Full Auto Friday: Tommy Gun edition (VIDEOS)
By Chris Eger
With fans that ran the gamut from Winston Churchill to Ernest Hemingway, the Thompson submachine gun is about as iconic as it gets.
Designed by Brig. Gen. John Taliaferro Thompson to give the U.S. Army a literal “trench broom” to sweep the Kaiser’s troops from their positions on the Western Front in World War I, the “Tommy Gun” was finished too late for the war and only entered production in 1921.
As Thompson’s Auto-Ordnance company lacked the production capability to crank out the new .45ACP-caliber open-bolt select-fire SMG, early Thompsons were made by Colt. Expensive for their day, it took Auto-Ordnance the bulk of the 1920s to sell the 5,000 Colt-made guns, although the Navy did later buy a decent amount of these– once their rate of fire had been trimmed.
Although they made a lasting reputation as the “Chicago Typewriter” during Prohibition, used by both sides of the law to include gangster John Dillinger and legendary G-man Melvin Purvis, the gun’s first commercial success only came after 1938 when the U.S. Army adopted the gun in quantity.
Soon, the gun was being supplied to Allies such as Great Britain in quantity as well.
Eventually, more than 565,000 M1928A1 variants and another 824,000 simplified (andSource: Guns.com