Auto Ordnance 9mm Tommy Gun — SHOT Show 2018

Most of us, at one point or another, have wanted a Tommy Gun. Among the iconic American weapons, it is a stand out just like the 1911 and the M16. Whether we grew up watching Al Capone movies or the Sands of Iwo Jima, this a weapon we remember from our youth. Unfortunately, full auto Chicago typewriters can fetch tens of thousands of dollars and require that sticky special license. Fortunately, Auto Ordnance has been making civilian-legal versions for some time now. And this year, it got a big update. Enter the Thompson T5-9L20.

Auto Ordnance 9mm Tommy Gun

The two worst things about a Thompson are the weight, and the cost to feed. These guns were developed back when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of iron, or pretty close. Back when your grandfather was storming the beach at Normandy, lightweight weapons weren’t really a thing. Fortunately, the newest version corrects both these problems.


    • Cartridge: 9mm
    • Capacity: 20 +1 rds.
    • Barrel Length: 16.5 in.
    • Weight: 9.5 lbs.
    • OAL: 41 in.
    • Sights: Blade (front); adj. (rear)
    • Stock: Wood
    • Receiver: Aluminum
    • MSRP: $1,364
    • Manufacturer: Auto Ordnance


First off, the gun is now chambered in 9mm. I’m not saying a Tommy Gun shouldn’t be your home defense gun, it would do the job. I am saying that most of us would buy one to go have fun with. 9mm gives a lot more bang for the dollar, that is without question. It is also a lot lighter on the recoil, a bonus for kids and smaller statured significant others.

Secondly, the gun now has an aluminum receiver. The weight savings, to say the least, is immense. It retains all of the iconic looks, but the new gun is deceptively light. If you have ever carried an authentic Thompson for any length of time, you know how much that matters. This also makes it easier for younger shooters to handle and is going to give you a longer range day no matter your size.

Pricing & Availability

This is one of the standouts of the show, and I am really looking forward to blasting some rounds out of one in the near future.

For more information about Auto Ordnance, click here.

To purchase an Auto Ordnance rifle on GunsAmerica, click here.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • Billybob February 7, 2018, 8:57 pm

    It takes 2 people to put on the drum ! One to hold back the bolt and hold down the mag release lever and the other one to aline the mag with the slot and slide it in ! NOTHING BUT A WALL HANGER to IMPRESS a person dumber than the person who bought it !

    • gandolf February 12, 2018, 10:04 am

      My friend has a rare Auto Ordnance Tommy gun in .22 cal. He also has a .45 cal. Since they are semiauto they aren’t made like the full autos. They arte as easy to use as any modern semiauto weapon.

      • billybob February 18, 2018, 12:30 am

        I have a friend ! ME who owns TWO Colts 1921/28 & 1928 ! Your friend has never put a drum mag in a semi auto ! P.S. I have 3 hundred round drums and 4 fifty’s ! Since your (FRIEND knows so much tell him to lock the bolt back on a semi so he can slide in the drums ! Bet your friends uses drums on an M1 Thompson also !

  • ed toomey February 6, 2018, 2:47 am

    can this 9mm be cocked by one man are is it like my A1/M1 so hard to cock it is USELESS.

  • sam February 4, 2018, 8:02 pm

    hi,i am sorry i got started i also belive that $1300.00 price tag is way to much for this thompson 9mm.sam.

  • sam February 4, 2018, 7:59 pm

    also if a bunch of punks as some of you may say started getting there hands on some what would you guys say then its a bad model.lets be real about it.

  • sam February 4, 2018, 7:50 pm

    what are you guys crying about you dont have to look at the 9mm or buy it if somebody likes it buy it and enjoy it why worry about what it.if everybody was crying about what is being sold out there there would not be anything outhere for sale.maybe everybody cant afford what some of you people like so people buy what the can and what they like.sam.

  • Robby February 4, 2018, 6:10 am

    Contradicting what I said just 24 hours ago, perhaps there is a point here. My meaning is that if something with as much rich American heritage as the Corvette were to one day come on the market with a 4 seater family version, there would be people ready to burn GM at the stake over it. It would be a slap in the face to Corvette enthusiasts. I can see how those who appreciate the heritage of the Tommy Gun would feel the same. In a way it cheapens the legacy.

