Echo 1 Genesis Midlength M4 AEG Review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
When Echo 1 first started, they really seem to specialize in entry level, polymer bodied guns. In the years since, they've moved onto more high end offerings featuring metal bodies, great gearbox components, and licensed trademarks. With these improvements, the prices have increased, making Echo 1 guns harder to acquire by the new players out there. Well, with the introduction of their Genesis series, they're returning to their roots a bit, offering inexpensive, high quality replicas without fancy trademarks or metal bodies, but with great gearbox components. Let's take a look at the midlength version and see if it lives up to my pretty stringent expectations!
I was sent the Genesis M4 directly by Echo 1 who has it available HERE priced at $135 at the time of this review. There are three lengths available, Commando (10.5" barrel), Carbine (14.5" barrel), and this, the Midlength version with a midlength faux gas system and handguard. They are all currently priced at the same $135 price, including Echo 1's 30 day limited warranty and lifetime US based customer support.
Basic Gun Information:
As mentioned before, the Genesis M4 series are ABS bodied, but feature a reinforced Torus type V2 metal gearbox. They come as a complete kit including battery and trickle charger, so they're ideally set up for the new player who is just getting started with airsoft. It's designed to compete with options like the Bravo, Lancer Tactical, and G&G Combat Machine M4s, so we'll be doing a brief feature comparison between these different guns at the end of this review.
The packaging is standard Echo 1 stuff, nothing terribly exciting here. A sturdy cardboard box with a white foam inner liner keeps the gun safe during shipping, and it did a fine job at that. Upon opening the box and pulling the gun out, I was surprised a bit by how lightweight it was, but was pleased that everything looked and felt like it should. Don't expect a VFC when you pull the thing out of the box, remember that this is a sub $150 gun.
Along with the gun itself, Echo 1 includes a single hi-cap magazine, and a 9.6v NiMH battery and trickle charger. The included battery certainly isn't the highest quality unit, but it will get the job done if you don't have a better battery to work with.
Weight: 4.6 lbs
Length: 31.25 -34.5
Sight Radius: 17.5
Length of Pull: 11.25 - 14.5
As mentioned before, the Echo 1 Genesis M4 is a polymer bodied replica, however, there are a few metal parts sprinkled throughout in key areas. The overall finish certainly belies its low price, as it looks much better than you would think it should. The fit and feel is fairly good, aside from a few fumbles that I'll go over a little later on in this section.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
External overview, left side
Overview, right side
The stock is a 6 position adjustable Crane type unit featuring a plastic buffer tube and detachable rubber butt pad. The gun is rear wired and the included battery will fit easily in the compartments on the side of the stock. Plastic buffer tubes always make me nervous, as they tend to be the thing that breaks if you fall or drop your gun, but you can easily replace the buffer tube with a metal unit if desired. The stock fits a little loose on the buffer tube as well, and sounds a little cheap when adjusting the length of pull.
The receiver is a standard M4 design, made out of a high strength ABS plastic and given a matte black finish. There is very little wobble between the upper and lower receivers which is a nice change of pace from most plastic bodied guns and many metal bodied examples as well. Pulling back the plastic charging handle will pop open the dust cover and pull back the faux bolt carrier in order to access the hop-up adjuster.
Receiver, left side
Receiver, right side
Faux bolt carrier pulled back
The pistol grip is a standard M4 type unit featuring a ventilated motor adjustment base with hex adjustment screw. Nothing too exciting here, but it holds its adjustment well and can be swapped out for a different grip if so desired.
The handguard is a midlength unit that really helps set this gun apart from other M4s on the market. I've got a bit of an issue with my delta ring. It's a real steel type, which normally holds the handguard in place very well, but the spring installed seems quite week, to the point where I can pop the handguard off by just squeezing it a bit. I don't know if this is an isolated issue or a common one, but I'd plan on purchasing a better quality delta ring ASAP if yours has this issue.
The outer barrel is made of metal and is 14.5" long, standard M4 length. The difference is, the gas block and front sight is mounted more forward than on a normal M4, giving you a longer sight radius. The barrel is terminated in a 14mm- threaded muzzle and fitted with an orange plastic flashhider that is compatible with Echo 1's MK1 silencer. Unfortunately, my flashhider was mounted upside down, and is pinned in place, so before I could fix it, I had to drill out the pin.
Outer barrel and flashhider
This doesn't look right...
This end up
Aiming the Genesis is very simple thanks to the standard M4 style iron sights, the rear being hand adjustable for windage and elevation and the front being fixed. You can remove the carry handle if desired and mount an optic on the top rail.
Real steel licensed trademarks cost money. As this is a budget line gun, they've saved money by skipping licensed trademarks and just applying their own Genesis markings. The gun did have a TON of Echo 1 and Made in China stickers applied which I quickly removed, thankfully, leaving little residue behind.
