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Old January 20, 2008, 11:46 PM   #1
toybox99615
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machine gun Kelly

Going back to the 1930 era of the machine gun gangster. Machine gun Kelley is reported to have used model 1911 45 ACP pistols that had been modified to go full auto till the custom drum magazines emptied. Is this a fact or urban myth.


This story has been told a number of time by a gunsmith I know. He has a couple of sketches of parts that are suppose to be Kelly's design. But they are really rough sketches. It would be interesting to know a bit more about the weapons Kelly used.
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Old January 21, 2008, 12:09 AM   #2
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I had never heard that about his 1911s, as I was under the impression he used a Thompson, and it would seem somewhat unlikely, since a 1911 would be very hard to control in full auto. But I'm sure it's possible.

FWIW, there were several modifications circulated over the years about making a 1911 full auto, but the main complaint from people who have tested them is that only the first round goes where you want it to go.
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Old January 21, 2008, 12:21 AM   #3
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Full-auto 1911:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXh3nRd1K8U

I never heard that about that fellow, though. As far as I know he used Thompsons, regular 1911s, and various other standard arms of the time.
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Old January 21, 2008, 08:53 AM   #4
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I never heard that about that fellow, though. As far as I know he used Thompsons, regular 1911s, and various other standard arms of the time.
He was a two bit bank robber and whiskey runner till his wife bought him a Thompson and gave him the nick "Machine Gun" to make him sound bad. His big claim to fame was a big name kidnapping(her idea) that got them both busted. He was sentenced to life and died in prison.
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Old January 21, 2008, 09:02 AM   #5
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I believe it was the Dillinger Gang that had a full auto 1911. You can see it in this photo fitted with a Thompson grip and flash suppresor.

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Old January 21, 2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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I've read that John Dillinger was a very good shot with a large-caliber pistol, a reason he was considered dangerous by the FBI.
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Old January 21, 2008, 11:09 AM   #7
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fitted with a Thompson grip and flash suppresor.
It's not a flash suppressor, it's a compensator to cut down recoil.
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Old January 21, 2008, 11:13 AM   #8
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it's a compensator
Yes absolutly. My mistake.
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Old January 21, 2008, 03:33 PM   #9
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Dillinger weapons display

I like the FBI display of the Dillinger weapons. Although they do not go into much detail on the weapons themselves; how they were modified for example. They do say the one 1911 with the front grip and large magazine was modified. They say nothing about the other 1911.

Anybody ever hear the name of the gunsmith these boys were using. I've read statements and accounts that there was one gunsmith who did a great deal of the work on the pistols and other weapons used by the Chicago crews.
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Old January 21, 2008, 04:46 PM   #10
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wow!

That is some arsenal!!...
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Old January 21, 2008, 05:03 PM   #11
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They say nothing about the other 1911
Which one? There's five of them altogether.
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Old January 21, 2008, 05:07 PM   #12
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all five

I saw all the 1911's when I went to the FBI site. I only saw commentary on the one with the front pistol grip from a Tommy. Did I miss some thing about the other five? I guess Dillinger was a strong advocate for the 1911.
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Old January 21, 2008, 05:08 PM   #13
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Don't know about Machine Gun Kelley, but here are the St. Valentines Day massacre guns

http://www.myalcaponemuseum.com/id88.htm

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Old January 21, 2008, 05:18 PM   #14
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I believe there was also an Ithaca Auto-Burglar gun used in the St. Valentine's day massacre.
Machine gun Kelley was finally captured at a house in Memphis. He offered no resistance.
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Old January 21, 2008, 05:31 PM   #15
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Did I miss some thing about the other five?
I guess I misunderstood your post. I thought you were saying there was another modified 1911. I wonder if the one in the shoulder holster was carried like that or if they just stuck it in there for the display. I have a holster like it that belonged to my grandfather, it's a revolver holster.
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Old January 21, 2008, 07:02 PM   #16
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Several of the gangs of that period got weapons by raiding NG armories, so the 1911 pistol may have been used simply because that was what they stole. Gangs did buy guns, and steal them from police and others, so they weren't limited to military guns. Of course, for much of that period, TSMGs were available from a few hardware and sporting goods stores, though they were very expensive and only a very few stores had them. (In 1928, a M1921 TSMG with one 20 round magazine was $200, equivalent to over $6000 today. With a dealer price of $175, not many "mom and pop" stores carried them.)

