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 Semi-Auto Thompsons
86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/18/2011 11:24:21 AM
Can someone explain to me the differences between semi-auto Thompsons? As I understand it, the older versions fire from an open bolt, while the newer Auto Ordnance produced versions fire from a closed bolt. Is that correct? Who produced the open bolt models? Also, is Kahr Arms and Auto Ordnance the same company? I thought they were, but now I'm not sure. Thanks for any info!
WatchDog762  [Member]
9/18/2011 11:39:25 AM
Kahr bought out Auto Ordnance some time ago. My experience with Kahr is that they will not HONOR any warranties on Auto Ordnance made guns before Kahr bought them out
I don't know if Auto Ordnance ever made open bolt semi Thompsons.
scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/18/2011 12:02:07 PM
I purchased a 1927-A1 in 1992. The semi was designed to fire from a closed bolt. The prices Kahr sells these for is ridiculous, or it's been the luck of the draw to have purchased one so long ago.

I don't believe I've seen any firearm price sky-rocket as have the Thompson's from Kahr.

In '92, I bought my deluxe version for ~ $850. Also purchased a 1928 butt stock and the adapter unit for ~ $150. Also purchased two L-type drums for ~ $160/each, and a reproduction FBI hard case for maybe another $150.

My expense was a little over $1500 (including a local gunsmith to TIG weld the adapter unit to the frame.

The last price I saw for a Kahr was running ~ $1700 just for the 1927-A1 carbine including the 1928 butt stock.

I don't believe the fit and finish on the Kahr's are as nice as the West Hurley models for the price I paid.

If I were to put together today the same package I bought almost twenty years ago, it would cost close to $3000.

I realize prices rise, but again, I don't recall any commercially sold firearm to have doubled it's price in twenty years.


86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/18/2011 12:36:21 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys! So there never was a semi-auto Thompson that fired from an open bolt? Also, what's a West Hurley model, scuba-ed?
osprey21  [Life Member]
9/18/2011 1:10:00 PM
The Model 1927 was an open bolt semi-automatic only version of the M1921.
dfariswheel  [Member]
9/18/2011 4:47:52 PM
The original company that invented and owned the Thompson gun was Auto Ordnance.
They did make an open bolt Semi-auto gun as the Model 1927.
This was nothing more than the full-auto gun with a conversion that allowed semi-auto only.
Since by simply installing full-auto parts the gun would fire full-auto, the semi-auto gun was always classified the same as the full-auto.
In fact the only real difference between the guns other than the internal parts was the Model of 1927 stamp on the receiver. Auto Ordnance sold conversion kits to change the guns to semi-auto or full-auto.
The Model 1927 was made in the 1920's in very small numbers and is worth BIGGG bucks today, even more so the the full-auto models.

Just before WWII the Auto Ordnance company was near bankrupt, so the original owners sold the company to a man named McGuire, just in time for him to make a huge fortune making Thompson guns for the war.
With the Thompson declared obsolete in 1945 and replaced by the M3 Greasegun, Auto Ordnance was shut down.

In the 1950's George Numrich bought the company. He specialized in buying moribund old gun companies to get their spare parts.
When they started opening the crates, they were shocked to find complete Thompson guns, complete receivers, and the entire Auto Ordnance prototype collection.
In a spate of being reasonable, the ATF allowed Numrich to keep the receivers and guns since no one knew what was in the crates that had been packed up in 1945 and there was no attempt to break the law. (Try that today).

Operating the Auto Ordnance company, Numrich assembled and repaired full-auto guns for years in West Hurley.
Later Numrich changed their name to Gun Parts Corporation and stopped making guns.
In the 1960's he decided to make a semi-auto gun that used as many original full-auto parts as possible.
In order to satisfy the ATF the new semi-auto gun fires only from a closed bolt, and used a radically different internal design, along with a receiver that was lower so it wouldn't accept full-auto parts.

