Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2

Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

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By Dennis Adler

The MP40 has become one of the most recognized military arms in history, not so much for its actual use during WWII, but for its ever present roles in almost every WWII movie made in the past 70 years, including some of the best films of all time. The Umarex MP40 is a nearly perfect .177 caliber match for the legendary German submachine gun.

If there is success in numbers, then the MP40 was a success with production reaching an estimated 1.1 million by the end of WWII. But in the world of firearms, success is also measured by longevity, not production numbers alone, most mass produced military arms from WWII are no longer in use, many have simply been forgotten, while others have become collectible. The greatest example of longevity is the Colt Model 1911. In comparison to the Colt semi-auto pistol, the MP40 is only a minor success, but well maintained examples of the WWII German submachine guns are still being used to this day. More than 20 nations carried the MP40 for decades after WWII, some even into the early 21st century. So the MP40 has become one of the most recognized military arms in history.

One of my favorite actors, Donnie Wahlberg, played Sgt. Carwood Lipton in the 2001 HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. In one episode of the 10-part series “Day of Days” Lipton carried a captured MP40. Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the show was based on the best-selling book by the late historian Stephen Ambrose. Band of Brothers was about the men of “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) of the 101st Airborne Division.

Not exactly an elegant looking firearm like a Broomhandle Mauser carbine or shoulder stocked DWM Artillery Luger, the MP40 was a pure form follows function design with no attempt at embellishment. Even the MP38 had more “styling” than the MP40.

Like the original, the Umarex has two rear sights, one fixed and one folding. The sights on 9x19mm models were optimistically set for 100 and 300 meters. In reality the guns were accurate out to around 70 meters (about 230 feet). The airgun’s accuracy is 25 to 30 feet. Also note the bolt lock notch which is a cosmetic feature on the CO2 model since the blowback action bolt channel on the CO2 model falls about 1.5 inches short, and is not designed to rotate up.
In this view you can clearly see where the blowback action bolt channel ends, which is well short of the overall channel length and the bolt lock notch. The gun has a manual safety built into the selector on the bottom of the frame.

To recreate the MP40 as a CO2 powered blowback action air rifle, Umarex copied the details and design of the late model version which is quickly 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 grasp it above the magazine. Many soldiers were prone to use the magazine itself as a forward handle, which could often lead to a jam. Part of training with the MP40 was not to grasp the gun by the magazine.

The Umarex has a correctly sized and fully checkered magazine release button on the left side of the receiver. This easily releases the drop free magazine which contains the CO2 cartridges and a full load of 52 steel BBs. (The factory specs are 52 rounds and the instruction book and box are so marked).

Measuring up

The Umarex MP40 looks very close to the 9x19mm models but there are a few quick visual tells, particularly with the open bolt which does not travel as far back nor allow the bolt to lock up into the rear notch as a manual safety. The CO2 model’s bolt channel is shorter, although the notch for the bolt lock is still there. The other quick tell is the added selector and safety switch on the underside of the foregrip.

The Umarex MP40’s secret is the option to fire fully automatic like the original 9x19mm guns with the safety selector fully to the rear and two red dots showing, or pushed forward one detent to semi-auto fire, with one red dot showing. Pushing it fully forward puts the action on SAFE. The large round knob was used for disassembly on the cartridge firing models.

Beyond that, at a glance the Umarex looks very much like a real 9x19mm WWII era MP40, and since the Bakelite pistol grip and foregrip of the original guns were molded plastic, the polymer pistol grip and foregrip on the Umarex look authentic enough.

The specifications for the MP40 were as follows: MP40 (1940 – 1944), Submachine Gun, Caliber: 9x19mm, Weight: 8.82 lbs. Length: 32.8 in. (stock extended); 24.8 in. (stock folded). Barrel length: 9.9 in. Capacity: 32-round box magazine. Action: Full-auto only.

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 very accurate in these details and no lightweight at 7 pounds, 14 ounces empty. The air rifle’s overall length with the stock extended is 32.75 inches and 24.5 with the stock folded. The smoothbore .177 caliber barrel is 9.0 inches and recessed inside a correct length 9.9 inch outer barrel with a full size muzzle. Overall, more than close enough considering the number of different factories that built MP40s during WWII.

