This product report is intended for the serious collector who is interested in the Thompson drum magazines as a collectors item. It has become very popular to collect the Colt Thompson "C" and "L" drum magazines.
This product report is meant to set the record straight on this new Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley "C" drum, and to expose to the collector and shooter the idiosyncrasies and the many design problems associated with this new A/O "C" drum magazine.
A silk purse and a sow's ear
Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York produced a run of "L" type fifty round drum magazines for the Thompson Submachine Gun, prior to 1990. These drum magazines were patterned after the Auto-Ordnance and Seymour G.I. drums, manufactured during WW2.
In 1990, Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley decided to produce a line of "C" drum magazines for the Thompson Submachine Gun. In late October 1990, this writer found an A/O of West Hurley dealer at the Great Western Gun Show in Pomona, California.
The dealers information from Auto-Ordnance was that they intended to manufacture 2000 of these "C" drum magazines, all serial numbered. He assured me that these drum magazines were to be made from original blueprints and drawings and were to be manufactured to original high standards of quality.
This writer purchased #076 for $275.00 plus tax. Before I left the gun show that weekend, I had a chance to compare the new A/O of West Hurley "C" drum to an original 1921 Colt "C" drum at a friends table. There is where the similarity stopped. This writer had no idea what a complicated story would unfold within the next couple of years.
After a brief comparison of the two "C" drums, I noticed several differences.
First; there were drain slots in both the Cover and Body "slide name plates", as per WW2 G.I. drums. The "guides" on these slide plates were found to be round instead of square as per the original 1921 Colt drum magazines.
The second obvious difference was the way the winding "Key" latched onto the center Hub. On the original 1921 Colt drums, the center Hub is drilled through. The winding Key latched down into the top of this hole. On the new A/O of West Hurley "C" drum, the center Hub is solid. It has an offensive tit of metal protruding from the end, which the winding key latches over top. The third immediate difference this writer could notice was the external riveting that holds the internal body cartridge guides in place was sharp and offensive to the touch.
The Cover would not come off without difficulty. With the help of a small screwdriver I removed the Cover. It was tight. The Rotor did not feet right. In turning it a little back and forth the driver arms were squeaking against the top of the cartridge guides. This could add to the internal resistance in pushing out the cartridges. When I reinstalled the Cover the Key was very difficult to insert because of the excessive tension under the Cover.
At this point it was obvious that these drums were not made from original blueprints, nor was the original Colt quality there. I returned to the dealer where I had purchased the new #076 "C" drum. The dealer informed me that all the drums were of the same quality. He assured me again that it would function as well as an original.