In the 1990's Numrich sold Auto Ordnance to Kahr Arms, who still make it with the same design Numrich used.
The current Auto Ordnance guns are all the same design internally, but are set up externally to resemble the original Model 1921 and 1928, or the WWII M1 and M1-A1 guns.
The only real difference between the two types is the 21/28 look guns have a cocking handle on the top of the receiver and are grooved to accept a drum.
The M1 types have the cocking handle on the side, and won't accept a drum.
The external appearance of the M1 types is changed to look more like the narrow M1 type guns.
Internally both types of guns use the same parts.
86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/18/2011 6:48:08 PM
Originally Posted By dfariswheel:
The original company that invented and owned the Thompson gun was Auto Ordnance.
They did make an open bolt Semi-auto gun as the Model 1927.
This was nothing more than the full-auto gun with a conversion that allowed semi-auto only.
Since by simply installing full-auto parts the gun would fire full-auto, the semi-auto gun was always classified the same as the full-auto.
In fact the only real difference between the guns other than the internal parts was the Model of 1927 stamp on the receiver. Auto Ordnance sold conversion kits to change the guns to semi-auto or full-auto.
The Model 1927 was made in the 1920's in very small numbers and is worth BIGGG bucks today, even more so the the full-auto models.

Just before WWII the Auto Ordnance company was near bankrupt, so the original owners sold the company to a man named McGuire, just in time for him to make a huge fortune making Thompson guns for the war.
With the Thompson declared obsolete in 1945 and replaced by the M3 Greasegun, Auto Ordnance was shut down.

In the 1950's George Numrich bought the company. He specialized in buying moribund old gun companies to get their spare parts.
When they started opening the crates, they were shocked to find complete Thompson guns, complete receivers, and the entire Auto Ordnance prototype collection.
In a spate of being reasonable, the ATF allowed Numrich to keep the receivers and guns since no one knew what was in the crates that had been packed up in 1945 and there was no attempt to break the law. (Try that today).


Operating the Auto Ordnance company, Numrich assembled and repaired full-auto guns for years in West Hurley.
Later Numrich changed their name to Gun Parts Corporation and stopped making guns.
In the 1960's he decided to make a semi-auto gun that used as many original full-auto parts as possible.
In order to satisfy the ATF the new semi-auto gun fires only from a closed bolt, and used a radically different internal design, along with a receiver that was lower so it wouldn't accept full-auto parts.

In the 1990's Numrich sold Auto Ordnance to Kahr Arms, who still make it with the same design Numrich used.
The current Auto Ordnance guns are all the same design internally, but are set up externally to resemble the original Model 1921 and 1928, or the WWII M1 and M1-A1 guns.
The only real difference between the two types is the 21/28 look guns have a cocking handle on the top of the receiver and are grooved to accept a drum.
The M1 types have the cocking handle on the side, and won't accept a drum.
The external appearance of the M1 types is changed to look more like the narrow M1 type guns.
Internally both types of guns use the same parts.

GREAT info! Thanks! I actually heard the part in red on the History Channel's "Tales of the Gun" years back. Really intrigued me. I'm thinking about buying a Thompson, and I wanted to know a little more about them. Thank you as well, Osprey!
scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/19/2011 4:34:57 PM
Originally Posted By 86HMMWV:
Thanks for the replies, guys! So there never was a semi-auto Thompson that fired from an open bolt? Also, what's a West Hurley model, scuba-ed?


Hi 86HMMWV~

The West Hurley models were produced by Auto-Ordnance at their plant in West Hurley, both semi- and full-auto.



scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/19/2011 4:38:25 PM
Originally Posted By osprey21:
The Model 1927 was an open bolt semi-automatic only version of the M1921.


No, really? When were the open-bolt semi's made? I had believed contrary....can't seem to find this info.

Thanks!

Ed
scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/19/2011 4:47:45 PM
Originally Posted By osprey21:
The Model 1927 was an open bolt semi-automatic only version of the M1921.



Okay, found it...you are incorrect.

"Model 1927A1

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic only version of the Thompson, originally produced by Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York for the civilian collector's market from 1974 to 1999. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has barrel length of 16.5 inches (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 inches (270 mm) for the full automatic versions). "

Source::

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thompson_submachine_gun

Villafuego  [Member]
9/19/2011 6:26:29 PM
Originally Posted By scuba_ed:
Originally Posted By osprey21:
The Model 1927 was an open bolt semi-automatic only version of the M1921.



Okay, found it...you are incorrect.

