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Education / Training The Umarex Steel Storm – Part 1

The Umarex Steel Storm – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Another BB submachine gun: the Umarex Steel Storm has a different set of features and offers a lot at a competitive price.

When I review a vintage airgun, we always get a lot of comments about this and that. Apparently, a lot of you like seeing the guns of yesteryear. Sometimes, the gun is one that not too many of you know, and that’s a lot of fun…learning about something for the first time.

Then, when I review a contemporary airgun in the expensive class, we get a lot of comments from readers who always wondered this or that about the model but never had the opportunity to see one for themselves. It’s nice to have an expensive product laid out for you, warts (if any) and all so you can evaluate what might be a major purchase.

But, when I write about a bread-and-butter airgun, something most people can afford and something that isn’t going to fascinate you with exotic features and capabilities, something else happens. The buying begins. And that’s why I review these kinds of airguns. So you can compare the functionality and features and decide on a low-risk purchase for yourself or someone else. Yesterday’s blog report about the HK MP5 K-PWD was an example of such a review, and I spotted in the comments that several of you had been waiting to read about that gun because you had a purchase in mind.

Today is going to be more of the same, as I begin the review of the Umarex Steel Storm, another submachine gun-type BB gun with similar yet different features to the HK MP5. And, yes, there’s a third and final new gun to look at some time in the near future. That will be the EBOS. So, in a couple of weeks, you should know everything you need to know about these three similar BB submachine guns.

What is a submachine gun?
First, some background. A fully automatic gun that shoots a rifle cartridge or larger is called a machine gun. Note: When the caliber gets much larger than rifle-sized, the term automatic cannon comes into play. Because these guns have usually been assigned to at least two people to operate, they are also called crew-served weapons. While there have been notable departures from this basic design, in guns like the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the definition of a machine gun almost always encompasses a fully automatic gun of rifle caliber and a second member called the ammo bearer to help the gunner manage the weapon.

When certain German weapon specialists developed fully automatic weapons after World War I that used pistol cartridges, they gave the title Maschinen Pistole (this archaic spelling is the correct spelling of the first developmental guns) to that type of gun, which is where the designation MP comes from (as in MP5). Americans called them submachine guns. Those are the differences between a machine gun and a submachine gun.

A 300-shot BB gun
The Steel Storm is definitely a submachine gun design. You can tell that by its compact size, which suggests that if it were a firearm it might chamber 9x19mm ammunition. The specifications list a BB capacity of 300 rounds, but you need to understand what that means. There are 300 BBs onboard the gun, but it will not shoot all of them without certain steps being taken. Those 300 BBs are housed in a reservoir that does not feed into the firing mechanism. However, when you wish to shoot, the BB follower is pulled back and the gun is shaken so that as many as 30 BBs will fall into what the owner’s manual calls the BB chamber. So, you can fire up to 30 BBs, and then you have to stop and refill the BB chamber.

Burst-fire available
Something this gun offers that almost everyone who buys it seems to like is the burst-fire mode. Because it’s powered by CO2, which is a refrigerant gas, the Steel Storm cannot be fired in the fully automatic mode or it will quickly freeze up. A good solution to this is to offer 6 rounds of full-auto fire so the shooter gets the sense of full-auto without freezing. In the military, machine gunners are taught to fire in short bursts anyway. And, with submachine guns, burst fire is even more important for ammo conservation. There’s also a single-fire capability with the Steel Storm, so you get a true semiauto capability on top of burst fire.

The selector (right) switches between 6-round full-auto bursts and semiautomatic single-fire. The safety (right) makes the gun safe or hot. With the red button showing, the gun is hot.

The sights are pistol sights, only. The front is a square post, and the rear is a square notch. Neither is adjustable. Both are visible at arm’s length, only. If you want to use sights, the gun must be held away from the body. However, that’s not how submachine guns are usually employed.

Subguns are fired from the hip more often than not. The shooter looks at the target and watches as his bullets (BBs) trace through it, adjusting fire as necessary to get the desired effect. A bright green laser would be a wonderful addition to this gun, because it would give you a good reference point to begin with.

