The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 1
Weathering History – Is it real or is it Umarex?
By Dennis Adler
The famous line “War is Hell” has many meanings, literally and figuratively, both to man, environment, and machine. The first two are well documented throughout history, the machine part is usually pictured in battlefield photographs of damaged or destroyed tanks, trucks, military and civilian vehicles, less seen are images of handguns and rifles lost on the field of battle. Handguns, carbines, and submachine guns, while marred and beaten often managed to continue in service, reclaimed by soldiers on one side or another, and in the case of the German MP40 often captured, stolen, or otherwise given into the hands of resistance fighters in France (the French Underground) who aided the Allies in the Western European theater, particularly in undermining the German occupation of France. The resistance movement provided the Allies with vital intelligence, attacked German occupation forces, and more importantly provided escape routes for Allies caught or trapped behind enemy lines. These men and women performed an invaluable service, often at the cost of their own lives. Members of the underground were often armed with captured German handguns, rifles and submachine guns like the MP40.
We have already covered the background and development of the MP40 in Airgun Experience No. 145, No. 146, and No. 147, and there is nothing new to add to the technical details of this superbly manufactured Umarex Legends blowback action CO2 model, except for this latest version which falls into the category of battle worn arms that managed to continue in service throughout the war. These are a rare find today, especially those that remain serviceable making them historically significant as military collectibles.
The Umarex Legends Weathered MP40
Preceded by the weathered finish Umarex Legends M712 and P.08 Luger Parabellum (Airgun Experience No. 172) the MP40 becomes the third leg in this unique series of WWII blowback action CO2 models. Like the 7.63mm M712 selective fire Broomhandle pistol, the 9mm MP40 is a Class III gun and these are more complicated to purchase, and also more expensive to own. As a case in point, this coming September 8th, 9th, and 10th Rock Island Auction has a war aged MP40 (“showing areas of brown patina, scattered dings and handling marks and light scratches on the metal”) with an estimated value of from $13,000 to $19,000. Compare that to the extraordinarily accurate Umarex Legends weathered MP40 for an MSRP of $229.99. Sure, it is a very elaborate BB gun (about as far from Ralphie’s “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model rifle!” as you can get) but in terms of collecting famous military arms as CO2 versions, the MP40 is number one, followed by the weathered Model 712 as the two most significant recreations of historic German arms ever. That’s a lot to put on an alloy copy of a military gun, but both the Umarex M712 and MP40 weathered CO2 models are more than up to the task with appropriate aging, accurate operating features, weight, balance, handling and correctly styled magazines that contain both the CO2 and steel BBs.
The 9mm MP40 used a single stack 32-round magazine, stamped metal parts (for simplified manufacturing) and Bakelite, an earlier form of molded plastic, for the pistol grips and the foregrip covering the lower receiver. Bakelite varied in color from reddish to browns and black, depending upon the manufacturer. To recreate the MP40 as a CO2 powered blowback action air rifle, Umarex copied the details and design of the late MP40 version, distinguished by the five longitudinal ribs on the side of the receiver. These were added to give soldiers a little more purchase on the gun. The shape of the receiver was such that the support hand could grip it above the magazine, which was the recommended method to avoid grasping the magazine (a tempting vertical handle) which if grasped and pulled could cause the gun to jam. This does not happen with the CO2 model. The CO2 BB magazines are correctly sized to look like the original 9mm magazines and hold two 12 gram CO2 cartridges to power the heavy MP40 blowback action and send steel BBs downrange at an average velocity of 400 fps. CO2 magazine capacity is 52 rounds, 20 more than the 9mm (also 60 round magazines are available), but even with that count, fired on full auto a magazine empties out pretty fast. One needs to practice feathering the trigger.
While the weathered Umarex MP40 looks very close to the WWII model pictured, there are several reveals, particularly the open bolt design on the CO2 model, which does not travel as far back as it should, nor lock up into the rear notch as a manual safety. The CO2 model’s safety is discretely hidden on the underside of the foregrip as one of three detents in the selective fire switch. There was no switch on the MP40. Beyond that, at a glance, the Umarex looks very much like the real 9x19mm WWII era MP40 pictured, and since the Bakelite pistol grip and foregrip of the original guns were molded plastic, the injection molded pistol grip and foregrip on the Umarex are absolutely authentic.
In overall length the MP40 measured 32.8 inches with the stock extended, 24.8 inches with the metal stock folded, and weighed in at 8 pounds 13.8 ounces empty. Barrel length measured 9.9 inches. The Umarex is a little lighter at 7 pounds, 14 ounces empty. The overall length for the Umarex with stock extended is close enough at 32.75 inches, and 24.5 with the stock folded. The recessed smoothbore .177 caliber barrel is a bit shorter at 9.0 inches but the external barrel length is the correct 9.9 inches with a full size muzzle opening. Overall, it is almost visually indistinguishable, and that is a very good reason to absolutely abide by the rules of proper firearms handling and never brandish an airgun in public (unless you are at an outdoor shooting range where airguns are permitted) and you need to be even more mindful of this with an airgun that looks like an automatic weapon. Modern submachine guns are not that different in appearance and though more than three quarters of a century have passed since the MP40 was introduced, many are still being used throughout various parts of the world. The efficiently of design is still relevant today, which makes proper handling of the Umarex model all the more essential.
After a closer look at the details of the MP40 weathered model compared to the original, we’ll put the gun on safe and get it ready for the shooting test on Thursday.