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The Virtual "Tommy Smith"

This page is dedicated to figuring out what is wrong with your Thompson. Comments are welcomed from all readers.  Click here to send in your problem.

Dear VTS,

I don't have a Thompson SMG....I do have a 1980s A.O. 1927 A1 deluxe semi auto that has a broken extractor. I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the broken extractor out of the bolt. Is there an easy way of doing this or some trick to it? If so please let me know.




Let me tell you how to remove a TSMG extractor, and hopefully, the process will be the same for the 1927 model. (Note: Mike confirmed the dissassembly is the same.)

Take a small screwdriver, and put the tip of the screwdriver under the extractor claw. Push the extractor claw outward, say an 1/8”, then push on the handle of the screwdriver so the extractor will move forward in its slot. (Note: There is a stud on the extractor that sits in a hole in the bolt which retains the extractor in place. An 1/8” should make the stud clear its hole; try pushing the claw out a little farther if you don’t succeed at first.)

Continue using the screwdriver as a lever as long as you can. At this point, you should be able to pull the extractor out by hand (Mike's was fouled badly, so he had to drive the extractor out). To replace/reassemble, slip the rear end of the extractor into the slot on the bolt and push it in by hand as far as possible. Push the claw outward with the small screwdriver until the stud clears the bolt, then push the extractor far enough into the slot, so that the top of the stud rests on the bolt. Take a flat non-scratching flat surface (I use the butt end of the screwdriver for this) and press the extractor down the slot until you hear the extractor snap into place.

Good luck,

Dear Readers,

At a range session, I got called over by my friend George to diagnose a problem with Ron's M1A1 TSMG that had a completely jammed bolt (in the forward position) and trigger. We decided remove the lower receiver from the upper. Fortunately, a brass hammer was available. Some "heavy" tapping with the hammer started the lower moving to the rear. A little more tapping and the lower was finally removed. The sear still would not move to the engaged position. At this point, we decided to dissemble the lower. Click here for the instructions. To remove the pivot plate, the safety and fire control rockers must first be removed. Ron came up with two clever field improvisions for removing the rockers. For the safety, Ron used the rubber coated end of a pair of channel lock pliers. Without leaving so much as a scratch, Ron pushed the spring arm down enough to allow me to remove the safety rocker. As for the fire control rocker, Ron had a pair of large jawed electrician's pliers. He pinched the fire control rocker's retaining spring against the safety's retaining spring--success. I removed the sear assembly then the trigger assembly. When I pulled the trigger assembly out, a small piece of metal dropped out. It appeared to be half of a squashed primer--oh was I wrong. After a little cleanup of the parts, I reassembled the lower. One piece left over--damn.

After the second reassembly, Ron fired a few rounds on semi and then switched over to full. All of a sudden, some rounds were not firing and burrs were showing up on the extractor rim of the unfired cartridges. It was time to take a look at the bolt. To our surprise, the M1A1 had a M1 bolt. Not a problem, just a surprise. Ron noticed a sizable chunk was missing from the rim that surrounds the bolt face. To put this in perspective, about one fifth of the rim was missing. So much for the blown primer theory! George generously volunteered his M1A1 bolt for some test firing. The gun fired like a champ--what else would you expect from a TSMG? Ron reluctantly returned George's bolt.

Hopefully, none of you will have to deal with this problem (this was the first chipped bolt face rim I have ever seen). Has anyone else had a similar experience? If so, please write me about you experience.

My last words are: the next time you clean your TSMG, check your bolt face for cracks, etc. Also, check the mating area in the barrel/receiver to make sure there is not a piece of foreign material or a high spot that is hammering the bolt face.
Happy Shooting!!

Dear Readers,

Several of you have requested instructions on disassembly of the lower receiver. Click here for the instructions.

Dear VTS,

I've just purchased the 1927A1 semi-auto from Kahr. I have also purchased two new "L" drums from Kahr. In the instruction manual it states that the drum should be slid in from the left side of the receiver until it locks into place. The problem I'm having is that the drum never locks in place. I probably could push it all the way through and out the other side, though I will not attempt this. The backside of the drum (the side that faces the trigger guard) has two small protrusions, but these do not catch on anything.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Tony,

First, I am assuming The Kahr built drum latches in the same manner as the full auto TSMGs. I am also aware the box magazines have to be modified with an elliptical hole to latch. Note the drum and box magazines have different engagement points on the magazine latch.

