Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.


Thompson Submachine Gun

General John T. Thompson, a graduate of West Point, began his research in 1915 for an automatic weapon to supply the American military. World War I was dragging on and casualties were mounting. Having served in the Army’s ordnance supplies and logistics, General Thompson understood that greater firepower was needed to end the war.

Thompson was driven to create a lightweight, fully automatic firearm that would be effective against the contemporary machine gun. His idea was “a one-man, hand held machine gun. A trench broom!” The first shipment of Thompson prototypes arrived on the dock in New York for shipment to Europe on November 11, 1918, the day that the War ended.

In 1919, Thompson directed Auto Ordnance to modify the gun for nonmilitary use. The gun, classified a “submachine gun” to denote a small, hand-held, fully automatic firearm chambered for pistol ammunition, was officially named the “Thompson submachine gun” to honor the man most responsible for its creation.

With military and police sales low, Auto Ordnance sold its submachine guns through every legal outlet it could. A Thompson submachine gun could be purchased either by mail order, or from the local hardware or sporting goods store.

Dillinger's Choice

While Auto Ordnance was selling the Thompson submachine gun on the open market in the ’20s, Gen. Thompson was uncomfortably aware of what the guns could do if in the wrong hands. To his distress, the submachine gun turned out to be the weapon chosen by gangsters.

The “Tommy Gun” gun, literally, made the ’20s roar. Possessing tremendous firepower, the Thompson submachine gun was an effective weapon. The Thompson was used by gangsters, such as Al Capone, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.

Trusted Companion for Troops

It was, also, in the mid ’20s that the Thompson submachine gun was adopted for service by an official military branch of the government. The U.S. Coast Guard issued Thompsons to patrol boats along the eastern seaboard. In 1928, Auto Ordnance made a new Navy model to be used by Marines on Naval gunboats.

World War II began, and the Army recognized the need for the submachine gun. The Thompson, simplified and more durable with the butt stock removed and a 30 round stick magazine, became the constant companion of American soldiers. Story, after story, tells how it was the fire of the Thompson submachine gun that protected the villages, saved the troops and won the battles in Europe and the Pacific.

Historical Research

Kahr Arms is proud to preserve the legacy of Auto-Ordnance Corporation, the original maker of the famous Thompson submachine gun. To assure the historical accuracy of the Auto-Ordnance design, Kahr researched the original engineering drawings. Hundreds of U.S. military microfiche and hand drawings of the Thompson models dating back to 1919 were examined.

Put a piece of American history in your hands.

Engineering and Design

With the objective to introduce modern manufacturing features to make the Thompson submachine gun more reliable without taking away from its historical design, a computer 3-D model was first created. Design engineers created a 3-D model utilizing advanced CAD/CAM software where exact measurements of each component were made.

After ensuring proper assembly and function of the 3-D model, 2-D drawings of the gun were generated. These new engineering drawings are used for the manufacturing process

Put a piece of American history in your hands.

CNC Machining

Employing the capabilities of CNC machining centers, the Thompson’s main components are precision machined, cut from solid steel exactly to the engineering blueprint. High-tech manufacturing is applied so that the main components are manufactured in one or two operations to minimize any deviation in tolerance. Machining parts to the tightest universal tolerance facilitates easy assembly and assures proper operation of the Thompson.

Put a piece of American history in your hands.


Quality is never compromised in a Thompson. Every Thompson submachine gun is made in accordance with the strictest international manufacturing standards, and is individually tested at the factory firing range. The quality-conscious Auto-Ordnance staff is committed to assure your confidence in purchasing a Thompson submachine gun.

Put a piece of American history in your hands.

Dedicated Workers

The Thompson submachine gun is manufactured in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the region commonly known as the “Gun Valley”. Auto-Ordnance factory personnel are artisans in gun manufacturing and take pride in their fine workmanship. Each gun remains American-made, hand assembled of select quality materials.

Put a piece of American history in your hands.

A Piece of American History

The Thompson submachine gun is a historical firearm. Each one is the union of original design, quality materials and fine workmanship. An American legacy preserved.
Carried by the gangsters in the ’20s.
Trusted by the troops during World War II.
Find out how it feels to hold a Thompson submachine gun!

Put a Piece of American History in Your Hands.