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Thomas 45ACP Double Action Pistol

RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
edited January 2005 in Ask the Experts
Years ago, (early 80's) I obtained this pistol.It was made by AJ Ordnance, in Covina, Cal. Serial number 0015XX. It is the size of a 1911 Officers Model, all steel, blued, with very, very slight finish wear. Every shot is double action only, working in a straight blowback frame fixed barrel. What looks like a grip safety, is not, it's a push-up activated cam that momentarily provides a delay while firing using the fleshy part of your hand as a spring board. Interesting gun, compact and reliable. Very heavy double action trigger though, doesn't need a safety. Magazine holds six rounds and is similar in size to Officers Model.Does anybody out there know of these guns. How many were made? Or its present value? Do these pistol have any collector value, or just shooters?

Comments

  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    The first announcement of this pistol was 1973 but I don't think they were sold untill 2or 3 years after that the last one sold 1979 at that time list for blue one was $375.00 I would say my WAG would be around $500.00
  • koz5614koz5614 Member Posts: 57 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hi, just found the forum. It's nice to see someone interested in the Thomas. It is a unusual gun. It is believed that less than 1000 were produced. I own a few of them. The earliest S/N I have is 10XX. It has "1974 pat. applied for" on the slide. Early guns were blued and had no trigger stop. Later guns were produced in blue, satin chrome, and nickled. I have a later gun, S/N 13xx that is nickled. It has a trigger stop as well as a hooked trigger guard. The slide from the earlier pistol will not fit the frame of the later model, though they appear almost identical.
    As far as price, I would agree with the other gentleman. I have purchased Thomas Pistols ranging from $300 to $450. If you have the box and paperwork, it's fair. It's tough to establish price because the pistol is fairly rare, and has not developed a following (yet). I feel that is one of the better buys out there. The accuracy is exceptional because of the fixed barrel (ala H&K P7 series), it's compact (but godawful heavy), it's pretty rare, and it's a .45! Enjoy it.
  • RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by koz5614
    Hi, just found the forum. It's nice to see someone interested in the Thomas. It is a unusual gun. It is believed that less than 1000 were produced. I own a few of them. The earliest S/N I have is 10XX. It has "1974 pat. applied for" on the slide. Early guns were blued and had no trigger stop. Later guns were produced in blue, satin chrome, and nickled. I have a later gun, S/N 13xx that is nickled. It has a trigger stop as well as a hooked trigger guard. The slide from the earlier pistol will not fit the frame of the later model, though they appear almost identical.
    As far as price, I would agree with the other gentleman. I have purchased Thomas Pistols ranging from $300 to $450. If you have the box and paperwork, it's fair. It's tough to establish price because the pistol is fairly rare, and has not developed a following (yet). I feel that is one of the better buys out there. The accuracy is exceptional because of the fixed barrel (ala H&K P7 series), it's compact (but godawful heavy), it's pretty rare, and it's a .45! Enjoy it.







    Thanks, and welcome to GB's.

    My Thomas is a keeper. Have it since the early 80's and expect it will remain with me. It is indeed very accurate even though in spite of its weight it kicks like a mule. I do not have the original box. The original hard plastic grip stocks cracked (still have them) so I made a new set of nice wood. I have two original magazines. Somebody here not long ago said he had a couple of original magazines and offered them in an e-mail, to which I replied affirmatively, but did not hear back from.

    Hey, who knows maybe you can start a "Thomas DA Pistol" fan club. I would join. [:D][:D][:D][8D][8D][;)]

    ______________________________________________
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    "If it ain't broke, fix it anyway... make it better!" (RadCat)
  • mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 22,846 ******
    edited November -1
    Wow, I have not thought about one of those pistols in years! I still have an old listing from 1977 for what was being marketed as the Alexander-James/Thomas .45 which had a MSRP of $275 with plastic stocks. The company claimed a 9mm version was "in the works" but I doubt that any were ever sold. The serial number of the pistol shown in the adverstisement is 00001 and the markings on the right side of the slide below the ejection port reads PATENT 1974, OTHER US AND FOREIGN PATENTS APPLIED FOR. I have an earlier listing from 1976 which shows the pistol with wood stocks, an oversized trigger and lists calibers of 9mm and .38 Super (I doubt these exist) with a target adjustable rear sight available as an option (no price mentioned) and a list price of $250. The manufacturer was listed as H&N Mini-Craft, 1066 E. Edna Pl., Covina CA 91724...I wonder what is sitting on that property today? The Thomas pistols came and went at just about the time I got into the firearms business back in 1977 so I really can't remember much about them but I would not mind having an example for myself since they appear to be well made handguns.

