Retired Screen Name
Join Date: November 17, 2000
First, the historical commentary--
The original semi-auto only Thompson was the model 1927--they made 'em for a while and they had the standard 10-1/2 inch barrel, with or without the Cutts Compensator attached. These guns were the standard Model 1921 but without the selector switch. This was before the National firearms Act of 1934, which restricted barrel and overall length measurements at the same time as taxing traffic in full auto arms. Of course, after that the 27 was considered a short barrelled rifle and subject to the same tax as the true SMGs.
Jim Keenan--actually, the original intent was probably to prevent overusage of ammo by untrained coal company guards.
I don't have much reference material right here, so I can't say when they stopped making the 1927. I imagine it was when Russell McGuire bought out Thomas Fourtune Ryan's interests in Auto Ordnance in 1939. Of course there are always a few guns put together from parts accumulations later on.
Somewhere in here, Numrich Arms Company bought out the Auto Ordnance and Thompson name. In the mid-to-early 1970s, Auto Ordnance introduced the 1927 semi automatic carbine again, now with the 16-inch barrel standard, and the interior parts radically redesigned to prevent convenient conversion to full auto fire. They sold deluxe and standard guns--I think it had to do with comp or no comp, plain or finned barrel, horizontal or verticle foregrip.
They also--maybe later--offered the "pistol" version--a fancy version with the short, finned barrel, and no provision for attachment of the shoulder stock. I think this was the model 1927A5.
Later on, they offered the gun in M-1 trim--very plain, slick barrel, no comp, and bolt cocking handle on the side. This version will not take the drum magazine.
At that same time, the company let it be known that some few "real" TSMGs, selective fire, with proper-length barrels, would be build for those willing to pay the price.
Twenty or thirty round "stick" magazines and the drum was optional. The late-manufacture drum was usually called the 40-round--It was really a 39-round item, which, since the new guns fired from a closed bolt, could indicate the top capacity. They would also take the old-manufacture 50-round drums. I don't know if they'd take the 100 drums--they were for the Model 1921 guns only, and I've never fired a 1928 with one.
And now for the current questions---
Anyhow---for plinking purposes only, the
new semi-only carbines are fun enough. For "show and tell" or display, anyone who knows how a Thompson gun should look knows this is an out-of-proportion gun.
You can pay--both the tax to BATF, and to a licensed manufacturer-- to have a late 1927 carbine cut down--Or maybe to have a vintage barrel installed on the newer gun. I'll bet there have been some WWII reinactors who have had this done with the late M-1 models as well.
If a person wanted a gun that looked right , the best way to go might be to get a 1927A5, which looks really good the way it is, especially with the 40-round drum in place. It would be possible to set up a display stand to hold this gun, with a butt stock sort of propped in place, but not attached, and this would be a no-tax ensemble. OR--fill out the paperwork and pay your tax and actually have a buttstock attached to your 1927A5.
Why bother? Well, it costs a LOT less to buy a late 1927 carbine and pay to have it modified, even with the tax, than to locate and pay for a transferrable SMG. (AND, dear friends, DO NOT consider doing any of these conversions without complying with the law.
If you don't ALREADY have the proper paperwork and tax stamp, don't buy the parts, don't tempt yourself. Unscrewing the 16-inch bbl from the late carbine and even STARTING to screw in the vintage short barrel is a federal felony. AND, affixing a buttstock in any manner to a 1927A5 is the same thing.
A short-barrelled Thompson carbine is not a machine gun, but it looks and feels right--Note that the original (commercial) Uzi carbines were sold with a dummy, short barrel for display purposes. AND, the short barrelled semi TSMG does shoot. It just FEELS different to shop for accessories for a real, shooting, gun, rather than for a non-gun.
Best of luck in whatever you decide to do, Kevin.
---The Second Amendment ensures the rest of the Bill of Rights---
[This message has been edited by Rocky Road (edited November 21, 1999).]