That said, look at your drum. About an inch and a half below the rear alignment guide (ridge) and slightly left of center, you should notice a "bump" with the center section having a machined notch running vertically. This notch is where the magazine latch will drop to lock the magazine in place. The latch point for magazine latch is at the lower front end of the magazine latch which is thicker than the rest of the latch. The latch face must drop into the machined notch to lock. Either the latch face is too thick or the notch is not wide enough. A quick rule of thumb: when two pieces have to be fitted (filed in this case), make your adjustments to the piece of lesser value. File carefully and do not use a power tool.

Pushing a drum through a TSMG receiver is not a problem. I don't know why it would be a problem with a Kahr receiver.

If any reader has direct knowledge of Tony's problem with a Kahr built Thompson, please share your knowledge with our readership.

Dear VTS,

I am considering buying a TSMG display model from original parts. However, they can’t send me any assembly instructions for the M1928 TSMG. Do you have any or can you recommend a site where I download such instructions?

Thank you,


Dear Jim,

The VTS has never built a dummy TSMG, but I consulted my expert friend, Ken Snyder. The reason you cannot find an assembly manual is because the receiver is mostly solid to prevent it from being turned into a real TSMG (BATF, or whatever they call themselves today, rules). Only two things can be attached to the upper receiver--the barrel and the lower receiver. The lower receiver will slide onto the dummy from the rear. If the dummy has a spring loaded retainer on the bottom rear, you'll hear a little click when the lower is in place. The actuator is already affixed to the upper to make the appearance correct. The box magazines attach to the lower and extend into the upper dummy; however, to attach a drum magazine, two horizontal grooves have to be milled into the magazine well on the upper dummy. Good luck and enjoy your TSMG display.


Dear Readers,

The Virtual Tommy Smith (VTS) had a barrel and fore grip support still attached to a torch cut M1A1 frame (an A.O.C. receiver with no military acceptance marks). The VTS was unable to get enough of a grip with a barrel vise to remove it. The VTS had to use a Dremel and cold chisel to break the frame in not one but two places. Both pieces had to be knocked off the threads with hammer and chisel. The fore grip support was heated with a propane torch, but still had to be driven off with a hammer. The two pieces were recovered with a great deal of effort. The VTS asked Frank Iannamico if he would draw upon his experiences. Frank graciously added his methods to this month's "Ask Frank" column. The VTS bows to Frank.

While the VTS was surfing the web, he found and interesting website on rebarrelling, etc. One page shows an interesting homemade barrel vise.

Dear VTS,

I displayed my Savage 1928 at the NRA convention. When I went to this year's TCA Show & Shoot, the gun would not fire. Any suggestions?

Not Even Shooting Blanks

This question is real, but TCA/NRA conventioneers are probably the only ones who know the answer. The answer is in the category of an "Oh Sh*t". However, let's see what kind of answers you non-attendees can generate. OK it would be helpful to reinstall the firing pin!

Dear VTS,

My Savage '28 jammed at the range; the bolt doesn't seem to go all the forward, but everything else looks OK. Help!

In a Jam

Dear In a Jam,

Take a careful look at the extractor, I'd guess the extractor got forced out of its retainer hole and moved forward thus preventing the bolt from coming fully forward. Try pulling the extractor forward, I'll bet it will move. To fix the problem, push the claw of the extractor outward away from the firing pin and then rearward. You should hear a click when it snaps into place. Check a Thompson manual on the removal and replacement of the extractor. I've also seen the opposite of this problem, the extractor claw popped out, but went rearwards. This held the claw outward which limited the back travel of the bolt. The fix was to pull the bolt back as far as possible, and put a screwdriver on the edge of the extractor via the ejection port. One or two taps on the screwdriver by a hammer produced the familiar click of the extractor snapping onto place.

Dear Readers,

Here is something for you West Hurley owners from Frank Iannamico's "Ask Frank" column. When W/H Thompson production began they were assembled with many GI Thompson parts. As the GI parts supply began to dwindle, W/H began to make their own parts, which often were not up to GI standards. One common part that caused many feeding problems was the W/H magazine catch. Check all of your parts for a small letter stamped on them, indicating a US GI part. I would suggest replacing all of the internal W/H parts with genuine GI parts.

Dear Readers,

Here's something that happened at this year's Show & Shoot ('04); hopefully, some of you can help. In semi auto, the gun would stop firing after a few shots. My memory is not serving me very well, so I may not be stating the problem correctly. Switching to full auto fixed the problem until semi auto was selected. The "little finger", AKA the disconnector, worked as it should as did the magazine follower which locks the bolt back after the last round is fired. Time did not allow dissassembly of the lower receiver, so I could only guess the trigger return spring was dirty or broken.
Your thoughts are welcome.