Dot sights and other optical sights will be less useful because there’s no shoulder stock. It will be a real trick to get a dot sight on target when the gun is held away from the body in hands that can move so freely. The parallax problem would make sighting that way extremely difficult. What I mean is that it is practically impossible to pick up the dot unless the gun is held in reasonably close alignment with the eye, which a shoulder stock does. Using a dot sight on a pistol takes practice, because even a small movement of the hands will cause the dot to disappear.

As you can see, there’s a Picatinny rail both above and below the frame of the gun, so accessories will be easy to attach. I think the lower rail is the perfect place for a laser mount, with the switch located near the thumb of the firing hand.

Loading CO2
Although the owner’s manual refers to a “drop free” magazine button, the Steel Storm does not have one. What it has is a mag that drops partway out of the grip and waits for a second button (the drop-free button) to be pushed to come all the way out. The magazine is where the two CO2 cartridges are contained during operation. Yes, this gun uses two 12-gram CO2 cartridges that are reported to give over 200 good shots. And according to the advertising, good means a velocity of 430 f.p.s. or so. So it’s fairly powerful.

The CO2 container lives in the grip and houses two cartridges at a time.

Loading BBs
Loading BBs couldn’t be easier. Slide the front sight back and dump them in. That fills the large reservoir. To fill the smaller 30-shot magazine, pull the spring-loaded follower forward and lock it in position, then shake the gun to move BBs into the BB magazine. Ease the follower down when the mag is full, and you’re ready to shoot.

To load the BB reservoir, simply slide the front sight back and pour up to 300 BBs in the hole.

So, we have a contender to challenge the MP5, and it has some different features. We’ll test velocity next.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

54 thoughts on “The Umarex Steel Storm – Part 1”

  1. B.B.

    I see that Drozd (“blackbird”) really layed some eggs 🙂 Yet another concept of BB SMG, quite similar to Izh Drozd, however styled after MP-7 PDW if i see things right. Must be a nice thing to spray BBs with friends, to hunt soda cans and co customize with tactical trinkets like red dots/laser pointers/flashlights/foregrips etc.
    One day me and friends discussed using Drozd-like BB SMGs on RC combat planes, but we trashed the idea: WAY too unsafe and nobody’s going to like his prized flyer shredded by BBs 🙂

    But have you seen T-Rex from ZMZ?
    It’s a full-auto BB SMG made from PP-91 “Kedr/Klin” SMG (see http://world.guns.ru/smg/smg06-e.htm on Max Popenker’s site) , retaining all its features (except for firepower of course). Its most striking feature is that it operates without any batteries – blowback-operated CO2 single and full-auto , and, of course it’s all-steel, “true thing” plinker.
    I had the opportunity to use both, and I must say T-Rex quite resembles its parent: it dances in your hands like mad and one’s better to control his timing – bursts leave your mag empty in a blink of an eye. Accuracy is rather predictable for a BB blowback-firing SMG – about 10 cm circle of pierced cardboard @ 10 m. Well, nobody expects accuracy from a plinker.


    • Duskwight,

      That’s quite a subgun! I had no idea. The high rate of fire runs through the ammo fast, I know, but it’s better than trying to control a low-rate gun like the U.S, M3. What a pig! It just sits there and goes “Put, Put, Put” and the gun tries to jump around everywhere!


    • Duskwight, there’s a YouTube video of people shooting rc planes with airsoft. The planes last longer that way although they’re not much to look at. As for myself, I don’t need guns to knock down my planes. I can do that all by myself like last week when I totaled my Corsair. I had a catastrophic mid-air structural failure–wing folded in half coming out of a tight loop–and there was nothing I could do. I guess you can glue the plane together only so many times. At least it’s an occasion to recall one of my favorite dialogues from Star Trek:

      Drunken Klingon: And, Kirk, the tin-plated dictator with delusions of grandeur flies around the galaxy in a ship that should be used as a garbage scow.

      Scotty: Don’t ya think ya better rephrase that?

      Klingon: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the Enterprise should be used to haul garbage. I meant it should be hauled away as garbage. Bwa ha ha.