"Model 1927A1

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic only version of the Thompson, originally produced by Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York for the civilian collector's market from 1974 to 1999. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has barrel length of 16.5 inches (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 inches (270 mm) for the full automatic versions). "

Source::

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thompson_submachine_gun



No....Osprey is correct......the original 1927 and 1927A1 were manufactured by Colt as 1921 model guns in 1921/22.....then modified by Auto Ordnance 5 years later to semi auto only.....they retained the 1921 guns receiver and 10.5" barrel, and were classified as MG's when the NFA passed in 1934.

The 1927A1 as manufactured in West Hurley is a different gun alltogether......closed bolt.....16" barrel......only thing it has in common with the original 1927 is the name and general appearance
vanvideo  [Member]
9/20/2011 7:45:03 AM
I have one of the West Hurley semi-autos, the 1927-A5. This one is unusual, in that it appears to be a pistol, but has a vertical foeregrip, a no-no for pistols. But because it's over 26" in length, and with no stock, it's simply classified as a "firearm," not as a pistol or a rifle.
Interesting little gun. It's for sale, in case anyone's interested:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_88/909561_West_Hurley_Thompson_1927_A5_pistol.html
scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/20/2011 1:05:39 PM
Originally Posted By Villafuego:
Originally Posted By scuba_ed:
Originally Posted By osprey21:
The Model 1927 was an open bolt semi-automatic only version of the M1921.



Okay, found it...you are incorrect.

"Model 1927A1

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic only version of the Thompson, originally produced by Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York for the civilian collector's market from 1974 to 1999. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has barrel length of 16.5 inches (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 inches (270 mm) for the full automatic versions). "

Source::

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thompson_submachine_gun



No....Osprey is correct......the original 1927 and 1927A1 were manufactured by Colt as 1921 model guns in 1921/22.....then modified by Auto Ordnance 5 years later to semi auto only.....they retained the 1921 guns receiver and 10.5" barrel, and were classified as MG's when the NFA passed in 1934.

The 1927A1 as manufactured in West Hurley is a different gun alltogether......closed bolt.....16" barrel......only thing it has in common with the original 1927 is the name and general appearance


Apologies, but I was thinking only in terms of the semi-automatic product line.




86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/20/2011 5:32:02 PM
Thanks for the info, scuba_ed.

Originally Posted By vanvideo:
I have one of the West Hurley semi-autos, the 1927-A5. This one is unusual, in that it appears to be a pistol, but has a vertical foeregrip, a no-no for pistols. But because it's over 26" in length, and with no stock, it's simply classified as a "firearm," not as a pistol or a rifle.
Interesting little gun. It's for sale, in case anyone's interested:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_88/909561_West_Hurley_Thompson_1927_A5_pistol.html

Will the pistols accept the detachable buttstock? It's kinda hard to tell from your photos, but it doesn't look like it. It has a swivel stud there instead.
vanvideo  [Member]
9/21/2011 2:55:58 PM
Originally Posted By 86HMMWV:
Thanks for the info, scuba_ed.

Originally Posted By vanvideo:
I have one of the West Hurley semi-autos, the 1927-A5. This one is unusual, in that it appears to be a pistol, but has a vertical foeregrip, a no-no for pistols. But because it's over 26" in length, and with no stock, it's simply classified as a "firearm," not as a pistol or a rifle.
Interesting little gun. It's for sale, in case anyone's interested:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_88/909561_West_Hurley_Thompson_1927_A5_pistol.html

Will the pistols accept the detachable buttstock? It's kinda hard to tell from your photos, but it doesn't look like it. It has a swivel stud there instead.


No, it's not supposed to accept a stock. I've heard the receiver is too thin to try and bolt a stock to it. Not that I'm going to try it. It's also concave in shape, not smooth-bottomed like regular Thompson receivers.
I don't know if anyone has tried mounting a stock to an A5 in the past. If you wanted an SBR Thompson, i think it'd be much easier to buy one outright - Kahr makes SBRs - or swap out the barrel in an existing 16" Tommy gun.
86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/21/2011 5:46:24 PM
Originally Posted By vanvideo:
Originally Posted By 86HMMWV:
Thanks for the info, scuba_ed.

