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New Guy With A 28a1 Kit


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#1 3rdpig

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 11:49 PM

Greetings! I'm a long time shooter and amatuer gunsmith and gun builder (from parts kits). I've never owned or had anything to do with Thompsons before now. On a whim about a month ago a friend of mine and I both ordered 28A1 kit's from SG. When they arrived he didn't like it, said it looked like sh*t and he returned it for a refund. Mine looks brand new. The wood has some dents and dings but the metal parts are nearly perfect and the finish is 98%. I showed it to a local gunsmith and he said it looked as if it had never been fired except to test. The bore looks brand new. It's really nice.

After deciding to keep it I started doing research. I first asked some questions about building a 28A1 kit of the message boards I normally frequent and didn't get a lot of good info. I started seaching on the net and found Philadelphia Ordnance, Doug Richardson, the Unofficial Tommy Gun site, and a bunch more. I found this site, linked from the Tommy Gun site and started reading. I've read most of the messages going back about 6 months and searched as far back as I could for info.

I've got a fair amount of experience building guns from kits, am a good welder with a garage full of welding equipment, am an amateur machinist with a bunch of equipment, including a desktop CNC machine, and my brother is a professional aircraft machinist.

Despite this I'm coming to the conclusion that building a working, and legal, semi auto rifle from a 28A1 kit is, while not impossible, certainly both costly and impractical.

Is this conclusion correct? Am I missing something? If this is the case why does it seem like everyone is buying these kits as fast as they can? Are they bulding dummy guns? Are they liscensed manufacturers or just using them as replacement parts?

Sorry for what may be some stupid questions, but I'm down to deciding if I should just put it in the safe as an investment or sell it now. Thanks for any info.
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#2 OldFalGuy

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 01:12 AM

There may be some guys buying the kits(these and other types too) to make post samples but by and large I think they are purchased just for the parts themselves- barrels, bolts and WWII milled fire /safety selectors and internals alone make the kits worth the $500+ they are asking for them.
Saw one guy selling a kit for $1000- sure makes me wonder why he turned to using crack. Poor thing.

I have bought a couple of kits for just the above reasons and still have al lot of wood furniture left over. SOmeday a tommy barrel may be $500 though they be hard to wear out.

Mark
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#3 philasteen

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 07:37 AM

I bought 3 of the kits for use as spares for my live Thompsons. I sold off parts I wouldn't likely need triplicates of (2 grip frames; 2 complete buttstocks; 2 Lyman sights) on eBay and that paid for all 3 kits give or take.

The thought of trying to build a post gun has crossed my mind but for now I'm relegating the kits to storage.
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#4 Merry Ploughboy

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 07:42 AM

3rd,

Welcome to this forum! Glad to see that you have done research rather than just jumping in.

A year ago what relatively few Thompson kits were in the U.S. were in the $1000 range. I'm guessing those who bought the $1000 kits do not want to take the hit now. Sort of what would happen to MAC and Uzi prices if the NFA was repealed.
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#5 reconbob

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 08:42 AM

Having talked to literaly hundreds of people who bought or are buying these kits, I can offer the folowing - many are being purchased by Class 2 and Class 3 license holders to build post sample guns to shoot. The original guns have become so expensive\valuable that it now makes perfect sense to buy a $500-$700 kit, some type of semi-finished receiver, do the machining and assembly and you can have a top-quality shooter (but not collectable, obviously) for no more than $2000.
Many are also tackling the semi-auto project. At this time the only off-the-shelf semi-auto parts out there are the Kahr parts. The fact that the Kahr is such a poor quality gun, combined with the thousands of virtually new condition kits being sold has at least several people that I know of working on new and improved semi-auto designs that will use more of the original parts. There is a large market there waiting to be tapped. I would assume that within a year or two the semi-auto Thompson-build hobby will have fostered the same type of mini-industry that the 1000's of cheap M1919A4 kits created 8-10 years ago. You will never be able to make a Thompson with a file and a hacksaw, but you will (I predict) be able to buy the necessary kits, plans, and tools to do it yourself, if you have access to a miling machine...and of course, just like there are now people upgrading the Kahr guns there will be people who will be glad to make you a gun if you send them your parts set.
Many people are assembling dummy guns so they can hang a piece of history on the wall.
One final note. In my opinion, if your kit is not almost new, send it back. 90+% of the people I have talked to have raved about their "almost MINT" condition kit. But there are kits in much worse shape, it seems to be random.
I don't believe the people selling the kits are examining and grading the kits themselves. I think they are receiving the kits packed and ready to re-ship just like any other mass marketed product and they don't unwrap/unpack them to check anything. This would account for the many stories like yours where one kit is Mint and the other is only 60% but they came from the same supplier. this happened to me too. With so many 95% kits now out there, if you have one thats only 60%-70%, you won't be able to sell it without taking a big loss. One good thing I have heard is that all the current suppliers will give you a refund if you are not satisfied.

Bob Bower/Philly O
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#6 3rdpig

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 03:49 PM

I appreciate all the responses. The kit I received could easily be described as mint, they look like brand new parts. I'm still thinking about what I'll do with it, I highly doubt I'll ever buy an original, legal, full auto Thompson, the prices are way out of my league. I'd have to win the lottery or something similar in order to afford one.

Considering what I paid for it (I had a $50 coupon, free shipping and I'm a member of the SG buyers club), it might pay me to simply put it in the closet for a year or two and wait to see if someone does come up with conversion parts or if it appreciates in value enough for me to make a few bucks on it.

But either way I've enjoyed just learning about it. Just holding the parts in my hands has been a thrill, way more than owning a new Khar Thompson, something I have no desire for.

Thanks again.
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