      • A friend posted this on another message board…

        Back in 90s I was stationed in Germany. We went to tank gunnery and the bubba from TASC couldn’t hardly start them much less fly the drones to save his life. Turns out the bubba had crashed a couple on takeoff and had given up thus causing a training delay.

        My commander had heard me talking about flying RC planes at home station and sent a runner over to the maintenance area to get me. I talked to the TASC guy and he offered to let me fly the MIG drones for him.

        We had a platoon of tanks and a platoon of Bradleys firing M2 and 240 machine guns, plus a squad of dismounted infantry w/M16s on the firing line.

        We launched the drone and I flew it around for a few minutes to get the feel of the single stick control box. Mine were all 2 stick units. Mean while all the gunners were placing bets on how fast they would shoot it down.

        Anyway the range officer told me to fly out to the end of the range fan markers about 2000 meters out, and turn back in towards the firing line straight and level at about 50 -75 feet high. You could hear the scream of that little glow plug engine until the it hit the 1500 meter line when the guns opened up and I couldn’t hear a thing but blam, blam, blam….!

        The machine guns had to cease fire at about 900 meters and the M16s at point blank range. It was a real rush when the guns stopped and I could hear that little engine still going and I’d make it do a victory roll right over their heads. Man I tell you we were talking big shizzle to them gunners then. LOL

        The drones were made of Styrofoam and could take lots of hits and still fly unless a round went through the engine or control circuit board.

        One of my more fun days in the field.


        I wish I was there. sounds like a “blast”.


        • Gene

          I’ve seen videos of sort of “machine gun party” is States – people lined up with MGs and trying to take down some small RC plane. Lots of powder burned and lead flying. And eeer… that RC stuff seems to be a relative to McLeods 😉


      • Matt,

        Seems every human creation has only few chances for repair. And some things are unrepairable, e.g. bike helmets. From my own experience it’s better to replace the whole wing – a whole part up to points of assembly, as fixing will never return it its former strength. And as for loaded-skin wings, any fixes will disrupt its geometry – glue bends parts a bit so you can imagine the rest.

        Just to continiue on longevity, recently I’ve got some practical data on that for an airrifle 🙂
        Guess I really need a new trigger unit for my CFX. It seems that after some 15 or 17K shots (I cannot tell exactly, it’s only 2 tins different) sears feel to have surfaces run-in so well they began to “stick” to each other and springs, especially that at the safety, seem to weaken.
        I’ll take apart my old trigger assembly just to check things out and maybe I’ll be able to test sear metal’s hardness. I feel that Gamo may have put there steel a bit too soft for the task. If so, maybe I’ll be able to harden new ones a bit more.


  2. Tom,

    I appreciate your advice on what to bring to the Roanoke show, but if I don’t find a new contact number for the promoters, I won’t get a table. I’ve been trying to reach someone at this number (540-989-5343) for a week now, but no one answers. Do you have an alternate number to reach the promoters?

    Michael Chavka

    • Michael,

      You don’t call the phone number. The lady who is running the show this year has just buried her husband who used to run the show, and she is swamped with other more pressing duties. So forget calling that number.

      If you want a table, you simply send your money by the form to the address indicated. That’s how it is done.

      By the way, I answered your direct email message yesterday and the reply was sent back as undeliverable this morning.


  3. Morning B.B.,

    Mike, PA is selling a Drozd BB pistol with an adapter that allows you to use at 12 or 20 oz CO2 tank which might mean a paint ball HPA tank might work also since they’re regulated to around 900 psi. I don’t see why the same type of modification couldn’t be done to the Umarex Steel Storm. Practical or cost effective–I don’t have a clue.


      • B.B.,

        I can’t keep up with Whiscombe values but the blue book can’t either. Seems that since John Whiscombe retired that the value of these guns has just about doubled.

        Along this same line, in your opinion, when Tim McMurray retires will the value of a USFT increase dramatically or is a USFT too purpose built and/or to “simple” to replicate (unlike a Whiscombe) to see a dramatic hike in value?


