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Colt 27 Semi-auto


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#1 Norm

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 04:52 PM

On the ultra-rare Colt 1927 semi-auto only, did they change the model number on the gun from 1921 to 1927.

If so, did they just overstamp it (like the 28 Navy models?)

Thanks,

Norm

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#2 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 05:02 PM

Yes and no. Since Auto-Ord was obliged to gouge out "Thompson Submachine Gun" on the receiver and then stamp "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine," they proceeded to gouge out "Model of 1921" and replaced it with "Model of 1927."
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#3 TD.

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 10:07 PM

I believe gouged out is just a little too course a description of how the markings were removed. All the Model of 1927's I have seen have had the original markings milled away and restamped with new markings. I don't know if Colt performed the conversion but whoever did the milling and remarking did a great job.
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#4 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:13 AM

TD,
This attempt to disguise an already manufactured and stamped gun by milling out portions of the receiver, while professionally done, was not Auto-Ord's finest hour. Re-labeling some 50-odd Colt receivers to accommodate a non-existing market for a semi fire only TSMG was folly at best. That is why I refer to it as "gouging."

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#5 TD.

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 08:03 AM

I agree. To take the point even further, it can also be stated that Auto-Ordnance did not even re-blue the receivers after the modification. The milled out areas in the receivers were just colored black.
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#6 1921A

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 11:00 AM

These are interesting guns. I've been fortunate enough to own one (#5190) and to examine more than a dozen in the field. The original estimate of 150 guns so modified is most probably an optimistic marketing forecast. Collectors have speculated over the years about the actual number produced and 35-50 is a realistic number.

TD - you mention the milled areas are blackened. I've heard that before but interestingly none of the police/prison guns, including mine, were blacked out. The milled areas on the guns examined were always in the white. Most of them do appear to to have been darkened in some manner on the upper receivers - it almost looks like a browning solution but could be just aging cold blue or something like it.

There is a third milled area on the 1927 that usually escapes detection. It is a clearance cut for the semi-auto rocker. You have to disassemble the lower to see it.

I also know of a pair of 1927ACs that were returned to the factory, "overstamped," and converted to 1928 Navys.

Most 1927s I was able to examine had been converted back to SMGs usually with military parts. A surviving 1927 with the original semi-automatic parts is extremely rare. There is also a rumor that a few 1921s in poor condition have been faked to resemble the 1927. I don't know if this is true but it wouldn't surprise me considering the high value of the 1927.

Why the company chose to redesignate the model number when restricting the gun to semi-automatic fire is a mystery. They could just as easily have stamped an "S" after the "Model of 1921" marking and accomplished the same thing.

Greg Fox
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#7 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:08 PM

1921A,
The 1927 Model may be "interesting," but really should command no more than a Model 21, or Navy 28, or a matching late serial numbered frame and receiver with early frame fire markings in comparable condition. The notion that these 1927's were "rare," and thereby desireable, was initiated by Curtis Earl (always on the look out to hype the next thing that he was in possession of). The fact that there were so few "converetd" by Auto-Ord is testament to how the buying public at the time saw this "new" feature proposed by Auto-Ord as a distinction without a difference. If someone were to pay the additonal 20%(?) above any other Colt TSMG model, the semi fire only parts would have to be present. But how this version of the TSMG acquired the reputation as a coveted collector piece is rooted more in some nebulous notion that milling and restamping (aside from the notch in the frame) constitutes a rare firearm.

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#8 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:42 PM

Ron,
I gotta here the Earl pearl!

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#9 Norm

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 01:11 PM

Marketing flops have always created strange beasts that no one wanted when they were made, but decades later are very sought after.

The Colt 1927 seems to be good example.

Other examples are the Chrysler jet-engine cars and the Lionel "Girls Train Set" (you know the one with the pastel blue engine! YUCK! tongue.gif)


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#10 1921A

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 06:32 PM

Several of you have raised interesting points about the model 1927. It is simply a modified model 21. All of the Thompson variations including the "Navy" model are modified 21's.

"Condition" is more important to most collectors but there are models or variations that are so scarce that even poor condition specimens command top dollar. This holds true with all types of collectible firearms. A model 28 Navy is not rare but a Navy in 95% condition or better is very rare.

Rare can also be a numbers game. The 1927 is rare only because of the small numbers that exist. I agree with the group that the concept behind the model 27 and how it was "produced" is silly by today's standards. But, in the perspective of the times it made sense to a company that was stuck with a "solution" to a problem that ceased to exist before the gun came to market. It's pretty clear the TSMG was never intended for anything except military sales. It ended up in the civilian (police) market out of desparation.

The model 27 is not the rarest variation of the model 1921, that distinction is held by the model 1923 (3 known) followed by the model 28A (4 known). "Variation" would probably be a better way to describe these than separate model numbers. I think the company made desparate attempts to generate interest in any market they could find, real or imagined. They were on the verge of bankruptcy more or less continuously from the early years until purchased by Maguire. The models 23, 28 and 27 are nothing more than desparate attempts to re-package the product and generate new interest.

From a cost/production standpoint it would not have made sense to "tool up" for new variations when existing inventory could be inexpensively modified to fill those orders.

