Loading, Handling, and Accuracy
By Dennis Adler
To wrap up the MP40 we need to review all of its operating features, which are very close to those of the original guns. First off, 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, easier still with an Umarex speed loader. Load the magazine into the receiver with a firm push; set the safety to SAFE, pull the bolt to the rear and the gun is charged and ready to fire.
Nicht die Magazine fassen!
Drilled into the training of soldiers armed with the MP40 the words roughly translate to “Do not grasp the magazine!” This was an important rule for handling the MP40. Hugo Schmeisser’s design for the MP18.1 receiver (which was the basis for the MP38 and MP40 receivers) left room for a firm grasp above the magazine. If the magazine itself was used as a forward grip, it could cause the magazine to move out of position and jam the gun, especially since it was always firing on full auto. This has little bearing on the MP40 CO2 model, but still, if you want to shoot the gun properly, Nicht die Magazine fassen!
The large checkered magazine release button on the left side of the receiver is pushed in firmly to release the drop free CO2 BB magazine for a reload (extra magazines will be available shortly). 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 imparts a slight sense of recoil, but has zero effect on shooting accuracy. While I did not find it mentioned in the instruction book, it is important to remember that the magazine must be loaded in order for the gun to function. If you pull the trigger on an empty magazine, all you get is a click, the action will not operate.
The large rear leaf sights and hooded front sight are easy to pick up and get on target at 25 feet, which with the 9-inch barrel will keep rounds pretty tightly grouped 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. On full auto, pull the trigger and keep the gun on target. With its overall weight, very light recoil, and barrel length, you can maintain a remarkably tight pattern with burst firing. In fact, the MP40 can keep a very tight group at a distance of up to 25 feet on full auto. At 25 feet on semi auto, the MP40 will punch groups of 10 rounds at about 1.25 inches firing from the shoulder. My best 10-shot semi-auto group measured 1.18 inches with multiple overlapping hits.
While the Umarex MP40 is strictly a military airgun enthusiast’s weapon, it is also a great CO2 airgun to shoot because of its selective fire feature, and of course, the fact that it is very costly to own a real WWII era MP40 since it is a Class III automatic weapon. (There is a new 9mm closed-bolt semi-automatic version made today, but not for the price of this excellent .177 caliber Umarex CO2 model).
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. The MP40 was not a great success in WWII that films have made of it, but rather a much greater success for decades after in military use around the world. Its design was the inspiration for many of the more modern submachine guns that have 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 nearly 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 Umarex MP40, like any great and enduring firearms design that has been recreated as a CO2 model today, is a part of history that we can hold in our hands.
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.