Thompson Sub-Machine Gun

Chicago Typewriter


This is what it looks like to peer down-range from behind a Thompson fully-automatic submachine gun. You can actually see a spent cartridge ejecting at the lower right-hand side of the picture, just above the major’s right elbow.

The Thompson is an extremely heavy weapon that’s capable of firing 900 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition per minute, and let me tell you, that’s fast. The experience of firing one of these babies is like no other. I took this photo and was peppered with gunpowder during each burst of gunfire, even from the distance where I stood, which was as you see it. I didn’t use the zoom. We took this shot in a controlled situation while wearing full protective gear and employing other safety precautions. I say this because I don’t recommend this method of photography. It’s not safe. Gee, the things we do for book research.

The Thompson was extremely popular in the 1920s among both law enforcement and gangsters alike. The notorious John Dillinger and his gang amassed an arsenal of these “Chicago Typewriters.” The FBI and other agencies, such as the NYPD, also put Tommy Guns to use in their efforts to battle crime. In fact, the weapon became so popular in law enforcement circles it earned another nickname, The Anti-Bandit Gun.

5 replies
  1. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Hi Lori. Thanks for stopping by.

    Lori has been known to shoot a time or two, so she really knows what she’s talking about.

    You know, I’ve always thought Tauras made some pretty decent pistols, even back in their early days.

    Good, another sort of negative vote against a Glock. What is the fascination wit those things among writers? I guess the thing that bothers me so much about it is that writers use them in their books like they’re the universal gun for law enforcement and that’s simply not the case. Not by a “long shot.”

  2. Lori G. Armstrong
    Lori G. Armstrong says:

    Lee! Great blog. But you definitely need that Tommy Gun gold-plated 🙂 They sure look purty all shiny gold (my husband’s company did a boatload of gold-plated Tommy Guns for some organization a few years back)

    I don’t know if this helps for what women carry, but I always thought I’d be a 9mm Glock chick…and the damn thing doesn’t fit my hand worth a damn–and I am not a petite little thing with small hands. I’m not in love with the gun enough to mess around with finding the right grips. Kahr Arms has a good small pistol, as does Taurus – both bigger than .22 cal.

  3. Rhonda Lane
    Rhonda Lane says:

    I got to hear a Thompson fired at a symposium at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. The weapons master from “Walker: Texas Ranger” came by and fired several different guns used by the Rangers through their history.

    After that, anytime I see on those old gangster movies where several guys spray the room with “Chicago typewriters” now, I always think that the shooters’ll end up as deaf as posts. The Thompson firing in auto is LOUD. I can’t imagine the racket from several Tommy guns firing in an enclosed area.

  4. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Hi MFM – Thanks for stopping by.

    I don’t think there’s a single brand or caliber handgun that women carry for protection. I’d think the choice is more of comfort and ease of use. Like a good fitting pair of shoes, a handgun should comfortably fit the shooter’s hand.

    I know a few female police officers who carry LadySmiths, a small frame Smith and Wesson 9mm. Also, Sig Sauer makes an excellent pistol. That’s what I carried. But most firearms manufacturers make and sell weapons for people with small hands.

  5. mfmakichen
    mfmakichen says:

    Hi Lee,
    I hope you have a great weekend. When you get back on duty I have a question for you. Is there a specific kind of handgun that women tend to buy for protection? Thanks!

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