The Umarex specs out at 7 pounds, 14 ounces empty, overall length with the stock extended is 32.75 inches (24.5 with the stock folded), 9.0 inch .177 caliber barrel recessed inside a correct length 9.9 inch outer barrel, a box magazine with a capacity of 52 rounds (steel BBs), and selective semi-auto or full auto fire.
Authenticity is the order of the day for almost every feature of the Umarex MP40 which has the correctly shaped and finished shoulder stock lock and release button. Pressing in releases the stock which drops down from it position under the foregrip, and swings all the way back to the locked position. The shoulder rest has to be manually rotated from horizontal to vertical.

CO2 Operation

The Umarex Legends MP40 is a ground breaking design in several ways, one of which is boosting power for this blowback action open bolt design by using a dual sealed CO2 chamber inside the magazine. It holds two 12 gr. CO2 capsules, one loaded neck up and the other butt to butt with the neck down. The elongated seating screw in the base of the magazine has its own piercing pin and O-Ring seal, so when the screw is tightened down, the entire polished chamber inside the magazine is pressurized to operate the gun. A similar dual CO2 cartridge system is used in the Umarex Fusion air rifle. The factory rated velocity for the .177 caliber MP40 is 465 fps.

The MP40 uses two 12 gr. CO2 capsules, one loaded neck up and the other butt to butt with the neck down (as shown). The elongated seating screw (lower right) has its own piercing pin and O-Ring seal, so when the screw is tightened and the CO2 cartridges are pierced, the entire polished chamber inside the magazine is pressurized to operate the gun.

After loading the CO2, the magazine is loaded by holding down the follower, inverting the magazine and pouring up to 52 .177 caliber steel BBs into the large loading port. Load the magazine into the receiver, pull the bolt back to chamber the first shot, and you’re ready for an Airgun Experience.

In Part 3 it’s down to the range to chronograph the MP40 and test its accuracy fired semi-auto and full auto.

A word about safety

Many air rifles provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and the new Umarex MP40 certainly qualifies. Air rifles in general look like cartridge-firing rifles, models like the MP40 even more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an air rifle from a cartridge model, especially one as accurate in appearance as the MP40. Never brandish any air rifle in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat them as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

5 thoughts on “Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2”

  1. A weapon that was innovative in its’ day eclipsed by current technology. Full auto only and heavy for a pistol caliber. I remember reading that the most people killed in WW2 in Europe were by 9mm rounds from German MP submachine guns ,especially civilians who were executed. AS a CQB weapon it has mainly been replaced by the likes of the MP5 and Uzi type subguns ,and rifle caliber true Assault rifles like the AK ,and AR. Still a piece of history in select fire that anyone in the US can own.

    • The MP40 has a military history as one of the most commonly used weapons by German soldiers, but they were really specialized for use by paratroopers, assault units, and other elite divisions, not necessary for the mainstream use by all German soldiers. As for the 9x19mm, no doubt that more soldiers and civilians in WWII were felled by 9mm rounds than any other. It reminds me of a quote from the Old West about the .44-40 cartridges, that “On the Western frontier, more game, large and small, and more men, good and bad, were shot by the .44-40 than any other cartridge.” Whatever the prevalent cartridge of the day is, that is going to be remembered. As for the MP40, not a great success in WWII but a much greater one for decades after in military use around the world, and its design an inspiration for many of the more modern submachine guns that replaced it. One cannot forget that almost everything modern in the world of firearms is usually based on something older that established the standard. Hugo Schmeisser invented a gun that has been modified and improved upon for over 100 years. The MP40 was a stepping stone, one that came along at a very troubled time in world history. But as with all weapons, the gun has no agenda or conscience, it is the implement of its user’s intent for good or bad. The MP40 has existed long enough to have played its part on both sides of that line. As a CO2 model, it is more of a tribute to technology and firearms evolution. The MP40, like any great and enduring firearms design that has been recreated as a CO2 model, is a part of history we can hold in our hands.

  2. If I could own an MP40 or 38 in 9mm , I could live with that. Like the scene in Fury ,where they run out of ammunition for the tank. Pitt shouts, “shoulder fired weapons” and out of the tank he emerges with a captured SW43/44. Way to go Brad, especially backed up by a pearl handled S&W 1917.

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