The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Exhibits & Artifacts: 1928 Thompson Submachine Gun from Ranger Captain Hardy B. Purvis

H. B. “Butch” Purvis Donation of a 1928 Thompson Submachine Gun
from Ranger Captain Hardy B. Purvis

by Tracie Evans

H. B. “Butch” Purvis of Mertzon, Texas, has donated an important artifact used by Texas Ranger Captain Hardy B. Purvis and Texas Ranger L. Hardy Purvis.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame is very grateful to Mr. Purvis for giving this one of a kind artifact – an 1928 Thompson Submachine Gun with accessories and Police case -- to future generations.

1928 .45 Caliber Thompson Submachine Gun, with drum magazine, detachable stock, “Police” style hard case and 5 box magazines

This US Navy Model of 1921 over stamped 1928 Thompson Submachine gun was manufactured by the Colt Patent Firearms Company from May 1, 1922 – May 6, 1922 and was shipped to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Beaumont, Texas. Records do not indicate if the Sheriff’s Office ordered this machine gun for Texas Ranger Captain Hardy Purvis or if he acquired it from them after they purchased the weapon.

Family history states that Captain Purvis carried this weapon throughout his career and eventually passed it down to his son Texas Ranger L. H. Purvis. Family history does not indicate that either man fired the weapon in the performance of their duties although both officers were said to have carried it regularly as a part of their personal arsenal.

About The Auto-Ordnance Colt Thompson Submachine Gun

From 1921-1922, Colt Patent Firearms Company contracted with the Auto-Ordnance Company to manufacture 15,000 Thompson submachine guns Model of 1921A. These firearms were capable of 800 rounds per minute, had Lyman sights, finned barrels, and walnut stocks. These firearms were sold to various military organizations throughout the world and marketed as “Anti-bandit” firearms to police agencies throughout the United States. In 1928, the US Navy procurement system working for the US Marine Corp, requested a modified Thompson that would fire only 600 rounds per minute and had a horizontal fore arm. This reduction in rate of fire was intended to make the firearm more manageable when fired on full-auto and to conserve ammunition.

With the assistance of Oscar Payne, the US Navy Model of 1928 was designed. To meet the order for these weapons, Thompson Model of 1921 stock was refitted with the conversion pieces and over stamped with the Model of 1928 markings.
The US Navy over stamped Model of 1928 quickly became the most popular Thompson model in the Auto Ordnance catalog. These firearms were ordered by law enforcement departments throughout the country with either the traditional pistol style or the horizontal fore stock.

machine gun case

About Hardy B. Purvis, 1891 - 1959

Born in Livingston, Texas, in 1891, H. B. Purvis joined the Texas Rangers in 1927. He worked in the Panhandle town of Borger until 1929 when he was transferred to the East Texas town of Lufkin. Promoted in 1936, Purvis transferred to Houston where he served as Captain until his retirement in 1956.

About L. Hardy Purvis, 1912 - 1993

Son of Ranger Captain Hardy B. Purvis, L. Hardy Purvis promoted to Ranger in 1946
and served in Kerrville, Texas. Over the next few years, he served in Alpine, Sonora, and Del Rio. He retired in 1967 while serving in Rock Springs, Texas.


The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas