In the image of: MP40 comparison
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.