I’ve been an avid shooter for over two decades. A great portion of my shooting has involved the use of low-cost .22 Long Rifle ammunition. However, after a mass shooting tragedy in late 2012, .22 rimfire ammunition is nowhere to be found in the United States. Consequently, in 2013, I turned to CO2 airguns to augment my desire for informal target shooting otherwise known as “plinking.” I have acquired several CO2 pistols, and one that has really impressed me is the Umarex S&W M&P 45 CO2 Pistol. It is a bargain priced replica that really shoots circles around many other guns that are out there. It is also a decent visual replica in its own right.
Real steel background
The S&W M&P series was introduced in 2005, but really didn’t appear on the market until 2006. It is no accident that it looks a little bit like the ubiquitous Glock. This is Smith & Wesson’s latest answer to the Glock. The M&P series evolved from the Sigma line which was Smith & Wesson’s first heir apparent to compete with the Glock brand. Joe Bergeron led the design team.
The M&P series features a “Melonite” finish which is a proprietary coating. The pistols also ship with three interchangeable grip inserts to accommodate a variety of different hand sizes. This can be a selling point for law enforcement agencies that need to accommodate a variety of different hand sizes. Another feature is a unique hinged trigger mechanism. The M&P pistols are all polymer framed, striker-fired designs that were clearly inspired by the success of Glock. The most common variants are the full-size 9mm and .40 S&W versions. These full-size pistols have a substantial following with local and state law enforcement here in the U.S. There are also compact versions offered in both calibers that are popular civilian concealed carry guns. Lastly, the gun was later offered in a .45 acp version that is not very common among police forces, but is available for commercial sales.
The Umarex S&W M&P 45
The Umarex S&W M&P 45 was introduced in 2011, a year after the introduction of the very similar Umarex PPQ. It is manufactured in Taiwan by Wingun for Umarex. It achieves an attractive price point that is a third or fourth of the price of the German-made Umarex Pellet Pistols. It even shares the same eight-shot rotary pellet holder that is interchangeable with the German pistols. However, unlike the German-made pellet pistols, the Wingun-made replicas are capable of shooting both pellets and BB’s. One difference between the Umarex PPQ and the Umarex S&W M&P 45 is that the latter offers the option of being cocked for a more precise single action shot by pulling back the rear part of the slide to pre-cock the mechanism which results in a shorter, lighter trigger pull.
Magazine capacity: eight .177” pellets/ or BB’s
Barrel length: 3.5”
Overall length: 8”
Sights: Front fixed, rear adjustable for windage only
Packaging and presentation 1/5
My pistol arrived in a cheap, clam-shell, plastic bubble which I quickly discarded in “the bin.” It contained a manual, warranty card, obligatory safety warnings, one metal eight-shot rotary pellet holder, and one plastic eight-shot rotary BB holder. I would liked to have seen two of each type of holder, but this is an entry-level priced replica. I would also have preferred better packaging but in my country, this replica is marketed in mass market department stores. Although I acquired mine via mail order, I’ve seen it for sale at Wal-Mart department stores in a somewhat wider clam-shell packaging that includes two CO2 bulbs, a pair of safety glasses, and a small quantity of pellets and BB’s. This would be nice for folks who want to start shooting right away or to be given as a gift that contains all that is required for one to get started.
Visual accuracy 5/10
S&W M&P 45 (above), Umarex S&W M&P 45 (below)
While I do not own a real S&W M&P 45 pistol, I have handled one in a local gun shop. Outwardly, this is a decent replica of the real firearm. It is rendered in high-grade plastic which includes the slide. It says “Stainless” on the slide just like the real steel firearm. Others have mentioned that this is ironic that “Stainless” in etched into the plastic slide of this plastic replica, but I appreciate the level of detail. I would have liked a metal slide, but that would have increased the price. The grip frame does look very much like a real gun. They’ve hidden the seam lines of the swing-out CO2 loading mechanism. The S&W trademarks are quite realistic. The three dot sights are yellow which simulate glow-in-the-dark night sights. The barrel is recessed by about half of an inch which also adds to the realism.
Functional accuracy 3/15
As others have pointed out, the Umarex Pellet Pistols are truly revolver mechanisms embedded in a semi-auto pistol inspired chassis. It must be an engineer’s nightmare to try to figure out ways of getting pellets into vertical magazines. However, the real center-fire S&W M&P series are striker-fired pistols with consistent longish trigger pulls much like double action revolvers. This is much different than a Glock trigger pull which has a rather short arc. The trigger pull of the Umarex S&W M&P 45 also feels much like a good double action revolver which was the intent of the real M&P series, I think. The firearm that this particular Umarex replica mimics happens to have one mode of firing unlike traditional double action firearms which really have two trigger modes. In this regard, this replica can be used in the same manner as the firearm unless one elects to pre-cock the mechanism for a deliberate single action shot.
