Model 1927 Thompson Semi Automatic Carbine

One of the rarest versions of the Thompsons Submachine Gun is the Model of 1927 Thompson Semi Automatic Carbine. These were regular 1921 machine guns that had their fire control groups slightly modified to only firm in semiauto and their receivers remarks to show Model 1927 instead of 1921. The rationale was a number of requests Auto Ordnance received from potential customers who wanted the look of a Thompson, but not an actual machine gun – mostly police and prison agencies that did not want to entrust their officers will fully automatic arms. Only about 100-150 1927 model guns were sold (and there is no specific serial range, they were simple converted one at a time as ordered). Of that very small number, only a very small percentage survive intact today, as most were converted back to fully automatic by later owners. Note that because the receiver is basically identical to a standard Thompson SMG receiver, these are considered machine guns under US law despite being factory semiauto carbines. However, this does mean that they can be legally converted to fully automatic (as, in fact, most have been).


  1. A semi auto used to scare prisoners or rock-throwing mobs? Why not add a bayonet lug and chromed bayonet to go with it for extra intimidation factor?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist the sarcasm mode. I just find it funny that law enforcement would put forward a paper tiger masquerading as a “weapon of mass hysteria.” Once the crowds find the cops can’t do magazine-dumps, the result is likely a horde rush, or in the case of angry protesters with access to cars, vehicular homicide. A single pistol bullet won’t stop a speeding Dodge Fast-Four. Yes, this is a bad joke about people emulating Hollywood heroics.

    • “bayonet lug”
      Police variant of Winchester Model 1907 has as a option lug for Krag bayonet.
      I do not know how many Police Model 1907 were made (and what percent had provision for bayonet), but nonetheless I think that 1907 was more successful commercial-wise, according to:
      It was made until 1958, but I do not know if Police version was offered to that date or drop earlier. Anyway, I think Model 1907 was superior to Model 1927, as it weighted 3,6 kg against 4,69 kg i.e. more than 1 kg on in other term – Model 1907 weighted around 3/4 of Thompson M1921. At same time it had much longer barrel, thus possibly greater accuracy. Finally it used much different cartridge: .351 Winchester, launching 180 gr @ 1800 fps i.e. almost twice as fast as .45 Auto and thus flying much flatter, which means that error in assessment of distance of targets were less important. Advantage of M1927 was bigger magazine (20 vs 15).

  2. I’m going to have to do some reading

    The date of the Homestake strike and massacre could be pertinent background to this

    So could the follow up legal proceedings and publicity – Homestake was a Rockerfeller owned business

    The massacre was by private security employees

    It was bound to attract journalistic interest and generate many column inches on all sides of the disputes that characterised the progressive era

  3. Well, the Homestake strike was in the early 1890s, not likely to generate much bad press for Auto-Ordnance. A controllable, pistol caliber carbine should have been a reasonable product for police and security. But at the price of a Thompson?

    We know that the impression of gangsters and IRA terrorists swarming the land with Thompsons under their arms is just false. How many incidents of police use were there? A couple of FBI shootouts? Did any police force ever fire Thompsons in a riot situation?

  4. One good reason for semi-auto would be that it made it harder for Bubba to loose control and do the “spin of death”.

    • Unfortunately idiots will still want to dump 50 bullets down the range in the blink of an eye. They don’t care and they never will care until someone loses an arm and a leg. Believe Denny, he had to tell off one of them.

  5. As with most glorified and legends from Hollywood, full auto guns may be impressive but have little place in present day Law Enforcement. Today, accountability for each round fired is present due to public scrutiny and being in a litigious society. Warfare and Law Enforcement are two very different tasks. They get bunched together way too frequently. A soldier is not a policeman and a policeman is not a soldier. The weapons of war are not the same as of Law Enforcement. A soldier kills as ordered and to survive. A police officer uses force necessarily to make an arrest.

    • Law enforcement may be more accountable for shots fired today than yesteryear. And that’s certainly a good thing!

      But that accountability change hasn’t happened in Minneapolis near where I live.

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