Sometime late last year, I felt like reconnecting with my childhood days of playing soldier with “airsoft” bb firearms. Growing up in the age of Rambo, the Terminator and John McLane, I remember a lot of summers re-enacting Hollywood scenarios in abandoned houses and trying not to get caught by the village security guards.
These days, airsoft is a pretty sophisticated “sport.” The weapons look like the real thing, modifications are aplenty, and hundreds of players converge every weekend for a few hours of make-believe. For my first gun, I settled on the Classic Army Ml 5A4 carbine courtesy of Hobby Depot. It’s a replica of the Colt M4 carbine that’s regular issue to US troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, which itself is the shorter version of the venerable Ml 6/AR- 15 family of rifles.
As guns go, it’s a pretty sexy piece, lightweight, intuitive, and easily upgradeable, although in real life the M4 has some serious design limitations such as a propensity for jamming and fouling. As a toy, though, it has that “Hollywood mystique” that makes playing the game more fun.
Being a “Sportline” model, the M15A4 has a plastic body, internals, and stock (although the barrel is steel) in order to make it more affordable. It also came with a stock, generic battery, safety glasses, and sling. Out of the box, and coming from a newbie, I was pretty excited about it.
Classic Army made sure to make the M15A4 weigh as much as the real thing and it has a good balance between the pistol grip and the hand guard. Muzzle velocity is around 330 feet per second (good but not great), while accuracy is good out to a hundred feet. Since I wanted the “SWAT” look, I also bought an aftermarket rail system you can attach scopes and tactical lights to, an illuminated 24 reticle scope, and a folding fore grip. After a few games, I realized the whole thing had gotten too heavy to lug around, and the reticle sight, while accurate, took too long to use in a heated battle.
I then swapped out the scope for a simpler, 2x by 42 red/green dot sight and removed the fore grip. With a little work done on it by airsoft guru and gunsmith extraordinaire Stephen Domingo, the rate-of-fire was also improved to make it a “deadlier” starter gun. Apart from minor wear-and-tear like a worn-out gear and a broken fire selector (it won’t fire single shot anymore), the M15A4 was a fun piece of kit, It’s accurate, lightweight, fairly compact, and has helped me rack up more than a few kills with my buddies.