There is evidence that a few customers did want the SMG restricted to semi-auto only. It's also evident the company grossly overestimated that market. Following the first order, somebody optimistically came up with a sales forecast of 150 semi-auto guns. Interestingly, the same scenario, less than a year later, produced the successful "Navy" model.

Value is another matter. Few collector items are worth what some people are willing to pay for them. Unfortunately, they set the market price. If you collect Colt Thompsons and you want one of each variation, the most difficult to obtain are the "Navy A" followed by the 27A or AC. You can forget about the model 23. Fact of life.

Periodically, I detect "just a bit" of animosity directed at the Colt Thompson/Colt Thompson Collector by some members. Why is that? The Thompson machine gun is one of the most interesting firearms of all times and the Colt Thompson is indisputably the highest quality example of that line. I have all three generations of the Thompson and I appreciate all of them including the WH 28. The three variations of the Colt 21 only serve to make it more interesting in my opinion.

The great part about collecting is you choose what you want to collect and how much you are willing to pay. Just my 02.

Greg Fox
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#11 TD.

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 10:18 PM

This is really a great post on the Model of 1927 Colt Thompson.

Ron, the information on the black coloring came from, Thompson: the American Legend, on Page 84. Tracie goes on to say this black color can be easily removed while cleaning the Thompson. I have never seen a Model of 1927 with this black color in the milled out markings. I don't know of any other author that has mentioned this black coloring.

Gordon lists 80 Model of 1927 Colt Thompsons by serial number. I would guess not all of these are registered for civilian ownership, still in existence or in the USA.

My question is as follows: Did Colt perform the conversion on these Model of 1927's? Or did Auto-Ordnance do it or contract it out to some other vendor? My guess is Colt did the conversion because the unsold guns were in storage at the Colt factory. However, I really don't know. Anyone know the answer to this?


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#12 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 12:29 AM

TD,
It is doubtful that Colt did this work since they didn't do the restamping on the Navy models, or make the 1st tpe heavier actuator. If they did make the conversions, why would they not have reblued the guns? Auto-ords wharehouse containing the unsold TSMG's was situated inside the Colt facilities. Colt pretty much moved on from any Auto-Ord dealings after they manufactured the original 15k guns.

Greg,
When the value of a limited production TSMG (even though the 1927 Model's differences concern, the subtraction of existing and then the addition of different, markings, and not exactly asthetic markings either, is not set by the collector, but by the P.T. Barnum of the NFA community (Earl), then the genesis of their added value lies not in their novelty, but rather it is a manifestation of a Madison Avenue type PR campaign waged by the above mentioned dealer.

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#13 TD.

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 07:15 AM

Arthur,
You make a very good point. I have read Colt soon became tired of Auto-Ordnance! It appears Auto-Ordnance must have had some type of machine shop location in the 1920s and 30s to perform warranty work, repairs, research and development, modifications, etc. I don't think I have ever read anything about where or who would have performed all of these types of actions. Aside from everything else, the installation of the compensators and modification of the 1921 to 1928 models would have taken space, time, employees and a certain degree of organization. In addition, some purchasers of the 1921 model (US Marines for one) returned their 1921 models to AO for an "upgrade" to the 1928 model. This AO workplace (for lack of a better term) could be story in and of itself. Any information ...or thoughts on this?
Thanks,

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#14 SecondAmend

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 11:23 AM

Norm said "Marketing flops have always created strange beasts that no one wanted when they were made, but decades later are very sought after."

Another example is the Ford Edsel. Big bucks for them today.


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#15 21 smoker

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 12:04 PM

Ron,...franks`n`beans with a budlite...gourmet!...

Norm,...have priced a Lionel `Girls train`lately?...they were out of sight in the seventies...try to buy one for my first born when she was new....that`s what the seller wanted...my first born! wink.gif
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#16 Norm

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 12:30 PM

21 smoker,

I luvvvv my Thompsons and my Lionels.wub.gif

Actually, both (Thompsons and Lionels) are "Classic Americana."

A "C" drum in one hand and Lionel ZW in the other! wink.gif

I'll pass on the Edsel.
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#17 Norm

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Posted 19 June 2004 - 10:01 AM

Oh yes, the Lionel LokOn- always have a spare! wink.gif

Lionels (like Thompsons) are making a comeback with teenagers and young adults as "adult toys." biggrin.gif

Norm


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#18 philasteen

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 03:43 PM

As the owner of a 1927, I'd like to add 2 things to this thread.

1. The markings on my 27 are superbly crisp and show no evidence of ever having been covered by a black coloring. Naked metal. In addition, I saw another 1927 that was purported to be original finish that had the 1927 markings blued over- obviously a refinish job.

2. The rarity of a 1927 makes it worth anywhere from slightly more to significantly more than a more common 21 or 28 Thompson - how much depends on the buyer.
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#19 1921A

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 04:44 PM

Philasteen:

I'm with ya man!

There have been some interesting opinions posted about this model and I consider it a "model" by virture of the fact that the company who made it cataloged it as such. Wether some collectors agree with that or not does not change the facts. Most Colt collectors would agree with you. Regrettably, I sold mine when I sold most of the Colt collection. I kept one Colt, a 21A, but have often wished it had been the 27. I collected what I liked without regard to what was hyped or written by others.

Greg Fox
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