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U.S. Thompson M1 Submachine Gun
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

U.S. Thompson M1 Submachine Gun

Catalog #: 65593M    Accession #: 223709
Credit: Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History


General John T. Thompson (Designer)

Thompson's original prototype never made it to war, but proved popular with police and gangsters who had an affinity for the "Tommy" gun that borrowed its designer’s nickname.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 9" H x 33" W x 2.5" D

Physical Description

United States Thompson M1 Submachine Gun, .45 caliber

General History

General John T. “Tommy” Thompson machine gun prototype was to be battle tested during World War 1 but the weapon never made it overseas. Auto-Ordnance, the manufacturer, had to find another market for his innovative submachine gun selling it to many police forces and making it famous with Depression era gangsters. By World War II, the “Tommy” gun had been refined into the M I Submachine Gun. The M1 Thompson was a redesign of the model M1928A1 to simplify production. The M1 had a permanently attached butt stock and a spring-loaded firing pin like the M1928A1. This Thompson was a blowback submachine gun. It could be set for semi- or fully-automatic fire. It fired a .45 caliber cartridge in 20- or 30-round magazines. It had a 700 rpm rate of fire power. The M1 had a simple fixed aperture rear sight. The gun was reliable, and continued to operate when similar weapons would have failed due to exposure to battle-field conditions.


War: World War II
Service: Army
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