Watch: Thompson Vs. MP40 Shootout

The American Thompson SMG and the German MP40 went against one another on both the Western and Eastern Fronts in World War II. The United States used the Thompson as its standard SMG for the bulk of the conflict while the Red Army made use of several that they had acquired under lend-Lease.


The MP-40 – Photo credit

The MP40 submachine gun was made to use with the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge. This submachine gun was developed in Germany by the Nazis and the Axis powers used these guns extensively throughout World War 2.

These guns were designed by Heinrich Vollmer in 1938, he got the inspiration for them from the MP38 (its predecessor). The MP40 was used throughout the German army, by paratroopers, platoon leaders, infantrymen and squad leaders on both the Western and Eastern fronts.

It was designed with more modern features that were far more advanced than anything that had come before; this made it hugely popular with both German soldiers and countries around the world (following the end of the War). It was commonly called the ‘Schmeisser’ by the Allies; this was an incorrect name as Hugo Schmeisser had zero involvement in this gun, neither in its design nor in its production.

Between 1940 and 1945 it is estimated that approximately 1.1 million of these MP40’s were manufactured – all made by Erma Weke.

Thompson Submachine Gun

Submachine gun M1928 Thompson
Submachine gun M1928 Thompson – Photo credit

The M1921, as it was renamed, was the very first model produced and this was done in 1921 by Colt. The weapon was super impressive for its time and could easily fire 800 rounds per minute using .45 caliber bullets. A total of 15.000 guns were produced. Sales did not go well even though the gun was an impressive weapon to use in these times.

A better, more improved version was created to try and boost sales and create more demand – this was the M1928, and was considered one of the best guns made to date, yet sales were still very poor. The biggest issue that was found with the Tommy gun was the price asked for; it cost $200 for an M1928 (approx $2,300 in today’s market).

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.