John Milewski channels his interest in military arms into a test of the Umarex M4 Carbine
John Milewski reviews the military-style M4 carbine clone from Umarex
No sooner had the July issue gone to press than I discovered that the Crosman PDM9B ‘Beretta’ clone I reviewed had been discontinued, and as such becomes an instant collectors’ item. Perhaps I should have reviewed it sooner, but the good news is, the pellet-firing version of the Glock 17 appears to utilise a similar magazine system, which makes it well worth waiting for.
One new air rifle that has just come to the market and will remain available for some time before being discontinued, I hope, is the Umarex M4 Carbine. Now, Umarex have a reputation for raising the bar with every clone of a famous firearm they release because, put simply, they make every effort to produce an incredibly realistic replica that works. I was therefore pleased to discover their M4 is a break-barrel, spring-piston, rather than a CO2 airgun and what’s more, it is full powered.
THE ORIGINAL M4
The US armed forces have issued rifles based on Eugene Stoner’s M16 platform for over 50 years, and whilst some changes and improvements have been made over the years, the M4 can clearly be seen as a derivative of the Vietnam era M16. During the 1980s, the US wanted to replace as many pistols and sub-machine guns as possible with carbines, and after much development work, the M4 was issued not just to those who would have been previously armed with a pistol, but slowly to most front line troops, too, with whom it became popular due to the shorter and handier overall length. The M4 designation was used because the arm is classified as a carbine rather than a full-length rifle, and continued from the WW2 and Korean War era M1, M2 and M3 carbines.
With my long-term interest in military history, I have always found the purposeful lines of military-style air rifles appealing, and I eagerly anticipated the release of the M4. As soon as I opened the box the test rifle came in, and handled the carbine in the shop – after checking it was unloaded – I decided to buy it there and then. First impressions were of an incredibly realistic rifle and I also bought an Enfield Red Dot sight, which resembles the service M4’s Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight or ACOG.
CHOICE OF SIGHTING SYSTEM
The stock, action and barrel are all in a line on the M4, which is one of its striking features and this means open sights have to be raised as high as a ‘scope. The rifle comes with a fixed foresight and folding Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS), which resemble the originals. The foresight is on a screw thread and can be adjusted vertically with a special key, which comes with the rifle. Lateral adjustments are made on the rear aperture sight and these are click-adjustable. I zeroed the BUIS for 10 yards and due to the raised sight line, I had to aim just above my intended point of impact at six yards and two inches low at 20 yards.
Iron sights are not quite as versatile as those on standard or vintage air rifles, due to the raised sightline, and a scope or red dot is a more practical option. The Enfield Red Dot does not magnify and resembles the far more expensive 4X ACOG found on service M4s and I zeroed mine for 18 yards. Consequently, less
holdover/under was required than with the BUIS. The sight fits onto the M4’s flat-top receiver via Picatinny rails and stays put with no creep, once set. Due to the height of the fore sight, it can obscure the aiming mark slightly when using an optic, and although this is not ideal, the ACOG remains my choice of optic on the M4. If you can’t live with the obscured sight picture, the foresight is removable.
The fore end consists of a Rail Adaptor System (RAS), covered by spring-loaded slip on polymer covers. Removing the covers reveals more Picatinny rails, which can be used to mount any number of accessories in the same manner as an original. At the other end, a telescoping stock offers a choice of six lengths from 10¼ to 13 3/8 inches when measured from the centre of the butt plate to the centre of the trigger blade.
WHAT A TRIGGER!
The trigger does not appear to be adjustable, but with no creep and an incredibly crisp release, is one of the best triggers I have encountered on any air rifle. It certainly helps to steer pellets toward the intended mark and is a quality sporting unit. I was not expecting a trigger in this league on the M4 because many military-style airguns tend to fall down in this area. With an overall length of 38¾ inches, the Umarex M4 is slightly longer than the firearm and this is apparent when you look at the length of the barrel because the true M4’s does not extend as far past the handguard. The M4 weight of just over 7¼ lbs is slightly heavier than an unloaded M4 and certainly helps to make the rifle feel ‘right’ when on aim.
Stock fully extended and rear sight raised for use.
With the handguard cover removed, any manner of accessories can be fitted to the Picatinny rails.
With the rear Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) folded, an optic can be fitted.
Press in the stock catch to adjust for length.
The M4 is incredibly realistic and I predict it will become a best seller for Umarex.
With the barrel broken for cocking, the breakbarrel nature of the M4 can be seen here.
The Umarex M4 even has the correct Colt factory markings. The Fire Selector is the carbine’s safety catch.
The BUIS is a quality peep sight that offers a clear sight picture.