Thompson Light Rifle

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A photo of the prototype Thompson Light Rifle, based on their M1921/27 SMG. It was chambered in .30 Carbine.

The Thompson Light Rifle was an attempt by Auto-Ordnance Company to manufacture a US Light Rifle Trials for the United States Armed Forces around 1941. It was one of several designs submitted by the company during these trials.


The weapon was directly based on their tried and true Thompson submachine gun (M1921/27 variants) originally chambered in .45 ACP, however the Thompson Light Rifle is instead chambered in .30 Carbine as was required for the light rifle trials. It apparently worked well, but was too complex and costly to make, as well as too heavy to fit the U.S. military's requirements for their new "light rifle" concept.


  • Action: Delayed Blowback
  • Fire Rate: 600-1200 RPM
  • Capacity: 20 or 30 round box magazines.
  • Weight: Over 10 lbs.

Similar Designs & Confusions..?

A submachine gun prototype designed by George Hyde around 1944, chambered in .30 carbine.

The Hyde M1944 was a very similar design by George Hyde, which was based on the M1921/27 Thompson, and is also chambered in .30 Carbine. It also featured a quick change barrel system which seems to have been directly copied from the German MG 42, as well as select-fire capability. It appears that this model is (incorrectly?) labeled as the "Thompson Light Rifle", but in actuality, it appears to be a copy of a Thompson, but one that was not directly designed / produced by Auto-Ordnance. More info is definitely needed to clear up the confusion. However, photos from Aberdeen do caption that mystery gun as a "Hyde Submachine Gun, Cal. .30 Carbine".

See Also

Video / Overview

Ian McCallum of Forgotten Weapons gives a quick overview of the Thompson Light Rifle in the YouTube video below.