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Thompson M1A1 file photo [5363]

Thompson Submachine Gun

Country of OriginUnited States
TypeSubmachine Gun
Caliber11.430 mm
Capacity20 rounds
Length811.000 mm
Weight4.800 kg
Rate of Fire700 rounds/min


ww2dbaseThe Thompson submachine gun was introduced into the US Marine Corps in 1922 for the purpose of guarding mail trains after a rash of robberies (which ceased after the Marines took over). The United State Military did not at first show much interest in acquiring this weapon, and so the manufacturer placed it on the open-market. Soon however the Thompson became popular with FBI Law enforcement officers combating gangsterism is Chicago in the 1920s and later, despite sanctions, a number of Thompsons found their way into the armouries of the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the service model was the M1928A1 weighing some 10.45-lb.

1942 saw the introduction of the improved M1 and M1A1 versions which initially, were only issued to Divisional Scout, Military Police, and some 'Raider' units, although later, when sufficient became available they became available to other formations.

In April 1944 the Army ordered that the M1/M1A1s be withdrawn and be replaced with the new M3A1 'Grease-Gun'. The earlier models then being supplied to other counties.

The US Marine Corps retained some of their M1 Thompson in small numbers, although they were considered unsuitable for front line service since they sounded much like the Japanese 6.5mm light machine-guns.

A well known photograph of Winston Churchill holding a Thompson in 1940 does not reveal the fact that in 1940 there were only forty Thompson SMGs in the United Kingdom. These guns were quickly acquired by the newly formed Commandos who found them extremely useful in their cross channel raids.

137,729 Thompson submachine guns, mostly of the M1928A1 and M1 variants, were exported to the Soviet Union via Lend-Lease. Although the M1 weapons were considered to be very reliable, the harsh climate on the Eastern Front of the European War took a heavy toll on them, leading to Soviet troops strongly favoring the locally-manufactured PPSh-41 and PPS weapons.

Chris McNab, Soviet Submachine Guns of World War II
(others) ww2dbase

Last Major Revision: Dec 2007

Thompson Submachine Gun Interactive Map


US Marine Joseph McCarty with a Thompson submachine gun, circa 1930Chinese communist troops training with Thompson M1921 submachine guns, 1930s
See all 42 photographs of Thompson Submachine Gun

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Kurt says:
21 Oct 2010 04:07:29 PM

I still see your at it, loving the country that helps you immensely and hating its policies....hows that workin for ya?
2. eric rick says:
17 Feb 2011 01:50:33 PM

this is on the bucket list.
3. Fatman says:
1 May 2013 11:43:16 AM

the best WWII gun ever.
4. gun lover says:
21 May 2018 06:02:38 PM

Would love to buy one
5. Anonymous says:
23 Oct 2018 10:27:13 AM

6. Anonymous says:
20 Feb 2020 11:11:42 AM

loved it
7. Anonymous says:
22 Mar 2020 07:06:47 AM

can you put a front pistol grip on a Thompson pistol? is it considered an angled grip or vertical?

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» Details of the Tommy-Gun; Report on British Anti-Invasion Measures

Thompson Submachine Gun Photo Gallery
US Marine Joseph McCarty with a Thompson submachine gun, circa 1930Chinese communist troops training with Thompson M1921 submachine guns, 1930s
See all 42 photographs of Thompson Submachine Gun

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