Can an historic automatic subgun rival a modern AR-based SBR?
By Dennis Adler
With almost 80 years separating these two designs it is impressive that they still bear so much in common. The German MP40 was one of the most successful submachine guns of its time and remained in use for decades after WWII. The DPMS is among the more recent SBR designs based on the Vietnam-era M16, but in a modernized M14 version with collapsible stock, short barrel, and quad rails. However, when you get down to the skin and bones, they are both the same fundamental idea. Choosing one over the other in CO2 is really a matter of preferences for vintage or modern military designs.
Recreating the MP40 as a blowback action CO2 model with full auto firing capability gave the Umarex Legends series a second superstar for vintage military arms enthusiasts to enjoy. An original WWII-era MP40 would be cost prohibitive for most firearms enthusiasts, as well requiring a Class III firearms license to own, while the CO2 model, which joined the Umarex Broomhandle Mauser Model 712 as a second vintage select-fire airgun design, provides as much authenticity as possible at a mere fraction of the cost for an original. The Crosman DPMS Panther SBR is a modern counterpart to the MP40 and like original WWII guns, a new centerfire DPMS SBR is also expensive and requires special permissions and expenses to own. But these two have more in common than ownership restrictions for their centerfire counterparts, even as CO2 models they are counterparts in the theory of their design and operation. Like the DPMS compared to the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine, there is that same generation gap that makes the vintage arms so much more appealing. Only here, these guns are on a truly equal footing.read more
The Crosman DPMS Panther SBR being a modern AR platform is optics ready with the quad rails for sights, tactical lights, laser aiming devices, and the adjustable foregrip, which comes with the CO2 model. This article will only be on optics for improving the accuracy of the DPMS. After I do some research into options, I’ll do the same test with the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine.
Unless you happen to have a $550 EOTech HWS sitting around or on a centerfire rifle, odds are you’re not going to buy one to put on a $180 air rifle…but I have one on a tactical 12 ga. shotgun, so I made the swap, readjusted it and shot my first series of 10-meter targets with one of the best optics in use today.
I have a lot of optics on hand to try on the DPMS from tests on centerfire guns, and many of these sights cost considerably more than the air rifle, but there are also a few that are in the CO2 price range. First, with training in mind, let’s go all in and begin with an optical sight that would be used on a centerfire model.read more
A test of equals that are not quite equal can be a bit lopsided, but if we discount the select-fire feature of the DPMS Panther SBR, it looses one of its two advantages over the M1 Carbine. The other inequality is that the DPMS .223-sized magazine can hold dual CO2 cartridges to give the gun its higher velocity and the power to shoot on full auto. Keeping the selector on semi-auto makes the playing field look pretty level (even if the guns look nothing alike).
Not only is the DPMS a bigger gun (except in length) it is a much bigger magazine that holds 25 BBs, compared to the M1 Carbine’s 15. The Springfield has a locking follower that makes loading very easy. The DPMS uses a dedicated speed loader that holds the follower down while feeding BBs into the large, beveled loading port. Holding the follower down by hand is just as easy and you can pour BBs right into the loading port. It’s a very good design.
The M1 Carbine’s magazine has a locking follower which makes pouring BBs into the loading channel very easy. The DPMS takes things one step further with a dedicated speed loader that locks the follower down and has a pour spout that fits directly over the large beveled loading port. I’m not a big fan of speed loaders since they so easily jam up. The large follower tab on the DPMS is easy to hold down and with the beveled loading port you can literally pour BBs right into the magazine. The DPMS has a BB capacity of 25 rounds (which on full auto disappears quickly) while the M1 Carbine mag holds 15 BBs. Their centerfire counterparts have capacities with standard magazines, of 30 rounds, and 15 rounds, respectively, so the M1 is right on the money and the DPMS five short. (There are also 30-round magazines for the WWII .30 carbine caliber M1 Carbine and M1A1 Paratrooper models but not for the Springfield CO2 model.)read more
The M1 Carbine has a barrel length of 17.25 inches while the DPMS, being an SBR, has a shorter 10.25 inch barrel. The respective overall lengths are 35.8 inches and 30.4 inches, with the stock extended, collapsed, the DPMS is only 26.6 inches in length. (An M1A1 is 25.75 inches with the metal stock folded.)
