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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Howdy!

Please forgive my terrible formatting in advance - I am used to the way reddit posts work, so I'm sure I'll mess things up for a good while.

A couple members (lifesizepotato and bac1023) invited me to post my Thomas collection here. My original post is on reddit, but I like the atmosphere of this place based on what I've seen, so here's me giving it a shot:

The pictures and descriptions below have pretty much all the technical information on the guns, but feel free to ask or contribute anything additional - I know several people here have Thomas pistols, so please show them off and tell us what you know!.

I am currently in the process of tracking down the person who sold these guns to the pawn shop I bought them from, so that I can learn even more about them. From what the pawn shop owner told me, that person seemed to be a relative of either Mr. Thomas himself, or of someone with close ties to H&N Mini-Craft - the company that manufactured the prototype guns and possibly the production models as well.

After I learn as much as I can about the guns, I will likely try to get them in a museum somewhere (NRA NFM, possibly), so that they do not get lost in time. I will not shoot any of the pre-production guns so as to not worsen their condition and value, and I've already got my functional production model, so I'm really just care-taking these for the moment, in my mind.

My account is new which means I can't post links just yet, so my "additional resources" will be limited to the relevant patents of the Thomas design:

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

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).

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

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
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.

Rollmark: "U.S. AND FOREIGN PATENTED | U.S. PAT 3-857-325, 4-031-648"
 

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Nathan, thanks for the very informative thread. I've had mine for close to 10 years, but never took the time to do a whole lot of research on them. I just know that they are well built and quite rare.

Recoil is a bit harsh, in my opinion, but you would expect that basically being a blowback 45ACP.




 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Nathan, thanks for the very informative thread. I've had mine for close to 10 years, but never took the time to do a whole lot of research on them. I just know that they are well built and quite rare.

Recoil is a bit harsh, in my opinion, but you would expect that basically being a blowback 45ACP.




Yeah, the "grip-delayed blowback" (as I like to call it) has definite disadvantages when compared to other designs. Certainly a unique operation, however. I LOVE the plum-colored frame on your Thomas! Mine has a lot more aging to get to that color. One of my dream guns is one of the early LAR Grizzly Win Mag Mark I's with the plum frames - I think it is the most attractive finish on any handgun. Also, it looks like yours is SN 001299 - is that correct?
 

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Yeah, the "grip-delayed blowback" (as I like to call it) has definite disadvantages when compared to other designs. Certainly a unique operation, however. I LOVE the plum-colored frame on your Thomas! Mine has a lot more aging to get to that color. One of my dream guns is one of the early LAR Grizzly Win Mag Mark I's with the plum frames - I think it is the most attractive finish on any handgun. Also, it looks like yours is SN 001299 - is that correct?
Thanks. Yeah, the frame has turned very plum with age.

The SN is 001293, actually. :)
 

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I had not heard of Thomas before. Is there any info on the company and year of mfg?

When I first glanced at this thread, I thought I was looking at some Mauser HScs.

Interesting pistols!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks. Yeah, the frame has turned very plum with age.

The SN is 001293, actually. :)
Thanks for the clarification. I've been collecting pictures of all the Thomas' I find, and organizing by serial number.

Also, I'm checking out your photobucket album - do you own or have you ever owned a SIG P240? I've been saving up for one in .38 SPL WC.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I had not heard of Thomas before. Is there any info on the company and year of mfg?

When I first glanced at this thread, I thought I was looking at some Mauser HScs.

Interesting pistols!
What kind of info are you looking for? The Alexander James (AJ) Ordnance Inc. company produced an estimated 600 "Thomas" pistols (likely excluding the pre-production prototype/experimental pistols shown above), chambered in .45 ACP, from 1977 to 1978. The company was founded and owned by Frank S. Thomas, Jr., of Covina, California.
 

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Thanks for the clarification. I've been collecting pictures of all the Thomas' I find, and organizing by serial number.

Also, I'm checking out your photobucket album - do you own or have you ever owned a SIG P240? I've been saving up for one in .38 SPL WC.
A Hammerli 240? I have not, but wouldn't mind one at some point. I'd probably grab one of the rimfires though.

I love its sister pistol, the Sig P210. Its one of my favorites of all time. :cool:

Its one of the highest quality and most accurate pistols ever built, as far as I'm concerned.




 

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Discussion Starter #10
A Hammerli 240? I have not, but wouldn't mind one at some point. I'd probably grab one of the rimfires though.

I love its sister pistol, the Sig P210. Its one of my favorites of all time. :cool:

Its one of the highest quality and most accurate pistols ever built, as far as I'm concerned.




Know of any P210-like guns chambered in any other calibers than 9x19mm? The P240 is the only other P210 variant I know of, and I would love to see one in something like .45 ACP, but I have yet to find anything close. Closest thing I've come up with is a CZ97B, but it's just not the same to me.
 

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Know of any P210-like guns chambered in any other calibers than 9x19mm? The P240 is the only other P210 variant I know of, and I would love to see one in something like .45 ACP, but I have yet to find anything close. Closest thing I've come up with is a CZ97B, but it's just not the same to me.
As far as an actual P210 variant, I don't know of any that are chambered in 45ACP. No, the CZ 97B is not close in design or quality. The only thing similar about its design is that the slide rides inside the frame.

If you're just looking for a high end 45ACP, there are plenty.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As far as an actual P210 variant, I don't know of any that are chambered in 45ACP. No, the CZ 97B is not close in design or quality. The only thing similar about its design is that the slide rides inside the frame.

If you're just looking for a high end 45ACP, there are plenty.
I'm looking for a slide that rides inside the frame, in single-action, in .45 ACP. I don't think one exists, sadly.
 

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Op very imformitave thread thanks for posting!
 

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Fantastic thread and information, MythicArmory!

Any idea if Frank Thomas is still alive? Too bad it's such a common name, he might be hard to turn up. It could be really cool to find him and interview him, though. I wish I had that opportunity with Emilio Ghisoni, designer of the Matebas.

I don't have mine anymore, but here 'twas:



Though the build quality was admirable, I found it to be distinctly unpleasant to shoot, and my groups were terrible at just 7 yards.

Still, even though it wasn't for me I recognize that it was a unique and exotic piece. I'd love to hear the backstory on the guy who had all those prototypes. What a find!

PS: You might wanna plop some photos in the "Rarest Gun" thread. Those Thomases and some of your others would fit right in. :cool:
 
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