I always get excited when I get wind that the Umarex Legends Series is growing. This collection of full-functioning BB shooting replicas has proven itself time and time again to be the coolest thing going in the world of airgunning. Oh sure, powerful PCPs and modern blowback replicas are good and great and all, but nothing comes close on the cool factor scale to these historical replicas.
And, Umarex, being who they are, is leading the industry with the best historical replicas out there. So without beating around the bush any longer, let's pull the wraps off of the newest member of the Legends family, the M3 Grease Gun!
The Highly Recognized Grease Gun
The M3 was originally developed to augment the supply of pistol-caliber submachine guns for US soldiers fighting in World War II. By the 1940s the Thompson submachine gun had been in production for a number of years, however, during this time it didn’t get any easier to make. Not any easier, nor was it any cheaper. Lots of millwork, lots of raw materials, and lots of dollars had to go into each M1A1 that came out of the factory. In peace-time and prosperity, these factors are not an issue. But between the birth of the Thompson in 1927 and the US involvement in World War II, the country lived through the Great Depression. The capital was just not there to tool up the machinery and manpower, while available, was just too costly to crank out the heavy open bolt Thompson at the rate the war machine requires.
You can read the unabridged story of the M3 elsewhere. I will conserve digital ink by saying the above constraints led to using speedy manufacturing techniques like stamping and welding to create an open bolt, single fire mode, simple SMG that was reliable, easy to use, accurate (in SMG terms), and could be produced much faster and much cheaper than anything else on the test field in 1941.
Winning beauty contests would be left to the more costly competition. The M3, with its ruddy round appearance, was quickly and aptly given the moniker “Grease Gun” as it shared in profile the visage of a mechanic’s grease gun much more than it did a firearm. All joking aside, soldiers were quick to learn that the “grease gun”, while homely, worked really well in fulfilling its role of providing superior firepower in a compact package.
How good was it? The M3 was initially adopted in 1942 and was finally phased out in the 1990s. Fifty-odd years of service is quite remarkable for a firearm platform. As a result, the M3 was seen in combat in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq over the course of five decades. No doubt it was found in many other places as well.
The M3 also kept popping up in pop culture, particularly in movies like the classic The Dirty Dozen and the more modern classics Inglorious Bastards and the M4 Sherman tank-centric Fury. Beyond the silver screen, the M3 also found the limelight in the hugely successful Band of Brothers HBO series and the mega-hit video game Fallout: New Vegas. The Internet Movie Firearms DataBase has dozens of listings for movies, TV, and video games where the M3 has appeared.
The Faithful Legends M3 Grease Gun Replica
So what does the Legends M3 Grease Gun from Umarex Airguns bring to the table? Well, honestly, just about everything except for the fact that it doesn’t shoot .45 caliber ball ammo! Visually the Legends M3 Grease Gun is pretty much a dead ringer for the firearm. It’s a 1:1 replica in terms of its physical size. Functionally there are some differences. While it still operates from an “open bolt” position, it does offer air gun shooters a CO2-conserving single-shot mode that was not present on the firearm. This superb replica still has a collapsible wire stock, it still has the fixed and gusseted (a la the A1 iteration) sights as well as the A1 “thumbhole” bolt relief cuts. The weight is on par with the original as well. In the difference category, the cycle rate is notably different between the two with the firearm coming in at 450 RPM and the air gun-slinging Umarex BBs at a blistering 1025 RPM.
Power for this BB SMG comes from a pair of 12-gram CO2 cartridges housed in the 30 round drop-free magazine. And if you use the fun switch a lot, and there’s no reason to expect otherwise, you’ll be changing out those CO2 cartridges after every 3rd mag dump. But it’s so worth it. More conservative use in single-shot mode will stretch the CO2 economy out to another magazine of BBs.
What you want to know is when and where you can get your paws on one and rightly so. Umarex expects the M3 Grease Gun to be ready for shipping in the latter part of the summer of 2021. When they do pop up, you’ll be able to find them at the major airgun retailers including Umarex USA’s webstore. The MSRP for the M3 will come in under $230.00.
There are now three amazing World War II era SMGs airgun replicas in the Legends line: the Legends MP, M1A1, and now this M3 Grease Gun. Considering the firearms these are based on are nigh on impossible to purchase, this trio is an outright bargain and just a fascinating representation of eastern and western solutions for pistol caliber submachine guns in a dark period of world history.
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and, outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Umarex USA.