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I Fired a Tommy Gun At The Range (What a Monster Weapon)

I plan to continue putting rounds through my newly resurrected Tommy to see how long she makes it without malfunctioning again. So then, after this experience, can I now recommend the M1927 Thompson semiauto carbine.

Machine Gun
Tommy Gun-style Machine Gun. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

In a previous review, “I Fired The Legendary Tommy Gun At The Range. It Was Horrible,” I discussed how the Tommy Gun, more specifically the M1927 semiautomatic-only carbine version of the legendary Thompson submachine gun aka “The Chicago Typewriter,” became one of my dream guns after I fired one for the first time in 1991 as a teenager.

In summary, I discussed how I’d seemingly attained that dream in December 2017 when I finally purchased my Auto-Ordnance/Kahr Arms M1927-A1 Thompson carbine. At that point, I saw my dream turn into a nightmare when I took it to the range. I couldn’t even get 10 measly rounds of the damn thing without the gun jamming, and the rear sight assembly sheared cleanly off!

By the time the latter incident happened, the factory warranty had already expired, so that meant I had to cough up some extra money for the services of a gunsmith if I had any hope in hell of getting my dream gun-turned-nightmare to finally work properly. I found the gunsmith who restored my dream.

I Found Sterling Arsenal

Months ago, I brought the firearm to Sterling Arsenal in Sterling, Virginia, the same gunsmithing establishment that replaced the sheared-off front sight on my WWI-era Colt M1911 .45 autopistol earlier this year. “AK-Bob (his professional pseudonym, used for privacy reasons), Sterling Arsenal’s Production Director – who’s already well known in the Northern Virginia region for his mastery and creativity with the Kalashnikov and SVD firearms platforms – took it from there and worked his magic.

To resolve the jamming issues, he installed a stronger spring kit for the bolt and charging handle. The rear sight issue took a lot longer to resolve, with much trial and error along the way. What finally did the trick, in AK-Bob’s own words: 

“Before resorting to large rivets I decided to go one more screw size larger. I used 10-32 size screws. The major diameter of these screws is very close to the diameter of the rivets I would have used. So, I figured, why not? Re-tapped the mounting holes, red Loctite, and staked the screws on the inside/underside of the receiver. After 10 rounds of rapid fire, the rear sight is still on solid! Come pick her up at your earliest convenience. I don’t think it will come loose. If it does, bring her back.”

The Acid Test: Back to the Range

With fingers crossed and a tenuous sense of cautious optimism, I headed back to Silver Eagle Group (SEG) indoor shooting facility in Ashburn, Virginia the first available weekend to see just how well AK-Bob’s handiwork would stand the test. 

The ammo I used was PMC Bronze 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) “hardball,” with all shooting consisting of head shots at 7 yards since this is a pistol caliber carbine and not a battle rifle or sniper rifle meant to “reach out and touch someone” at 100 yards or more. I useda Blue Trans-Man target that reminds me of the targets used for the pistol qualifiers at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) during my CBP Officer and ICE Special Agent days.  

The verdict? GLORY HALLELUJAH, my dear brothers and sisters, my Tommy Gun was finally HEALED!! As in 50 rounds spread out across three strings of fire with the factory-furnished 20-round stick magazine. I do have the 50-round drum magazine, but that one is currently in storage. 

The session at the range went off without a single malfunction!! Granted, this is only a start because the old rule of thumb is that you need to shoot at least 200 jam-free rounds before you can trust a firearm for self-defense purposes, but since this gun is strictly “just for fun” and not intended as a serious home defense piece, I’ll take whatever I can get … especially after what I said at the beginning about previously being unable to fire off even ten rounds without a malfunction.

Accuracy was excellent too, with those big fat mini-pumpkin ball-like .45 ACP rounds chewing out the center of the target’s head. 

So Then, Where to From Here?

I plan to continue putting rounds through my newly resurrected Tommy to see how long she makes it without malfunctioning again. So then, after this experience, can I now recommend the M1927 Thompson semiauto carbine. A very conditional yes, with a weary Caveat emptor still accompanying it; while some of my shooting buddies and acquaintances of mine have been damn lucky and had zero problems with theirs, a roughly equal number of other shooting peeps have reported the same kind of issues I experienced. Also, one problem that still persists is that the magazine can still be a finicky pain in la derriere to lock and seat in place properly. 

So, if you plunk down your hard-earned, Bidenflation-devalued dollars for a Thompson carbine, just be ready to make judicious use of either the manufacturer’s warranty and/or your local gunsmith’s services. 

If you’re in the “The DMV” aka “The Beltway” aka “The Swamp,” be sure to check out Sterling Arsenal if you’re looking for a top-notch gunsmith in the local area, and tell AK-Bob, Luis, Lance, et al, that I sent ya! (DISCLAIMER: No, I’m not their paid spokesperson!) 

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).