WE M4A1 AEG review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
Basic Gun Information
For several years, WE has been a manufacturer of gas airsoft replicas, including pistols and gas blowback rifles. Recently, they made the dive into the AEG market with this model, the venerable M4A1. It brings a few unique features to the table including a functional bolt catch as well as a spring release system built into the selector assembly, while coming in with a very affordable price point. Keep reading this review for more details on this brand new AEG system!
I was sent this rifle by Evike, who has it available HERE, priced at only $190.00. This gets you a full metal AEG with a unique gearbox setup, convertible outer barrel, and nylon fiber furniture. The price qualifies you for Evike's free shipping using UPS Ground, which got me the gun in 2 days from the day it got shipped out. Evike also offers a warranty against manufacturer defects, so you don't need to worry about getting a DOA gun.
Basic Gun Information:
As mentioned before, the WE M4A1 is a full metal AEG utilizing a V2 gearbox variant with a special spring decompression system linked to the selector switch. As soon as you flick the selector to safe, the spring will decompress, reducing tension inside the gearbox. It also has high end features like a functional bolt catch that locks the faux bolt carrier back for easy adjustment of the hop-up. It also has laser engraved Navy SEAL markings on the left side of the receiver, adding to the overall look of the gun. The thing really is a pretty killer value considering what you get for the sub $200 price.
WE's packaging is pretty minimal, consisting of a basic cardboard box with the gun zip-tied in place to keep it from flopping around inside during shipping. I've seen packaging like this fail before, but in this case, it held tight and the gun was damage free. I was really impressed with the matte black paint finish on the receiver, as it added to the realistic look of the gun.
The M4 comes as a bare bones package, only including the gun and a single hi-cap magazine. No battery or manual is included, however, the gun is pretty easy to figure out.
Weight: 5.2 lbs
Length: 30.5 – 33.75"
Sight Radius: 14.75"
LOP: 10.25 – 13.5"
From the moment you pick the gun up out of the box, you can tell that WE put a lot of time and effort into making a gun that looks and feels very realistic. From the matte black finish to the sturdy construction, free of any creaks or wobbles, the thing just feels real. The laser engraved trademarks are really just the icing on the cake.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
External overview, left side
Overview, right side
I'll keep with tradition and start by discussing the stock. It's pretty much a normal M4 type stock with a Milspec sized tube. The buffer tube is a unique design in that it is mounted in a different way than most other AEG buffer tubes, but it's pretty easy to work around in order to remove it.
The receiver is, as mentioned before, full metal with a matte black paint finish. The finish seems fairly sturdy, however, I was able to scratch it with a tool while cutting the zip ties that held it in the box. The controls are pretty much standard M4 controls aside from the fact that the safety switch acts as a spring decompression lever. The bolt catch functions when pulling back the charging handle, locking the faux bolt back for access to the hop-up unit. Pushing the bolt release button lets it slide back forward. The magazine release is a real steel type unit as well.
Receiver, right side
Bolt locked back
The pistol grip is a standard M4 unit and is pretty comfortable to hold while firing the gun. It has a vented and heat sink equipped motor adjustment base with a flat head adjustment screw. The fire controls are pretty much all located on the left side of the gun, making it a bit tricky for left handed shooters to use.
Motor adjustment base
Moving forward from the receiver, you'll hit the oval shaped handguard, which locks onto the receiver using a real steel type delta ring. Like the stock and grip, the handguard is made of nylon fiber, making it very sturdy. Inside the handguard, you'll find a compartment for storing a battery, like most front wired M4 replicas.
The outer barrel is a “one piece” design, in that the mounting base is part of the barrel itself, however, it is a convertible design in that it unscrews just forward of the front sight, allowing you to cut a few inches off of your gun pretty easily. It is terminated in a 14mm- threaded muzzle with a metal orange flashhider attached.
Barrel extension removed
Aiming the WE M4A1 is accomplished using the full metal iron sights which are located at the front of the gun and on the detachable carry handle. The sights are pretty basic M4 units which are adjustable for windage and elevation. Removing the carry handle exposes the 20mm top rail for mounting optics. The rail is made to spec, however the edges show some chips and other mold damage.