        • Kevin,

          I think the USFT may do something similar, but it’s too soon to tell. Tim’s guns have not jumped in price the way John’s did. Of course he is in the middle of the hottest production time.

          I will say this at least. I don’t think anyone will lose money on a USFT.


          • B.B.,

            You can always put that to the test with Wacky Wayne!!

            If, as Kevin says, the USFTs are simple to replicate, why hasn’t anyone? Or are there unique feature patents in the way? (Not that that ever stopped anyone if there was real $$ to be made…)


            • AlanL,

              There have been a few USFT “replicas” made by others with the approval of Tim. Not sure about any patents or proprietary rights. Since the original USFT’s are still being made it would be stiff competition for a “knock off” design. Once Tim retires who knows? Maybe.


            • AlanL,

              Since the USFTs are made one at a time by Tim, and in some cases fine tuned by LD himself, a copy cat version, would be just that, and most likely not be worth the discount, to the small number of potential customers.
              The USFT can be adjusted to fit anyone in the sitting or standing FT position, toughest is the forced prone position. It’s really designed around open class where all it’s attachments are allowed. In 12 fpe international class it’s not as much of an advantage as a shooting jacket or good sling… IMHO:-)

              So, to me, a USFT is a precision instrument for open class field target. PERIOD. Others like the FWB 70FT and Daystates are certainly there too, but my guess, or bet, you could say, (since I own #6 and #44), is that the USFT will go up in value quicker and hold that value longer than any other accurate, and easy to shoot, (once you understand how all the attachments work), open class air rifle.

              Certain early ones (very first ones were the 7 “Simple Simons” made Tim and LD still shoot theirs, then the first “production” guns, #1 thru #6 went to the best shooters Tim and LD could get to try them. #44 was the 12fpe prize Tim gave to the 2005 nationals winner, which turned out to be Billy Lo shooting USFT #6).
              These early guns got special attention from Tim & Larry Durham, (LD), in an attempt to have those guns win a national or world title. It’s my believe, and investment,:-) that those special guns will increase the most, and hold value the longest.

              The coolest part is one can shoot them without much fear of harming them. They really are built like a tank. So, might as well take a chance to add some value to your gun with a championship:-)

              The concept of a very large air tank filled with lower pressure like 1,600 or 1,800lbs, with just the right hammer/spring ratio and transfer port, gets almost “regulated” spread without the possibility of a failing regulator, like happens so often, just when you don’t need a failure. I’m getting the 50 shots at 19.5fpe, I need for an entire match, from a fill of 1,800. Some fill to 1,400 or 1,600 and top off during a match. This concept also changed production PCPs. Soon the 2,000lb fill, Discovery came out. Another reason the USFT is important, it broke new design ground for PCPs.

              And since the USFT is truly a specialty air gun, not that many will ever be made, again, (there is not that many folks entering Field Target), so, that will keep the value up too.

              Attention USFT wanna be owners!!

              All those living in the Northeast, could attend the AAFTA nationals in Maryland Oct. 16th and 17th, and watch a very fun event. Also, Tim has donated again one of his handmade USFTs for an auction going to the AAFTA general fund. A total of $8,000 in Daystates, Air Arms EV2 (from PA btw) are also up for bid. But, this USFT should increase in value quicker, and hold better it’s value, but, mostly likely it will sell for regular retail price. (last I heard, about $2,250). Most shooters “blew their wad” getting there, and have little left for an extra or new gun, so it might go for $1,500 even! There is usually a 3-6 month waiting list to get one, so that’s another advantage.

              Wacky Wayne,
              Match Director,
              Ashland Air Rifle Range

              • Wayne,

                Always good to hear from you. Your assessment of the USFT is top notch. I’m following the new benchrest version (hunter carbine?) very closely since LD and Tim have said publicly that the new barrel is the most accurate they have ever tested. This presents a second custom, handbuilt gun that could potentially be a wonderful investment and at the same time be a dream gun to own and shoot.


                • Kevin,
                  Just so happens I held one of the first ten, made for my friend Tony, at the Cal State match last weekend, (got 5th in open class). LD worked on it for him and the test target was the tightest groups LD said he has ever shot in his tunnel. The barrel is 3/4″ thick, turned down and bored from solid 1-1/4″ stock. Each barrel costs Tim over $300.

