The last word on the Umarex S&W M&P40

The Last Word on the Umarex S&W M&P40

The first blowback action CO2 airgun to be adopted for law enforcement training

By Dennis Adler 

County Deputies get their (air) guns. The presentation of Umarex S&W M&P40 pistols, spare magazines and accessories for the pilot training program took place Thursday, January 12 at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, in Bedford, PA. The author (third from right) along with County Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer (fourth from right) drafted the pilot training program for Umarex-USA.

County Deputies get their (air) guns. The presentation of Umarex S&W M&P40 pistols, magazines and accessories for the pilot training program took place January 12 at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, in Bedford, PA. The author (third from right) along with County Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer (fourth from right) drafted the pilot training program for Umarex-USA.

It is not often that I toot my own horn, first I’m tone deaf, and secondly it tends to blow back on you. But here goes. Late last year when I was testing the Umarex S&W M&P40, I went to visit the local County Sheriff (I have been a Special Deputy for the County Sheriff’s Office here in Bedford, Pennsylvania, for over 20 years). Because the Sheriff is a great fan of airguns, I wanted him to try the M&P40, but the main reason was that all of the Sheriff’s Deputies carry the M&P40.

Bedford County, Pennsylvania Deputy Brian Kaszubski disassembles the M&P40 airgun while comparing it to his field stripped .40 S&W model. One of the first things the officers did was fit the interchangeable backstraps to their hands to match the their .40 S&W duty guns.

Bedford County Pennsylvania Deputy Brian Kaszubski disassembles the M&P40 airgun while comparing it to his field stripped .40 S&W model. One of the first things the officers did was fit the interchangeable backstraps to match their .40 S&W duty guns.

As things usually go, a short conversation turned into an afternoon, at the end of which we had shot, disassembled and reassembled my Umarex test gun, and come to the conclusion that the M&P40 airgun was absolutely identical to the department’s duty guns, and could, in fact, substitute for the cartridge guns for training exercises. It was all theory at the time. We talked again and agreed that it was a viable project, and I approached Umarex-USA with a proposal to launch a pilot training program for small municipal and county law enforcement agencies beginning with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. Umarex agreed that it was worth trying a pilot program. All the Sheriff and I had to do was show that it actually worked. Following is the end result.

Deputy Steven Roudabush, Sheriff Reichelderfer, and Deputy Kaszubski prepare to unleash a volley from their Umarex S&W M&P40 training guns. During the first training exercise (watch for the video on the Umarex website) more than 150 shots were fired at a cost of just pennies compared to .40 S&W rounds.

Deputy Steven Roudabush (left), Sheriff Reichelderfer (center), and Deputy Brian Kaszubski prepare to unleash a volley from their Umarex S&W M&P40 training guns. During the first training exercises (watch for the video on the Umarex website) more than 150 shots were fired at a cost of just pennies compared to .40 S&W rounds.

On Thursday, January 12, Umarex-USA and the Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Office launched a joint pilot training program for officers who carry the 9mm or .40 S&W Smith & Wesson M&P9 and M&P40 semi-autos. With the M&P’s extensive law enforcement use throughout the U.S. the Umarex S&W M&P40 is an attractive alternative for use in training exercises that require firing the pistol at a target (but not for firearms qualifications). Both the M&P40 (and M&P9) and Umarex M&P models have matching polymer frames and metal slides; the external visual differences are minimal for fit, finish, and operational details. The CO2-powered Umarex model M&P40 also has ambidextrous manual thumb safeties required by some law enforcement agencies.

As a training gun in place of a cartridge-firing S&W M&P model, the handling characteristics are indistinguishable, including basic field stripping and cleaning. Every working feature of the M&P40 is accurately duplicated, so all training regimens can be taught and practiced with the airgun, creating matching responses right up to the moment you pull the trigger. In fact, the only significant difference between the 9mm and .40 S&W models and the .177 caliber CO2-powered Umarex is a lack of felt recoil and louder report. Being a 100 percent match to the M&P, all duty holsters, magazine pouches, and rail-mounted accessories can also be used with the .177 caliber training guns.

Deputy Kaszubski was the first officer with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office to begin training exercises with the Umarex S&W M&P40. The gun was a perfect for his Level II duty holster and the self contained CO2 BB magazines worked perfectly in his dual magazine pouches. Targets were set out at 10 feet in the Department’s lower level allowing deputies to practice indoors.

