By the mid-1920s Auto Ordnance had only sold a few thousand of their .45 ACP Thompson submachine guns to military and law enforcement organizations. To help increase sales they started marketing them to private business owners. This above advertisement, which shows a cowboy gunning down a gang of cattle rustlers, recommends the 1,500 rpm submachine gun for the defense of “large estates, ranches, plantations etc.”.
With military purchases almost non-existent, Auto Ordnance decided that it had to beef up submachine gun sales to State and Local Police departments. AO was quick to take advantage of the public’s concern over the new “motorized bandits” that were terrorizing small towns. These were criminals that would rob a bank and quickly leave town in their get-away cars; often exchanging gunfire with the local police who were hot on their trail. But even with sales to the PD’s of New York, Boston and San Francisco, and to the State Police in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut and Michigan, sales to law enforcement hadn’t materialized in the quantities expected. By 1925 only three thousand Thompsons had been sold. To help boost sales, Auto Ordnance soon resorted to advertising the Thompson Submachine gun as the answer to every possible solution that a firearm could provide. The most notorious being one that depicted a Cowboy blazing away with his Thompson, defending his ranch from Mexican cattle rustlers and bandits.
This sort of advertising may seem incredible today, but in 1925 anyone with $225 could purchase a Thompson Submachine gun either by mail order, or from the local hardware or sporting goods store. And with military and police sales being flat, Auto Ordnance sold it’s machineguns through every legal outlet it could. It wasn’t until 1934 that machineguns, and other classes of firearms such as suppressors (silencers) and short barreled rifles and shotguns, were eventually placed under strict Federal Regulation with the passage of the National Firearms Act (NFA).
Now many of you will be thinking “why didn’t grandaddy buy a few of these for me to inherit?”. $225 in today’s money is the equivalent of just over $3,000. Today, a used Thompson will set you back at least $9,000 or $10,000 but an unused .380 Cobray M11 machine pistol can be purchased for just $3,500. So the question you should really be asking is why you have not purchased a machine gun yourself for your grandkids to inherit.