                  I’m in on the next batch of ten. LD and Tim are really hoping to make a big show at the national bench rest contest next year in NC.

                  Wacky Wayne

  4. I haven’t had any experience with bbs but I’m curious as to whether they, like pellet guns do, end up with (1)jams or (2)multiple bbs in the barrel when the CO2 gets too low to eject them.

  5. Well, two of the Storms have been ordered for Christmas.
    At first my boys were hesitant…they really liked the looks of the MP5. But when I explained the loading issues…then showed them Paul’s vid on Pyramyd they were sold.
    Gotta admit though…I’m now kinda wishing I’d ordered 3.
    Dad’s gotta play too… 😉

  6. On the subject of full-auto, I somehow wandered onto YouTube videos of full-auto weapons. Indeed, among all of the modifications of the Ruger 10/22 there is also full-auto. I even saw the set-up where you join two 10/22s together into a sort of anti-aircraft gun. Seeing the operation was not as impressive as a still picture. The Gatling gun style hand crank looked kind of clunky. My tour ended with some characters who had gathered some impressive vintage hardware–MG34s, tommy guns and so on. After ripping off a burst, they would say, “Come by and see us.” I think this was some kind of advertisement for a gun store. Ha ha, I would be running in the other direction from them.

    BG_Farmer, thanks for your observations the other day. As a matter of fact, I am getting deep into the 49th edition of the Lyman Reloading Manual. !!! All I have to say is that I should take at least until summer to get a handle on this.

    Amateur Editor and Slinging Lead, yes, I had in mind the Centerpoint 4-16AO scope in my post about the turret locking. It’s a great design which is all that Leapers needs to make their products perfect. I think enough of the 4-16 scope that it crowns my Anschutz rifle, and I can’t say more than that. Incidentally, I’m planning another trip to the range next weekend! I’m already making the logistical arrangements for two rifles, two handguns, ammo for each, spotting scope, adjustable scope stand, specialized targets, wrenches, shooting mat, bows and arrows, benchrest bags, ear muffs, goggles, slings……

    Thanks for the concern about my feet. Actually all the leg joints are involved. I have good news to report. I seem to be completely cured and good as new with the most recent medication. It is a little frightening how a drug can completely change your condition, but I’m not complaining. Maybe I will design a big M for my chest and call myself Methotrexate man. All hail, Frank Mann, pioneering author of ballistics and possessed of the most amazing feet on which he could run for a full day without tiring them…


    • Matt,
      I shot the 10/22 on full auto at the Knob Creek, Kentucky machine gun shoot a couple years ago. It was extremely hilarious to feel and hear the little tyke blow its stack.

  7. Talking about Star Trek quotes, my favorite was from Michael Dorn (Worf the Klingon) in The Next Generation when, having downed a glass of prune juice in the bar on the Enterprise, he smacks his lips and says, “”ahh, a drink for warriors”. And perhaps it is.

    Fred PRoNJ

  8. BB or any HW97K owners:

    Any tips on how-to…or special knowledge needed to replace the Breech Seal on my HW97K?

    The Seal has lost a little surface compression against the breech over these many years and I ordered some Jim Maccari seals

          • Slow down young man!

            I’m guessing a “dilligent” and careful picking out of the old seal from the transfer port get’s the job done?

            The, clean the port carefully and install the new J Maccari seal?

            PS There is lots of comment on the web about the HW97’s needing regular breech seal replacement, I’m thinking that’s mostly folklore as I am just now needing to replace mine after 6 years and probably 6000 pellets/shots?

            • Regular replacement of the breech seal doesn’t sound too insane. Unless you store it with the cocking lever not completely latched (which I think some people do), the seal is under constant compression, so it will eventually stay squashed and not seal well. Better to replace it sooner than later, because you are probably losing performance before you actually notice it. My Chinese underlever’s breech seal lasted about the same number of shots but only about two years, probably due to less suitable material being used, but the replacement was a few cents worth of black fuel line, so I can do it as often as necessary:).

