Saturday, June 23, 2012
More on the Thompson!
There is no other weapon as “cool” as the Thompson Sub Machinegun. Its iconic image can be seen in the hands of Winston Churchill, Humphrey Bogart, Pretty Boy Floyd, Johnny Depp, and thousands of others. A Thompson SMG just means business. Forget the facts that it’s heavy, underpowered for longer ranges, and the drum magazines are tricky to use. The Thompson is robust, reliable, and at fighting distances under 50 yards, very effective. The Thompson is a legendary firearm. It was used on both sides of the prohibition, plus it battled the axis in Europe and the Pacific. Its one weapon the G.I.s never complained about. The Thompson’s looks are so distinctive; it may be the most recognized firearm in the world. The Thompson SMG is the star of every movie or television show it’s in. It’s the only gun capable of upstaging any actor and stealing the scene. The old Hollywood axiom should be updated to “Never work with children, animals or a Thompson!” Whenever a Thompson is on screen, the audience waits for the hero or villain to fire and “let somebody have it”. The psychological impact of the Thompson should never be underestimated. The movies have taught us the Thompson is the ultimate hand held weapon. The sad part of this story is the Thompson SMG types seen in the movies are unobtainable for most people. Due to restrictive laws and deep pocket collector interest, the original guns, Models of 1921, 1928, M1, and M1A1, sell for large amounts of cash. Since the manufacture ban in 1986, no new fully automatic Thompsons have been made for the civilian market. So what is left? Fortunately there are some alternatives. This includes reasonably priced legally compliant Thompsons which fire in the semi-automatic mode ONLY. The semi-automatic Thompsons are different in internal design from the earlier fully automatic models and cannot be converted to fully automatic fire. These legally compliant models feature the basic look and feel of the earlier fully automatic models. One change is the use of a 16 inch barrel. Some people are turned off by this, others just accept it as reality. A compromise is the “Short Barrel Rifle” (SBR) option, whereby a Thompson can be legally equipped with an authentic 10.5 inch barrel and registered with the BATF. Not all states allow this option and of course, it entails additional expense, and paperwork. Once reconciled to semi automatic fire and the 16 inch barrels, the current Thompsons are fun. After all, isn’t that the point of most firearms? Few guns will transport its user to another place and time as quickly as a Thompson. From Chicago to Normandy and points in between, Thompsons made their mark in history and adventure. The Thompsons garner attention on the gun range. The nascent sport of Zoot Shooting is a great venue for all sorts of Thompsons and their accessories. Zoot Shooting spans the period of 1920 to 1950, clearly the hay day of the Thompson on both sides of the law. Current production Thompsons fall into two general groups, the Model 1927A1 series that is reminiscent of the Model 1928 manufactured 1920s and 1930s; and the M1 military model that is like the Thompson M1A1 of World War II. These guns use a lot of the same parts and function in the same manner. The Model 1927A1 is really a hybrid of the Model 1928 and Model M1A1 with the same controls and butt stock. The major differences are the location of the actuator handle (cocking lever). This is on top of the Model 1927A1 in the manner of the Model 1928. On the M1 it is located on the side and is Model M1A1. Also the M1 model will not accept drum magazines. Another difference between the two models is the rear sights, the M1 has a simple stamped fixed sight protected by ears, and current Model 1927A1 has a modified Model 1917 rifle sight which is adjustable for elevation. Early Thompsons such as a Model 1921, 1928, and Model 1927A1 had a finely made and fully adjustable Lyman rear sight. Auto Ordnance, under the ownership of Kahr Arms, has added some great options to the line including a detachable butt stock Model 1927A1; and factory manufactured Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) variants, ready for registry and transfer through Class III dealers. The current Thompson is a great piece of Americana. Buy one while you still can!