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Old 06-14-2009, 01:02 PM
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WE M4 Gas Blowback Rifle Review

My WE M4 arrived last week from airsoftbuddy.com, a leading distributor of WE GBB rifles. The rifle passed through U.S. Customs quickly, and arrived in a plain cardboard box that had few markings. The rifle comes with a single metal magazine, metal flash hider, small bb loader, and instruction booklet. I also ordered 5 extra magazines. For those interested, the WE GBB is based on a modified Escort platform and is therefore not like the WA GBB rifles currently on the market. I bought the AFC version which is supposedly setup for green gas/ propane usage at around 300-350 FPS (more on that later), to comply with my local field FPS rules.

(Note: Sorry for the crappy photos, they were from a cell phone camera. Once I get a hold of my regular camera I will update these)







EXTERIOR:
After removing the rifle from its plastic covering, the first thing I noticed about the gun was the quality of the externals and furniture. The gun is supposedly based off RS dimensions. Everything that is metal on a real steel armalite M4 is metal on this rifle as well. The metal body is made of anodized aluminum, with a nice grayish coloring and clear Colt trades on the left side of the receiver. These were initially covered up by little pieces of black duct tape on arrival. There were no perceived scratches or dings, and the gun body had a little bit of silicone spray on it here and there that was easily wiped down.









CARRY HANDLE:
The carrying handle is removable and has very good, precise sights. Underneath is a typical picanny/weaver style rail for scopes, sights, and other accessories. Nuff said.

HAND GUARDS:

The hand guards are a nice think nylon polymer, on par with those found on high quality AEGs like Classic Army, King Arms, etc. A dull mat finish, no plastic-y shine like the cheaper versions. The hand guards have metal heat shields inside, and the front end also has a fake gas tube for added realism.



PISTOL GRIP:
The pistol grip is also nylon polymer. It is thinner than those found on my other M4 AEGs, which I’m told is closer to RS dimensions. Rumor is that these are actual RS pistol grips instead of airsoft versions.

STOCK:
The stock is a high quality polymer LE stock, with metal buffer tube. The stock had a little play in it on arrival, but can be tightened up by applying a little duct tape underneath it.



FLASH HIDER:
The gun came with a separate high quality M4 flash hider, but this one is CW threading. So most AEG flash hiders won’t work or will require a CCW adapter.



SOLIDNESS:
Except for the slight stock wobble, everything on this rifle is completely solid and tight. No movement anywhere, no barrel wobble at all. Since everything is RS dimensions, parts like the hand guards, LE Stock, and pistol grip can be replaced with real steel versions.

MAGAZINE:
The WE magazines are some of the nicest looking magazines I have ever seen, on a GBB or AEG anywhere. They are longer than standard AEG magazines, closer to RS dimensions. The magazine has a metal outer casing. They are actually less heavy than what I was expecting them to be. The quality is up there with PTW magazines. The gas fill valve is on the bottom of the mag. You load it with gas/propane in the same way you would any typical gas pistol mag, by holding it upside down to fill. IT takes about 30 seconds to fully load a mag with gas. Each magazine will hold about 2 mags worth of gas (i.e., equivalent to about 60 shots total). Each mag holds 30 bb rounds double stacked, and has a "bolt stop feature". By flipping a small selector switch on top of the mag, the gun will cease to fire when empty and lock the bolt to the rear of the gun. Very cool!

(Note: All but one of my mags leaked when filling for the first time. WE-Tech says this is normal until the seals get worked in with silicone they will stop leaking).





LOADING A MAGAZINE:
Loading a magazine will be familiar to anyone that has handled a real steel armalite. Once the magazine is loaded with bbs and charged with gas, the operator inserts the mag into the magwell. Once secured, you must pull the charging handle to the rear of the gun to cock the hammer and chamber the first round. By releasing the charging handle, the bolt is pushed back into firing position by the force of the buffer spring.

Once the magazine runs out of ammo, the bolt in the gun locks back to the rear if the magazine’s selector switch was set to do so on empty. The operator is then free to eject the empty mag, replace it with a fresh one, and hit the bolt release catch on the left side of the magwell to move the bolt back into firing position. Once the bolt catch is released, there is no need to pull the charging handle again, as the gun is now cocked and ready to fire again. Hoorah!

SELECTOR SWITCH:
The selector switch has a nice crisp click when moving from Safe -> Semi -> Auto. Not mushy like many AEGs.

FORWARD ASSIST:

In the event that for some reason the bolt does not move all the way forward into firing position, WE has implemented the forward assist button located on the top right rear of the upper receiver! Push it in to move the bolt forward. However you might use this feature with caution, as the gun could be seriously jammed and the forward assist could simply make things worse.

HOP UP:
The hop is adjustable, a dial found inside the dust cover similar to that of a G36. The hop up n.u.b. that peeks through the brass inner barrel has two prongs on it, similar to that of a VSR for more stable bb flight.

