Machine gun Thompson: photos, tactical and technical characteristics


The gangsters and military men were created by the American retired colonel, the army supplier and the experienced merchant John Toliver Thompson. The automatic weapon created by him in the documentation is listed as a Thompson submachine gun. The model proved its high efficiency in the years of the Second World War and in the post-war period was in great demand among police officers, criminals and civilians. Description of the machine gun Thompson and its tactical and technical characteristics are presented in the article.


Start making weapons

During the testing of the Mosin rifle, John Thompson was invited to Russia as a weapon expert. The retired colonel realized that the future was for automatic weapons, which determined his desire to create his own automatic rifle for the American army. Before proceeding to the design of a model submachine gun, Thompson had to acquire a patent for the design of the bolt, invented in 1915 by John Blishhem. After that, the retired colonel gathered a team of like-minded people. To work, he attracted talented engineers: Theodore Ackhoff, Oscar Payne and George Gall. Then Thompson and financier Thomas Ryan created the arms firm Auto-Ordnance. In 1916, designers began work.

Who is the author?

Some military historians have questioned Thompson’s authorship of creating legendary weapons. They are convinced that the retired colonel is just an enterprising merchant who hired talented designers. These engineers, according to gun experts, are the authors of the product, later called the Thompson machine gun. In addition, the authors can be counted as the American inventor John Blish, who created the semi-free gate for automatic weapons. Nevertheless, most critics are convinced that without the participation of John Thompson the machine gun would have remained at the design stage.

Design work

The design and testing of weapons took over two years. As a result of testing, it became clear to the developers that the shutter, equipped with a bronze retarder in the shape of an “H”, is prone to very rapid abrasion. The shutter invented by John Blishche used the frictional force of a bronze liner that moved inside its core. As a result, at the time of the shot, there was no complete locking of the barrel channel. This liner only carried out the deceleration of the shutter in the rear position, which inhibited its work. This design feature imposed certain restrictions on ammunition. The only standard low-power army pistol cartridge АС4545 produced by the Colt company was suitable for such a bolt design.


John Thompson focused his attention on it. The machine gun was developed under the army ammunition 45АСР. The need to use such a cartridge could put an end to the idea of ​​an automatic rifle. However, the American merchant found a way out of this situation. The designers decided instead of a rifle to create a small-sized light machine gun, firing pistol cartridges. Such a weapon would be very effective in close range combat. Later, the Thompson rifle product proved its high performance in the storming of trenches and other fortifications. The American merchant called such a weapon submachine-gun (which means: "sub gun, " "lighter kind of machine gun"). This term is firmly established in the English language. Today, the concept of submachine-gun refers to a manual automatic weapon, firing pistol cartridges. In Russian the word "submachine gun" is applicable. His design was made taking into account the experience of the first world. In total at various times several variants of the Thompson machine gun were created. A review of the modifications of this automatic weapon can be found later in the article.


In the manufacture of all Thompson models used scheme with slow rollback semi-free shutter. Slowdown is due to friction liner H-shaped. Drummer in weapons used movable. The shutter is cocked using a special handle. The location for its location was the top cover on the receiver. The weapon is equipped with a manual fuse and a translator that regulates the shooting mode. The fuse and translator are special levers located on the receiver on the left. As sighting devices automata equipped with front sights and combined pillars. They can be represented by dioptric sights, reclining up or fixed, having V-shaped slits. Effective shooting is possible at distances not exceeding one hundred meters. The supply is carried out from the box and drum shops. A box-type device is installed in the weapon from bottom to top with a special receiver. Drum shops are moved to the side of the machine. According to military experts, this method of ammunition is considered more reliable, since it provides the best fixation of the drum.


First result

In 1919, the first version of the Thompson machine gun was released. The weapon was called the "Destroyer", or "Annihilator", and transferred to the military for testing on the last day of the First World War. Tests have shown that the machine has a reliable design and has a high rate of fire: within one minute it was possible to make up to half a thousand shots from it. However, this option, despite the presence of undeniable advantages, had several drawbacks:

  • Weapons had great weight. With a fully equipped magazine, designed for 100 ammunition, the mass of the machine exceeded 4 kg.
  • High price. One unit of small arms could be purchased for $ 250. In those years, a passenger car cost no more than 400. The high price of this weapon was due to the fact that in the manufacture of parts high-precision metal-cutting machines equipped with solid discs were used. In addition, in order to prevent corrosive processes, the manufacturer applied a silver coating to the barrel of the Thompson machine gun.