There is more than a generational gap between the M1 and M16 as rifles, there is an even greater one between the generations that have used them. We are talking WWII-era veterans still living, Korean War veterans and early Vietnam War veterans, versus those who have served post Vietnam in actions around the world over the last four decades. We are talking three generations of American soldiers between the M1 and today’s M16-based Carbines. Updated versions of the later M14 (based on the M1 Garand) are still in use today by the U.S. military for combat missions, as well as being used as a ceremonial rifle, while the M1 Carbine has become more of a sportsman’s rifle (reproductions and originals), with very fine WWII and Korean War examples more in the collectible firearms category. The generational gap among M1 Carbine owners today is often as diverse as the gap between the M1 and the M16 itself. Think of it as the rifle version of choosing between a Colt Model 1911 and a Glock 17. You know what category you fall into.read more
It is an interesting comparison, the new CO2 M1 Carbine with wood stock and a centerfire M16 of original Vietnam era style. The AR was smaller and lighter with a higher capacity.
The real world of firearms and the world of airguns are overlapping more and more these days, and comparisons cannot help but be made between CO2 powered arms and their contemporary centerfire counterparts. We also know that historic firearms have been recreated to match their vintage centerfire predecessors, like the Broomhandle Mauser and WWII-era Colt Model 1911A1. This particular comparison has, in fact, been made many times in the world of centerfire arms, pitting the legendary American light rifle of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, against its successor, the M16/AR-15.read more
Plastic or wood, the Springfield Armory M1 in any stock is a highly accurate blowback action semiautomatic air rifle. With an average velocity close to 400 fps (anywhere from 387 fps to 426 fps) I was comfortable shooting the 17.75 inch barrel length M1 Carbine at 10 meters. To get a sense of the gun’s true accuracy at that competitive range, I shot it from a bench rest using a Hyskore gun rest. My best 10-shot group with Umarex Precision steel BBs measured 0.56 inches with either seven or eight rounds inside one ragged hole measuring 0.437 inches.
Today, May 18th, is Armed Forces Day, which was established by President Harry S. Truman after WWII as a day to pay special tribute to the men and women of America’s Armed Forces. Traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday in May, the first official Armed Forces Day took place on May 20, 1950 and next year will mark the event’s 70th anniversary. While Armed Forces Day events usually last an entire week it always kicks off on a Saturday. For WWII, Korean War and early Vietnam era veterans, the M1 Carbine and its variations were the most familiar arms in use, aside from the Colt Model 1911A1 pistol. The M1 was referred to as a “light rifle” and was originally designed for the military by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. It was based on a design by Ed Browning (John M. Browning’s brother) and originally known as the “Caliber .30 M2 Browning Military Rifle. That fact is somewhat of a footnote because the telling of the M1 story has always focused mostly around the improved firing mechanism used by Winchester, which was developed by David Marshall Williams, better known today as “Carbine Williams” and famously considered the creator of the M1 Carbine. While he did a lot of the work with Winchester’s design team, the M1 Carbine was a Winchester and Browning design, combined with the gas piston system invented by Williams. His design, which used the exhaust gases from the fired cartridge to power the piston running a rotating bolt and operating rod to eject the spent shell casing and load a fresh round from the magazine, is pretty much the heart of the M1 and why it is often regarded as his design. To commemorate the M1, Springfield Armory offers its new CO2 model, which is a very accurate reproduction of the WWII guns, with a magazine fed blowback action and, as my initial test of this gun revealed, it is also very accurate downrange, putting a dime-sized cluster of overlapping hits on target at 10 meters.read more
Blowback action models from Sig Sauer and Springfield Armory
By Dennis Adler
This could be the shape of things to come, the Sig Sauer P365 and Springfield Armory XDM 3.8, blowback action CO2 models in the Compact category with self-contained CO2 BB magazines and total authenticity to their centerfire counterparts. These are perfect understudies for CCW training.
These two CO2 models are about to write a new chapter in blowback action air pistol history. The Sig Sauer P365, due out this summer, and the Springfield Armory XDM 3.8, now available for Pre Order (follow this link), are both Compact pistols with self-contained CO2 BB magazines and 1:1 accuracy of design. The significance of this is that there have never been Compact blowback action models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines that are spot-on understudies for their centerfire counterparts. The Sig and Springfield establish a new category for authenticity and training with a full function compact air pistol. That isn’t to say there are no Compact CO2 models, but up until now you either had to live with a separate CO2 chamber in the grip and a stick magazine, like the fine Walther PPS and PPSM2, or a self-contained CO2 BB model like the Makarov, which has an exposed CO2 seating key at the base of the magazine. This totally blows the authenticity of the gun, and a Makarov is hardly a modern CCW training gun, though it is a classic.read more