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Thread: Colt M4A1 by ICS

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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Colt M4A1 by ICS

    Those members who have been with us for a couple of years will remember how we started the "Project Airsoft". Back in the summer of 2005, a member asked a strange question in here.

    "- Has anyone tried using real 1911 parts in an airsoft pistol?"

    Or something to that extend.

    "What is this guy talking about?" was my first thought. Using real parts in a what? An airsoft pistol? What's an airsoft pistol? An airgun? So I asked what was all that about. The answer surprised me. There was a whole world out there, of firearms made to look just like the real thing!

    The more I researched this issue, the more I liked what I was reading. Pistols which looked amazingly like a real pistol (and what caught my interest was that there were pistols looking like a real 1911), and whose slides reciprocated when fired, just like the real one?!? Revolvers ranging from the old Colt Peacemaker to the modern Rugers and Smith & Wesson six-shooters?!?! Or, the icing on the cake, fully automatic rifles, M16s, AK47s etc!!!!!!! All those replicas fire small, plastic balls, called BBs, with the use of a compressed gas or air.

    The above findings lead us to initiate "Project Airsoft", a project whose purpose was to find if those airsoft guns can be used for training in the privacy of one's house or back yard. The project necessitated that we test several airsoft pistols (mainly 1911s but not only) in order to figure out their capabilities and their shortcomings. The findings and the conclusions of Project Airsoft are summarized elsewhere, but in short the answer to the above question is a big yes. Operation-wise, accuracy-wise etc, these pistols can be used to master shooting technics in your house or back yard. One side-effect of this project was that I was left with a wide collection of airsoft guns, which are now shown in a nice shelf I created for them in our sitting room. They include several M1911s, a couple of revolvers, a couple of Glocks (yeap, I did test Glocks too) and a Sig Sauer P-226. What I've never tried though was what is called an AEG or Automatic Electric Gun. In other words, replicas of real rifle, capable of fully automatic firing, which use an electric motor to compress air and fire the BBs.

    I have briefly tried such a rifle that a friend owned and I was really impressed, but I never got one for myself. During the last couple of months, I had been searching the Internet for a shop which could provide me with some magazines I needed for my airsoft pistols, and I got to meet Mike, the owner of one of the few shops in Europe which import Western Arms pistols and parts, Elite Shooting Center. I had ordered several things from Mike, and he was a fine person to do business with. One day, while browsing his web site, I noticed that he also sells AEGs. At that time, I had asked him for another airsoft M1911, which I had paid but Mike still hadn't ship to me, so I asked him if he was willing to keep the 1911 and send me an AEG. Mike (did I say that he is a great guy to do business with?) said "no problem" so I asked him to send me the object of this review, a Colt M4A1 replica (albeit with a fixed stock). A few days later a package arrived at my door steps.

    My first reaction upon taking delivery of the package was "Good Lord this is heavy". Real Colt M4 semi-auto rifles weight between 7 and 8 lbs while the ICS M4A1 weights about 3.5 kgs. This is a heavy rifle, I am telling you.

    Description

    I ripped off the brown paper in which the package was wrapped and here is what I found underneath.



    I opened the box and here was my beauty.



    The riffle was shipped with two high-capacity magazines (and when we say high-capacity in the AEG's world, we are talking about 450 BBs!!), a small bottle with some BBs (very useful for filling the mags) and the manual. I've asked Mike to also include a charger and a battery, usually those things are purchased separately, but I didn't want to go searching for them in Greece.



    Unfortunately, Mike is in UK and I live in Greece, so the charger had a different plug than the ones we use here. Thank God, Mike had charged the battery before shipping the rifle, or else I wouldn't be able to use it.

    I started checking the contents of the package. A warning sticker was on the upper receiver, just above the fire selector switch, with the usual warnings found on airsoft guns.



    It took me quite some time with an alcohol-impregnated patch to remove this stupid sticker. If ICS can build such a nice gun, why can't they make a decent sticker which can be peeled of easily??



    The selector switch, as you can see, has three positions, forward is SAFE, up is SINGLE (semi-automatic) and to the rear it is AUTO. Right above it, one finds the "Colt Mfg Inc" inscription, while on the mag well, you can find the US Government Property one.



    If you look at the rear end of the stock, you can see that it has a steel butt plate, which has an opening for storing your cleaning kit.



    Oh sorry, in the AEG's world, that opening is used for storing the battery which is used in these guns.



