In all my years of dealing in Class 3 weapons, I have received more requests for Thompson Guns than any other weapon by far. There are 3 eras in which the Thompson Gun was produced. The original Colt Thompson, March 1921 to April 1922. The WWII Thompson, 2nd World War. The West Hurley Thompson, circa 1970 to 1980. After buying and selling thousands of NFA weapons over the years, I still consider the Colt Thompson the most beautiful weapon that has ever been produced. Simply a piece of artwork. I was fortunate to become interested early on, when weapons seemed to be more affordable. Even in those days, I was still quite taken back by the expense of a nice Thompson vs other class 3 weapons. The jpegs of the Thompsons listed are actual photographs of the weapons that have been in my personal collection for over 30 years. As the years move on I have decided that I can’t keep everything so I have reluctantly decided that it is time to part with some from my collection. I have taken a great amount of time and effort to photograph them in as much detail as possible with the equipment and skills that I now possess. Unfortunately I have found that taking detailed close up jpegs of arsenic blued metal can be very deceiving. In many cases the flash back give the appearance that finish is either bare or patina when it is in fact a beautiful deep blue. Scratches on metal, dings on wood and imperfections always seem to be much more pronounced than they actually are. Dried oil seems to display itself as rust. In some cases, this oil has been on the weapon since it left the factory. I have chosen to leave it as is. Rarely will I alter the condition in which a weapon has been received. I consider it part of the weapons history. Others might disagree. In any case, the jpegs that you are viewing have not been doctored, touched up or altered in any way. Keep in mind that these weapons are over 100 years in age.
A quick overview:
This is my opinion of what makes one weapon more collectable (valuable) than another. It is for reference only. It is my opinion and mine only. Undoubtedly, there will be someone who will have nothing better to do than critique every word that I have placed on this page. Usually someone that has never owned a Thompson and has read far too many books. Nothing is absolute in this world. I will cover some basic information here vs repeating it in every section of weapons that are being offered for sale. Obviously, it would be impossible to go into every detail of the Thompson gun in just a few paragraphs of text on this web page. There are books available for those who wish to pursue such detailed knowledge.
Originality, condition and provenance are typically the 3 driving factors in weapon pricing. Most of the weapons that are for sale on the market today are typically 85% to 88% condition weapons. Not all, most. Weapons that exist in the 92% and up condition are extremely rare and expensive. Weapons in the 97%, 98%+ condition are almost non-existent. Weapons that you view on my web page were purchased years ago and were typically hand selected because of their condition and provenance. If anything is missing or is incorrect, the value of the weapon will suffer proportionally. That is because original Colt components are almost impossible to locate. WWII parts are WWII parts. Colt parts are original Colt parts. They are different. I put very little stock in early serial numbers vs later serial numbers. However, many others do. My focus is typically on original percentage of finish remaining, with an even a greater focus on provenance. You will find three models of the Colt Thompson for sale here. The 1921A, 1921AC, 1921/28 Overstamp or Navy gun. The 1921A will be the rarest with its fixed sight and rate of fire of approximately 800 rounds per minute. The 1921AC is basically a 21A with a “Cutts” type compensator. Both were marked “Model of 1921”. The 1921/28 model or Navy weapon is a version of the 1921AC with a heavier actuator that slowed the rate of fire to about 600 rounds per minute. You will find that all of the 1921/ 28 weapons were marked “US Navy” and had the number “8” hand stamped over the last number “1” in the model 1921 marking. Of the 15,000 weapons originally produced, 25% were 21A’s, 33% 21AC’s and 41% 21/28’s. The first weapon produced sported serial number 41. The last serial number 15041. Note that some prototype weapons were produced and a few still exist. Only a handful of the weapons that left the factory were classified as semi-auto Colts. The model 1927. Although they are quite rare, they never seem to command the high dollar figures that the full auto weapons do. That being said, they are still classified as machine guns on the National Firearms Act Registry. Just over 2,400 of the original 15,000 weapons are known to have survived to date (IMHO). Wood for all weapons was manufactured by Remington and typically has a red to purple hue to it. Beautiful to say the least. The weapons were machined to perfection and then arsenic blued. Any weapon that has been reblued, has had its value diminished substantially. No Colt Thompson ever left the factory with a parkerized finish. The internal bolts were all nickel plated and the Blish lock was manufactured from solid brass. All selector switches, actuator knobs, magazine release catches and stock release buttons were finely checkered. The rear butt stocks were all removable, marked with a serial number under the butt plate and carried an armorers mark on the small end of the front of the stock. All barrels were finned and all weapons had Lyman adjustable rear sights. The barrels had an alignment mark that matched perfectly with a like alignment mark on the right hand side of the receiver where the barrel screwed into the receiver. Some will argue, but I have seen a few exceptions to this rule. With the exception of a few prototype weapons, all were manufactured in the .45 caliber. The right hand side of the receiver carried the “New York, NY” address, the left hand side the “Colt Patent Firearms” name. All weapons accepted box magazines and drums. Most weapons sported the vertical fore grip, but a very few left the factory with a horizontal grip. They are quite rare. Like anything else that was manufactured by hand there were exceptions to the rules. Typically human error. The craftsmanship required to manufacture these weapons no longer exist today.
My intent in this section is not to be arrogant and give the impression that I know it all, but more so to educate. I know what I know and that is all. There are many far more knowledgeable than I am and to them I yield. I am always open to critique and welcome such from knowledgeable parties.
I would like to express a special thanks to Tracie Hill and Gordon Herigstad, two very knowledgeable individuals that helped me early on in the game and to many other nameless knowledgeable collectors as well. If you have a request for information on any particular piece or a question in general, please email and I will do the best I can to help.