              • Flipping the breech seal over and shimming it is also an option. A good option for shimming material is copper wire pounded flat. Use a small ball peen to get the wire consistently flat. Works well.

                • Thanks Kevin and BG Farmer

                  I ordered some Jim Maccari seals that he advertises as “slightly larger” (read thicker) than the stock seals. Most comments on the Yellow and elsewhere seem to be positive about his seals and the small amount of extra compression against the breech of the barrel. No need for shims from what I can decipher from reviews.

                  Put about 200 shots through the o’l 97K tonight on my 30 meter backyard range. Shootin RWS SuperMag Wadcutters at 9.3 grams, this rifle likes the heavier pellets I think. 6 years later, and I’m still in awe of this rifle. Wish I was as good a marksman as this rifle is accurate! Nailing empty Co2 cartridges and a silhouette chicken on a swinger at 30 meters with a Hawke 4-12 X 44mm AO scope with illuminated reticle on lo-green light (I’m in Idaho, so sunlight is going down by 7pm-ish now). Finished the round with a cold Miller Light and and a wipe-down of my “baby” with Rem Oil.

                  Does it get any better than this?

                  Brian in Idaho

  9. Going “Off Topic” again. Maybe I should change my name to “Off Topic” 🙂 . Anyway, I was wondering if plinking at approx. 38m was outside reasonable expectations of a 2240. I had a hard time hitting any (in all honesty only 1), but I only had 8 shots left in the CO2.


    • Rikib,tin cans at that distance aren’t out of the question…..although not terribly easy! However the last 8 shots are the worst for consistent velocity.Starting with a fresh powerlet will make it less difficult to figure out your vertical hold.Then it’s just a matter of practice!

    • RikiB, I shoot my 2240 with a BSA red-dot sight at approx 30 meters and hit beer cans and 2″ square steel plates with ease. That’s with a fresh Co2 cart of course. I aim one target height high when I’m down to the last 7 or 8 shots.

  10. BB,here’s a question I would like to ask you…..who would you ask to work on a Giffard pressure vessel? I have a charge adapter….but the tank seal needs to be remade? or at least inspected for principal.Thanks

  11. I open my umarex steel storm bb gun and need a picture or some advice how the trigger spring go back together , could somebody help ?
    They are two springs on trigger mechanism that I need help with, other than that I’m fine.

    • The first spring moves the little metal piece back and forth on the slider. Play with for a little bit. It only make sense in one position. You just have to work at until you have that “ah-ha” moment. The loader spring is a little tougher.
      You have to remove the plastic retainer on the “lock down” side of the track. This is the area where you slide it back and lock it in place to load bb’s. This little piece of plastic pops out. Then reassemble the two clamshells(the 2 plastic halves) making sure to position the slider handle so that it slides smoothly before tightening down all the screws. You then need something long and skinny on which to position the spring. I used a metal coat hanger for this job.
      You have to compress the spring as much as you can and place the end of the coat hanger into the hole where the plastic retainer resides. Keep as much of the spring compressed as you can while simultaneously sliding the compressed portion into the slider. It took my several tries before I was able to get the technique just right and the spring just slid right in.
      Pop the retainer back into place to hold the spring and you’re done.
      Nothing to it.

      On another note…I’ve had the Steel Storm since about July of this year and have had a seal start to leak. Make sure you use a drop pellet gun oil (the red Crossman oil works pretty good) on the top of the co2 cartridges every 3rd or 4th reload otherwise yous will start to leak like mine. I guess you could say it’s a case of do as I say and not as I do. 🙁
      Took a couple or three reloads (with oil added each time) before the seal swelled enough to stop leaking.
      I’m now starting the hunt for replacements.
      If you look on YouTube (at the time of this writing) you can find several videos showing how to make your Steel Storm fully automatic. Looks to be a real pain as they didn’t use screws to hold the mechanism and instead used a solid rivet forcing you to either drill them out or use a punch.


      • I did mine full auto and there were no rivets , just all screws. it was a pain, but not as bad as some people say. There is also a good video on how to install the loader spring that you had just described.

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