    Actually, one of the reasons I got the fixed-stock version of ICS M4A1 is because of the position of the battery. In the retractable stock model, the battery fits inside the front hand guard, which means it needs to be a smaller battery. Also, reviews in the Internet show that fitting the battery in the front hand guard is not the easiest things in the world, and many users had to tape the hand guard upper and lower parts together in order to secure the battery in there. No such problems with the fixed stock model, the battery is stored in its secure compartment at the rear of the stock with a very sturdy lock.

    Moving forward, you can see the lower end of the rifle's grip. Usually a hollow item in the real rifles, in this model it houses the motor which makes the gun work.



    The screw that you see there, is used to adjust the motor position in relation to the gearbox (so you can compensate for wear).

    The rear sight is a peep hole one, with two different sizes of holes, one for accuracy work (smaller hole) and one for general shooting (larger hole).





    You select the hole you want by flipping the sight back and forth. The sight is of course fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

    The front sight is the typical post you would expect on such a rifle, and is also adjustable for elevation.



    What I found was that it was easy for me (a very unexperienced rifle shooter) to select the protective ears of the sight instead of the post itself, when aiming the rifle, I think that some red paint is in order on the front sight, to help you distinguish it from its protective ears.

    Moving to the right side of the rifle, you can see the ejection port cover, which can be closed, and it is opened as soon as you pull the cocking handle to the rear.





    By the way, the cocking handle is locked in place, just as it is on the real rifle.



    The forward assist, usually a non-working part in other airsoft M16 models, is a working part in ICS guns. It releases the spring, so that it is not under tension when the gun is stored. Good idea!



    The carrying handle can be removed, just like on the real gun.



    A Picatinny rail is revealed underneath it, useful for mounting scopes or red dot sights.



    The front hand guard is removable, just like on the real gun, by pulling back on the Delta ring. Other hand guards are available with rails (RIS) for mounting accessories such as flash lights, laser sights etc.



    Further forward, you can find the front sight assembly, which features a bayonet lug too!!!



    It also includes the front sling swivel, just like the real thing.



    Finally, the flash hider is removable, and can be replaced with other styles



    like this one



    A couple more things on the rifle and its accessories.

    I am thankful that ICS includes that nozzle-equipped BB bottle in the package.



    Trying to fill the mags from a plastic bag is an exercise in futility, and a messy one (ask my wife, she screamed when I tried it once and fill the floor of our kitchen with BBs). What I do now, is to fill the bottle from the bag, and then use the nozzle of the bottle to fill the magazine. Neat!

    ICS is offering several accessories for their rifles. You can get an idea of what is available here: http://www.icsbb.com/eicsbb/prd_mp1.asp?bignum=5 . For me, this is going to be my next order.



    This is a grenade launcher. It attaches to the front hand guard via a rail (or you can replace the whole hand guard with a RIS unit) and it fires the grenade shown which is loaded with about 70 BBs, which are spread all around the impact point of the grenade. Fun, you said?? The darn thing is expensive though, it costs about 200$ (with one grenade) while each additional grenade costs about 50$!!!

    Regarding magazines, I was thrilled when I was told that the gun comes with two high capacity magazines.



    What I didn't know at that time, is that those magazines have to be winded, in order to operate. See that toothed-wheel at the bottom of the magazine at the right? Well, you have to turn that several times (a lot of times, I mean) in order for the magazine to feed the BBs. Oh, yes, as the magazine is used, and the BBs are fired, you have to rewind it again. And again. And again. And as the BBs are consumed (and empty space is created inside the magazine) the rest of the BBs which remain in the magazine rattle! LoRL, it's a funny thing, but you walk around the the mags rattle as if you are carrying a toy (I know this is a toy, OK?!?!). Thank God, there are low capacity magazines (low meaning 130 BBs) which do not rattle. I've already ordered two of them, thank you!

    Operation

    Airsoft AEGs operate in an interesting way. Their main components are the battery, the motor, the gearbox and the piston. The battery provides the current to turn the motor, which turns the gears which compress the piston. When you pull the trigger, the piston is released and moves forward under spring tension. Here is a picture (courtesy of http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk) showing the gearbox.



    The air compressed in the piston fires the BB down the barrel and towards your target. This cycle is repeated again and again with every trigger pull, if you have the selector switch on "SINGLE". If you are firing in "AUTO" the cycle repeats itself while you hold the trigger back. Fun you said?



