The M4 is airsoft’s equivalent of the VW Golf. Solid. Reliable. Ubiquitous. But for all their predictability, I still think there’s a simple beauty about M4s. Especially this one: my G&P M4A1.
Mechanically, it’s absolutely standard. It shoots 350 fps on the nail with 0.2g ammo, which is pretty much ideal for woodland skirmishing. Horror of horrors, the receiver is nylon, not metal. Visually, it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference. People complain about the lightness, but to me, that’s a virtue.
My M4 has a fixed stock, which was a requirement when I bought it, as I prefer the endurance a nice big battery gives you. I generally run it with a 5,000 mAh 8.4v item. I’m told you can use a 9.6v battery, but I’ve never really needed the extra rate of fire. Besides, I don’t want to chew up my gears quicker than I have to.
Though the internals are stock, I’ve customised it a little. I don’t like a lot of useless stuff hanging off my rifle, so all the enhancements are functional.
For a start, I’ve ditched the standard carrying handle and its rear sight, replacing it with a nice lightweight Magpul PTS flip-up piece that fits straight onto the Picatinny. I like the way this reduces the profile of the rifle, and it also saves a tiny bit of weight.
I’ve also replaced the standard foregrip with a Magpul PTS item. I find it much easier to grip than the cylindrical original. (Look at pictures of very early AR15s, and you’ll see that Mr Stoner specifically designed the rifle with a more ergonomic squared-off foregrip. I don’t quite know what happened along the way. Accountants, probably.)
Below the foregrip, I’ve installed a small RIS rail for a flashlight. Once or twice I’ve done an evening skirmish, and while even a red light announces your presence to the enemy, it does help you spot rabbit holes, which can be a greater threat to your real-life health and welfare, not to mention your dignity.
Up back, I’ve attached an Arktis single mag buttstock pouch in DPM, one of the last they made I believe. It really helps when you’re belly down and can’t grab a spare from your belt kit without a lot of squirming. I tend to rotate mags through the buttstock pouch during a fight, replacing the ready spare in pauses between action.
Speaking of mags, I run a wide range. My favourites are Magpuls, of which I have a selection, in hi- and mid-cap form. But I also run ICS C7-style hi-caps, which work fine in a G&P. These are a legacy of my old ICS M4, which was technically very elegant, but so proprietary it was hard to customise and even maintain without ready access to spares.
I’m a big advocate of slings. They take the weight off (important at my age) and also allow you to ‘drop’ your rifle to chuck a grenade when the mood takes you (I don’t generally field a secondary weapon). The sling fitted here is the one I tend to fit to most of my guns. It’s a very simple, highly adjustable single-point made and sold for peanuts by kitmonster.co.uk. I love it.
One obvious thing I haven’t mentioned is the colour. I’ve painted it (and a set of ICS C7 mags) in olive green using Krylon camo paint. It’s a good colour for UK woodland use, and Krylon is dead easy to use. Just take your time, mask off the moving parts, and apply lots of light coats. Finish off with a matt varnish, and Bob’s your uncle: one smart, efficient, beautifully boring killing machine.