    • Jake February 4, 2018, 11:21 am

      I believe John Browning chambered a Thompson in .38 Super thinking that would be better than the .45 in a sub gun. The .45 is overkill in a sub gun. That said, I like overkill and would like to have an afternoon with one chambered in 10mm mag.
      Back around 1980 our Sherriff’s Dept. traded a blued civilian Colt Thompson for five M-16’s and three Winchester 670’s.

  • Andrew Dawson February 3, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Would be better if they had spent their time improving reliable function of the rifle. I have owned a .45 ACP A-O tommygun for over 15 years. I hardly take it out of the safe because it’s just not fun to shoot when the magazines don’t feed well resulting in constant jams and misfeeds.

  • Robby February 2, 2018, 10:56 pm

    Why criticize Thompson for trying to add a bit to their product line. Sure a 9mm Tommy gun is a bit like a 6 cylinder Mustang. But some people bought em cuz that’s what they wanted. If you don’t want the 9mm or you think it’s a disgrace (And it is a little bit) then buy the 45 ACP. I own the 45 version and would not have it any other way. But they are just trying to add to their customer base. Anyone in business for themselves likely understands this.

  • Nfafan February 2, 2018, 10:17 pm

    Pretty sure the original A-O company built a prototype 9mm, but didn’t fly in the .45ACP-happy USA at the time. That said, have had 3 of the Numrich/A-O semi TSMGs and will never regret selling them off.

  • tom February 2, 2018, 8:10 pm

    We are now in the “Rococo” age of the art of the gun. Excess is weighed in as necessary. Style and function are second to utility. But with every age in art, the weighed value eventually wanes due to boredom. It’s just history repeating itself in another arena. I really wonder what’s next.

  • Tom February 2, 2018, 9:43 am

    The only reason to have a Thompson is for automatic fire. Without that it is just a heavy, unwieldy sham. There are plenty of great modern 9mm carbines that are much better in every way except maybe looks. I don’t want a “pretend that I have one” gun.

  • renny February 1, 2018, 3:12 pm

    much rather have an MP40

  • John Kable February 1, 2018, 3:04 pm

    YEEAAAHH!!, How’s about a pukeymer framed version complete with pukeymer furniture chambered in .22 short?? Why not go all the way with the feminization of an iconic classic weapon blooded in places like Iwo, Tarawa, Anzio, Normandy and all the other contests of conflict?. So sick of all the baloney and lame rhetoric that vainly tries to justify this nonsense. Whie crosses in places far away are beginning to tilt….

    • GradyPhilpott February 1, 2018, 7:33 pm

      I’m not sure I understand this rant completely, but I’d like to point out that even with the aluminum receiver, this weapon stills weighs the same as an M1 or an M-14, so it’s not exactly a lightweight when compared to any AR-15.

      And whose going to argue with having a 9mm version that can make trips to the range a little more affordable.

      Personally, I don’t have any user for this particular weapon, especially at the price, but I wouldn’t begrudge either Auto Ordinance for making these or anyone who wants to own one.

  • John Kable February 1, 2018, 2:24 pm

    Yeeaahh, How’s about a pukelemer receiver version complete with puklemer furniture and accessories chambered in .22 short?? . Lets go all the way with the femineazation of a weapon blooded at places like Iwo , Tarawa, Normandy, Anzio. …So tired of the lame attempts to justify such baloney, white crosses in places far away are beginning to tilt….

  • Norm Fishler February 1, 2018, 12:13 pm

    My personal experience with the Thompson goes way back, almost 60 years when my Dad arranged for me to shoot with the local police department. As a 12 year old I was giddy in anticipation of shooting a Thompson. “Short bursts young man,” the range officer sternly admonished me . . . to which I complied. I rattled off the twenty round magazine in 4-5 round bursts and with the still smoking gun in hand I rolled it over, examining it several times. The first thought that raced through my mind was, “So this is what all the fuss is about?!?!” Heavy, awkward, poorly balanced and the cheapest of them are gawdawful expen$ive. Have fun!

  • Brian Fletcher February 1, 2018, 12:12 pm

    Another fine historical weapon that the second class citizens who’s rights have been forgotten by ALL the politicians in Washington are not allowed to have in the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia!

