Umarex S&W M&P40 Part 2
Shop Talk and Shooting Drills
By Dennis Adler
I had the opportunity to sit down with officers from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office in Bedford Pennsylvania, where the standard issue sidearm is the S&W M&P40. This is one of the oldest Sheriff’s Departments in the nation, established in 1771. Since the late 18th century the Bedford County Sheriffs have been protecting and defending the city and the surrounding county. Today’s 21st century Sheriffs have relied on the S&W M&P since 2011. It is their preferred sidearm because of the S&W’s ease of handling, rugged construction, and a combination of features that law enforcement officers prefer. The Department also wanted its new handguns to be chambered in .40 S&W. The M&P was the perfect choice, but this was the first time they had ever handled the Umarex S&W M&P40 airgun.Everyone in the department came away with the same opinion, that the Umarex would make an ideal training gun. Bedford County Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer noted that, “The [retail] price of the airgun for training use is phenomenal. This is especially so where the cost of ammunition is concerned, as well as availability of ammunition for training use. The Umarex M&P is a viable alternative for skill training, since this gun is totally matched to the service gun which we use. You put them side by side, they look and feel like the real deal. It functions very well. It’s a quality piece of machinery.” Rapid firing from a combat distance of 15 feet, the Sheriff put a full magazine of steel BBs into a 1-inch group. The blowback action, quick handling, the slide locking back after the last round and dropping immediately after slapping a new magazine into the grip, impressed everyone with the airgun’s realistic operation.
Comparing the Umarex M&P40 to their duty guns, Deputy Sheriff Matt Troutman noted that [“It] looks just like the gun we carry, feels the same in the hand, everything is correct right down to the wire.” He particularly liked that the palmswell grip panels could be changed to fit the individual officer’s hands, exactly like their duty guns. Deputy Sheriff Steven Roudabush also agreed that the Umarex would be an excellent weapon to train and practice with and to “train people who are inexperienced in firearms handling, so they can become familiar with the gun before transitioning to the real thing.” The Umarex S&W M&P40 truly impressed those in the field who carry the real .40 S&W models every day.
Handling and steel downrange
In a head–to-head comparison the Umarex weighs 25 ounces (with magazine) an S&W M&P40 weighs 24.25 ounces (without magazine) thus the airgun with the magazine inserted almost exactly duplicates the carry weight of its cartridge firing counterpart. In overall length, height, and width, the .177 caliber M&P40 specs out at 7.5 inches, 5.25 inches, and 1.2 inches; an M&P40 measures 7.63 inches, 5.25 inches, and 1.2 inches. An M&P40 has a 4.25 inch barrel. The airgun’s internal firing mechanism (which simulates a striker fired system) takes up a little more room at the breech and thus the smoothbore barrel for the Umarex M&P40 comes up a little shorter at just under 4.0 inches.
Trigger pull on a factory set M&P40 averages 6 pounds 8 ounces, while the Umarex trigger, which is identical in design, is a lighter 4 pounds, 8.7 ounces average. Trigger travel on the Umarex is 0.5 inches from rest to fire with 0.125 inches of over travel. In comparison, the trigger on an S&W M&P40 has .300 inches from rest to fire. Both have quick reset triggers, and the lighter resistance on the airgun is a good teacher for learning trigger control.
The white dot sights on the Umarex are similar in appearance to the Novak sights used on the M&P series, and are easy to acquire, making the airgun equal under normal lighting conditions to sighting with an S&W M&P model. With the best fitting palmswell backstrap in place for my hand size, a full magazine, and two loaded backup magazines, I headed out to the range to put the Umarex S&W M&P40 to the test at a distance of 21 feet (7 yards) using full sized Law Enforcement Targets cardboard B-27 silhouette targets.
The Umarex has a rated velocity with 5.1 grain steel BBs of 310 fps. For the range test I used Hornady Black Diamond black anodized .177 caliber steel BBs. The drop free steel CO2/BB magazines are hefty, with an empty weight of 9.5 ounces. The design is for easy loading of the CO2 by unscrewing the base cap of the magazine, inserting the cartridge, threading the cap back on and tightening it down to pierce the CO2 with an included hex head wrench. The BB channel has a port for quick loading, but the follower does not lock down, so it has to be held back while the BBs are loaded. It’s best to load up a couple of extra magazines for quick shooting on the range.
From 21 feet, firing from a Weaver stance with a two-handed hold, my best groups were all inside the 10 and X ring of the B-27 target with a best 10 rounds measuring just over 0.75 inches in the X and a total of 15 rounds in the X ring measuring 1.75 inches. Reloads were quick with the magazine automatically closing the slide. Out of four magazines (total of 60 shots) all tests with the B-27 targets at 21 feet, consistently put the Hornady Black Diamond steel BBs within the 10 and X rings.
Without question, this is the next level of authenticity in blowback action airguns, and the best Umarex semi-auto model yet. For target shooting, plinking and for familiarization with the S&W M&P40, the only step up from the Umarex is the actual cartridge firing model. It’s that good.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.