The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2

The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2 Part 1

Weathering History

Build a Custom Airgun

By Dennis Adler

The weight of the MP40 pretty much neutralizes any appreciable muzzle lift on full auto, though the same cannot be said for the M712 Mauser with the selector on R. It climbs and empties in a couple of seconds fired offhand. These are the two best weathered finish military CO2 reproductions you can own, a pair that offers authentic looks at a price that wouldn’t even cover the shipping cost for one of the original Class III firearms. Currently an MP40 is worth from $13,000 to $19,000 and an M712 Broomhandle from $12,000 to $17,000. The real 9mm and 7.63mm guns come up for auction this weekend at Rock Island Auctions.

So, the Stanley Baker (center below) Guns of Navarone photo idea with the MP40 was not lost on at least one reader, even though the 1961 WWII epic starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn took place in occupied Greece, not France.

Seems I have a lot of old film buffs reading Airgun Experience so putting these Umarex Legends WWII models in a proper visual context makes it a bit more interesting. So does the fact that these guns were used by so many different factions, aside from the German military, underscores their role in the war with French, British and American forces. French partisans carried many different guns, whatever was available, and many were armed by the British with the Sten submachine gun. Built in Great Britain during the war, Stens were given to the French Underground and other partisan groups aiding the Allies. The Sten was about as cheaply made a weapon as possible, costing around $10 in 1940. To put that in perspective, a Thompson, used by U.S. forces, cost $200 in 1940. But nothing was cheaper to carry than a captured (liberated) German MP40.

The Mauser Model 1932, or M712 as it was also known, and the MP40 might very well have been paired up by a French Resistance fighter during WWII. Every gun, no matter how old or how new was valuable to the Resistance. The Umarex MP40 and M712 (in a Chisholm’s Trail M712 flap holster, which will be available soon) are perfect recreations of these two legendary firearms.
The French Resistance was comprised almost entirely of civilians with one major faction controlled by Charles de Gaulle, who led a government in exile and the Free French Forces. This often seen photo from around 1944 shows a Resistance fighter armed with a British Sten submachine gun working alongside a U.S. Army lieutenant in France. French and British officers can be seen in the background. It is believed this was a staged publicity photo, but it made the point about the French, British, and Americans working together in the battle to defeat Germany.

MP40 shooting, loading, and operation

Loading the magazine is accomplished by holding the follower down, inverting the magazine (cast alloy top pointing down) and loading the BBs into the port. This is a large, beveled port so feeding BBs is pretty easy right out of the bottle. Load the magazine into the receiver with a firm push; set the safety to SAFE (see the photo showing the underside of the Umarex MP40), pull the bolt to the rear and the gun is charged and ready to fire.

Authentic but not 100 percent correct, the overlay of the Umarex on the 9mm MP40 reveals two important differences. One, the bolt lock on the MP40 was used to put the gun on safe when carried. This was done by pulling the bolt handle all the way back and moving it into the notch (top red arrow). The safety is marked with a white capital S. The Umarex has the same safety notch (middle red arrow) but no letter S. Secondly, the bolt on the CO2 model has a shorter channel and stops short of the safety catch (bottom red arrow) by a little over an inch. Although the bolt reciprocates it can’t be used as a safety like the original guns.

There are two key visual and functional differences with the CO2 model MP40. The safety and fire selector on the bottom of the gun and the short stroke bolt, shown in the photos, falls well short of where the bolt travels on an actual MP40. The big tell is the white capital letter S on the 9mm MP40 and the safety notch into which the bolt handle could be locked to place the MP40 on SAFE. The Umarex has the actual cutout for the bolt safety, but for whatever reason its design uses a shorter length bolt and the channel ends more than an inch before the safety notch cutout. Aside from that, there is very little Umarex has missed in making the MP40 an accurate CO2 copy of this legendary WWII firearm. And the weathered finish on this newest version makes it absolutely the better of the two current models when it comes to looks. Lay it out with a weathered Mauser Broomhandle M712 and you have a classic pair of full auto military arms that will make your WWII airgun collection shine.

The other major difference is the manual safety and fire selector switch on the underside of the MP40. It is shown here in the SAFE position with a white dot showing.
In the semi-auto position, one red dot is displayed and the word FIRE.
Pulled all the way back the switch exposes two red dots and the word AUTO. Get ready to reload.

Shooting for bullseyes

The bolt on the left side needs to be pulled back to charge the gun for the first shot, after which the blowback action keeps the MP40 cycling until the magazine is empty. The bolt’s reciprocating action also imparts a slight sense of recoil, especially on full auto, but the sound is better than the actual felt recoil since the weight of the MP40 pretty much neutralizes any appreciable muzzle lift on full auto. The same cannot be said for the M712 Mauser with the selector on R. It climbs and empties in a couple of seconds fired offhand.

