The M4A1 Carbine has been in the spotlight ever since being inducted as the service rifle of the US military. It is used in every branch of the US military and can be customized to meet the needs of every soldier from the average infantryman to a member of US SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command). The gun has built up such a following that it has been translated into the airsoft world. The big draw for airsofters beyond the M4’s popularity is that it is the single most accessorizeable gun on the shelf —and we know how we like to build up our equipment.
You may be new to the world of airsoft and the popularity of the M4A1 Carbine has caught your eye. Well, you’re in luck because we’ve got an authentic replica here from Elite Force that you need to check out. This product is produced by Ares and licensed by Umarex for their Elite Force product line. You can find a wide range of prices for this AEG with the average in the $190 range. That is the price I found this gun listed for at my local airsoft retail store and it’s just the right range for an entry-level gun for my young teenage son to plink around in the back yard (under adult supervision of course) and to use at our local airsoft fields during MILSIM gaming and CQB play. I was looking for a gun that would be solid, reliable and low-maintenance. After all, it is for my son and in most cases teenage boys have an attention span of a potato chip bag. I wanted a rifle that I knew could be taken out of the box and put right to use with little or no effort at setup, adjustments or fine-tuning. After all, this was an entry-level purchase. The question is whether the Elite Force M4A1 fits that bill.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Ares licensed by Umarex
GUN NAME: Elite Force M4A1 Carbine
TYPE: Assault Rifle
WHO IT’S FOR: Entry to Mid-Level Gamer
HOW MUCH: $265-$165
FPS: 355 with .20g BB’s
The Elite Force M4A1 Carbine appears to be just the package to pick up for an entry-level airsofter. Open the box and you find a good-looking airsoft rifle, two high capacity magazines, a cleaning rod, an 8.4 NiMH 1200 mAh battery and wall charger. It’s all here for $190? Cool, ring it up and take my money.
Star rating (1-5) = 4
PROS & CONS
+ Good looking weapon
+ Solid feel
+ Strong motor and solid steel gears
+ Quick change spring ability
+ 2 High capacity magazines included
– Battery and charger will require an upgrade for long-term use
RIS (Rail Integrated System) – NA, plastic hand-guards
STOCK- 6 position LE Stock
BARREL LENGTH – 14 in.
INNER BARREL- Anodized Aluminum 363 mm
GRIP- Standard Pistol Grip
TRIGGER GUARD- Standard Straight Design
UPPER & LOWER RECIEVER- Nylon Fiber, 20mm rail on upper receiver under removable carry handle
MAG RELEASE- Standard Non Ambidextrous
FORWARD ASSIST- Non Functional
OPTIC SPACE- 20mm Width, 185mm length with carry handle removed
MAGAZINE- Two 300 round Hi-Capacity Magazines supplied.
GEARBOX VERSION- Full Metal V2
MOTOR- 40,000 rpm High Torque
GEARS- Hardened Steel
BUSHINGS/ BEARINGS- 8mm full steel
CUT-OFF LEVER- NA
SELECTOR- Standard Non Ambidextrous
WIRING HARNESS- Small Tamiya Connector
CYLINDER & HEAD- NA
PISTON & HEAD- NA
TRIGGER- Electric trigger switch
SPRING- Quick Spring Swap Out
ANTI-REVERSAL LATCH – NA
SPRING GUIDE- NA
INNER BARREL – 363 mm Anodized Aluminum
HOP-UP UNIT- 1 Piece Unit
GENERAL FEEL- Good, Solid 6 lbs.
CONTROL OPERATION- 3 position selector- Safety, Semi, Auto
BATTERY STORAGE- Fore Grip
8.4V- 701 rpm or 11.9 rps
9.6V- 800 rpm or 13.3 rps
11.1V- 948 rpm or 15.8 rps
.20g- 375 FPS
.25g- 355 FPS
– Battery- Stock 8.4v Ni MH 1200mAh
– Additional testing with aftermarket 9.6v NiMH 1600mAh and 11.1 LiPo 1100mAh
– Charger- Stock wall charger.
– Charger for aftermarket batteries- Duratrax Onyx 235 Charger
– BB’s- Elite Force
The M4A1 Carbine features a lightweight nylon fiber body and magazine and topped the scale at six pounds when the battery and a full magazine were attached. Without any real deal weapon trademarks, the piece is decaled with only the standard safety warning on one side of the magazine well and the Elite Force brand label on the other side. This is a good-looking weapon. The carrier handle is easily removed by two thumbscrews and reveals a rail to mount any choice of optics. The fore grip is devoid of a rail system and this is where the battery is housed. Overall, the feel of the weapon is solid. There is no rattling and it does not feel flimsy. This seems to be a durable piece of equipment that can sustain a reasonable amount of use and hold up in the field. Once you adjust the six position adjustable LE-style stock to the most comfortable length for the shooter and shoulder the weapon, it feels good.
