Thompson Submachine Gun

Thompson Submachine Gun

Thompson Submachine Gun


Thompson Submachine Gun with Drum Magazine



Type Submachine Gun
Weight 4.85kg
Length 86.0cm
Barrel Length 26.67cm
Effective Range 120 meters
Rifling 6 grooves, RH
Magazine Capacity 20 or 30 rounds (box), 50 or 100 rounds (drum)
Caliber .45 A.C.P.
Muzzle Velocity 265 meters/second
Cyclic Rate 800 rounds/minute
In Production 1919-1942
Country of Origin United States



The Thompson submachine gun—designed for military and law enforcement—was also promoted to farmers and ranchers for pest control, and sold in hardware stores for $200. The Thompson was fitted with a Cutts Compensator device, designed to reduce muzzle climb during automatic fire.

Designed by John Taliaferro Thompson (1860-1940) to be the ultimate ‘trench broom’ in 1917, Thompson’s gun came too late for service in World War I. The select-fire Thompson fired either single-shots or fully automatic fire from its open bolt. While standard machine guns in military service were designed to shoot rifle-sized ammunition, the smaller Thompson chambered .45ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridges. Thompson considered it to be a sub-caliber type of machine gun.

By 1925, only approximately 3000 of the new ‘anti-bandit’ guns had been sold by Auto-Ordnance to police agencies, banks, and even ranches for personal protection. Some Auto-Ordnance advertisements went so far as to depicts an American cowboy casting aside his trusty Colt single action revolver and Winchester lever-action rifle in favor of the new Thompson.

The Thompson submachine gun is miscast as the weapon of choice among old-time gangsters and criminals. It became associated with the underworld when Al Capone’s henchmen used the Thompson to carry out the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. But although seemingly every movie gangster toted one, the Thompson was not as widely distributed among the criminal element as Hollywood led audiences to believe.

The image of the Thompson as an instrument of crime was so much part of a public perception that during the Second World War, the British Army almost refused to carry them. Later, however, they became so popular with British commando units that they earned the nickname ‘Tommy Gun.’

Another user of the Thompson was the Irish Republican Army or IRA, which celebrated the appearance of the Thompson in this song:

We’re off to Dublin in the green, in the green
Where the helmets glisten in the sun
Where the bayonets flash
And the rifles crash
To the echo of a Thompson Gun

The full-auto Thompson submachine gun was offered with a variety of magazines. High-capacity drums are holding 50- or 100 rounds, as well as box magazines offering less cartridge capability, could be fitted to the Thompson. With a full drum magazine, the Thompson carried the contents of two boxes of .45ACP ammunition.

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