    "Nothing can ever be made 'idiot proof' because idiots are simply too clever"!
    Mark T. Christian
  • RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Very sorry, Mark-

    I ain't selling my Thomas DA. I need it for my own collection. Maybe our new "GB-friend" KOZ5614 will sell you one of his. You are absolutely right, these pistol were very well made of very hard quality steel. The looks of it reminiscing of a Walther PPK on steroids.

    I got mine when I was a firearms dealer in New Jersey from another dealer. It was his pride and joy, so he said, but I think that he was just holding for a better deal. Eventually I traded him for a gun I was customizing in those days, a miniaturized Browning Hi-Power. I got the Thomas and something else I can't remember. What can I say, I like quality "odd" guns.


    Venry, (RadCat) [:D][:D][:D][8D][8D]

    ______________________________________________
    running_moose1.gif
    "If it ain't broke, fix it anyway... make it better!" (RadCat)
  • koz5614koz5614 Member Posts: 57 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Mr. Christian,
    As a collector, I am always looking for information on the Thomas.
    Would it be possible for you to either burn me off a copy of that 1976 ad, or tell me where you found it? I'm intigued by the wood grips. I've only seen 2 Thomas Pistols with wood grips- one of them is listed on GB right now. I was able to source an extra mag from a friend in AZ. Before that I was using Colt commander mags. FYI, a company called Tyler Tru-Fit produced ivory like micarta grips for the Thomas in the late 70's/ early 80's. I've got a set on my chrome gun. They look good.
    The fact that someone produced aftermarket grips for the gun leads me to believe that there could have been leather and other accessories produced. Anyone know?
    I have seriously considered starting a Thomas "fan club" and have been contacting others who own the pistols to try to get a handle on the S/N range. The lowest is 10XX. The highest I know of is 15XX.
    Anyone have one lower or higher? I'd be happy to share any info and paperwork/articles I have with fellow collectors.
    The first Thomas I saw was in Edelman's Gun Shop in Pennsauken, NJ. Anyone wanna talk about ASPs, Devels, Bren Tens, Wildeys, Automags, Detonics, or ODI Vikings? I collect some odd stuff. (Boy, my wife sure does hate my hobby) Have a good one.
  • RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    A Thomas DA Pistol Fan Club?

    Count me in!

    Acording to your info, I must be the one with the "newest" one. I did obtain it in New Jersey from a dealer in Hoboken.

    I also have a pancake style leather holster which I molded out of the gun years ago. Time consuming, especially the hand stitching, patterned it around a DeSantis design.

    Later on, if they do not "lock" this thread I will post some pictures of my Thomas with the "wood" (Pecan wood) stocks and its leather holster.

    I found references and listing with pictures of this firearm in and older "Gun Bible", including original MSRP of $275.00

    Can you post some pictures of your Thomas pistols with the different variations you have?

    ______________________________________________
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    "If it ain't broke, fix it anyway... make it better!" (RadCat)
  • koz5614koz5614 Member Posts: 57 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I would be happy to post the pics. I just have to get my neighbor's kid over here to show me how to do it! RadCat, is your Thomas S/N higher than 1599? Does it have a trigger stop? How about a hooked trigger guard? I'm just trying to figure out the S/N range for these modifications. Thanks.
  • RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Here is a picture of my Thomas DA .45 with a magazine and leather holster. The serial number is 00150X and it has a trigger stop integral with the back of the trigger. No hooked trigger guard.

    ThomasDA.jpg

    ______________________________________________
    running_moose1.gif
    "If it ain't broke, fix it anyway... make it better!" (RadCat)
  • RadCatRadCat Member Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    In an earlier post I asked about the possible worth of one of these pistols.