Originally Posted By vanvideo:
I have one of the West Hurley semi-autos, the 1927-A5. This one is unusual, in that it appears to be a pistol, but has a vertical foeregrip, a no-no for pistols. But because it's over 26" in length, and with no stock, it's simply classified as a "firearm," not as a pistol or a rifle.
Interesting little gun. It's for sale, in case anyone's interested:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_88/909561_West_Hurley_Thompson_1927_A5_pistol.html

Will the pistols accept the detachable buttstock? It's kinda hard to tell from your photos, but it doesn't look like it. It has a swivel stud there instead.


No, it's not supposed to accept a stock. I've heard the receiver is too thin to try and bolt a stock to it. Not that I'm going to try it. It's also concave in shape, not smooth-bottomed like regular Thompson receivers.
I don't know if anyone has tried mounting a stock to an A5 in the past. If you wanted an SBR Thompson, i think it'd be much easier to buy one outright - Kahr makes SBRs - or swap out the barrel in an existing 16" Tommy gun.

I want a short-barreled one that resembles the M1928. Stock and all.
Zamo  [Member]
9/22/2011 3:29:41 AM

I want a short-barreled one that resembles the M1928. Stock and all.


Then get out your check book, get an SBR stamp, and buy one of these:
SBR Kahr 1927A1

I have owned three semi Thompson's: A West Hurly from the 80's, a Kahr TM1C from around '04, and one of their newer T1B "Deluxe Semi Auto"'s. The current production model is the best of the three in terms of finish, and function. The worst was the TM1C, which is the semi version of the M1 WW2 gun, but with an aluminum reciever. It was junk. The wood on the West Hurly was slab sided and the charging handle and selector levers where junk. The new one has nice, rounded wood of excellent quality, and has finally gotten back to the rounded charging handle and selectors of the original 1928's.

Magazine's are picky with all of them. There are threads that illustrate how to convert USGI mags to work, but the prefered method seems to be to modify the mag catch to work with USGI mags.

Drums won't work on the TM1 WW2 clone, but drums are pretty stupid after the novelty wears off. You can far easier carry 2 x 30 round mags vs. 1 x 50, and loading them into the carbine is a pain.

I can't have SBR's in my state, so I shortened the 18" bbl down to bare minimum and welded the comp on for 16 1/8".



They are a fun, but HEAVY pistol caliber plinker. Don't plan on using it for much more than range fun, be prepared to fiddle with mags until you get them all "tuned", and enjoy the looks you get. It is a classic.
scuba_ed  [Team Member]
9/22/2011 2:26:23 PM
Originally Posted By Zamo:

I want a short-barreled one that resembles the M1928. Stock and all.


Then get out your check book, get an SBR stamp, and buy one of these:
SBR Kahr 1927A1

I have owned three semi Thompson's: A West Hurly from the 80's, a Kahr TM1C from around '04, and one of their newer T1B "Deluxe Semi Auto"'s. The current production model is the best of the three in terms of finish, and function. The worst was the TM1C, which is the semi version of the M1 WW2 gun, but with an aluminum reciever. It was junk. The wood on the West Hurly was slab sided and the charging handle and selector levers where junk. The new one has nice, rounded wood of excellent quality, and has finally gotten back to the rounded charging handle and selectors of the original 1928's.

Magazine's are picky with all of them. There are threads that illustrate how to convert USGI mags to work, but the prefered method seems to be to modify the mag catch to work with USGI mags.

Drums won't work on the TM1 WW2 clone, but drums are pretty stupid after the novelty wears off. You can far easier carry 2 x 30 round mags vs. 1 x 50, and loading them into the carbine is a pain.

I can't have SBR's in my state, so I shortened the 18" bbl down to bare minimum and welded the comp on for 16 1/8".

http://home.comcast.net/~gunspotz/us_rifles/Thompson/4822h.jpg

They are a fun, but HEAVY pistol caliber plinker. Don't plan on using it for much more than range fun, be prepared to fiddle with mags until you get them all "tuned", and enjoy the looks you get. It is a classic.


Then get out your check book, get an SBR stamp, and buy one of these:
SBR Kahr 1927A1


I'm thinking a local firearms store could help you take care of this, from stamp to barrel installation for much cheaper.

The drums are fine! A 1927-A1 is already crazy at nearly 9-lbs....may as well go all-in for a drum.


