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Commando Mark III 45 ACP Carbine Tommy Gun Look-Alike by Volunteer Enterprises

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Introduction to Commando Mark III, Left Side of the Gun
Photo of Commando Mark III Tommy Gun look-alike - left side.

Photo of left side of Commando Mark III Tommy Gun look-alike, with magazine inserted. Looks a lot like a Thompson machine gun, at a glance. Note the bolt handle; this is not where it would be on a Tommy gun.

Photo © Russ Chastain
The Commando Mark III is a semi-automatic carbine (short rifle) chambered for the venerable old 45 ACP pistol cartridge, and is basically a Tommy gun look-alike. It was manufactured by Volunteer Enterprises in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it does a fair job of masquerading - at a glance - as a Thompson 1927A-1 submachine gun.

The Commando Mark III was available with a plain square wood forearm with horizontal gripping grooves, or with the more iconic walnut finger-grooved vertical hand grip - and both of these forearm options strongly resemble those found on the Tommy gun, which has seen service and hard use in a number of official wars and countless unofficial skirmishes and gangster battles. Mine happens to have the finger-grooved grip, as you can see in the photo above.

Volunteer Enterprises (later known as Commando Arms) made a succession of Tommy gun "resemblers," and the Commando Mark III was part of that line. According to the Blue Book of Gun Values, this model was manufactured from 1969 through 1976.

The accompanying photo shows the left side of the gun. The walnut shoulder stock is said to be the same as that of a Thompson, and has a steel butt plate and sling swivel. The barrel appears to be finned, but it's not - and unlike the Thompson's barrel, it is not tapered. The front sight is a mock compensator, and is there mainly for decoration and to give you a general idea where your bullets might end up.

The left side of the receiver bears the only identifying marks on the gun. On the front, it reads "45 CAL. SEMI-AUTO VOLUNTEER ENTERPRISES INC. KNOXVILLE, TENN," in four lines. On the rear, it reads "COMMANDO MARK III" in two lines, with the serial number stamped below (I have removed the serial number from this photo). "PAT. PEND" is cast or stamped into the left side of the magazine well, which is made of aluminum or a similar alloy and finished with black crinkle paint.

The button above and aft of the trigger is the safety - push it from this side to make the gun ready to fire. The button towards the front is the magazine release - push it from this side to release the magazine.

The bolt handle is also visible in this photo - on the left side of the receiver (Thompson bolt handles are located on the top or on the right side). The Commando's bolt does not stay open after the last round is fired. You can lock the bolt open by pulling the bolt rearward until the bolt handle is aligned with the small round cutout located above the safety, and pulling outward on the bolt handle so that it engages with that cutout.

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