TAKE DOWN:
The gun breaks down similarly to that of a real steel M4. You simply remove the rear take down pin (which is captive so you can’t lose it), and open the receiver by swinging the barrel in a downward motion. You can then slide back the charging handle, which grabs and slides the bolt toward the rear of the receiver so that you can remove it by hand.





At this point the buffer and spring can also be removed from the buffer tube by pushing down on the little retention level just inside the rear of the lower receiver (careful, the spring has some fair amount of tension to it!). I took some time to lube the bolt carrier, o-rings, and a few other moving parts with a few quick shots of silicone spray. I’ve also read that using Shooters Choice or some other type of gun grease is good for the bolt carrier and charging handle to get smoother action as well, so I’ll probably be picking some of that up soon.



SHOOTING EXPERIENCE:
Well the moment of truth. I loaded up a mag, charged the handle, selected semi, took aim at my target, and pulled the trigger. Bang! Trigger response was instant, the gun’s metal bolt gave a loud crack report as it slammed back in the receiver, and the resulting force of the recoil knocked my shoulder back fairly hard. Holy shizzle, Batman! Suddenly a sly grin started to appear on my face, first at one ear and slowly moved across my face to the other ear. You know that grin. The grin of insta-love. I would put the force equal to that of about a .22 cal LR, or about 3-4 times harder than that of a typical GBB pistol.

On full auto, the rifle shows its true awesomeness. Ratt-tat-tat-tat-tat! Unfortunately, accuracy on full auto drops off considerably as the force of the recoil and muzzle rise causes your shots to be thrown off target. Just like the real thing. Wow, imagine that! An airsoft gun that actually rewards you for applying trigger discipline. Also, the gas cool-down effect kicks in after about 7-8 rounds of continuous fire, causing the ROF to drop. So I would definitely advise to only use short, controlled bursts with this rifle. No matter, I’ll be using semi-auto almost exclusively with this rifle, especially with 30 rounders, but good to know it can go FA if needed.

PERFORMANCE:
Well, I loaded up a couple mags with green gas and 0.23g bbs to do some FPS testing. Here are the results of the first 12 shots:

1 - 452 FPS
2 - 470 FPS
3 - 463 FPS
4 - 461 FPS
5 - 459 FPS
6 - 453 FPS
7 - 453 FPS
8 - 457 FPS
9 - 450 FPS
10 - 441 FPS
11 - 459 FPS
12 - 457 FPS

Yikes. Not what I was expecting. The AFC version is supposed to have much lower FPS out of the box than the standard version. You’ll also notice that there are some fairly wide FPS inconsistencies from shot to shot. I’ve got a couple thread posts out there and an email back into airsoftbuddy.com to see if there is a way to manually adjust this setting. Otherwise, I’ll have to downgrade it with a new nozzle.

Groupings were excellent, within 3-4 inches @ 40’ just manually shouldering the rifle. After adjusting the hop up, I was able to hit a man size target @ 100’ about 7 out of 10 times. Once I get a rifle rest and do some more in-depth range testing I’ll come back and post my results here.

FIELDING:
I haven’t had the pleasure of fielding the rifle yet, but plan on doing that at my next game once I get the FPS thing sorted out. Once I’ve put it through its paces on the field, I’ll come back and update this review with a full report. Btw, if anyone is interested in seeing the rifle in action, I will most likely bring it to OP 218 in Springfield, OH.

VALUE:
The base WE M4 GBB rifle runs for about $372 on most retailer’s websites. This is much less than what you would pay for a WA M4, or a G&P WOC which is based on the same WA platform. The WE magazines are around $35 each, much less than ~$100 or so for a single WA magazine. And the WE parts are cheap and plentiful online.

SUPPORT / RESOURCES:
Before I bought the WE rifle, I did about 6 months total research. I was interested in both the WA and WE GBB rifle platforms. I read every review and forum thread on both platforms that I could find on the internet before making my choice.

There is a massive 267 page Arnie’s Airsoft thread concerning the WE M4 GBB, probably the largest thread on any forum subject I’ve ever read (at the time of this writing, it’s over 5338 posts!). The thread started on September 8th, 2008, when the very first version of the WE M4 was launched. I would suggest to anyone interested in the WE M4 GBB to go read that entire thread first before deciding whether or not to go with a WE. Perhaps even read it backwards, as most of the original problems and issues that owners were having with the initial launch version of the WE M4 GBB have been solved with the latest version 3 release. As you read that thread in its entirety, you will also notice something remarkable. WETTI, a wholesaler of WE M4 GBB rifles that has direct communication with WE-Tech (the manufacturer), has been involved with the thread almost from the beginning. As problems and issues with the original release have been discovered by WE M4 owners, WETTI has been relaying this information back to WE-Tech. And they have been listening! Fixes to the platform have been coming at an unreal pace, with major fixes like the poor v.1 hopup, weak bolt catch release, and weak charging handle fixed in just a few months. This is unprecedented, and is far better communication and feedback between an airsoft vendor and their customer base than I have ever witnessed since coming into the sport. Most airsoft vendors fail to take customer feedback at all, and when they do it usually results in a small change many months or years too late. At their current pace, WE is definitely positioning themselves to be a strong leader in the airsoft GBB rifle market.