The included magazine is a basic metal hi-cap, holding 300 rounds and clicking into the magwell with little free-play. The gun didn't have any major hiccups with my wide range of aftermarket magazines, so finding spares will simply be a matter of picking your preferred brand and capacity. The included magazine feeds well and looks quite nice, with a deep matte black finish.
Performance after a 500 round break-in, using Echo 1 .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 451.2 FPS
Low FPS: 440.5 FPS
Average FPS: 445.8 FPS
This thing shoots HOT. Too hot, in my opinion. For a gun that's designed for beginners, it was very surprising to see it shooting at velocities that are either too high for most fields, and for fields that it is allowed, requires strict minimum engagement distances. Budget in a downgrade spring when you buy this.
Rate of fire using my standard Tenergy 11.1v LiPo battery came in fairly low at 15 RPS. This isn't terribly surprising given the very high velocity. With the factory 9.6v battery, the rate of fire was even lower at 12 RPS, just barely at my standard for a "skirmishable" gun.
Range and accuracy was a standout, but also wasn't surprising given the high velocity. This thing is putting shots on a torso sized target out to 175' using .28g Echo 1 BBs without any problems. The problem is, to safely use this gun at most fields at this power level, you're going to be running a long minimum engagement distance, I'm really going to recommend downgrading the velocity of your gun if it shoots this hot.
The crown jewel of the Genesis M4 is the gearbox. This isn't your normal V2, it's a VERY sturdy Torus type gearbox shell, fitted with high end components. Disassembly is a breeze, the same as pretty much any other polymer bodied M4. Once you get the gearbox out, you'll notice that it's a hefty chunk of metal.
Gearbox, right side
Gearbox, left side
Externally, you'll notice the large reinforcements as well as the 8mm ball bearings. On the left side of the gearbox, you'll find a small window that allows you to pull down the anti-reversal latch to decompress the spring before taking it apart. This is an absolute lifesaver and every gun needs this feature as of yesterday.
AR latch window
Inside the gearbox, you'll find steel gears, a non-ported cylinder, white polymer piston and ventilated piston head, polymer cylinder head, ball bearing spring guide, and extremely stiff spring. The air-seal isn't that great, which was very surprising given the extremely high FPS, but a #14 o-ring will help seal things up there. The piston has all of its teeth, so for improved AOE, you may want to grind down that second tooth. The final tooth is made of steel for durability. The gun is fairly overgreased, but the shim job isn't half bad for a gun at this price range.
Heart of this beast
Steel gears, lots of green grease
Ball bearing spring guide and high strength spring
Cylinder and tappet plate assembly
Air nozzle and cylinder head
Lots of reinforcement in this gearbox shell
The hop-up is a one piece plastic unit fitted with an orange Madbull hop-up bucking. The inner barrel is brass, has an inner diameter of 6.06mm, and is 363mm long.
Madbull hop-up bucking
There are a few modifications that I'm going to recommend for this gun, pretty much right out of the gate. For me, the handguard issue is bothersome enough to warrant replacement of the delta ring out of the box. If your gun has this same issue as highlighted above, a replacement delta ring with a stronger spring should help out immensely. The other issue is with the flashhider which is mounted upside down. Drill out that pin and screw it the right way round. Lastly, I would plan on purchasing a metal buffer tube down the line, as the plastic ones always feel cheap (this gun is no exception), are a major failure point if you tend to be clumsy like I am, and make the gun poorly balanced. Internally, my gun will need a downgrade as it shoots just too hot for any of my field use. I'm hoping that my hot shooting gun is a fluke, because that kind of velocity in a beginner oriented gun is, at best, problematic, and at worse, potentially unsafe.
Very affordable entry level gun - $135
Decent construction throughout, little barrel wobble
Includes battery and charger
Great gearbox components
Performance is good, but mine was a little TOO good FPS-wise
One of the few midlength AR replicas on the market
One piece hop-up unit
My example shot WAY too hot (around 450 FPS)
Weak delta ring spring allows you to pop the handguard off just by squeezing it slightly
Upside down mounted flashhider
Stock fits a little loose on the plastic buffer tube
It's nice to see Echo 1 get back to its roots of affordable, entry level AEGs at a higher quality than other budget options. The Genesis M4 comes with an absolute tank of a gearbox, fitted in a decent quality polymer body, with a unique furniture setup thanks to its available midlength handguard. The only concerns that I had with mine is that the velocity was way too high for 90% of players, and the delta ring spring was quite loose, allowing that sexy midlength handguard to pop off with ease. But, at the low price that this thing comes in at, you can budget a new delta ring and downgraded velocity spring and still come in less than most other comparable guns on the market, and you'll have that robust, overbuilt gearbox. It's not the perfect gun for beginners, but it's certainly a great place to start.
Many thanks again to Echo 1, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!