Any movie or historical enthusiast will tell you the Thompson submachine gun is an American Icon with a rich history with military, law enforcement, civilians and gangsters. Developed in 1918, John Thompson sought to replace the bolt action rifle with an auto rifle chambered in .45 ACP. Over time and with some financial backing, the company Auto Ordnance was created.
Thompson, with the help of other designers, envisioned a hand held one man operated submachine gun. Once their vision was realised, the Thompson submachine gun became a reality and production began in 1921. Over time, the “Tommy Gun” made it’s way to the United States.
The Thompson was attractive due to it’s fast rate of fire. I was amazed at how fast the Thompson fired. Notice in the video above how quick a 30 round stick magazine was spent. However, the Thompson was criticized by some for it’s heavy weight, poor accuracy past 50 yards and it’s lack of penetration with the .45 ACP.
The Thompson submachine gun gained popularity with depression era gangsters and the law enforcement officers who pursued them. It quickly became known as the “Tommy Gun,” “Chicago Typewriter” or the “Annihilator.” As the years passed, the Thompson submachine gun became a famous part of American history.
I had an incredible opportunity to experience a “Tommy Gun” myself. I say “incredible” because Thompson submachine guns are rare, expensive and subject to NFA regulations which makes it near impossible for the average American to experience this rifle let alone own one. In today’s market, a decent condition Full Auto Thompson is priced between $20,000 – $25,000.
The Thompson’s also became famous with their high capacity drum magazines that the Hollywood film makers loved to feature. The rifle I fired was equipped with several 30 round stick mags which I found easy to reload and continuing to fire away.
The video above explains the features, controls, magazines and shooting impressions. To experience a Thompson, people may have to go to a range and rent this rifle for a hefty price as a range officer looks over their shoulder. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who owns this rifle and was more than happy to let me show it off. If you ever get the chance to experience a full auto Thompson submachine gun, by all means check it out. Spend a few extra bucks on ammo because the 30 round sticks sure go fast. American Icon and Hollywood favorite? No doubt. A blast at the range? Like an experience I will never forget.
Dan has been an avid gun collector and enthusiast for several years. He enjoys shooting and reviewing all firearms on his YouTube channel called TheFireArmGuy. Most importantly, he believes in the 2nd Amendment and strongly feels that all Americans should practice situational awareness and carry a gun daily.