From a log to a Thompson SMG

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Project by chucko posted 07-22-2012 07:44 AM 4017 views 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I looked at Raymonds Thompson SMG, (
I had to make one. The drawings & specs came from The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page.
My Thompson is made of Florida wild cherry wood.

The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page

Thompson Drawings & Specs.

The Thompson Submachine gun was born from the mind of General John T. Thompson. Gen. Thompson was driven with the thought of creating a hand held machinegun that would help end the First World War. At this time in history, machineguns were large heavy weapons manned by several soldiers. The thought of a compact machinegun, small and light enough for a single soldier to operate, fascinated Thompson. It was his never ending devotion to developing the light weight machinegun, combined with a series of well timed world events, that led to the creation of the worlds first practical Submachine gun; The Thompson Submachine gun.
The Story of the Thompson submachine gun is a story of patriotism, dreams, intrigue, disappointment, greed and questionable business practices. It covers only a short span of American History, about 25 years from 1920 to 1945, but has had a lasting impact on the American culture. It would be unlikely for anyone to picture the roaring twenties without a Tommy gun blazing away from the window of a black sedan. It is also difficult to picture the U.S. Army on patrol in the French villages of WWII, without seeing a soldier carrying his Thompson; ready to provide a deadly cover fire if needed.
Whether you are a firearms enthusiast or not, the Story of The Thompson submachine gun is a fascinating story to read.
With the War in Europe over, Auto Ordnance Corp. realized that the potential for military sales of their remarkable new gun was limited, but they continued to actively court both the Army and Navy with the hopes that the submachine gun would be accepted as standard issue. This was accomplished through various field trials and demonstrations.
The Thompson Submachine gun had it’s first public demonstration in August 1920 at the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. Everyone who witnessed the gun in action was amazed at it’s compact size and massive firepower. The prototype gun shown, firing at a rate of about 1,500 rnds per minute, could empty a one-hundred round drum in four seconds. At this rate, the sound was described as being like “the loud ripping of a rag”. Everyone agreed that this was the most revolutionary small arm of its day.
Pleased with the guns reception in its public debut, Thompson approached the Colt Firearms Co. with a proposal to manufacture it under contract. Thompson hoped that the prestige of the Colt logo, and the company’s close relationship with the military, would hasten it’s acceptance into U.S. military service. However, after a thorough evaluation of the gun, Colt was so impressed that it instead offered to purchase all rights to the Thompson for an even $1,000,000. This could have earned Auto Ordnance a considerable profit, but Thomas Ryan, AO’s majority stock holder, told Thompson that “if it’s worth a million to them, it’s worth more than a million to us.” So the Colt offer was rejected, and the original contract was signed.
In addition to the Colt contract to make 15,000 basic firing mechanisms for $680,705.85, and another $9,105 for spare parts, Auto Ordnance let contracts with Remington Arms for walnut gun stocks for $65,456; and Lyman Gun Site Corp. for adjustable sites worth $69,063. With the signing of the Colt contract, Auto Ordnance shut down its Cleveland research operation and moved to a rented building on the Colt company grounds in Hartford Connecticut where it would oversee the production of the Thompson.
The first Colt guns came off the assembly line at the end of March 1921. These first guns marked “Model of 1921” were sent to Auto Ordnance salesmen, and the Army and Marines for evaluation. Auto Ordnance salesmen demonstrated the gun to the military throughout Europe. But, in-spite of the enthusiastic response it received wherever it was shown, sales were minimal. The submachine gun was simply a class of firearm that was ahead of its time. This, and the depressed economic conditions of a post War society, left very little money for governments to purchase ‘experimental’ weapons with no battle history. Even the US Army was willing to overlook the Thompson’s bargain price of $225, and pay $650 for the outdated Lewis Gun.
With military purchases almost non-existent, Auto Ordnance decided that it had to beef up submachine gun sales to State and Local Police departments. AO was quick to take advantage of the public’s concern over the new “motorized bandits” that were terrorizing small towns. These were criminals that would rob a bank and quickly leave town in their get-away cars; often exchanging gunfire with the local police who were hot on their trail. But even with sales to the PD’s of New York, Boston and San Francisco, and to the State Police in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut and Michigan, sales to law enforcement hadn’t materialized in the quantities expected. By 1925 only three thousand Thompsons had been sold. To help boost sales, Auto Ordnance soon resorted to advertising the Thompson Submachine gun as the answer to every possible solution that a firearm could provide. The most notorious being one that depicted a Cowboy blazing away with his Thompson, defending his ranch from Mexican cattle rustlers and bandits.
This sort of advertising may seem incredible today, but in 1925 anyone with $225 could purchase a Thompson Submachine gun either by mail order, or from the local hardware or sporting goods store. And with military and police sales being flat, Auto Ordnance sold it’s machineguns through every legal outlet it could. It wasn’t until 1934 that machineguns, and other classes of firearms such as suppressors (silencers) and short barreled rifles and shotguns, were eventually placed under strict Federal Regulation with the passage of the National Firearms Act (NFA).

The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page

Thompson Drawings & Specs.

9 comments so far

View TimWood's profile


196 posts in 2802 days

#1 posted 07-22-2012 09:39 AM

Interesting…I know a guy who owns one….I’ve never shot it – only gotten to hold it but what surprised me is how heavy it is – especially with the barrel clip loaded.

-- Tim Harrelson

View Ivan's profile


15279 posts in 3427 days

#2 posted 07-22-2012 10:00 AM

Amaizing project,outstanding metal effect.Great story!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Raymond's profile


683 posts in 4287 days

#3 posted 07-22-2012 12:56 PM

Great job, it looks so real

-- Ray

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3511 days

#4 posted 07-22-2012 01:20 PM

You did an excellent job! Looks great!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3797 days

#5 posted 07-22-2012 02:08 PM

Great job, the cherry looks nice too. And the story is first class. I’ve fired a lot of full auto weapons over the years and the Thompson is the best made. It would cost a fortune in machine time today to mill every part like the originals were made.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View BenI's profile


333 posts in 2738 days

#6 posted 07-22-2012 10:47 PM

Awesome job! Always thought the Tommy Gun was one of the most interesting guns ever made and you brought one to life.

-- Ben from IL

View Mcasady's profile


28 posts in 2745 days

#7 posted 07-23-2012 01:46 AM

Nice! It looks great!

View TimWood's profile


196 posts in 2802 days

#8 posted 07-25-2012 12:18 PM

As Baby Face Nelson said in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”.....”Hand me dat Chopper!”.....

-- Tim Harrelson

View RKaste's profile


144 posts in 2716 days

#9 posted 07-25-2012 12:23 PM

It looks great, thanks for sharing.

-- --May you have fair winds and following seas--

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