Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thompson Auto-Ordnance 1911-A1 Standard

A step up from our normal calibers, this time we go all the way to a full size pistol in 45 ACP. This is an Auto-Ordnance “Thompson” line of 1911 style pistols. Thompson pistols are still being made under their current owner Kahr Arms. This particular one pre-dates that acquisition and is sometimes called a “West Hurley” Thompson, named after the manufacture city of its time.

In its early years of production it was made from military parts on a Essex frame and slide with a commercial colt barrel. Production then moved to cheaper "market" parts that gave the gun a poor reputation for quality. This transition into cheaper parts started in earnest after SN 4000 (1983). Some online research puts this gun back into 1987 or possibly 1986.Kahr Arms has been improving the quality of the Thompson since its purchase.

At a weighty 46.7 oz (2 lbs, 14.7oz), this Thompson is a hefty, dark, sleek looking gun. The front sight is a massive blade with no angle cuts to it. A Pachmayr wrap-around rubber grip (Signature Model) was added and provides an excellent grip for shooting.

Disassembly: Another new adventure for me is the take-down of a 1911 with a barrel bushing. Not difficult, but still new and a wonderful learning experience. Press down on the recoil spring while you rotate the bushing 90 toward the ejector port. Be careful not to launch the spring into space (or your eye) as you let the pressure off and remove the spring. Turn the bushing back to center and remove the take-down lever by aligning the half-moon cut in the slide with the lever to push it out. At this point, you remove the slide. Another turn of the barrel bushing will allow you to remove it and then pull the barrel out the end of the slide. The internals of the Thompson were as sturdy and well built as the outside, although the barrel looks out of place. It is less refined with more of a cast, unfinished look.

Shooting: The iron sights are so big and bulky when compared to the other guns we shoot, that I expected to take a while to zero in on a bullseye. Boy was I wrong. Dead center at 25 feet. Where you point this gun is where it shoots, even when we put it back to 50 feet. I was pleased with the shots and can only imagine what I could do with some practice. The recoil was negligible and in line with what a .45 should kick. The trigger broke smoothly as well.
Thompson_AO_DAD_shot Thompson_AO_SKD_shot

We did experience 1 or 2 (OK, MANY) problems with Stovepipes (FTE’s – Failure To Eject the spent casing). It didn’t always “jam” but when it did, it would do it for several times in a row. The cause could be the gun itself, the magazine or (as is most likely) limp-wristing on our part. Having little experience with full sized 1911’s, it is possible I would need some more practice. I have shot other 1911’s without such errors, though.

The Bad: Well all the jams and stovepipes is a bit of a bummer but I am not sure it was the guns fault. That’s about the only bad thing I could find for this gun

Overall impression: A sturdy gun with great accuracy. I realize that it is not a competition grade gun, but it was a pleasure to shoot. I would not turn down owning a Thompson as long as the price is right. I am very grateful for our friend lending it to us for evaluation.

(my M&P 40 compact on top of the Thompson)


  1. Could you provide the sources for your research into the serial number of this pistol? I own one (just purchased) that I have been trying to establish a mfr. date on and thus far have been unsucessful. The number is AOC 58776.


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