    You mentioned about one being available in GunBroker. I checked it out:

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=30260080

    It is listed for over $1200.00 which is a a heck of a lot more than what it sold new back then. Can't tell if it will go for that price or if it will re-list? Regarless, it looks like these firearms would be worth their price in gold, at present? [:D][:D][:D][8D][8D]

    ______________________________________________
    running_moose1.gif
    "If it ain't broke, fix it anyway... make it better!" (RadCat)
  • Ross RifleRoss Rifle Member Posts: 2
    I bought at auction a nickel Thomas that looks new & unfired november of 2019.  serial no. 00115x with wood grips. I am looking for an extra mag for it. A wife was selling off just part of her husbands collection 250 weapons & 50 mounts were listed. Went looking to buy a Colt Pistol but I was out of contention before the auction started. Seen the Thomas & it got lost with all the Colts that were for sale.
  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,452 ✭✭✭
    I would't shoot it! Had one back, in the  mid 80's. Broke the very fragile, mousetrap trigger spring. Even back then, replacement parts were unobtainable. Wound up buying spring stock, from Brownells. And making a replacement. Took me a couple of days, and a lot of bad words. Dumped it as quick as I could, after that.
    All the Thomas is, at this point in time. Is a little know, impractical oddity. Much more value to a collector, than as a shooter, IMHO. 
  • TANK78ZTANK78Z Member Posts: 1,158 ✭✭✭
    The Thomas was fairly expensive for time it was made, it was a novelty back then and if I remember correctly  had very little in customer service. You have to remember there was no internet /email in the 70's it was either expensive long distance phone calls or snail mail , so, getting questions or problems answered not at all easy.
     I must say it was a neat little gun then as it is today, and I agree It is now a collector piece with no repair parts available shooting it can lead to an unrepairable gun worth much less to even avid collectors.
    With that said, I'd still have to run a box of target loads through it, just because...
  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭


    Specifications:

    • Designer(s):  Frank S. Thomas Jr.
    • Manufacturer:  AJ Ordnance Inc.
    • Model:  Thomas
    • Caliber:  .45 Automatic Colt Pistol
    • Capacity:  5+1
    • Operation: Striker-fired, Grip-delayed blowback
    • Action:  Semi-automatic

    The Alexander James (AJ) Ordnance Inc. company produced an estimated 600 "Thomas" pistols, chambered in .45 ACP, from 1977 to 1988. The design somewhat resembles that of a hammerless Makarov PM or Walther PP, only, instead of a straight blowback operation, it utilizes a delayed blowback, by means of dual (both sides) slide-locking levers that are engaged by the grip-safety looking part on the back of the frame. When the part is depressed, the levers on eihter side engage lots in the slide. From there, the pistol is fired by pulling the trigger (DAO), releasing the striker (yes, a striker) and firing a cartridge. The levers holding the slide from moving are forced down from the recoiling slide (fixed barrel), AKA a delayed blowback operation. I once heard the trigger described as "staple gun-y", and that is absolutely the most accurately way to explain how it feels - long, even pull with a sudden "click" and release of pressure at the end.


    It should also be noted, in the operation of this pistol, that one cannot physically rack the slide with the slide-locking lever grip part depressed. This means, in order to chamber a round, one must have a non-firing grip which does not activate the grip part, then rack the slide. Also, the pistol has a magazine disconnect safety. Finally, the capacity of this pistol, using the factory magazine, is 5+1, even though the magazine can hold 6 rounds of .45 ACP. This is because the rounds in the magazine are pushed down quite a bit when the magazine is locked into the grip of the gun, and with 6 rounds in the magazine, the rounds cannot be pushed any farther down, not allowing the magazine to lock into the grip of the gun. Therefore, you cannot "top-off" this pistol, as you can with most others.


    Patents:

    US Patent 3,857,325

    "Semi-automatic firearm"

    Filed by Frank S. Thomas, September 4th, 1973

    US Patent 4,031,648

    "Magazine safety and ejector"

    Filed by Frank S. Thomas, December 29th, 1975


    Publications:

    "The Thomas .45 ...New Gun In Town" by Walter Rickell

    American Handgunner, January/February 1977 Issue

    "PART VIII : Miscellaneous Matters" by Dean A. Grennell

    ​Law Enforcement Handgun Digest, 1976

    Mike

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭

    Pricing:

    "We are currently unaware of any pricing for this firearm design. If you know of any, please contact us so that we may add it to help further firearms history education." (from one of the prominent gun board forums)

    WYLTKM?


    Mike

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭
  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭
    edited May 17


    My Thomas Collection:



    Starting from far left, going clockwise (ending with the gun in the bottom-middle):


    1. Prototype A

    2. Prototype B

    3. Prototype C

    4. EXP-1

    5. Production Model


    All of the pre-production guns are either stainless steel or just unfinished, regular carbon steel - I tend to think it is the latter.


