This article started my quest for our Tommy Gun!
"The Illinois Bankers' Association has presented St. Clair County Sheriff Charles Arnes with a Thompson machine gun to be used in the capture of robbers and other criminals."
Look closer, this is from 1927! The more things change, the more they stay the same.
1927 Thompson Machine Gun Found!
This one little article has created more interest world-wide than anything we've posted. Major Lay, our patrol commander, just happened to mention that we still had the Thompson in the vault! He asked if I wanted to see it! So here it is!
The frame is imprinted:
Thompson Submachine Gun.
Caliber 45 Automatic Colt Cartridge.
Colt Patent Firearms Co.
Hartford, Conn. U.S.A.
Model of 1921
Serial No. 4720
After 80 years it's still in service, along with its more modern cousins. We have more pictures here.
1927 Thompson Machine gun Update
Here's an excerpt from an email I received concerning our Tommy gun:
"Good responses from the Tommy forum. Ol' 4720 was manufactured during the week of 11/14/21. Total of 15,000 guns were made in 1921 & 1922. Colt had lots of inventory for many years, as you probably know. They're trying to trace back to see if the bankers Assoc. got it directly from Colt/Auto ordnance (kinda unlikely) or if it was sold through a a dealer/jobber. We're noticing the buttstock had been replaced at some point to the "crossbolt" style. Original stock didn't have that. The cross bolt feature was an arsenal replacement feature in 1943 for guns that were being rebuilt."
"Your gun is was manufactured by Colt's Patent Firearms for Auto-Ordnance Corporation, the owner of the rights to the gun. There were only 15,000 Colt Thompson Submachine Guns made in 1921 and it took until 1939 to exhaust the original production run of 15,000 guns. There were no other Thompson guns produced during the 1920's or 1930's until orders from England and France prior to the U.S. entry into WWII necessitated resuming production of the gun by Savage Arms Corporation in 1939."
Price new in 1927: $175.00!
Chuck Schauer gave our Tommy gun a checkup this morning. Chuck is a member of The American Thompson Association and the Thompson Collector's Association, both organizations dedicated to maintaining and preserving the history of the original Thompson Submachine Guns produced during the 1920's.
He shared a lot history and trivia about The Thompson, the St Valentine's Day Massacre and the Chicago Prohibition Era.
Thanks to Ron Mills, Chuck Schauer and everyone at the Thompson Machine Gun Forum for thier help in researching this irreplaceable piece of department history.
From the Belleville News Democrat, January 26, 1927
So that the local Sheriff’s forces will be adequately protected in the event of a bank robbery, the Illinois Banker’s Association has purchased for the artillery of the county office a 45 calibre Thompson machine gun.The high powered weapon was received by Sheriff Ahrens Tuesday afternoon and within the next few days a squad of deputies will practice their skills at marksmanship with the gun. Accompanying the gun, were 500 rounds of ammunition and two magazines, one of the cylinder type with a capacity of 50 bullets, and another of the clip variety which holds 20 bullets. Besides being held in reserve in the event of bank robberies, the machine gun will also be used in any other urgent call for the sheriff forces, Sheriff Ahrens said Wednesday.
See the original article here .
Kevin Gordon has an interesting article about our Tommy Gun on his website.