When you examine the internals you will find a version two gear box that has a quick change spring function. Please understand that the “quick” in this case simply means you do not need to open the gearbox to change out the spring. You still need to remove the gearbox from the lower assembly to access this feature. However it is a big advantage to be able to avoid opening up the gearbox, especially for a beginner to novice airsoft tech. For the type of gaming this gun will be used for, a spring change would not be necessary because it was shooting 355 feet per second with 0.20 gram 6mm BB’s right out of the box. This is right at most official field FPS limits so there is no need for a change at this time, but overall it is a nice feature.
The internals of the gear box feature full steel gears on 8mm metal bearings. The piston is a hardened poly-based product that looks like it will hold up for a good period of playtime. The motor that turns these bad boy gears is a high torque 40,000rpm motor, which is rather impressive for a gun in this price range. Having this motor in a stock gun enables you to easily upgrade to a stronger spring in an attempt for a high FPS. The stock motor would be able to handle that upgrade.
The trigger is an electric trigger switch, the same that can be found in most support weapons. This gives you a good, smooth and responsive trigger pull. The weapon offers the standard 3-position selector switch; Safety, Semi Automatic, and Full Automatic. Using the 8.4-volt battery that comes with the package gives the shooter an 11.69 per second or 701 rounds per minute rate of fire. With the right power source and the right shooter skills, a player will do very well on the field snapping to the ready and firing off a few rounds at the intended target.
The hop-up on this weapon is a one-piece adjustable unit. The hop-up is attached to a 363mm anodized aluminum inner barrel. It is a little tricky to make a hop-up adjustment because the charging handle does not lock the slide back. You have to hold the charging handle back with one hand and balance the gun while using the other hand to make the adjustment. Once you let the charging handle go, it does “rack the bolt” with a solid spring action and a sexy sound. Beginners should be informed; the charging handle serves no actual function for the weapon as in the real-deal guns. You do not put a round in the chamber, or hop-up, when you pull the charging handle back. But it is cool to simulate that function!
Now that we know the details of the Elite Force M4A1 Carbine, I bet you’re ready to get into its performance. It did very well both in testing and in its initial deployment to the gaming field. There was one exception to an overall positive review that I will get out of the way and discuss first. That was the battery and charger that comes with the product. The battery was initially charged using the supplied wall charger. The charger is very, very basic. It has no indicator light or sound to let you know when the battery is fully charged or if it is undercharged. We had the battery on this charger for the recommended time frame, and when we disconnected it, the battery was very hot. This normally indicates the battery is overcharged. The “stock” battery did not make it through the initial chrono testing, lasting maybe 20 shots. This was odd so we reached out to Elite Force customer service, and they had the issue remedied right away with a new battery. Elite Force has a 90 day warranty which is the longest offered in the market today for entry/mid-tier AEGs and we were happy with the service. We appreciate the fact that Elite Force-supplied battery and charger gets you going, but I’ll cut straight to the chase, when purchasing this gun, you’re probably going to want to ask your dealer for a more powerful battery and charger setup, too.
The stock 8.4V battery started the gaming session, and lasted through seven high capacity magazine-shooting semi automatic before dying. This is what you can expect to be average considering the power draw of the high-torque motor. I switched the battery to a 9.6V NiMH. The rate of fire went up to 13.3 rps or 800 rpm and on semi, gave me the feeling of a quicker trigger response which is acceptable for a new player. This helped force a target acquisition and avoid overshooting. As a competitive player with a few national level events under my belt, this weapon performed at a competitive level but on the lower side of the scale in that environment. Halfway through the day, I switched over to my trusted 11.1V LiPo battery which of course raised the rate of fire. Because our CQB field allows only semi automatic shooting during gaming, I tested the rate of fire on full auto during a break. The ROF jumped up to 15.8 rps or 948 rpm on full auto. Continuous use with the LiPo will truly test the quality of the motor and internals of any gun and this unit appears to be up to the task after our test sessions.
Overall, Elite Force is on point for offering the M4A1 Carbine airsoft gun for an entry-level player at a good price point and until further long-term testing proves otherwise, it’s an affordable backup weapon for those more serious shooters. Our star rating included the issues with the battery package. In the scenario where I am purchasing this as a new player to airsoft and would not have a functioning weapon after 20 shots on what I thought was a charged battery; I would be a bit frustrated. But with a smart charger and a higher quality battery, this product has performed very well so far. The closer we looked at this gun the more it appeared to be a great value. Build quality, durability, ease of use and performance are all there, exactly what you’d expect from Elite Force.
Elite Force, eliteforceguns.com, 479-646-4210
Duratrax, duratrax.com, 217-398-8970
Words: Bernie VanBuskirk
Photos: Walter Sidas