More Commando Rifle Info, Old Ads and Literature

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I found those images at John Torelli’s page* from the manual for the Commando Arms Mark 45. I dig the op-art Mark 45 logo. He also has more pages of the manual and a pic of the rarely-seen pistol version. Thanks to John for giving me permission to use his scans.

Commandos were made in Knoxville, TN. They were affordable, semi-automatic rifles that resembled the Thompson Commando submachine gun. The Mark 45 version even used Thompson magazines which are still widely available even today.

I knew about the company’s factory address on Clinton Highway. Torelli’s page lists a company address of 2515 Sutherland Avenue and a phone number of 615-523-3393. Note that when this ad was published the company’s name had changed from Volunteer Enterprises to Commando Arms, reflecting new ownership. According to this page and this one the name change occurred in 1978.

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I’ve been exchanging email with a nephew of the man who co-designed the Commando and started Volunteer Enterprises. I’ve already learned a few things from him, and some family members are willing to share information. I’m leaning towards starting a site for the gun since it’s such an interesting and ignored piece of Knoxville history. I’ve promised a friend I’d create a blog for his non-profit group, so the Commando site will have to come after that.

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog because I stopped blogging about gun purchases, but last year I bought a Volunteer Enterprises Commando Mark 45. That’s it below. The case seems to be the “Heavy gauge vinyl carrying case with full-length zipper and inside clip pocket” mentioned in the manual. It previously belonged to an entertainer whose name you’d recognize. I’ll share that story at some point.

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Torelli’s page says “Dry firing, the trigger pull is off the scale to the point that you’ll probably check to see that the crossbolt safety isn’t engaged.” That’s no joke. When I got mine I couldn’t get it to dryfire at all until I hosed down the interior with Breakfree CLP lubricant. When I took it to the last blogshoot Sebastian thought it was broken because he couldn’t get it to fire. Sebastian is a big fella, and I think he was being considerate in not wanting to hurt my gun. I told him to go ahead and pull the trigger as hard as he needed to and then it worked fine for him.

* Link updated February 22, 2009 following the shutdown of AOL’s Hometown service.

See also:

UPDATE: If you need gunsmithing work on a Commando, talk to Knoxville-based Coal Creek Armory. I’ve talked to the head of the company. He owns a number of them and their gunsmiths have fixed up quite a few. They’ve had success inĀ  including fabricating new firing pins, which seems to be one of the more common parts to break.

14 Responses to More Commando Rifle Info, Old Ads and Literature

  1. Knox Joe says:

    A friend of mine bought one of those in the 1980’s and had never fired it. I talked him into taking it to the range and even supplied the ammo, Winchester FMJ.

    We could not get the gun to chamber a round from the magazine. We resorted to inserting a round into the chamber and closing the bolt. The round would fire, but the next would fail to feed.

    As with yours, the trigger pull was horrid, probably 20 pounds or more. I don’t remember anything about the accuracy. My friend decided to sell it at a gun show.

  2. Nick S. says:

    I inherited one of these guns from my grandfather. A Commando Mark III with two greasegun magazines. The gun’s lower looks like it’s been cast out of pot metal, but the rest of the gun seems decently finished. I’ve put about a hundred rounds through it, and it’s a lot of fun to shoot. Taking it apart, you can see how ruggedly simple the design is.

  3. RICK says:

    I really can’t understand why people think these are so valuable. I own this cheap, sorry “a– imitation I won decades ago. The firing pin had broke. I went around the “almighty internet” to find parts…no luck.

    Next, I had the “bright idea” to buy another working model in order to retain its firing pin and bring it to a machine shop a relative is employed by, in order to duplicate.

    This would have me owning two, but I would hope to sell both in terms of getting “one” good firearm.

    For a little while, I followed sales and auctions on these, watching people command over $300-800 for this garbage.

    In reality, pawn shops dont know what they have and hope to prey on the unknowing.

    When mine was working, these things do not feed well and jam. It only wanted quality ammo, but unless you have/did a good alteration on a grease gun mag, it still wouldnt feed properly.

    My advice, like others, forget about the damn thing.

  4. I own a Mark 3 45 cal. Commando. I cleaned it up and purchased a Grease Gun mag. It fired wonderfully. I think it all depends who had the guns first and keep it clean. like any other firearm cleaning and maintence is the way for all guns like the AR-15 M-16. I live in California it is classified as an Assault Weapon by our stupid state. I went to a local gun dealer to sell it or trade it. Sling etc. He says he can not sell. Need an out of state dealer. Help I have 50 guns and like this, but do not need it for sale $400-$500 in good shape with gun case, sling, magizine. I am in law enforcement so I can keep it but do not need it. Only shot it 2 times. Help some one buy me.

  5. Sterling says:

    Where can I get a Volunteer Enterprise, Commando Mark 45 Owner’s Manual and Parts List? And, does anybody work on these? Any help will be appreciated! Thank you, Sterling

  6. John Torelli says:

    There are no parts available for the Mark 45’s, but they don’t have any real weak points if cared for. What kind of work do you need done? I may be able to help you.

  7. Daryl Harris says:

    I have a customer that came into my shop with a commando 45 mark III that was taken apart and are missing some springs I have never worked on one before so I do not Know how they look or fit. If some one could e-mail me some pictures of the inside of the lower receiver trigger group so I can make the springs that go inside and how they look installed That would help me a great deal
    Thank You
    Daryl B Harris.
    Treeline Frontier Inc. Gunsmithing
    (770) 904-5821 E.S.T

  8. Daryl Harris says:

    I have a customer that came into my shop with a commando 45 mark III that was taken apart and are missing some springs I have never worked on one before so I do not Know how they look or fit. If some one could e-mail me some pictures of the inside of the lower receiver trigger group so I can make the springs that go inside and how they look installed That would help me a great deal
    Thank You
    Daryl B Harris.
    Treeline Frontier Inc. Gunsmithing
    (770) 904-5821 E.S.T
    treelinedream@charter.net

  9. Charles Reading says:

    I am in search of a commando 45 mark III for sale in any condition. name your price and location
    Thank You
    Charles Reading
    337-303-2649
    readingatsea@yahoo.com

  10. F L Dearth says:

    I have a Mark111 and it shoots ok, but I am looking for another mag. If you have one and would like to sell it, email me.

  11. Kevin says:

    Hi F L Dearth, if you have a MKIII it takes grease gun mags. (need to file a bit on lock hole and sometimes the feed lips) The MK 45 uses Thopson mags. Both are readily available. Good luck, & have fun shooting! Kevin.

  12. Jimmy says:

    I am looking for a manual or “break down” drawing of this gun. A friend of mine that has a gun shop has one for sale and is looking for a copy of same. If interested in acquiring one, the one she has is in very good condition. It has not been fired since she acquired it but does cycle through fine. The trigger pull is very rough and long but that’s to be expected on these models. Contact her at 803.684.7405 Jane

  13. Bull says:

    04/28/2011, I am looking for a trigger spring for my Commando Mark 45. The one I have is worn and bent out of shape. It is causing trigger linkage problems and trigger will not reset to fire. Other than that mine has always worked well. Mine was chromed and I stripped it down blued it and then refinished it in a black coating. It was a little stiff at first but after about 50 rounds it started working fine.
    Any help finding a trigger spring will be appreciated. Tks.
    Bull – cell 832.597.0789, CST.

  14. John R says:

    I have a commando mark 45 that will not cycle properly. It fires fine but will not eject the case, i.e. stovepipe. The gun is clean, I have two magazines that both do the same, and I have tried three different types of ammo. The extractor claw seems to look good. Any help or advice is appreciated.