Thompson 1919 machine gun dimensions are as follows:

  • The length of all weapons - 808 mm.
  • Barrel length - 267 mm.
  • 75-100 m - an indicator of effective shooting with this model of the machine gun Thompson.
  • Caliber - 11.43 mm.

About the first batch of weapons

1919 was the year of the release of the first industrial batch of weapons Thompson. Since at that time the merchant had not yet established his own production, Colt factories were involved in the manufacture of automatic machines. The first serial release was presented 15 thousand units of small arms.

About M1921 machines

In 1921, released a modified batch of machine guns Thompson. Automatic weapons have a low rate of fire. Within a minute, no more than 800 shots can be fired from the M1921. The shooter can control the fire using the front vertical grip. The trunks are equipped with special concentric ribs, ensuring their rapid cooling. In addition, muzzle compensators were developed for the automata, which had a positive effect on the accuracy of the battle. The model with an empty magazine weighs almost five kilograms.


The size of the entire weapon is 83 cm, the barrel - 267 mm. Shoots model pistol chuck 45АСР. Ammunition is carried out from box stores, with a capacity of 20 and 30 ammunition, or drum-type stores. Their capacity ranges from 50 to 100 rounds. Shooting from this version of the Thompson weapon is effective at a distance of 75 to 100 m. For the purpose of advertising this model, the name Tommy-Gan was assigned, which eventually became used for almost all shooting products manufactured by Auto-Ordnance.

About model M1923

In 1923, the designers of Auto-Ordnance released the military model "Tommi-gun". For weapons characterized by the presence of a flat forearm. Additional handle in this version is missing. Ammunition is carried out from the box magazine, the capacity of which is 20 ammunition. According to military experts, M1923, equipped with such a store, has less weight and is very convenient when reloading. In addition, the shooter had the opportunity, equipping the weapon with a bayonet, to use the M1923 in hand-to-hand combat. Accuracy of shooting was improved due to special bipod mounted on the machine. In order to increase the effective firing range, the designers decided to use a new, more powerful cartridge - 45 Remington-Tompson. For this model, suitable and "old" drum shops, with a capacity of 50 and 100 ammunition. However, despite the presence of many advantages, the American military showed no interest in the M1923. Weapons have also been tested in Europe. However, there M1923 did not interest any of the potential buyers. This version of "Tommi-gan" has remained a commercially unsuccessful version.

Shooting products from 1927-1928

In 1927, the manufacturer of weapons Auto-Ordnance was assembled M1927 - a new version of the machine gun Thompson. Characteristics of this model were similar to M1921. However, a special muzzle brake compensator was developed for the new weapon.

In 1928, the American manufacturer released the Navy model - the naval model. The Thompson submachine gun of 1928 is equipped with a ribbed barrel on which the muzzle compensator is mounted. Weapons have a low rate of fire. Within one minute, only 700 shots can be made from the machine. To operate the machine gun Thompson in 1928 can be in two modes. The weapon may have a wooden horizontal forearm or a vertical front handle. For the needs of the US military, this model of the machine was supplied under the symbol M1928A1. Army samples were equipped with a characteristic simplified design of the pillars and were distinguished by the absence of barrel finning.

About model M1

By 1943, the Auto-Ordance was made a new model of small arms. This option is a substantially improved Thompson machine gun of 1928. For the M1 provides automatic shutter and a wooden forearm. Charging handle located on the receiver on the right. Muzzle compensator and barrel fins in M1 are absent. Weapon ammunition is carried out from box stores. Shoots model pistol chuck 45АСР. The mass of weapons without ammunition is 4.78 kg. The length of the machine is not more than 81 cm, the trunk - 267 mm. M1 has a low rate of fire.


