The Nazi’s inability to conquer Europe wasn’t their only failure of the Second World War. They also failed to successfully invade Russia, exercise basic humanity, march-like normal people, and a host of other blunders. Suffice it to say that in 1,000 years they won’t be remembered as successful, virtuous, or honorable.
But despite their eventual surrender, Hitler’s forces did manage to use more iconic weapons of war than any other army. The Luger pistol, the steel helmet, and the stick grenade became regular fixtures throughout the European theater, but Maschinenpistole 40 surpassed them all.
Known in the English-speaking world as the MP40, it’s difficult to imagine a Nazi soldier without one of these firearms swinging by his side. The Germans produced over 1 million MP40s from 1940 to 1945 and used them to devastating effect against the Allied forces.
American Tactical is now importing the very first reproduction of the MP40 chambered in 9mm. It’s manufactured by German Sport Guns (GSG), and I had a chance to test drive one earlier this year.
- Overall Length: 24.5 in.
- Height: 7 in.
- Frame Construction: Zamak 5 with Polymer Accents
- Weight w/ Magazine (Unloaded): 7.875 lbs.
- Cartridge: 9x19mm
- Barrel length: 10 in.
- All-metal detachable 25-round magazine
- Includes loading assistance accessory
- MSRP: $650
History of the MP40
The fun of this gun lies in its connection to history. According to Spencer Tucker’s Instruments of War: Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History, the MP40 was one of the “outstanding small arms weapons of WWII.”
It was based on the MP-38, a similar “machine pistol” designed by Ermawerk a year before the war began. German engineers simplified the MP-38 to develop the MP-40, creating a cheaper version of the firearm by using stamped steel rather than machined parts. This change allowed the German army to manufacture huge quantities of this firearm quickly and easily.
The Nazis originally created the pistol to be used by tank crews and security personnel. Its innovative folding stock allowed soldiers to maneuver it in tight spaces while maintaining enough stability for accurate firing. Even so, accuracy obviously wasn’t a top priority as the original version only had one mode: fully automatic.
The firearm proved to be so effective that the Germans began assigning them to infantry units, who found them to be perfect for the kind of short-range urban warfare so common during WWII.
Today most people know the MP40 from movies and video games where Nazi soldiers shoot from the hip and never, ever hit anything. But the historic firearm claimed thousands of lives in WWII and remains one of the most famous guns in the history of war.
GSG MP40: Construction and Features
German Sport Guns designed their version of the MP40 to imitate the appearance of the original firearm. While it isn’t compatible with WWII-era MP40 parts or magazines, it is made with all-new parts that meet U.S. regulation specifications.
The frame is made from Zamak 5, a relatively tough zinc alloy most commonly used in Europe. At first, I thought the frame was polymer, but once I removed the plastic “accents” I saw the all-metal body underneath. The firearm feels solid in the hands, and all the parts appeared to be well-machined.
The rear sight includes two settings, one for short range and one for longer range. The front sight features a white bead to distinguish it from the rear black notch sights. The package includes several different heights of front sights, so users can choose the height that most closely matches the point of impact. The rear sight arrived loose, and though I couldn’t determine a way to secure it, it didn’t seem to affect accuracy.
The MP40’s weight (7.875 lbs) reduces recoil to almost nothing but makes the firearm tiring to aim for extended periods of time. I would recommend using a sling, which can be attached at two points on the gun. Shooters will also be able to purchase a rear stock kit from American Tactical in the near future.
GSG MP40: Function
Just a few notes on how this firearm operates. The safety is located underneath the firearm, and it functions like a rotating dial. I’ve never seen a safety like this, but its location is intuitive and the dial is easy to operate.
The magazine release is a large button on the left side of the firearm. It’s also easy to operate, but I found that the heel of my hand accidentally pressed it while firing. I could adjust my support hand towards the rear of the gun, but it felt less comfortable.
The trigger is not what I would call match quality. The pull is heavy (it maxed out my analog scale), mushy, and long. It works fine, but don’t expect to be hitting any squirrels at 50 yards (unless you want to unload the magazine, which is always an option).
The MP40 can be broken down in just a few minutes for cleaning and maintenance. Removing the action pin allows the firearm to be separated into two halves, and from there the bolt and spring can be removed and cleaned.
GSG MP40: Testing
Despite the MP40’s quirks, I had a blast shooting it. Its lack of a stock limits its applications, but it’s a great range gun and fun to shoot. While I don’t advocate pretending to be a Nazi, shooting from the hip like a Hollywood SS officer is more than a little amusing.
If you’ve read other reviews of this gun, you might have seen writers report feeding problems. While the gun jammed twice the first time at the range, it fed perfectly for hundreds of rounds after that. I used loads from Federal, Hornady, and American Eagle—both round nose and hollow point—and I never experienced any issues.
The folks at American Tactical say they’ve tested the firearm with “115 & 147 grain factory new ammunition” and “135 grain hollow point” loads. While they admit that “it is not possible to adjust a semi-automatic gun to all loads,” a properly lubed firearm should be able to handle a wide variety of ammunition.
Like I mentioned previously, this firearm isn’t designed for extreme accuracy. I used a front rest and fired five-shot groups with several different loads from 25 yards. I used…
- American Eagle 115-grain TSJ
- Federal Train and Protect 115-grain Versatile Hollow Point
- Hornady Steel Match 125-grain Hollow Point
The results weren’t overwhelming, but it’s difficult to maintain the same point of aim with iron sights.
I also fired Hornady’s 115-grain. XTP Hollow Point ammunition and Federal’s 124g. Personal Defense HST. I didn’t do accuracy testing with these rounds, but they fed without any issues.
I should also mention that I didn’t have any trouble hitting 6-inch steel plates from 20 yards. That’s nothing to write home about, but it demonstrates that the MP40’s accuracy won’t get in the way of having a good time at the range.
If you’re a WWII buff looking to have some fun, the MP40 is for you. It functions well, it looks great, and it’s a blast to shoot.
With the addition of a stock, this firearm could also function as a truck gun or even a home defense weapon. It stores easily in a small space, the magazine capacity is excellent, and the low recoil allows for easy maneuvering. Handgun caliber carbines are a popular choice for these applications, and the MP40 could fill that hole nicely.
As original WWII-era guns become ever more rare, I hope companies like German Sport Guns and American Tactical continue to provide customers with the ability to own a “part” of history without breaking the bank.
For more information about American Tactical Imports MP40, click here.
To purchase an American Tactical Imports MP40 on GunsAmerica, click here.