Here is something to make note of when shooting the MP40 CO2 model. It does not function (dry fire) with an empty magazine, it must be loaded with BBs in order for the gun to operate. The sight design is pretty accurate to the original MP40 with the hooded front, and since effective range is around 25 feet you can use either rear sight. Carrying on with my WWII partisan photos, you will note how the shoulder strap helps support the MP40 if you want to just unload a burst at waist level at your target board. This works at around 15 feet with some degree of accuracy because you can see the BBs hitting the target and adjust your aim as you go. For more accurate shots out to 25 feet (like the target at the end of the article) shouldering the MP40 and using the shoulder strap for added support will get you a pretty decent group.

The 9mm MP40 was only a full auto, while the blowback action Umarex MP40 CO2 model has a selector switch for semi-auto or full auto fire. On full auto I fired in short bursts. The temperature was around 85 degrees in the woods and the airgun was showing vaporizing CO2 around the muzzle when this shot was taken. With the slap of the bolt on full auto and wisps of vapor the gun felt even more realistic. Notice how the shoulder strap also helps stabilize the gun. Aimed from the shoulder and using the sights, I wrapped my support arm around the strap before grasping the receiver. This helped maintain a tight hold on target.

Trigger pull on the test gun averaged a modest 7 pounds, 5.2 ounces with 0.25 inches of travel, light stacking toward the end and a clean break. It takes a full let off to reset on semi-auto but on full auto hold it back and the MP40 will shoot to empty. I wouldn’t do that too often, shooting in short bursts is actually more fun and you get more rounds out of the dual CO2 cartridges by not super cooling the magazine. The design is such that once the stacked CO2 cartridges are pierced by turning in the seating screw (with the enclosed hex head wrench), the entire interior of the magazine becomes the CO2 chamber (kind of like a pre-charged pneumatic). This is a very cool design (no pun intended) since you can reload and get up to 100 shots downrange before there is any appreciable drop in performance. After a certain point velocity drops rapidly; you can hear and feel it in the bolt recoil.

Loading the CO2 BB magazines for the MP40 requires two 12 gram CO2 cartridges loaded one behind the other. Once inside the magazine the seating screw is inserted and turned up with the hex head wrench. When the pressure from both CO2 cartridges is released it fills the interior of the magazine like a pre-charged pneumatic cylinder. The large blue O-ring on the seating screw seals the chamber from the bottom. It takes a firm twist with the hex head wrench to unscrew it after the CO2 is expended. The test magazine held 52 steel BBs. It is also listed as holding 60 but I was only able to get 52 loaded. The BBs stagger like cartridges in a double stack magazine, so if you don’t get them staggered correctly one BB can take up the space of two. It takes a little shaking and pushing with the follower.
A full magazine should look something like this. I have about four that didn’t align properly. It is hard to get all of the BBs to stagger.

Once you become familiar with the MP40’s operation you can move the selector from one detent (SAFE to FIRE to AUTO) with your support hand index finger. The sights are easy to align and I prefer raising the rear blade to get a better sight picture with the hooded front post. At 25 feet on semi auto, the MP40 will punch groups of 10 rounds at about 1.25 inches firing from the shoulder. Wrapping your arm through the sling will tighten your hold further and help keep you on target. My best 10-shot semi-auto group measured 1.18 inches with multiple overlapping hits, then I switched to full auto and ran out the magazine in a series of short bursts keeping all 52 shots inside the 10 ring and bullseye. With an average factory rated velocity of 465 fps, the gun chronographed at 455 fps with a high of 460 fps, and a low of 440 fps.

One magazine load of Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs from 25 feet with 10 fired on semi-auto and the rest on full auto with the MP40 shouldered and the support arm wrapped through the shoulder strap for added support. All of the shots hit inside the 10 ring and bullseye.

The MP40 with weathered finish is one airgun that you should consider a must have because of its authentic style, lightly aged finish, great weight, balance and operating features. The Umarex MP40 is an outstanding tribute to an old technology and evolution in firearms design that is woven into the fabric of world history. Its availability as a full auto model makes this airgun readily accessible to military arms enthusiasts in a way that almost surpasses the original and very costly to own 9mm WWII models. Along with the M712 weathered Broomhandle, Umarex has done a great job recreating two of history’s most famous firearms as blowback action CO2 models. History aside, this is one of the most fun to shoot CO2 airguns I have ever tested.

5 thoughts on “The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2”

  1. This airgun is a historical. milestone . Aboutas realistic as it gets , and with its’ dual co2 mag doesn’t run out of the full auto fun factor as quickly as other replicas . This technology should be adapted to an extended 30 round mag for the 712, and other designs yet to come . The Sten was about the simplest , cheapest machinegun ever, some made in machine shops using muffler tailpipes for receivers. Looking at your outfit , I could see action airgun matches with costumed competitions in the future . We need more select fire historical firearms , and the simple Sten wouldn’t be a bad one , but the Thompson is a must . In Westernsir rifles a Winchester 73 and a92 are sorely needed. Nice review, appreciated by a movie buff.

Leave a Comment