The German MP40 Submachine Gun

    The MP40 SMG was a true workhorse for the German armed forces during the Second World War, and was the rival of firearms like the British Sten and American Thompson submachine guns. In this installment of TFBTV, we get behind one of these iconic weapons to demonstrate its form and function.

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    The full video transcript follows …

    – Hey guys, this is Alex C. with TFBTV.

    Today we’ve got a really cool historical gun to review.

    This is gonna be a German MP 40.

    It’s in really good shape for being as old as it is, most of you will recognize this from movies with World War II in them, the image of the German soldier, or NCO carrying one of these is a pretty iconic sight.

    So today we’re going to shoot it and see how it goes.

    (bursts of firing) I gotta say, it’s really easy to keep on target, and the recoil is ridiculously low.

    All right guys, so one of the reasons the MP 40 is so smooth is because it operates under a principle that we know now as constant recoil.

    That is to say that the bolt doesn’t actually contact the rear of the receiver, it’s got a telescoping firing pin that acts as a pneumatic buffer, which is really cool, and I’ll show you that a little later.

    But kinda to show how it works under shooting, here’s where the sear is so watch how far the bolt recoils.

    And you’ll notice it does not go all the way back.

    (fires single shots) (fires short bursts) I gotta say that pneumatic buffer really helps with recoil.

    It’s even lighter than an Uzi, I mean, I’m very impressed with this gun.

    (constant firing slowed down) So the MP 40’s a pretty simple gun, it’s full auto only, so it lacks kind of the user-friendliness of a gun that’s select fire, like a STEN and I never thought I’d say user-friendliness and STEN in the same sentence, but it is nice to have a single shot option.

    However, with the MP 40, the cyclic rate’s slow enough to where you can pull off singles.

    (fires single shots) And then three-round bursts are also (drowned out by firing) And all in all, the gun’s just a pleasure to shoot.

    I’ve shot all the big 9mm submachine guns, and this is just about as controllable as the best of them.

    – So now that Alex told you a little bit about the gun, I’m gettin’ a opportunity to go ahead and put some rounds through it.

    I’d say it’s kind of a dream come true.

    Kind’ve lusted after the opportunity to shoot one of these for a long time.

    (short bursts of fire) You know, Alex is right, this thing is possibly the most controllable sub’ gun I’ve had the opportunity to get behind.

    I think they were really on to something.

    So now one benefit that this gun has over the M1 Thompson that we were using well, the U.S. was using is that the stock can be folded.

    You know, that really makes a difference when you’re dealing with crew vehicles and tanks or whatever have you.

    We did have the ‘grease gun’ but they really kind of beat us to the punch here.

    So I’m gonna give it a shot, see if we can’t go ahead and get it cycle properly.

    with the stock folded.

    (two short bursts) That really is pretty controllable, and (three short bursts) Such an outstanding gun.

    So Patrick hit a little bit on the folding stock.

    The folding stock is one of this weapon’s greatest legacies.

    All the AK-47 folding stocks that you see are based on this mechanism, which is very cool, simple button with the swiveling buttplate here.

    And you can’t go to the range with a machine gun without doing a Magnum.

    (fires continuously) That’s just satisfying.

    All right, so I wanted to give you a little overview of the MP 40, how it works, how it field strips, et cetera.

    You notice there is a safety notch for the bolt handle.

    In this position the gun cannot be fired.

    So to field strip the gun, first you’re gonna wanna undo it from the notch, let it ride forward, and then there’s a small disc on the bottom of the gun that you pull down, and rotate a half-turn.

    After you’ve done this, you can separate the upper and lower receivers by pulling the trigger and rotating them away from each other.

    The last and final step is to grab that bolt handle pull back, and out comes the telescoping firing pin and the bolt.

    Now here you can really see how the telescoping firing pin works, it contains the recoil spring, and it is pneumatic, you’ll notice there is a hole on both sides of the front section, and this allows air to help with a sort of a buffering mechanism.

    All in all, it’s a very cool system.

    All right guys, now you’ve heard us yammer on about this thing, I think it’s time for us to just have a little fun.

    (bursts of fire) And fun that is.

    (bursts of fire) Ahhh! It’s good stuff.

    (bursts of fire) So we got one mag left for the MP 40 and I’ve loaded it up with a mix of 124-grain brass case and 115-grain steel case.

    Both of which kinda were right for the gun.

    So I wanted to see if the rate of fire changed with the different bullet weights.

    Well, here we go.

    (steady firing) Looks like it’s pretty consistent.

    – All right guys, we hope you enjoyed our MP 40 video.

    I know I really had a lot of fun shooting this gun.

    – Yeah, I know, it’s a fabulous gun.

    – You know, our next video actually might be or well, not the next one, but coming up soon’ll be a Thompson versus the MP 40 We’re both experienced submachine gunners, and I think it would be cool to showcase how those two went head to head.

    – You know, I’m gonna be honest, but I’m not puttin’ any money on the Thompson.

    This thing is fabulous.

    – I will say, this thing is probably more fun than a Thompson, but you know, we’ll compare accuracy and everything and factor that in.

    And see which one emerges.

    – Obviously we’re gonna give ’em a fair shake, but you know, based on what we’ve seen today, the Germans really did a fabulous job with this gun.

    – They did, they did.

    Anyway guys, thanks again for watching TFBTV, we really hope you enjoy the program so far.

    If you haven’t hit that Subscribe button, please do so, it really does help us out, let’s us know that you enjoy what you see.

    And thanks again, guys, we really appreciate it.

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.