Guns like the BAR and Colt Monitor were not that available even before the 1934 NFA. Note in that picture, that there is only one TSMG; the other long guns are/were regular sporting guns.

FWIW, I have fired a full auto .45 pistol, with a stock, and IMHO it is totally useless, not to mention deafening. The muzzle is only about 6" from the left ear when fired with the stock, and the noise and blast is very bad. I suspect that the pistol with the forward grip was more effective psychologically than it was as a practical weapon.

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Old January 21, 2008, 09:48 PM   #17
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Going back to the 1930 era of the machine gun gangster. Machine gun Kelley is reported to have used model 1911 45 ACP pistols that had been modified to go full auto till the custom drum magazines emptied.
I don't know if it is true or not, but from what is being described, fully auto until empty, it sounds like the gun was set up for slam fire with the firing pin fixed to protrude through the breech face. Every time the gun goes into battery with a live round, it will fire and continue to fire until the ammo is exhausted.
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Old January 22, 2008, 12:33 AM   #18
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Can't verify, but...

I have heard the full auto 1911 gun from the Dillinger collection is actually a .38 Super.

Never heard of one being used by Machine gun Kelly. He got his nickname from his fondness for the Thompson SMG.
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Old January 22, 2008, 03:58 AM   #19
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He got his nickname from his fondness for the Thompson SMG.
His wife gave him his name and the Thompson. http://www.fbi.gov/libref/historic/f...elly/kelly.htm

Kelly was born in Tennessee in 1897, and spent his early years in modest surroundings. He attended public schools before becoming a salesman and, later, a bootlegger. He married Kathryn Thorne in 1927. She encouraged Kelly to become deeply involved in a life of crime, bought him a machine gun, and gave him the nickname, "Machine Gun." He concentrated on running illegal alcohol and also robbed some banks prior to the Urschel kidnapping.
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Old January 22, 2008, 02:41 PM   #20
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slam fire

If Dillinger's 1911 had been modified to slam fire by fixing the firing pin to a protruding position would he have been able to use the triger to start/stop to firing? Or would he have had to have the slide back and release it to begin the sequence that would only end when the magazine was empty?

I've read on a few of the 1911 sites where the military had modified 1911's to be full automatics. The modified 1911 was never put into production as the Thompson was adopted by the military. Perhaps there were a few modified 1911 that managed to get into the hands of a gunsmith that could duplicate the military modifications.

Looking a Dillinger modified 1911 makes me believe it would have been a real challange to maintain any kind of control while it was in firing in full auto mode.
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Old January 22, 2008, 04:45 PM   #21
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Toybox, the description was that of a gun that once started firing would empty the magazine.

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1911 45 ACP pistols that had been modified to go full auto till the custom drum magazines emptied
I simply posited one possibility that would be easy to produce that sort of runaway firing. With that said, I do not believe Dillinger's gun was modified in that manner from what I have read.

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Looking a Dillinger modified 1911 makes me believe it would have been a real challange to maintain any kind of control while it was in firing in full auto mode.
People keep saying this, but notice the Tommygun foregrip and the compensator. This gun would have been reasonable to control.
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Old January 22, 2008, 05:06 PM   #22
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just fascinating to think about

I find the entire issue of the guns from 1900 through the 1940's to be a real fascinating era. It seems to me the progress made in firearms during those 40 years was pretty amazing. The 1911 45 ACP has been around now for almost 100 years with only a few modifications. The Thompson made a lot of history through the gangster era. While the BAR managed to stay active in the military until the mid 1970's. I can remember when I was still a Seabee having to know about the BAR, the 45 ACP and the M1 in order to pass my rating exams.

DNS what I've hear about the Kelly weapons was the statement: 1911 45 ACP pistols that had been modified to go full auto till the custom drum magazines emptied. The fire till empty was the interesting part as that indictes it was not possabale to fire a few rounds; all or none. As I said was it true or just an urban legend.

I'd sure like to fire a 40 round drum through Dillinger's (or one like it) just to find out. Looks like it would be a lot of fun at the least.
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Old January 22, 2008, 06:13 PM   #23
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Just to clarify, none of the FA pistols I have fired worked by slam fire; the sear was tripped when the slide went forward only if the trigger was still held back, just like a normal SMG.

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Old January 22, 2008, 07:26 PM   #24
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People keep saying this, but notice the Tommygun foregrip and the compensator. This gun would have been reasonable to control.
A full auto Thompson isn't easy to control and they're heavy.
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