One of the perks of this gun are the laser engraved trademarks which are located on the left side of the receiver. Along with markings for WE Tactical, you'll find Navy SEAL engravings and a "Skull Frog" logo. WE also includes a unique serial number for each gun.
Skull Frog logo
The included magazine is a full metal Hi-Cap unit that has a smoother curve to it than a normal M4 mag, almost like a H&K magazine. It holds 300 rounds and feeds them quite well. I tested it with a wide variety of magazines from other manufacturers and didn't come across any major fitment or feeding issues.
Performance after a 200 round break-in period, using Matrix .20g BBs, shot through a Madbull Chronograph is as follows:
High FPS: 390.6 FPS
Low FPS: 384.5 FPS
Average FPS: 388.8 FPS
Rate of fire will obviously vary depending on the battery that you use, but with a mid level 9.6v battery, I was getting about 18 RPS, which is pretty standard for most AEGs I test. With an 11.1v 2200 mAh 18C battery, RPS shot up to 26 RPS, which is a pretty stout improvement.
Range and accuracy were also pretty standard, giving me reliable 155' engagement distances on a torso sized target, using .28g ammo. The hop-up is a standard design, and spins even heavyweight ammo pretty well, but after that 155' or so, the shots tend to break to the right or left before going off target.
Inside this gun you'll find a V2 gearbox, albeit one with some modifications to work with the locking bolt catch and spring decompression feature. Removing the gearbox is really quite simple, no more difficult than a standard M4A1 replica. The main difference is when you remove the stock, as you need to use a hex wrench to loosen the stock from the bottom, and then pull it off of the buffer tube adapter. You can then unscrew the adapter and remove it from the receiver.
Once the gearbox is removed, you'll see that it really is similar to a normal V2, just with a few tweaks. The selector assembly is a little different as a result of the spring decompression system, and there is a system in the middle for locking back the faux bolt. You can see the 8mm solid bushings which will be damn near impossible to damage with normal use.
Gearbox, left side
Spring release mechanism
Upon opening the gearbox, you'll see that it has a minimal amount of grease, nicely thought out shimming, steel gears, metal spring guide, and apparently high quality compression parts. The piston is nylon polymer and has a fair air seal with the rest of the compression parts. Swapping out the O-ring did a good job of fixing the air leaks. The piston head is a unique design with teardrop vents. The gears are made of steel and the sector gear has a uniquely designed tappet place interface to ensure smooth feeding.
Spring and guide
The hop-up up unit is plastic and is fitted onto a 363mm inner barrel. The air seal seems to be pretty good with the hop-up, and it holds its setting pretty well during use, so I don't think swapping it out will be necessary. The inner barrel seems to be a pretty standard unit, so a quality tightbore barrel will probably work well here.
Hop-up and barrel
The wiring is fairly thin but doesn't seem to be too fragile. I've been using it pretty much exclusively with a high output LiPo battery and haven't seen any wiring issues thus far. You can find a glass tube fuse in a holder inside the handguard. The motor seems to have standard magnets inside, and I think it's a bit of a weak link for either high speed or high torque use. Luckily, it's a standard long unit so you can swap it out easily as needed.
Being that this is a bone stock M4A1, it's ready to be molded and modified to fit your specific tastes, play style, and aesthetic choices. In my case, I'll probably be throwing a 16" outer barrel on, Magpul furniture, and using this to test out a UTG 13" Pro rail.
Sturdy full metal construction
Affordable price - $190
Functional bolt catch
Spring decompression feature
Nylon polymer furniture
Convertible outer barrel
Laser engraved trademarks and serial number
Skirmishable performance out of the box
Packaging is a little basic
No included battery/manual/accessories
Range was a little short based on barrel length and FPS
Paint finish scratches somewhat easily
I had heard that WE was putting out an M4 AEG, and when they listed some of the anticipated features, I was really eager to get my hands on one. I know that WE has a reputation for being inexpensive and prone to breaking, but I've had great experience with their GBB line-up, and the AEG is no different. I've thrown about 650 rounds through it so far without any hiccups, on a wide variety of batteries and with several different brands and weights of ammo. I think that this gun is a fantastic starting place for your custom M4 build-up, and even if you keep it bone stock, it should serve you well!
Many thanks again to Evike, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!