    • Dale February 1, 2018, 1:53 pm

      Kalifornia has been my home since 77′. Not anymore . Moving to PA. where I won’t be taxed and have to worry about gun laws and buying ammo.

  • Mott Dorn February 1, 2018, 12:05 pm

    A Thompson in 9mm is just plain WRONG, I do understand the cost but 9mm nope!

  • bob borowicz February 1, 2018, 12:05 pm

    I own 9 mm handguns and use 147 grain hollow points . A 45 round is good round but cost more than a 9mm and the 9 mm round will cause a lot of damage. I wouldn’t want tot get shot by either one.

  • Billyd February 1, 2018, 10:41 am

    I’m glad I read this. I am partialy disabled and would not
    be able to operate this piece of properly.

  • JoshO February 1, 2018, 10:28 am

    A Thompson in 9mm is just plain wrong. This gun should be illegal — not because of some dumb liberal reason but because it violates the sanctity of the iconic platform.


  • ejharb February 1, 2018, 9:59 am

    Makes sense!
    Spend all your yearly gun fund to buy and con your friends out of the 2nd cheapest ammo to shoot.
    Yes you can save your rear with it but most will see heavy action on the range.
    As for me I make 45 and own no 9s.
    Tommy’s rule!make mine m1a1!

  • Sundance98 February 1, 2018, 9:24 am

    Got on the first Semi-Auto .45’s Thompson released back in the 1970’s. The barrel was too long, so we cut it down to 16.5 which was legal. Then went to the great Pomona Gun Show and believe it or not, found an original snap on butt stock from
    a 1928 model. Had it super-blued back to 1928 Specs and had the gun of my dreams. There was no kick and shot sweet as can be. No jams no stoves no sweat. Had to clean it though. Sorry I had to let that one go back in the mid 80’s. It is probably still out there someplace calling my name…..”come back…come back”.

    • Brian Fletcher February 1, 2018, 12:15 pm

      I remember the good old days of the Great Western Fair in Pomona. Hopefully both you and the gun escaped from the oppressive state of Kalifornia…

  • Infidel762X51 February 1, 2018, 8:04 am

    Anyone who thinks a thompson in 45 kicks never fired one. I owned a semi-auto Thompson and test fired a 1921 when I was looking to buy a full auto toy, and have shot the two my wife’s cousin owns on several occasions. A 10 lb 45 has almost no recoil. There is no problem at all keeping a full 20 round magazine on a silhouette target at 25 yards full auto. All those tall tales you hear are from people who never actually fired one.

  • Diego Blanchard February 1, 2018, 7:21 am

    What a waste! To take one of the most iconic weapons and turn it into a Punk gun. The 1921 Was a piece of history from WWII into Vietnam. Yea it was used by the bad guys and they did a lot of damage but over all the percentage of use in defending men on the ground during war makes up for the bad. I think it’s an insult to make this icon into a 9mm and shows how desperate some company’s are to sell their products. I think soldiers who were lucky enough to carry the Thompson may be insulted also.

    • Calvin Lego February 1, 2018, 8:46 am

      My Dad, fighting in New Guinea said he preferred the 1903 to anything else because it always worked! To each his own I guess.

    • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn February 1, 2018, 9:35 am

      My father\’s Thompson was his favorite weapon during WWII.. But, no, Diego, it\’s not a \”punk gun.\” It has no sacred pedigree. A halo does not shine around it when it goes into a gun closet.. It is… a functioning item that some shooters would like to own. Period.. Do we say the same thing out of Model 1911s? replica M1 carbines? The civilian version M1A rifles? Seriously, I doubt that my father would have objected… If anything, he\’d probably jump at the opportunity to go through a drum or a magazine of whatever caliber a replica was handed to him – even if it were a 9mm or a (gasp!) .22 rimfire.. You\’re making much ado about nothing…

      • Rex February 1, 2018, 10:08 am

        Thank you. Some folks always find something to complain about.

