Some things need no justification other than they are just fun. All BB guns fall into that category. The highly realistic looking, select-fire, historic replicas of the Umarex Legend BB gun series are at the extreme end of the BB gun fun curve.

Umarex Legends M1A1

The latest addition to the Legend series is a select-fire U.S. Military, World War II, M1A1 Thompson Submachine-gun, which joins the MP40 submachine-gun and Mauser M712 machine-pistol replicas in anchoring the extreme end of the fun bell curve reserved for full-auto BB guns. I had a chance to check out and shoot the prototype at the 2019 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous and it exceeded my rather high expectations.

For starters, the M1A1 Thompson replica looks perfect dimensionally; the safety, selector, and magazine release controls function. It’s realistically finished with the metal parts wearing what looks like a military grey Parkerizing and great looking walnut stocks. I was told the stocks were actually plastic; if this be the case, Umarex is using the most realistic looking plastic wood I’ve ever seen.

The M1A1 is made of zinc castings. It has some substantial heft, if not quite all of the genuine article’s 10 pounds. The 30-round stick magazine actually holds 30 .177 BBs and a pair of 12-ounce, non-threaded, CO2 canisters; the type you can buy for around $15 for 25 cylinders at your local big-box store.

Serious CO2 Firepower

The CO2 both propels the BBs and operates the bolt, throwing it back and forth. It simulates the action of the real gun during firing. It also generates a mild recoil impulse to heighten the shooter’s sense of realism. Loading the magazine with BBs can be challenging. Why? The button used to depress the spring was kept nearly flush with the rear face of the magazine body for aesthetic purposes. It’s a fairly strong spring and requires quite a bit of thumb pressure to hold it below the BB for loading port at the bottom of its spring compression.

I didn’t have a chronograph or timer when I tested the M1A1. However, it seemed to shoot at least as fast as the real M1A1s I’ve shot over the years, but with virtually no muzzle rise. I sent a storm of BBs into a stiff foam raccoon archery target at 25 yards. Naturally, I was wondering what it might do to real raccoons, the nemesis of my backyard. The Umarex representative said it would probably just make them angry.

That wasn’t what I was hoping for, but it’s probably better in the big picture since I suspect all manner of things that probably shouldn’t be shot at with BB guns may get caught up in a maelstrom of tiny solid shot. Imagine if you will, the fate of several old plastic Revell model Essex class aircraft carriers and Lindbergh model Bismarck battleships riding at anchor in a kiddie pool in the backyard.

Faithful Recreation

Minor destruction and mayhem aside, the Umarex Legends M1A1 Thompson is very realistic looking. It will have appeal to museums, military vehicle enthusiasts, re-enactors, and military gun collectors who need or want an authentic looking WWII U.S. military M1A1 Thompson for display. It’s better than any of the non-guns imported from Denix in Spain, and as good, or better, than any of the excellent zinc models that came out of Japan decades ago. Making a dummy gun up from a genuine parts kit culled from de-milled WWII gun would be absurdly expensive since those kits no run at $1,000 and up. It’s obvious the Umarex Legends replica M1A1 is the best choice for authenticity, price and functionality.

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