My .02


86HMMWV  [Team Member]
9/22/2011 4:22:34 PM
Originally Posted By Zamo:

I want a short-barreled one that resembles the M1928. Stock and all.


Then get out your check book, get an SBR stamp, and buy one of these:
SBR Kahr 1927A1

I have owned three semi Thompson's: A West Hurly from the 80's, a Kahr TM1C from around '04, and one of their newer T1B "Deluxe Semi Auto"'s. The current production model is the best of the three in terms of finish, and function. The worst was the TM1C, which is the semi version of the M1 WW2 gun, but with an aluminum reciever. It was junk. The wood on the West Hurly was slab sided and the charging handle and selector levers where junk. The new one has nice, rounded wood of excellent quality, and has finally gotten back to the rounded charging handle and selectors of the original 1928's.

Magazine's are picky with all of them. There are threads that illustrate how to convert USGI mags to work, but the prefered method seems to be to modify the mag catch to work with USGI mags.

Drums won't work on the TM1 WW2 clone, but drums are pretty stupid after the novelty wears off. You can far easier carry 2 x 30 round mags vs. 1 x 50, and loading them into the carbine is a pain.

I can't have SBR's in my state, so I shortened the 18" bbl down to bare minimum and welded the comp on for 16 1/8".

http://home.comcast.net/~gunspotz/us_rifles/Thompson/4822h.jpg

They are a fun, but HEAVY pistol caliber plinker. Don't plan on using it for much more than range fun, be prepared to fiddle with mags until you get them all "tuned", and enjoy the looks you get. It is a classic.

The barrel length you have there is fine. I just don't want one of those super long looking barrels. What you pictured is exactly what I have in mind, save for the fact that I want a foregrip like a M1921 and M1928. Thanks for the help.

ETA: And I've shot a semi-auto M1 Thompson before. I really liked it. Not as enjoyable as an AR-15, but it sure was different.
SecondAmend  [Member]
9/23/2011 8:36:24 PM
I bought a Kahr 1927A1 "Deluxe" set just over a year ago. I paid $1300 for the gun with one 30 rnd stick mag, a 50 round drum, "third hand", and the plastic hard case. The fit and finish are very good. No complaints. I have installed a modified mag catch so I can use unmodified 30 round WWII vintage stick mags which can be easily had for $15.

Not legal advice, MHO, YMMV, etc.
Ross  [Team Member]
9/24/2011 11:55:53 PM
I had a M1928 Sub-machinegun. It was a West Hurley "modern manufacture" in that it was made in the 70's or 80's. The class 3 SMG's were made the same as the original TSMGs. They made these the same time they also made their M1927 semi. As noted, the M1927's were a different design, being closed-bolt and some slight changes so you couldn't just drop in SMG parts and make a machine-gun.

At the time, aside from the SMG's, Auto-Ordnance made the semi-1927 in a carbine format with a 16+ inch barrel, a light-weight version using alloy parts, and a pistol version, which had the SMG barrel, but not stock. There was also a .22LR version, and they had listed various other calibers, like 10mm, etc. I've never seen one in the other centerfire calibers, but some people have said they saw prototypes at various times. Most people probably just want a Thompson in .45 anyway. They also made a semi version of the M1A1 TSMG.

A-O used to sell a plate that you could screw onto the bottom of the receiver of the pistol and turn it into a SBR. The plate would accept the M1928 detatchable stock. I don't know if it's still available, or even compatible with the late guns.

It was a fun gun, especially full-auto. It was very controllable. Ergonomically, it sucked frankly, but with a 50rd drum you could put out a heck of alot of lead.

The biggest problem with the closed-bolt semi is with the drum. It takes three hands to put the drum into the gun. I think Khar sells some kind of gizmo that will hold the bolt open to insert the drum. Maybe it's included. Either way, if you get a closed-bolt gun and you're going to use a drum, definately have the gizmo.

There was also a gun that resembled the Thompson that was a semi-auto that fired from an open bolt. It was a completely different design in reality, but it sorta looked like a Thompson, for obvious marketing reasons. They had to change the design to closed-bolt, though the few open bolt guns were grandfathered. Many folks get these guns confused with the guns built on the real Thompson design.