Growing up, you’ve seen the Tommy Gun depicted in movies and old news footage from the Roaring 20s and WWII. Of all the guns I’ve shot over the years I was surprised the opportunity never arose for me to shoot one. So, while at Shot Show gathering my list of weapons to review for the year, I stopped by the Kahr booth to check out their wares. The Kahr family of firearms include: Kahr, Magnum Research, and Auto Ordnance (the manufacturer of the Tommy Gun). They were gracious enough to send me one to try out.
The Thompson Submachine Gun (AKA Annihilator, Tommy Gun, Trench Broom, Chicago Typewriter, etc) was developed by General John T. Thompson during WWI and manufactured by Auto Ordnance. It was chambered in 45 ACP, the same cartridge shot by the 1911 pistol. If you recall, WWI consisted of great deal of trench warfare. The US military mainly used the bolt-action 1903 Springfield 30-06 or Browning BAR (semi or full-auto 30-06) rifles. Imagine using a bolt-action rifle today to clear a house, or in close quarter combat. Makes about as much sense then as it does now. WWI ended before the Tommy Gun could be used overseas. Post-WWI, the ability to fire 20, 30, 50, or 100 rounds of a 230 grain bullet downrange made it appealing to foreign governments, law enforcement, the US military, and criminals. In fact, the Tommy Gun was used by the US Military officially until the 1970s.
The day I shot the Tommy Gun I was shooting several different ARs in 223/556. I then picked the Tommy Gun up out of its case. I laughed as I recalled the articles I had read over the years by a bunch of pansies on ways the shave an ounce off an AR to reduce its weight. Being milled out of solid steel, and having solid wood furniture, these things are not light. After loading up the 50 round drum I held it in my hand and imagined a WWII soldier, half my size, carrying it into combat. It definitely gave me a new respect for The Greatest Generation.
I used the sights at first the gauge were I was shooting. I then began looking at the target instead to follow the line of bullets as I created some Picasso-like artwork on my target. Due to its weight and muzzle brake, recoil is non-existent. It was honestly like shooting a 22. I now know why they call it the “Chicago Typewriter.” With a little practice, one could easily write/draw on a target. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting this gun. If you read my articles I often end them with what I would change about the gun I reviewed. This article is no different.
The modern version of the Tommy Gun I shot is almost the exact same gun as the one from the 1920s, minus it not being full-auto. I’d love to bring this iconic masterpiece into the 21st century with a M-Lok hand guard, modern pistol grip, and a folding/collapsible stock. I suggested this to the folks at Kahr, but they prefer to keep it true to its roots. Maybe one day???
Mr. Ags writes for Joe for America and welcomes your feedback: [email protected] and on Twitter: @blackswampradio