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On Dec. There was even a firepower demonstration and the unit brought out an array of American and foreign firearms, including a well-worn MAC with a sound suppressor. Like other special operations elements in the U.
Visitors to Hurlburt Field on Dec. Official photos from the event show a member of the nd hosing down various reactive targets, including containers of water and one that burst into flame, with the diminutive MAC The target range also included a dummy sitting on a mock bus stop bench with a bottle of "booze" in paper bag. At the same time, movies and television shows further popularized the MAC and its derivatives as the weapon of choice for criminals and terrorists and anti-hero cops and mercenaries alike.
At less than a foot long with its wire stock folded up and less than seven pounds empty, the small guns were easy to carry concealed. They might not have been particularly accurate, but firing more than 1, rounds per minute, they could lay down a hail of fire in a confined space.
With that rate of fire, a shooter could expend the gun's magazine — with 30 rounds in the. But these same attributes that made them attractive to criminals were the ones Ingram and WerBell thought would make them ideal for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism type missions, as well as for police duties and VIP protection details. The U. In the s, Ingram had set up his own firm, Police Ordnance Company, selling in part weapons of his own design. In , he crafted his first prototype Model 10 in. The next year he made a second prototype in 9mm.
He found no takers for his newest guns and shelved the project, moving on to take an engineering job with aviation firm Fairchild-Hiller. During the same period, WerBell had been working separately developing sound suppressors and other specialized weapons for elite U. WerBell, a veteran of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, the precursor organization to the CIA, and professional mercenary later in life felt a Model 10 with one of his suppressors would be well suited to discreet operations.
The firm subsequently rebranded the guns as MACs and offered a smaller. With connections to the CIA and the U. WerBell was so eager to show off the gun, Ingram had to design quick craft an initial batch of suppressors to go along with the guns for the initial trips, according to one article from Small Arms Review. WerBell did eventually develop a SIONICS unit specifically for the MAC that featured two distinct chambers that would bleed off propellant gasses, reducing noise from firing and eliminating any muzzle flash.
It also served as an easy way to hold the gun steady, but quickly became too hot for shooters to hold with their bare hands, leading to the further addition of Nomex cover. Army Special Forces and the U.
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He attributed this to the different metals used in the breech and breech block. He believed that under great pressure, two different metals could adhere together better than two pieces of the same metal. He called it the Blish Principle, around which he designed a breech block which could be used in small arms. He patented his idea in and Thompson bought the rights to use the idea in his gun.
Gun Control Is Tax-Subsidized Marketing for Illegal Submachine Guns
The Thompson used a small bronze H-shaped block which fitted into the gun's steel bolt. According to the Blish Principle, this would slow the bolt's recoil. There was just one problem: Scientifically, the Blish Principle of metal adhesion does not exist. In reality, the effect Blish was seeing was that his lock merely added mass to the gun's bolt, which, in a blowback gun, simply slows the travel of the bolt. Later, when the Thompson was simplified to create the M1, the Blish lock was also abandoned.
When the trigger was pulled, the bolt was released, slamming into the breech. That ignited the round in the chamber and fired the gun. The pressure from the fired round would then send the Thompson's bolt recoiling to the rear, extracting and ejecting the spent case before the process repeated itself. Thompson himself was recalled to service when the U. The early Thompson prototypes came too late to fight the war they'd been designed for, but they had suitably aggressive names Persuader and Annihilator.
One early model capable of firing up to 1, rounds per minute—an utterly uncontrollable rate of fire. In , the Thompson began to take on its famous classic shape, and by , Auto-Ordnance had a refined its submachine gun to the point it was ready to go to market.
With the great war over, Thompson took his gun to the civilian market, selling it as an "anti-bandit gun. In , he embarked on a sales tour of Europe. The British came away impressed by the submachine gun, praising it for being handy and compact. But post-war budget constraints prevented any purchases. In , Thompson tried again, demonstrating an improved model to the French army, who was unimpressed.
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The Thompson did find some customers with the U. Postal Service ordering to protect the mail from violent thieves. Of course, that's not the end of the story. The Thompson's high rate of fire and large magazine capacity saw it catapulted to infamy as the weapon of choice for lawmen and gangsters during the s and 30s. Thompsons quickly entered the vernacular of popular culture as Tommy Guns or Chicago Typewriters. Two were used during the infamous St.
Valentine's Day massacre when 70 rounds a full round box magazine and a round drum magazine were emptied into seven members of the Moran Gang in a matter of seconds.
And while the Thompson was also found in the hands of the law, it has become forever associated with Depression-era gangsters. Although some police departments had privately bought Thompsons it was not until , that the FBI finally received Thompsons in custom carrying cases. Ironically by then the majority of gang members and gangsters the FBI had been tasked with stopping had already been either killed or captured.
The movies did their part in this myth-making. During the burgeoning years of Hollywood, the Tommy Gun became extremely popular on the silver screen, with popular gangster films featuring charismatic outlaws wielding the Thompson. By , however, a set of guidelines called the Motion Picture Production Code had been introduced.
In an effort to deglamourise outlaws, the code dictated that gangster films should be filmed from the G-Men's perspective. Gangsters could no longer be seen with automatic weapons and the Tommy Gun became the on-screen weapon of the FBI agent. This altered the tone of gangster films with the Tommy guns iconic status helping to glamorise the G-men rather than the gangsters. The Thompson has since appeared in more than a thousand films and TV shows. Despite the notoriety, business wasn't good. The Thompson had the dubious honor of being one of the first weapons subject to the National Firearms Act, which prohibited the use of automatic and concealable weapons by civilians in the U.