  • George February 1, 2018, 6:44 am

    Not a bad idea, article wasn’t too bad except for the comment about the “sticky special license”, not really aware of any license to own a machinegun, you need to buy a stamp that costs $200. It’s not a license. This is one reason people misunderstand the process of owning NFA items…

    • RC February 1, 2018, 8:49 am

      the stamp is just part of it. The whole process is a Title transfer owner to buyer like a title of a car but its with the federal government Agency ATF/NFA. When the transfer title is approved which takes anywhere from 3 months to a year a treasury stamp is affixed to it showing approved. the title is sent to the current owner/Seller then contacts the buyer to pick up the machine gun with approved title transfer paperwork. without this paperwork is the difference to being free or in jail

    • Lance February 1, 2018, 10:59 am

      You know of any other “tax” that takes up to 15 months to aquire and an FBI background check with fingerprints? Pure BS! IT IS NOTHING MORE THAN A LICENSING SCHEME! It’s also designed to punish and control gun owners illegally.

  • Pseudomind February 1, 2018, 5:54 am

    “Most of us, at one point or another, have wanted a Tommy Gun. ” Count me out as I have never been interested in owing a Tommy Gun. The article does not state it, but I am sure this is semi-auto only. I have fired full auto weapons a number of times and I have to state I just do not see the fascination shooting full auto after one has done it previously. Of course I do not understand all of the crying about recoil either so many tend to whine about in this day and age. But if this Tommy Gun model is a must have for some, then go for it, no matter the price. Speaking of price what is the price for this item?

    • Cyrus February 1, 2018, 7:00 am

      . . . exactly, I have never “wanted” a “Tommy Gun”, never even thought about it or daydreamed about it. If you have that much available extra money and “want” one by all means go for it but I have so many other “Life” priorities that come before this silly toy!

    • Diego Blanchard February 1, 2018, 7:24 am

      They said about 1,300.00 but having a full auto in 45 with a 100 round drum mag. would be desirable to me for home defense.

    • Allen Lawson February 1, 2018, 9:08 am

      You should read the article again

      • Pseudomind February 1, 2018, 9:25 am

        Why? I know it is semi-auto, and I do not want one even if it was auto fire capable. I have no desire for one, but if others do, so be it.

    • Bert February 1, 2018, 9:09 am

      Around 1300 little more I think I read

  • ed toomey February 1, 2018, 4:50 am


    • Ok then. February 1, 2018, 8:42 am

      I had the same problem with mine when I first purchased it. I read online that had a spring set to correct the problem. Unfortunately for me I am in the People’s Republic of New York and they refuse to ship here.

      On a whim I bought and extended cocking knob and I have to say, that little bit of extra metal really helped. I would highly recommend it if you have one of these and don’t have enough arms to pull the action and hold the gun at the same time.

      • Pete P February 1, 2018, 1:24 pm

        I had problems cocking mine the few few times. I didn’t want to modify it by adding a taller cocking handle. Instead, I use a rather Bohemian method. I keep a 3/4″ PVC cap with the gun and it fits perfectly over the cocking ‘knob’. The added diameter makes cocking it easy as pie. After you shoot it a while, the spring does loosen up a bit, too.

        To those who say they have no interest in one of these, I say you don’t know what you’re missing. When I shoot mine, I laugh like a school kid. It’s just a small guilty pleasure. You have to enjoy things in life just for the sake of enjoying them. You don’t have to have a reason. If you have to have a reason to buy a Thompson, then you’re probably married.

    • Robby February 2, 2018, 10:48 pm

      Actually Ed, it only takes one REAL man to cock it.

      • ed toomey February 5, 2018, 4:29 pm

        I guess I was a kid in VIETNAM but I had a M1/A1 that I could cock with one finger saved my life more than I care to remember.

        • Robby February 9, 2018, 4:15 am

          I think about everyone they sent to Vietnam were kids. They didn’t come back that way. Thanx for your service.

          Props !

  • Mark January 29, 2018, 11:25 pm

    Repeal the Hughes Amendment!

    • Eric February 1, 2018, 8:10 am

      Repeal the unconstitutional FOPA and NFA
      Miller was a farce. Only the government was represented and
      the judge made a finding based on lack of evidence in the record
      in contravention of common sense.

      • Jerry December 14, 2018, 6:44 am

        I thought a group was working on that, maybe they gave up but I sure would like to see it removed

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