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The Umarex S&W M&P40 Becomes A Training Aid For Law Enforcement

Umarex USA and the Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Office have launched a joint pilot training program for officers who carry the 9mm or .40 S&W Smith & Wesson M&P9 and M&P40 semi-autos.

One of the most trusted semi-autos for law enforcement today, the Smith & Wesson M&P in either 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP is carried by the LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, agents for the Department of Homeland Security and the DEA, the Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta police departments, Vermont State Police, Passaic, New Jersey PD, Olympia, Washington PD, and numerous state and local police departments across the country, including the Bedford County Sheriffs Office in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

With the extensive law enforcement use of the M&P throughout the U.S. the Umarex S&W M&P40 has become an even more attractive alternative for use in training exercises that require firing the pistol at a target (but not for firearms qualifications). Both the M&P40 (and M&P9) and Umarex M&P models have matching polymer frames and metal slides; the external visual differences are minimal for fit, finish, and operational details. The CO2-powered Umarex model M&P40 also has ambidextrous manual thumb safeties required by some law enforcement agencies.

As a training gun in place of a cartridge-firing S&W M&P model, the handling characteristics are indistinguishable, including basic field stripping and cleaning. Every working feature of the M&P40 is accurately duplicated, so all training regimens can be taught and practiced with the airgun, creating matching responses right up to the moment you pull the trigger. In fact, the only significant difference between the 9mm and .40 S&W models and the .177 caliber CO2-powered Umarex is a lack of felt recoil and louder report. With a 100 percent match to the M&P, all duty holsters, magazine pouches, and rail-mounted accessories can also be used with the .177 caliber training guns.

Dollars and Sense

            For many small local and municipal police departments, as well as rural county Sheriff’s Departments across the country, budgetary restrictions can and often do impede training due to the costs of ammunition, as well as the availability of ammunition solely for training purposes. These are problems that large metropolitan police and Sheriff’s Departments also occasionally face, but for smaller departments, budgetary limitations are SOP. Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer noted that, “The CO2 powered M&P is a perfect match as it requires no change to our issued holster and magazine pouch setup for deputies. The deputies will be able to draw, present, fire, and reload in the accustomed fashion with no deviation from current training. Budget requirements are always present in law enforcement, and usually training is one that gets hit first in order to accomplish the overall mission for any agency. Time and money are always the forefront in training. Being a small agency with this new training tool will increase the useful life of our issued firearms for the foreseeable future. Replacement firearms cost is a major step for any agency [an S&W M&P40 has a suggested retail of $569.] This does not include the increased costs for ammunition, which is also a factor in training/qualifications.”

Important details

On the initial of day of training with the Umarex M&P40, all of the Bedford County Sheriff’s deputies came away impressed with the compatibility between their M&P40 duty guns and the Umarex S&W M&P40 airguns. In a head–to-head comparison the Umarex weighs 25 ounces (with magazine) and an S&W M&P40 weighs 24.25 ounces (without magazine), thus the airgun with the magazine inserted almost exactly duplicates the carry weight of its cartridge firing counterpart. In overall length, height, and width, the .177 caliber M&P40 specs out at 7.5 inches, 5.25 inches, and 1.2 inches; an M&P40 measures 7.63 inches, 5.25 inches, and 1.2 inches. An M&P40 has a 4.25 inch barrel. The airgun’s internal firing mechanism (which simulates a striker fired system) takes up a little more room at the breech and the barrel for the Umarex M&P40 comes up a little shorter at just under 4.0 inches, but that is only internally. Outside the slide is the exact same length. 

The Umarex M&P40 has a correct style two-piece trigger design with over travel stop. Average trigger pull on a factory set M&P40 trigger is 6 pounds 8 ounces, while the Umarex trigger is a lighter 4 pounds, 8.7 ounces average. Trigger travel on the Umarex is 0.5 inches from rest to break with 0.125 inches of over travel. In comparison, the trigger on an S&W M&P40 has .300 inches from rest to break. Both have quick reset triggers, and the lighter resistance on the airgun is a good teacher for leaning trigger control.

Training with an M&P surrogate demands that all of the muscle memory characteristics of the cartridge gun are duplicated so the training experience is correct to the smallest detail. The white dot sights on the Umarex are similar in appearance to the Novak sights used on the M&P series, and are easy to acquire, making the airgun equal under normal lighting conditions to sighting with an S&W M&P model. Standard features on the Umarex S&W M&P40 include ambidextrous slide releases, left side magazine release, three interchangeable palmswell grip panels (so an officer can fit his or her training gun to their hand size), full blowback operation and a slide that locks back after the last round is discharged. The airgun also has a 3-slot Picatinny rail on the dustcover so it can be equipped with the same tactical light or light/laser combinations used in the field. The airgun uses drop free, self contained CO2 and BB magazines that are identical in size to the cartridge gun’s and have a capacity of 15 rounds, making the airgun ideal for practicing reloading and tactical reloads (replacing a partially loaded magazine with a fully loaded magazine in an active shooter situation to assure maximum capacity). This is literally as close to handing a cartridge-firing M&P40 as you can get.

The Pilot Program

Working with Umarex USA, M&P40 training guns, plus extra magazines, a supply of 12 gr. CO2 cartridges, and Umarex 1500 count steel BBs will be used to launch the pilot training program with the Bedford Country, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Office. The Umarex M&P40 airguns will be used with the officer’s duty gear to begin training exercises that incorporate all of the skills required to maintain proficiency with the firearm. According to Sheriff Reichelderfer, “We will be able to further enhance the skill level of deputies in house when the daily work load permits. The shooting backstop can be left in place or moved to storage very quickly. Repetition and familiarization, along with returning to basics in training with the Umarex M&P40 airguns equals skill level. Starting out a new program always has bugs. But, as with anything I believe we will improve as time goes on to other ideas and advances in training to make our deputies safe. I can only imagine the cost savings for small departments and even larger ones using these new blowback action airguns that match duty firearms. I am familiar with agencies that hardly have the ammunition budget. The airgun system may just be the ticket for them.”  

The pilot training program will be implemented by the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office in January 2017 with training results reported to Umarex USA as the program develops. If this proves to be a viable live fire training program using the .177 caliber S&W M&P40 pistols (as opposed to non-functioning Blue Guns, or inert training guns with lasers), the program could go national for small law enforcement agencies using the S&W M&P9 and M&P40 models.

The retail price of $119.99 for the M&P40 air pistol and $49.95 for extra magazines is quickly offset by the savings on 9mm or .40 S&W tactical ammunition. A single day of at the range could easily pay for an Umarex M&P40 and a spare magazine for training use. Considering the money dedicated to ammunition costs alone, the Umarex airguns can save a small department thousands of dollars over the course of a year. As a result, the Umarex M&P40 could very well become the next hands-on training gun for new recruits and routine proficiency training exercises.

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