As of this writing, WE has released the M4 CQBR and M16A3 versions, is currently readying the release of the world’s first GBB SCAR-L. They also currently have CO2 magazines that will work in the current version 3 M-Series rifle without modification.

Initial owners of the WE M4 GBB have also created a nice wiki site, with much of the choice info from the Arnie’s thread pulled out and uploaded for easier access. On it you will find info on basic maintenance, best practices, and upgrading:
http://wem4guide.wikidot.com/

Here’s the WE-Tech official website, where they list some of their distributors and service centers:
http://www.weairsoft.com/

And here’s a nice website forum devoted to gas blowback rifles such as the WE:
http://gasguns.info/forum/

AFTERMARKET PARTS:

Other aftermarket vendors are also starting to appear around the WE GBB platform. To date, however, the current crop of aftermarket parts has proven to either be unreliable or have shown negligible enhancement at best. Hopefully that will change as stronger aftermarket vendors start showing some more interest in the platform.

CONCLUSION:

Well except for the high out-of-the-box FPS, overall I’d say that I am very happy with my purchase. I wanted to buy a GBB rifle for one main reason: a more realistic rifle operation and superb blowback experience. The WE M4 gives me exactly the experience I was looking for. And even though the current magazines only hold 30 rounds each, that is more realistic and because I’m interested in MILSIM events, this should only enhance my experience. I’m not a “spray-and-pray” type player anyway, so having less ammo capacity will only further my trigger discipline to make every shot count. I also would say that the WE M4 platform overall is reasonably priced, which was also a major factor in my choice.

Would I use this WE M4 rifle as my primary? Absolutely! This is the most fun I’ve had with an airsoft rifle in a long time. I am excited to see what I can do with this rifle. Do I think it is reliable? Well, only time will tell. Reliability was not my #1 concern when purchasing it, and I almost expect this rifle to have its problems from time to time. Because it has a moving bolt, valves, o-rings and such I naturally assume it will require more maintenance than your average AEG. Being gas operated, I most likely won’t use it once temps fall below 55 degrees or so, and I have several backup AEGs that will work during the colder months just fine. However, many of the WE owners on Arnies say they have been successful using their WE GBB rifles in the cold, as many of them first purchased theirs during the winter season. WE also says that the optional CO2 magazines were designed to combat the effects of the cold on GBB rifles, and deliver more consistent shot to shot velocities.


So my advice is to buy the WE GBB *only* if you:
1) Are tired of the typical AEG ‘sewing machine’ feel and sound, and want a more realistic weapon experience
2) Are an intermediate or advanced player and have already owned 1 or more AEGs
3) Know your way around the internals of an AEG, and don’t mind doing a little internal maintenance to this new type of GBB rifle
4) Don’t mind using low/real cap mags on the field
5) Don’t mind gassing up your mags during the event
6) Are willing to work on the rifle if things break and need fixing
7) Have a AEG to use as a backup during the cold winter months or when the rifle goes down

FUN FACT:
Thought you might find this interesting, WE-Tech has been working members of the U.S. Army’s Rangers and also the Georgian State Police SWAT on testing these M4 GBB rifles. The U.S. Army Rangers 5th Training Battalion has put in a sizable order of the WE M4 GBB rifles for training purposes. So WE-Tech had their rifles specially engraved, here are some photos. Enjoy!








Last edited by Torque; 06-14-2009 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:24 PM
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If you look around on Arnie's Airsoft there are several threads about the WE M4 and I am sure you will be able to find some tips on "cooling" that bad boy down a little.

Also do you plan on using it at any of the up coming events, I would very much like to see it in action.
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:43 PM
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Torque, I'm so jealous. Bring it out when you get the chance please!
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:53 PM
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Great review torque! Very nicely laid out with many pictures and explanations. If you bring it op: 218 I'll definately want to see it.
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:00 PM
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Congrats dude! Nice review! Glad to hear your purchase went well and you've got yourself a nice new toy. I'm very curious to feel the blowback feature compared to the others I've felt. Better bring it to the next game I'm at!

P.S. I promise, too, I'll get you your dead rag you lent me. I've got it sitting in my gear pile :P
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Old 06-14-2009, 03:42 PM
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Great review Torque, nice weapon. GBB is where It's at, I'm waiting on my AGM from EHobby Asia. I'm going to run her on duster gas for fields that have the 400 fps rule and use green gas for milsim events that will allow the 440 fps this gbb puts out on green gas.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:21 PM
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have you ever had a problem with the bolt being stuck when you charge the charging handle back?
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:25 AM
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way to necro post dude
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:17 AM
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I dont recommend the AWSS version as i have had a lot of experience with that system breaking on me, feeding issues, etc.. Go open bolt if you want some kind of reliability, also the hop up is better in the open bolt conversions.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:54 AM
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Awesome review! well the WE m4 is pretty much a perfect design for a gas rifle, and anything that could be better WE is fixing very fast. The parts for it are very inexpensive compared to AEG parts and so upgrading is much more relaxing.
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