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The M4 is one of the best choices for an AEG

M4A1 RIS Review by [S]Wsl


 I honestly have no actually hands-on experience
with other airsoft guns aside from shooting a few
rounds from the other weapons in the squad. Therefore,
in this review I will not attempt to fool the reader
and make myself sound like a noob by repeating how my
particular weapon is the best out of all AEGs and
there are no real disadvantages or weaknesses; this
includes a number ranking system, which could VERY
easily and rightfully be seen as false to the reader,
because I have not owned any other weapons. I will
simply tell you my experience with the gun, giving any
and all strengths and weaknesses this gun, like any
other, possesses.

I knew from when I had just gotten "into" airsoft what
gun I wanted: the M4A1. It is my favorite weapon in
real life. It is a near-perfect balance of firepower
and maneuverability. Firing a 5.56mm/.223 cartridge,
an small-caliber high-velocity assault rifle round
first used in the original M-16 in the 1960s and today
used by militaries worldwide, it packs the punch of
other full-size rifles while maintaining a size of
well under a meter, and less than six pounds in
weight, giving up only a fraction of range for the
small size. These traits make it hugely popular with
American as well as foreign special operations and
spec ops-capable forces (such as airborne
divisions)[See]. How
can one simply not love or at least respect this truly
excellent carbine?

Why RIS?
I decided to get the M4A1 RIS version after seeing so
many documentaries and photos of spec ops commandos
with it, instead of the "plain Jane" M4. Though the
regular M4 looks spec ops-ish enough, the RIS brings
it to another level. I have never regretted going with
the RIS.The metal RIS handguard gives the weapon a
MUCH sturdier feel than the thin plastic hollow
handguards of the regular M4. If you've got the extra
money, go for the RIS.


I've been in dozens and dozens of games with my M4. It
is a very combat-friendly weapon. In a game when
you're getting shot at, I've learned that all the
bells and whistles on $200 pieces of gear and gun
accessories don't mean a thing. This could produce a
problem with the M4 RIS, then, right? No way. The
extra "bells and whistles" on this thing are just more
metal parts. Therefore, they actually improve
gameplay. It is an honest fact that in games and even
in between games, your gun is gonna get banged around
a little. Whether it's bumping into a doorframe or
letting the muzzle lie against the ground while
holding it with just one hand because your other hand
is using a radio while you're in a prone ambush
position, your gun is going to have to take some
abuse. That's why I loooooooove metal parts. Sure,
they make the gun heavier, but block that out of your
mind; don't be a pansy. Many of the real guns weigh
much more than the airsoft versions. When you think
about it like that, your gun will begin to feel much
The maximum effective range of the M4, like other
airsoft carbines (e.g. MC-51, XM-177) is about 100 ft.
This seems very short, but if you play in even
relatively thick woods like we do it's a pretty fair
range considering the weapon's size; 60 ft. is usually
the maximum range for our firefights. The M4 gives you
some room to work with in the winter when the
visibility is lengthened and therefore the usual range
for firefights increases also. The size of the M4 is
perfect. There are 4 set positions for the buttstock:
closed (76 cm), one-half (80 cm), three-quarters (82
cm), and open or full (84 cm). Even when the gun is at
its longest possible length, it is under one meter, a
very valuable luxury when running through the bush,
playing indoors, or just lugging it around.
Personally, I use the three-quarters setting.
The sights are extremely user-friendly. These are the
same sights as on the M-16A2, though the sight picture
seems to be slightly different because of the M4's
shorter stock (you are closer to the sights). The
front sight is adjustable for elevation using a tool
included with the gun, and the rear sight can be
adjusted easily for elevation as well as windage by
simply turning two knobs. There are two rear sights: a
large "ghost" sight approximately a half-centimeter in
diameter designed for engagements on the real weapon
from 0 to 200 m, and a smaller "peep" sight
approximately one millimeter in diameter for
engagments from 200 to 800 m, though I believe the
military teaches use of only the smaller peep sight,
except perhaps for close-quarters battle training. I
started out using the peep sight, but moved to the
ghost ring because it provided much quicker target
acquisition. With the ghost sight, it is more
difficult to precisely center the front sight in the
middle of the rear sight. However, at airsoft ranges,
as long as the front sight is anywhere near the center
of the ring, just put the front sight in the target.
Instead of trying to align the two sights and then
putting both on the target while perfectly lined-up,
think of pointing with the front sight while it's
inside the ghost sight; it works. To quote an
AirsoftGear newsletter about marksmanship, "Front
sight, front sight, front sight!"
Overall field performance is fantastic. The M4 just
feels so comfortable. Reloading is one great asset
often not mentioned about the M-16 family. The
magazine release button is just past where your index
finger is when not on the trigger, resting against the
side of the gun. Extend that finger to hit the button
while you are retrieving another magazine from your
web gear. The magazine (after breaking in your gun,
which doesn't take long) will simply drop out and you
can slap in the new mag. In many other popular guns,
such as the AK-47, G3, MP5, SIG series, and AUG,
placement of the magazine release and smoothness of
the magazine being fed into the mag well or being
taken out is not nearly as smooth.

Weaknesses: Battery and Hop-up
The metal RIS handguards do not allow the fitting of a
battery inside the handguards as with the regular M4.
That is why the M4 RIS comes with a mock laser unit
which is used to store the battery. After about a year
of using the laser unit, I decided I needed a
longer-lasting battery. The two most popular ways to
do this is to use a Ready-Mag system or a buttstock
pouch. The Ready-Mag is like a magazine clamp, only
instead of two magazines being clamped together, a
spare magazine is clamped to the outside of the weapon
around the magazine well. That magazine can be
hollowed out and a larger battery stored inside of it.
However, Ready-Mags, without shipping and the price of
a magazine to hollow out (actually a real AR-15
magazine is cheaper), are around $70. Therefore, I
went with a buttstock pouch. This is simply a pouch in
which a battery is contained strapped to the buttstock
of the weapon. A connector wire then runs up the
length of the gun from the battery to the inside of
the handguards. The wire is hardly noticeable; as long
as it is all black, it blends right in with the
receiver. I switched my fusebox, located in the
handguards and also where you clip in the battery, to
the opposite side, so that I am able to put the pouch
and wire on the left side of the gun so it is not as
noticeable (I am a right-handed shooter). "Real"
buttstock magazine pouches are $25-30, so I went with
a $7 "battery bag" from Marui. Yes, it is the hated
battery bag. However, when used in this fashion
instead of hanging off the side of the gun (GAY!),
they are not that bad. It's the same thing as the
buttstock magazine pouch, minus the extra $18. I do
not at all regret getting this done. I hardly ever
have to charge my battery anymore, which by the way, I
now use an 8.4v 2000mah battery (over 3x as much life
as the original "mini" battery), and the bigger
battery, though the same voltage as a mini battery,
added an extra 100 rpm to my carbine's rate of fire.
Just an added bonus I guess. I strongly recommend this
setup for anybody with the M4 RIS.

The M4A1 is one of TM's finest weapons, from the
beginning. It was meant to be their big hit, and boy
has it fulfilled its prophecy. The regular version is
an excellent weapon to have in your hands in combat.
It's comfortable and very user-friendly. The RIS
version just adds to its excellent battle performance,
adding a little more robustness and therefore
confidence for the user in his weapon, a very
important factor for any shooter.
Up In Smoke Airsoft Team - Copyright 2002