M4 Dop­pel­ganger

John Milewski chan­nels his in­ter­est in mil­i­tary arms into a test of the Umarex M4 Car­bine

Airgun World - - Contents -

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.

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