Deputy Kaszubski was the first officer with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office to begin training exercises with the Umarex S&W M&P40. The airgun was a perfect fit for his Level II duty holster and the self contained CO2 BB magazines fit into his dual mag pouches. Targets were set out at 10 feet in the Department’s lower level allowing deputies to practice indoors.

Dollars and Sense

For many small local and municipal police departments, as well as rural county Sheriff’s Departments across the country, budgetary restrictions can and often do impede training due to the costs of ammunition, as well as the availability of ammunition solely for training purposes. These are problems that large metropolitan police and Sheriff’s Departments also occasionally face, but for smaller departments, budgetary limitations are SOP. Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer noted that, “Budget requirements are always present in law enforcement, and usually training is one that gets hit first in order to accomplish the overall mission for any agency. Time and money are always the forefront in training. The CO2 powered M&P is a perfect match as it requires no change to our issued holster and magazine pouch setup for deputies. The deputies will be able to draw, present, fire, and reload in the accustomed fashion with no deviation from current training. Being a small agency with this new training tool will increase the useful life of our issued firearms for the foreseeable future. Replacement firearms cost is a major step for any agency [an S&W M&P40 has a suggested retail of $569.] This does not include the increased costs for ammunition, which is also a factor in training/qualifications.”

Chief Deputy Diane Nelson (far left), Deputy Roudabush, Deputy Kaszubski and Sheriff Reichelderfer were the first to work with the Umarex S&W M&P40 blowback action airguns.

Chief Deputy Diane Nelson (far left), Deputy Roudabush, Deputy Kaszubski and Sheriff Reichelderfer were the first to work with the Umarex S&W M&P40 blowback action airguns.

The Pilot Program

Working with Umarex-USA, M&P40 training guns, plus extra magazines, a supply of 12 gr. CO2 cartridges, and Umarex 1500 count steel BBs will be used to launch the pilot training program with the Bedford Country, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Office. The Umarex M&P40 airguns will be used with the officer’s duty gear to begin training exercises that incorporate all of the skills required to maintain proficiency with the firearm. According to Sheriff Reichelderfer, “We will be able to further enhance the skill level of deputies in house when the daily work load permits. The shooting backstop can be left in place or moved to storage very quickly. Repetition and familiarization, along with returning to basics in training with the Umarex M&P40 airguns equals skill level. Starting out a new program always has bugs. But, as with anything I believe we will improve as time goes on to other ideas and advances in training to make our deputies safe. I can only imagine the cost savings for small departments and even larger ones using these new blowback action airguns that match duty firearms. I am familiar with agencies that hardly have the ammunition budget. The airgun system may just be the ticket for them.”

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

 

6 thoughts on “The last word on the Umarex S&W M&P40

  1. This makes a lot of sense for several reasons. As you have stated if a department has a weapon in service, training more frequently builds muscle memory and repetition builds more instinctive responses. Airguns that are exact understudies accomplish this. It would also allow departments to try weapons before deciding on a standard. In some areas like New York , it takes up to a year and a half to actually get a pistol permit for civilians. Until then you are limited in even handling a handgun. If you have an idea what handgun you will get once you get your permit , it makes sense to train with the replica airgun in the interim , if a model is available. I am not a big polymer fan ,but if I were going to purchase one , the S&W is one I would consider . I have several criteria. Any duty pistol should be as close to fully ambidextrous as possible. There are fair amount of left handed shooters and they need to have the same ability to use the weapon. I don’t like SIG for that reason , they don’t have ambi decockers on most of their pistols. I also feel that one never knows when they may, due to injury or other reasons , need to fire a pistol with their non dominant hand. The last is due to the difference in hand size among officers, interchangeable grip size is a must. The M&P has pretty much all of these. a pretty close second to the S&W Schofield.My old west bias is showing.


    • It would be interesting to see modern day lawmen with Schofields in their holsters. Would give a lot of bad guys pause. Even when legendary Texas Rangers like Frank Hamer and Lone Wolf Gonzaullas were carrying 1911s, they still had Single Action and double action revolvers close at hand. You can take a cowboy out of the Old West, but you can’t take the Old West out of a cowboy!


  2. My compromise gun is a custom caseharded New Lipseys Ruger Flat Top .45acp/Colt . For self defense carry 45acp ,and two spare 8 round 45acp mags . It is surprising how fast the acp cylinder can be reloaded by pushing inroundsfrom the 1911 mags. Of course a Schofield reloaded from an HKS speed loader is even faster. Old habits die hard


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