What's It Like To Shoot A Real Life Tommy Gun? Fallout Guns Vs. Real World Guns

by Andrew

In anticipation of the release of Fallout 76 in November, we’re taking a look at the guns of the Fallout universe and comparing them to real guns. The Fallout series of games is set in a post apocalyptic alternate history universe that diverged from our history somewhere after 1945. The transistor was developed later in the Fallout world than in our world and nuclear technology is much more advanced while computer technology is much less advanced. It’s not too important to get wrapped up in the details of the whole alternate history thing. Just think of it as a picture of Morrow Morrow land, the way we thought the future might have been in 1950.

Because of this shared history, many guns exist in the Fallout universe that also exist in the real world.
Theoretically, anything that existed in 1950 or so should also exist in Fallout, but the game designers can’t possibly include every real world gun. There are also a lot of cool, fictional guns like the Gauss rifle, plasma rifle, and an atomic bomb catapult but this video series will focus on the guns that appear in both Fallout and in the real world. What better place to start than the iconic Thompson sub machine gun?

Does it get any more 'Merkah than this?

In Fallout 4, it is referred to only as a “submachine gun”. Like other guns in the game, it is highly customizable, but it is reasonably effective in the vanilla flavor without any mods. Notable legendary versions are the Silver Submachine gun, which is just a silver skin that goes along with the cool, film noir Silver Shroud story line, and the Spray n’ Pray which shoots exploding bullets.

Fallout 4 Tommy Gun

But this video is about comparing a real life Tommy gun to the one in the game and to make that happen, our friends at Scottsdale Gun Club hooked us up with a no kidding, real life Tommy gun. Shooting the Tommy gun was, of course, an absolute blast. Like most true sub machine guns, it fires from an open bolt. Consequently, the trigger pull is very heavy and long. You don’t squeeze the trigger so much as yank it. It would be difficult to hit a man at anything more than 100 yards or so. It would also be pretty hard to have a negligent discharge. you have to really want to shoot this gun for it to fire. The Thompson is heavy. Suprisingly heavy, really. It weighs 10 lbs. Empty. To put that in perspective, an M16A2 weighs a little under 9 lbs with a full 30 round mag. But that weight makes it rather controllable. It’s not as flat shooting as some more modern designs like the Kriss Vector or even the MP5, but for a straight blowback sub machine gun in .45 Auto, it is surprisingly easy to hold groups.

Of course, this wasn’t actually an antique. This gun is available to rent at SGC and they would be insane to let people beat up a valuable antique day after day. It is a faithful reproduction of the M1A1 made by SGC gunsmiths.

Scottsdale Gun Club's reproduction of the M1A1 Thompson sub machine gun.

As video games go, the Fallout rendition of the Tommy gun is fairly true to life. Cosmetically, some of the details are from the M1928 and some are M1, but it is unmistakably Thompson. The firing rate is quite similar and it looks really close. The charging handle and ejection port are on the wrong side, as is the case in many games. Video game developers like to put the cool bits in view of the “camera”. Of course, real .45 Auto doesn’t esplode bad guys like it does in the game, no matter what the over sharing old dude at the gun counter tells you. Even though pistol FMJ is kind of underwhelming in gel, I know you would be extra disappointed if I didn’t do a gel test.

16 tracks from .45 Auto 230 gr FMJ
The face of the gel block.

Of course, all the rounds penetrated completely through the 16″ gel block and continued down range. But had they been captured, they would look like most FMJ: 100% weight retention with no expansion.

The Thompson is an iconic weapon that’s a blast to fire and I can’t wait to see what other classic guns appear in Fallout 76.

Check out the machine gun rental packages at SGC:

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Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com

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