Ohio Sheriff’s Dept Auctioning Off a Thompson Model 1921

When I was a kid the Thompson sub machine gun was one of my favorite guns. It just looked cool in those old gangster and WWII movies with the drum mag and the foregrip. Unfortunately I’ll probably never own a real Thompson sub machine gun, they’re a bit out of my price range. If you’re in the market for one the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s office in Ohio will be auctioning off a Thompson Model 1921 that they’ve had in their possession for 83 years.

Sheriff Abe Laird originally purchased the Chicago Typewriter back on May 13, 1934, it has a low serial number too. Their current Sheriff Orvis Campbell isn’t sure why they bought the Thompson, they think it was during riots they had in the county during the Great Depression. They had the 1921 Thompson recently appraised by an expert at around $37,000, they’re expecting to get around $50,000 at auction. The Thompson is all original minus the original carrying case and it has been stored in their weapons armory all these years with the occasional cleaning a few times a year. The last time the Thompson was fired was during SWAT training five years ago. The Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s office will be using proceeds from the sale of the Thompson for new firearms, weapons lights and holsters for their officers.

This isn’t the first time police departments have sold off Thompsons, the St. Louis police sold 27 Thompsons at $22,000 a piece a few months back.



Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog ArmoryBlog.com and Instagram.

Shoot me an email at ray.i@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Brett baker

    We all want it, we just can’t afford it!😣

    • Major Tom

      Truthiness.

  • Alex A.

    Wow even for a Thompson that’s too rich for my blood. Although whoever ends up with it, I’ll clean it for free!

    • PK

      Well, it’s a gorgeous 1921. Crazy as it might sound, that’s a fairly rare model, low (2000s out of about 15000 made) serial number, and one of the earliest of the design series sold. Out of two million or so Thompson-type SMGs made, it was in the first 3,000 ever produced. Just the drum is worth a few thousand dollars, in that condition.

      It’s a piece of history and then some.

      • Alex A.

        Wow! Thanks for shining a bit of light on that for me. If guns could talk eh? I wish my M1 Garand could tell me what it’s been through.

        • PK

          Find the serial number, maybe it can tell you more than you think… records were kept, and are available to the public. It might give you a general idea, at least!

  • Phil

    The sheriff doesn’t know why they bought it? 1934….Barrow, Karpis, Dillinger gangs were all over the place…

    • B-Sabre

      This was the 1930’s equivalent of the local sheriff acquiring an MRAP.

      • PK

        Exactly my line of thinking, as well. “Hey, cool! There’s even a plausible reason I can give to get this funded…”

        • B-Sabre

          Right. the above poster cite Barrow and Dillinger, but really….how many armed gangs were there really going around and shooting up the place?

          • PK

            Almost none, as you seem to know as well. Some were extremely highly publicized, but the frequency of discussion doesn’t reflect the frequency of the events/people themselves.

          • frankspeak

            the NFA passed in 1934…was nicknamed “the gangster gun act”…

          • PK

            It may have been nicknamed “floating green elephant control act” for all it applied to reality.

          • Brett baker

            Well, the East Liverpool PD and feds shot up Pretty Boy Floyd around that time. Less than an hour’s drive to T- county from there.

      • Just Say’n

        Except back then, even the average Joe could buy a Thompson mail-order for $200.

        • B-Sabre

          If they could afford to drop the equivalent of about $3000 for a firearm (which is high-end AR territory).

          • frankspeak

            and about where legal automatic weapons start…

      • Aaron White

        No it wasn’t. Before 1934 anyone could walk into their local mom and pop store and buy one for about $200. You could even buy it and have it mailed to you.

        • B-Sabre

          I meant more in the line of “preparing for a threat unlikely to every materialize” than in terms of capital outlay.
          And $200 was equivalent to about $3000 in 1930, so this was about like a high-end AR for the time period.

        • frankspeak

          not very practical during the depression…when a good shotgun could be had for $50 or less…and would put meat on the table…

      • Bucho4Prez

        inflation adjusted cost of a Thompson is ~$3500. Not quite as egregious as deputy armored car, but I think you are on to something there…

        • B-Sabre

          Yeah, see my reply to Aaron White below.

      • frankspeak

        bad guys already had them..just an attempt at survival…

    • PK

      Doesn’t know, as in, there was no reason and it was overkill and silly.

    • frankspeak

      pretty boy floyd…caught and killed in eastern ohio….

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Ah, America.
    Where the cops sell machine guns to citizens.

    USA! USA!

    • CrazyKg

      This legitimately made me laugh out loud.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Still not as fun as middle school in Cold War Russia where kids learned how to throw grenades and tear down AK’s.

        • Dan

          I’ve seen recent videos of school kids in Russia tearing down AKs. Now they just hack elections :/

        • frankspeak

          ever had your country invaded…and occupied?…

      • HR Pufnstuf

        Wish to heck they were offering as a raffle. Might make even more money, and give us poor schmuks an even chance.

        • frankspeak

          acquired mine for less than $600 back in the eighties…you guys were just born too late!…

    • USMC03Vet

      Wouldn’t want it any other way. Dat freedom.

    • frankspeak

      all fairly routine…and a common way for well-heeled collectors to acquire them..and you can bet your ass they’ll never be used in a crime…which seems uniformly true of all legally possessed automatic weapons…

  • Maxpwr

    That will be cool to own for a few years until machine gun possession is eventually banned entirely.

    • Major Tom

      Okay Debbie Downer.

    • john huscio

      Doubtful

    • Anonymoose

      Real machineguns will probably never be illegal in the US. Other things we’re still fighting for. There is a better chance of the registry being reopened and the rest of the NFA being repealed than gun control getting tighter nationally right now.

      • frankspeak

        that won’t happen either…hughes amendment proved that…

    • PK

      Not happening, relax. Too many deep pockets now hold pre-86 MGs as an investment.

    • frankspeak

      won’t happen…owners have clout…and congress is happy with the status quo…individual states have banned them though..you can pretty much guess which ones…

  • jerry young

    The Thompson my favorite gun that I’ll never own a real one I keep saying one of these days I’ll buy an aftermarket Thompson with the violin case, my favorite picture is of Winston Churchill holding a Thompson

  • Sam Damiano

    Need to hit the lottery. Nice gun, too rich for this year.

  • frankspeak

    a lot of these guns were donated to pd’s when the “labor wars” of the 20’s and 30″s came to end and the power of the unions increased…some have paperwork…some don’t…recall a recent experience I had with an officer of the federal reserve which possessed a number of them and wanted to melt them down and create a sculpture….YIKES!