by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Texas airgun show
- Rate of fire
- Select fire
- Open bolt
- Folding stock
- Why this airgun?
Here is an airgun we have all been waiting for since the SHOT Show — the Umarex Legends MP40 BB Submachinegun. PAY ATTENTION! There are two versions of this airgun at this time. One is the weathered one that comes with a leather sling. and the other is a blued steel gun that apparently has no sling. I asked for the weathered one because of what this is — a battle-ready WW II replica. Beautiful bluing belongs on replicas of Colt Pythons, not on guns that have served in war! There is a price difference of $50 between the two offerings as this is published (the weathered version with the leather sling is more), but I would watch them because I think that’s will change from time to time.
Texas airgun show
I had forgotten this one was coming until awakened from my slumber at the 2017 Texas airgun show, when I heard one rattle off 30-40 rounds next to me. I looked over and a young man was having the time of his life. It made me say to myself, “I want one!”
This is a BB submachinegun, and the only way to power one affordably is with CO2. As you veterans have assumed by now, this one uses 2 CO2 cartridges. Otherwise you’re going to get just a single magazine of shots before it needs the next cartridge. As a matter of fact, I will be very interested to see just how many shots we do get, because this is powered by CO2 that chills the gun as it is exhausted.
The rated velocity is 400 f.p.s. That will be something for me to ascertain.
Is the gun all-steel? Sorry, but no. It looks like steel and the weathering is quite realistic, but a magnet only sticks to the magazine. No doubt there are many steel parts inside (the magnet says there are), because the weight is a realistic 7.7 lbs. The 9mm firearm weighs a pound more (8.75 lbs.), which is what steel does for you.
MP in the title stands for Maschinenpistole which is German for machine pistol. That’s what the Germans call a submachinegun. We call them SUB-machineguns because of the calibers. They are always in a pistol caliber and not a rifle caliber — hence the “sub.” The MP40 is a simplified version of the MP38 — an earlier submachinegun that was made of many machined parts. The MP40 is made of stamped parts that were quicker and cheaper to produce. We did the same thing when we went from the machined (and very heavy) Thompson submachinegun to the far simpler/lighter M3/M3A1 “grease” gun.
Rate of fire
The MP40 firearm has a relatively low rate of fire (500-550 rounds per minute) to keep from wasting ammunition. Though there is no selector switch (on the firearm), after the shooter becomes familiar with the weapon, single shots and short bursts are possible. The same thinking held true for the M3 grease gun whose cyclic rate is even a bit slower.
The BB gun has something the firearm never did — a selector switch. It’s located on the bottom of the receiver where it can’t be seen. It gives you a SAFE position, semiautomatic (gun fires one time per trigger pull) and full auto (gun continues to fire as long as the ammo holds out and the trigger is held back). I think shooters will like having these choices.
The stick mag was the firearm’s weak spot. It tended to jam because of the design — a double-stack (cartridges side-by-side, more or less, in the magazine) that fed through a single stack outlet port at the top. Ironically Pyramyd Air has tested the BB gun and recommends not loading more than 40-45 BBs in the 60-round mag or it will jam. So, even that aspect is consistent with history, though I feel sure it wasn’t designed that way!
Sights? On a submachinegun? We don’t need no stinking sights! Nevertheless, both the firearm and the Legends replica come with them. Up front is a rugged-looking hooded post, and in back are two leaf sights with notches. The rear leaf flips up like an express sight on a double rifle to give more elevation. There is no provision for windage. But honestly, this is a gun for cloose quarters combat. It fires from the open bolt (I’ll explain in a moment) so there is very little precision. You spray and pray at distances of (hopefully) 25 yards or less.
Machineguns either fire from a closed bolt like conventional semiautomatic weapons, or from an open bolt. The open bolt is the more common way for submachineguns to operate. When the trigger of an open-bolt gun is pressed the entire bolt that may weigh more than a pound slides forward with the fixed firing pin sticking out. When the pin fires the next cartridge, the bolt is hopefully all the way forward, the cartridge is fully chambered and both the bolt’s weight and inertia hold the cartridge in the chamber long enough for the gas pressure to drop to a safe level. It sounds terrible — like a controlled disaster — but it works very well in practice. However, you lose all possibility for precise fire because of the movement of that heavy bolt. But, when multiple bullets are coming out of the muzzle each second, nobody notices.
If you want an assassin’s weapon, get an HK MP5. It’s a submachinegun that fires from a closed bolt and can actually shoot tight groups at close ranges. For clearing a room or the inside of an enemy personnel carrier, an MP40 works fine.
This model does have the blowback that is essential for the biofeedback of firing. Otherwise it becomes a siphon shooter like the Larc BB submachinegun that you almost can’t feel. That wouldn’t be good. I don’t know what effect this will have on the shot count, but that’s why we test.
Most submachineguns have a folding stock that allows them to be compact, yet hold like a rifle when the sights are used. The one on the MP40 BB gun is very realistic. It folds forward and tucks tightly under the gun, with the butt rotated to sit tight against the bottom of the receiver. A push on a large spring-loaded button on the left side of the gun and the stock swings down and back easily to the extended position.
Why this airgun?
If you have to ask why, this MP40 isn’t for you. It’s for all the guys who say, “Yes! Finally they’re getting it! This is what I want!”
I have no intention of justifying this BB submachinegun to anyone. It exists and plenty of people are glad that it does. We are still waiting for the M1 Carbine, the Garand and the BAR, but for now this will do. It’s exactly like the Mauser M712 BB pistol. There is no good reason for it to exist, other than people wanting one. To get the firearm will cost you over $15,000, and you will have to register it through the BATF. This one comes with a click of your mouse!