    Prototype A:



    So this is the first Thomas ever made. Looking at it closely, it is easy to tell this gun has been worked on by hand. There are many parts not included - intentionally, I'd imagine. Putting myself in Frank S. Thomas's shoes, I think this gun was the proof of concept for the action (trigger assembly, especially), more than anything.


    Rollmark: "THOMAS .45 ACP | PROTOTYPE A | MADE BY H&N MINI-CRAFT | COVINA, CALIF."



    Most parts are missing from Prototype A, like the magazine catch/release, slide catch/release, rear sight, takedown pins, and grip delay lever are missing. This is definitely the most incomplete of all the pre-production Thomas pistols. Magazine is stuck in the gun.


    Rollmark: "U.S.A. AND FOREIGN PATENTS APPLIED FOR"


    Prototype B:



    The second Thomas ever made. Also the most complete out of all the four pre-production guns (A, B, C, & EXP-1). Everything is functional, no parts are missing, and it looks to be in great shape. And the magazine isn't stuck in the gun!


    Rollmark: "THOMAS .45 ACP | PROTOTYPE B | MADE BY H&N MINI-CRAFT | COVINA, CALIF."



    So Prototypes B and C have a different style of grip assembly than the production models and even the EXP-1 pistol. Most noticeably, they are handmade from wood, rather than the later plastic, and they feature grips screws in a different location than the later guns. However, the production models are known to have grips fall apart due to poor design (parts where the grips are too thin, leading to easy cracking).

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭

    Prototype C:



    The third Thomas ever made. Appears to only be missing an ejector and rear sight. The gun will likely fire, but whether or not it will successfully eject and chamber rounds is another question. The magazine is also pretty well stuck in the gun.


    Rollmark: "THOMAS .45 ACP | PROTOTYPE C | MADE BY H&N MINI-CRAFT | COVINA, CALIF."



    Seeing as Prototypes A, B, and C, have more similar construction when compared to EXP-1 and the production guns, as well as the matching rollmarks and lettering order, my guess is that Frank S. Thomas had ordered three guns at first from H&N Mini-Craft, so he could experiment with getting everything down and removing all the kinks.


    Rollmark: "U.S.A. AND FOREIGN PATENTS APPLIED FOR"


    EXP-1:



    The "experimental" Thomas pistol - the first of the pre-production guns to have all features of the production pistols. My guess is that this is the fourth Thomas ever made, after the three prototypes (A, B, & C). No rollmark on the right side of the slide, from either H&N Mini-Craft or AJ Ordnance.



    No real serial number, but the frame is stamped with "EXP-1". I haven't yet field-stripped any of these guns aside from my production model Thomas, but it looks like EXP-1 may be missing the firing pin, front sight, and extractor - relatively easy parts to replace.


    Rollmark: "PATENT 1974, OTHER US AND | FOREIGN PATENTS APPLIED FOR"


    Production Model Thomas:



    Most production models were blued like mine, but I have seen chrome and nickel finishes on several, with some claiming to own stainless guns, but I doubt they are truly stainless - they certainly do not look like stainless, and there is no reliable source that supports any stainless Thomas's ever being built.


    On the right side of the slide, you can see the rollmark featured on all 600 production model Thomas pistols: "Thomas | CALIBER .45 ACP | AJ ORDNANCE | COVINA, CALIF. | MADE IN USA"



    This was my first Thomas pistol, and of my collection it is the only one I have shot (and likely the only one I will ever shoot, unless I get more). The serial number is "001310", and based on all serial numbers I've seen on production models, it seems like they start at 001000, meaning this would be gun number 310, out of the mere 600 production models made.

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,830 ✭✭✭

    Sorry guys - sorry Mark I have made an epic mess here trying to salvage this archival data and transfer it here...

    To further complicate things the data is incomplete and pics are gone / pic hosting sight issues...

    I have tried to clean things up but I am afraid that my hands are not working right - the intractable degenerative neuropathy is giving me a terribly terrific hard time - I am sorry to cause a problem but I am afraid my hands just are not working right..

    I just can't get the fingers to do what I want them to do.

    Sorry.

    Mike

  • Smitty500magSmitty500mag Member Posts: 12,889 ✭✭✭✭
    This thread is over 15 years old. 
This discussion has been closed.