Every time a new M4 model airsoft gun gets reviewed, the entire internet gets the same reaction.
“Oh, it’s just another M4, why do we care?”
What does it take for a gun to be more than just “another M4”? Is it performance or external quality? Is it some new hot shot feature like recoil or last round locking? To me that answer isn’t an easy one to nail down. What sets the E&L M4 apart from everything else is its attention to quality and performance.
We were fortunate enough here at our Texas location to be sent a pair of E&L m4’s to test out and see if they can cut the mustard. Our rifles were strikingly similar (albeit with some key differences in the fine details) to a MK18 style and Block 2 style rifle as you’d see them in service with our U.S. special forces units. These rifles are for all intents and purposes identical, except that one is a little longer than the other. As our testing grounds at D14 airsoft tend to be a bit more close-quarters oriented, we opted to put the shorter Mk18-style gun through the paces on the field.
Range testing found both guns to perform about the same in terms of distance and accuracy. With the hop up all the way off, we were able to easily clear the 200 foot sign with a .20g bb. In an effort to really max this gun out, we were able to float rounds all the way out to 250 feet without any barreling up (which is our barometer for effective performance). Cranking the hop up yielded similar results to our testing with the Krytac Vector, and we were able to get almost all the way to the 300 foot sign, but without any real sense of consistency, and with a massive hop at the tail end of the flight path, meaning you could feasibly find a situational use for this type of shot, but it wouldn’t be very readily useful. The longer barrel of the Block 2 style rifle did appear to be a bit more accurate the farther out we took the guns, but we did not have a way to test these results, both guns were getting the same approximate distance.
From a build quality standpoint, these guns are in the top tier of manufacturers. The externals feel rigid and solid, but not in such a way that you’d be concerned about them breaking if they get a little cold. The rails feature a monolithic top rail, and picatinny rail all the way down the sides and bottom of the hand guard. The included flip up sights are sturdy and fold down very low and out of the way when you need them to. We ran the gun completely slick, with no attachments, but it’d definitely benefit from a fore grip to assist with how heavy it is. This gun is definitely realistic in that regard, as it is noticeably heavier than the current parade of aluminum body builds that are on the market from E&L’s competitors. This makes a quality sling a must, and while it comes equipped for a single point out of the box, we found a padded two point the ideal solution to dealing with the weight of this replica.
We know what you guys are here for though, and that’s the gameplay breakdown. How well did this gun fare in the field? It performed better than expected for a gun of its size. The Mk18 style rifle we field tested had no problem landing long range accurate shots, but because of its smaller overall profile, it was easy to manipulate around cover and inside buildings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t qualify for D14’s point-blank-rifle rule, meaning indoor areas still required the use of a sidearm, though again, because of its size, manipulating a pistol through doorways and interior sections of the field was a breeze. The gun, when properly situated on a sling, sat out of the way, and didn’t run into any weird issues with balance trying to throw it around and whack you in the knees or otherwise get you entangled with your environment. While playing, we tested this gun with a variety of magazines, including hi-caps from King Arms, Dboys, and Echo 1 with no problems and Midcaps from Elite Force, Dboys, MAG and even some old Green Label E-Mags. These all ran flawlessly in the gun. While we didn’t test every available mag, what we did have worked excellently.
The gun didn’t have any real severe negatives. In fact, the only “downsides” we could come up with are arguably positives when you look at who this gun was designed for. Our only complaints are the weight and the ease of battery storage. The weight is easily written off as something done at the expense of realism, which is more than acceptable. This gun was designed for the uber-milsim player and not the every day casual airsofter (though it’s a great fit there too, just heavier than normal). That leaves the battery storage as the only real “complaint” and even then, this gun houses most popular batteries just fine, just not in as convenient a way as we’ve become accustomed to (again in the interest of realism). This gun still stores batteries in the rear, but the way the crane stock is designed is in such a way that fitting batteries is not ideal. This means buffer tube batteries are the idea solution, and while you did have to play tetris with the wires, as with most buffer tube storage guns, it had enough room to fit a decently powerful 7.4v or 11.1v lipo battery. The 7.4v 1000mAh battery we utilized lasted us through all of our gameplay, and delivered great trigger response without any severe lag time between shots. If that’s the price you have to pay for a gun that shoots this well and feels this good when you hold it, we’ll gladly pay it every time.
So is the E&L m4 line just a bunch of “oh no, another m4” or is it worth the investment? That’s up to you. We think this gun caters to a level of realism most manufacturers wish they could hit. If what you’re looking for is hyper-realism and quality parts inside and out, E&L’s reputation for quality AK rifles even extends to their M4 line. Keep your eyes posted to Airsoft GI for when these finally are made available for sale!
[Editor’s Note: Due to a change in production schedule with regards to the factory manufacturing other products, release of these rifles is to be determined at a later date and is not expected soon, but be assured the GITV blog will make sure to let you know when that time comes]
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