    With a little attention on shooter's behalf, here are the results you can expect. That target was set up at 14 meters, and it is completely ripped apart at its center.

    Good (read expensive) AEGs come with a feature which allows you to alter the Point of Impact of the BBs, in addition to the adjustable sights. It is called "Hop-up" and what it is in reality, is a mechanism inside the barrel, which gives the BB a spin, in order to stabilize it on its course. The spin is upwards and you can adjust the hop-ip to induce more or less spin, to move the Point of Impact higher or lower on your target.



    On this rifle, the hop-up is adjustable, by turning the black knurled wheel, (seen above inside the ejection port, in front of the silverish ring) up or down. If you turn it up, the POI goes down, if you turn it down, the POI goes up, allowing you to fine-tune your rifle to the distance you will be doing most of your shooting. On this particular sample, the sights were adjusted as low as possible, yet the rifle still pointed high. A little adjustment of the hop-up brought the POI right on the bullseye.

    OK, so why did I get this gun? For starters, there are people all around the globe, who gather together and play "war" between each other using airsoft guns, like the one presented here. These games are known as "skirmishing" and a good AEG is mandatory for them. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), I am way too old to participate in such games. Equally, pretending to be a commando or a SEAL in my own back yard is not in my plans. So why on earth I got this thing (mind you it was not cheap)?

    Well, I do not know. I just had to have one of these. The "fun factor" with them is very high, even if you use it to shoot paper targets in your own yard. Better yet, I can use it to keep pigeons away from Lena's grass. But that still is not the reason why I got it.

    Most probably, the real reason is because I'll never be able to own a real M4 (or M16, or AR-15, or whatever), due to the laws of the country I live in, so this is the closest thing to the real rifles I am allowed to have. Plus, it would look nice in the wooden case I plan to make for it, hanging over my desk.

    Good Lord how I envy you, my American friends, who can own the real things!!!!!
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 03:33.


  2. #2
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    Nice. I go through AEG phases, but currently don't own any. Did you hear that Western Arms is releasing a Gas Blowback M4 in the near future? I am excited about that!

  3. #3
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    John, sure you can participate in games with it. Just make sure you wear a mask so that noone recognizes you.

    I too have one of these due to the dreadful European laws, and I agree, the 'hi-cap' mags are useless. They don't even work properly, they usually can't hold tension for any appreciable period of time, so you hear the mags unwind with a very loud WHIRR and there you are with a non-functional mag that you need to wind up again.. Very annoying. Mine came with one, I can't remember if I sold it or used it as target practice.

  4. #4
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    Great report John! One of these days I'll have to try one of this style of gun.
    Lynnie, "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. "
    - Albert Camus

  5. #5
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    I'll give you a little GI secret. Don't put red paint on your front sight. Use a black sharpie on it and you will shocked how well it stands out, especially at night. One of the little tricks we used in the old days before all the red dots and lasers.

    ranburr

  6. #6
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    A black sharpie? But the sight is already black, so are the ears around it. Am I missing something?

    And yes, I have heard the stupid hi-cap magazines unwind by themselves. Funny stupid inventions. The mid-cap I got (130 BBs) are much better (all BBs are under constant pressure from the spring in there, so no rattle) but darn they are plastic. I would prefer them to be metal like the hi-cap ones. Plus you need a loader to load them, thank God I had a TM one.

    I will also need a better sling, one that passes through the existing swivels instead of attaching to them with those stupid, dog-chain fasteners at the end. The one I got with those fasteners has already scratched the surface of the stock, duh, these airsoft people need to learn a few things.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 28th December 2007 at 02:29.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by John
    A black sharpie? But the sight is already black, so are the ears around it. Am I missing something?
    Yes. The black marker stands out brighter than the black on the sight. It will actually shine a little in low light. Try it, it makes a very noticeable difference.

    ranburr

  8. #8
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    I've been known to listen to the voice of experience. Digging out my sharpie marker.

    Thanks for the tip.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 28th December 2007 at 05:51.


  9. #9
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    Thumbs up

    I really enjoy reading your report Sir John. Very nice m4a1.
    BTW only carabaos get old and these things makes us young.
    Last edited by dartman; 1st January 2008 at 23:15.


  10. #10
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    Excellent review John! So, do you thing AEG's worth to be bought?
    Guns do NOT kill! People Do!
    The first real handgun I saw, touched and fired: Star .45ACP Model P based on Colt M1911
    http://twitter.com/#!/hellenicsun_

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