance Corporation to manufacture the initial mass production of 15,000 Thompson Submachine Guns in 1920. An original Colt Model 1921 A or AC, Model 1927 A or AC, Model 1928 Navy A or AC, properly registered in working condition with original components can easily fetch from US$25,000 to $45,000+ depending on condition and accessories. For WWII, approximately 1,700,000 Thompson Submachine Guns were produced by Auto-Ordnance and Savage Arms, with 1,387,134 being the simplified WWII M1 and M1A1 variants (without the Blish lock and oiling system). Post WWII, Numrich Arms acquired the Auto-Ordnance crated assets, but never resumed small-scale production of replica full automatic and semi-automatic only versions until 1974 at West Hurley. Semi-automatic only versions configured as civilian-legal rifles are currently produced by Auto-Ordnance Company (no relationship to the original 1916 AOC) a division of Kahr Arms, for the collector market at prices ($1100.00 to $1400.00) considerably lower than the prices for originals. A Model 1921A believed to have been owned by Bonnie and Clyde, but with zero historical documentation to substantiate this provenance, sold at auction on January 21, 2012 in Kansas City for $130,000.00.
|Thompson Submachine Gun, Caliber .45|
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||1938–1971 (officially, U.S. military)|
|Designer||John T. Thompson|
|Manufacturer||Auto-Ordnance Company (originally) |
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited
|Number built||1,700,000 approx.|
|Variants||See Variants section|
|Weight||10.8 lb (4.9 kg) empty (M1928A1) |
10.6 lb (4.8 kg) empty (M1A1)
|Length||33.5 in (850 mm) (M1928A1) |
32 in (810 mm) (M1/M1A1)
|Barrel length||10.5 in (270 mm) |
12 in (300 mm) (with cutts compensator)
|Cartridge||.45 ACP (11.43 × 23 mm)|
|Action||Blowback, Blish Lock|
|Rate of fire||600–1500+ rpm, depending upon model|
|Muzzle velocity||285 m/s (935 ft/s)|
|Effective range||50 metres (160 ft)|
|Feed system||20-round stick/box magazine|
30-round stick/box magazine
50-round drum magazine
100-round drum magazine
(M1 and M1A1 models do not accept drum magazines)