Up to 900 shots can be fired in one minute. The supply is carried out from the box-type stores. Their capacity is 20-30 ammunition. Shooting from the M1 is effective at a distance of 75 to 100 m.


Weapon designers Auto-Ordance was released even more simplified rifle model Thompson. In the automatic machine, the flip sight was replaced with an unregulated diopter. In the armies of the United States and other European countries, submachine guns were not considered as powerful military weapons. However, in 1928 several thousand such units were purchased by the Marine Corps of America. Since, according to military experts, the use of this model of a submachine gun was limited, American soldiers never had a chance to get acquainted with the true capabilities of these weapons.

The situation has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Second World War. Owing to the rapid development and growth of armored vehicles of tank and motorized infantry forces, the need arose for such compact automatic weapons as the M1A1. Mass production of submachine guns was carried out by Auto-Ordnance and Avage Arms Corp. Released small arms were used by rangers, paratroopers, and military intelligence. Although the Thompson machine guns (photo models are presented in the article) were heavy and cumbersome, they were very popular on all fronts of World War II. During 1940-1944, M1928A1- 562, 511 units were manufactured by the American industry, M1- 285, 480 and M1A1- 539, 143.

Post-war time

At the end of the second global enterprise, John Thompson was on the verge of bankruptcy. Kommersant tried to find buyers for their products in the US police. The retired colonel established the Anti-bandit gun company. At first, the American police showed no interest in "anti-gang weapons." The situation changed dramatically after the “dry law” came into force and the criminals began to smuggle in alcohol. Canada became the state from which large batches of alcoholic beverages were sent to America. Such a business brought gangs huge profits. Bloody wars for spheres of influence began between the various factions. Crime has become organized. For elimination of competitors, Thompson submachine guns that proved their high efficiency were used. From that time on, this weapon became known as the “trade engine”. Wanting to adequately confront the criminals, American law enforcement officers also armed themselves with these assault rifles. So the submachine gun came to the service in the US police. Shooting models were used both by policemen for liquidation of gangsters, and by criminals - for conducting bloody “gang wars”.


This weapon was also used by FBI agents, the US Coast Guard and postal service staff. Thompson pistols were in service in government before 1976. Then these models were considered obsolete and were removed from service.

About the advantages and disadvantages

According to military experts, Thompson submachine guns are characterized by high reliability and quality of performance. However, the production of weapons itself requires large financial investments. This determines the high cost of automata. Their disadvantages include a lot of weight and bulkiness. In addition, the bullet fired from such weapons has a large steepness of flight, which led to the restriction of the use of these models in the army.

About sports models

For the needs of the civilian population, the auto-ordnance weapon company produced the following models of submachine guns:

  • M1927A1. Is a self-loading version of the machine. This model is also called “Thompson's self-loading carbine.” Unlike the early model of 1927, the civilian version shoots with the shutter closed. M1927A1 was produced during the years 1974-1999.
  • M1927A3. It is a self-loading variant using 22 caliber ammunition.
  • M1927A5. It is a self-loading model using 45АСP pistol cartridges. Wanting to reduce the weight of civilian weapons, the designers equipped it with aluminum parts. In addition, the length of the barrel in this weapon is not 10 inches, but 5.
  • 1927A1 Lightweight Deluxe Pistol TA5. It is a replica of the model 1927 release. The length of the barrel in civilian weapons is shortened to 266 mm. The stock for the product is not provided. It shoots pistol cartridges 45АСР. Ammunition is carried out from a disk store with a capacity of 50 ammunition. This civil model was released in 2008.

Our days

At one time, the automaton pistols of the legendary retired colonel were very much sought after by representatives of Cosa Nostra and other gangs. Thompson's guns were used from 1921 to 1970 in the Irish Republican Army. Literary works of art, movies and computer games today are the area in which Thompson's submachine gun is most often mentioned.


Toys created on the basis of the legendary weapons are in great demand among children. Production of such products is adjusted all over the world. Judging by the numerous reviews of consumers, children love the Thompson pneumatic machine gun. The toy is made in the form of the legendary machine. The material for it was durable plastic. Shoots children's weapons with plastic bullets of 6 mm caliber. For the product provides a laser sight.

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