One notable difference is that the trigger on this replica is metal and not hinged plastic like the firearm. The manual safety is the typical Umarex set-up that is on the right side of the frame. It is unobtrusive, but not very user friendly. I usually take a new air pistol “off safe,” and leave it there for the duration of its service life. I typically forget that the manufacturers ship new pistols with their manual safety applied which always makes me wonder if I’ve received a defective pistol until I remember this fact and take the pistol off safe! This gun does not field strip, and really is a one-piece design. The only thing that is removable is the eight-shot pellet/ BB holder. The magazine release button doesn’t work, and is just a molded part of the frame. For loading/unloading CO2, the magazine base pad swings open to reveal the CO2 loading mechanism. It is an ingenious design, but I would have preferred the removable CO2 magazine of the German-made Umarex Walther P99 series. However, this would have likely resulted in a higher price point.
Shooting this pistol is pure joy, and really where this replica shines. To ready the pistol, the magazine base pad is swung open and a CO2 bulb is inserted. I find that all brands of CO2 work well with this gun. The plastic CO2 knob is tightened until the bulb is pierced. A loaded eight-shot pellet or BB holder is inserted. Shooting may commence if the safety is not engaged. As mentioned before, this pistol is capable of both single and double action shooting. I prefer to do the vast majority of my shooting double action, but I realize that others will likely use the single action mode more than I. Single action shooting does lend itself to testing various pellet brands by removing as many variables as possible. I think the double action trigger pull is quite smooth and light. My Wheeler Trigger Pull Scales only goes up to 8lbs. The DA pull maxes out the scales testing right at around 8lbs. The SA pull checks in at a consistent 7.5lbs, but is a much shorter arc. The three yellow dot sights are quite easy to see. The plastic rear sight is windage adjustable by the use of a small allen key which is not supplied with the pistol. I found my gun shot a little to the left, so I drifted the rear sight slightly to the right to adjust the point of impact. This pistol’s velocity is rated in the mid 300fps range. It is satisfyingly loud and clangs my airgun rated steel swinging target with some authority.
I’ve read a number of Amazon.com reviews that complain that the pistol doesn’t work well with certain pellets. If a user only has one brand of pellets on hand, they may be out of luck if the pellets aren’t compatible with this pistol. I concur, as I have also found that the Umarex S&W M&P 45 is a very pellet specific shooter from a reliability standpoint. Its eight-shot pellet holder binds with several brands of wadcutter pellets. It’s best not to force the trigger pull if this happens. I found that my specimen works best with Beeman Wadcutter and Winchester Flat Nosed Pellets which are both made in China. Between those two brands, the best accuracy was achieved with the Winchester branded pellets. Off-hand, using the factory sights at six yards, I was able to keep five out of eight shots within an inch and a half bulls eye. The other 3 shots brought the group size up to 3.5”. I have not tried the pistol with BB’s. I fall into the camp that does not want to compromise a rifled steel barrel by shooting steel BB’s through it. I also appreciate pellet shooting replicas for their accuracy potential. In this regard, I find pellet shooters most similar to shooting firearms. However, it’s nice to have options. Umarex has given the buyer of the Umarex S&W M&P 45 and the PPQ the option of using lower cost steel BB’s. This is nice for folks that are on a tight budget and may only be able to afford to shoot BB’s in this relatively low-cost replica.
Quality and reliability 12/15
Color me impressed, as this does appear to be a quality Taiwanese produced item. Conversely, it does strike me as a somewhat disposable pistol as compared to the higher priced Umarex models. For example, it doesn’t look like it would be easy to take this pistol apart to replace a seal as in a vintage Crosman. However, at the entry-level price point, I’d be willing to replace it with a new one if it ever quit working. I didn’t find any reports of issues on the internet about users having mechanical problems that couldn’t be attributed to pellet selection. I’ve shot it quite a bit in the year that I have owned it, and it hasn’t skipped a beat. The CO2 loading mechanism seems well executed, and is spring loaded. However, it wouldn’t be good if it were to fail, as it would impact the grip interface of the pistol. It might result in a “loose grip” feel. The finish is the typical dull black polymer that is seen on the grip frames of many genuine firearms and has held up quite well.
Overall Impression 13/15
This has quickly become one of my top three favorite pellet shooting replicas. There is just something about the ergonomics of this gun and the smooth trigger pull that makes me reach for it before many others that I own. It often accompanies me on my trips to the local “fun” club. I sometimes fit the pistol with a Swiss Arms Universal Pistol Tactical Weaver/Picatinny Rail, and I use a Tasco BKRD30 Red Dot sight. I also own it’s stablemate, the Umarex PPQ, which is a fine pistol in its own right, but the PPQ just doesn’t feel as good in my hands. I realize that this is very subjective, and I am proud to have both pistols in my collection.
As previously stated, I would have liked to have seen this pistol with a metal slide and a removable CO2 magazine. I would gladly pay 3-4 times for such a pistol. However, the Umarex S&W M&P 45 hits a price point that is quite low for the amount of features that it has. For example, it costs about as much as three 50 round boxes of .45 acp ammunition. For the price of 150 centerfire rounds, one can obtain an “under study” pistol for practicing shooting fundamentals. This gun should attract buyers that are new to CO2 pistols, and might not be able to afford a more expensive Umarex Replica. This is a lot of gun for the money. I can recommend it to experienced collectors and shooters without reservation.
Total score: 70/100
Ryan from the US
You can buy this pistol at Pyramid Air here.