Tippmann Arms M4 CO2/HPA Rifle Part 1
31 May 2016
This review has been long overdue on my part. A new generation of HPA powered airsoft rifles has been already out for a good few years now and yet this is the first time that I have actually gotten my hands on one and finally an attempt to do a review.
HPA airsoft rifles, in my opinion, are good. In fact I think they are too good in that they can become an unfair advantage in the skirmish field. Their features like adjustments of ROF and muzzle velocity at a twist of a screw have been a subject of debate amongst airsofters. Not to mention that airsoft is meant to be a step forward from paintball where we aim for more realism and real war simulation but now we've gone back to rifles having an air hose hanging out from it.
Okay.... Enough of my rant and let's get on with the review:
As I mentioned earlier, HPA powered airsoft rifles are not new as airsoft started with air tanks as power source so this new wave of RIFs are what you might call a resurgence of the HPA airsoft rifles. There was a lot of debate of these rifles being used in skirmishes as they can easily be powered up and provide an unfair advantage to the user. Now, the more modern versions can be locked so that the user is not able to adjust the muzzle velocity or as we all know in airsoft terms as FPS mid-game or after the FPS check done by the marshals.
The Tippmann M4 HPA/CO2 powered airsoft rifle was released in the early part of 2014 and has ruffled quite a few feathers in the airsoft industry. First of all, Tippmann M4 airsoft rifle is solely designed to use CO2 or HPA and to convert it from one to the other will probably take an experienced person about 10 minutes to do, so it is not bad. Also, the price for a unit isn't far away from a high end AEG which makes it very competitive not only to the standard AEG/GBB rifles but also to its main HPA airsoft competitors which I would say could cause you an arm and a leg for just the HPA engine alone. With all HPA-powered RIFs, you will need to take into consideration the rig that you will need to power the rifle. This will be the remote air line and your air tank/ bottle which will roughly add around £100 depending on the size and brand of the kits you are buying.
THE GOOD BITS AND THE BAD BITS
As with any product out in the airsoft market today, Tippmann made their M4 as competitive as they can to battle with the high end airsoft brands. And as far as I can see, they have done a good job out of it. But as with any product, manufacturers need to shed some cost off to some parts to avoid losing out on the final price that they need to sell and make profit. And this M4 is no excuse to that.
So let me start with what I consider to be the bad bits...
PLASTIC.... And there is quite a lot of it in this rifle. With our normal and standard high end M4 airsoft rifles, we expect some parts to be plastic like the pistol grip and the adjustable stock so that is okay. But as you go through the rifle you will find more plastic.
The folding front sight is plastic.
The folding rear sight is plastic.
The RIS handguard is plastic.
The gas block is plastic.
The orange flash hider is plastic... Yep, I know all of them are p1lastic but luckily Tippmann included a black flash hider but... Lo and behold! It's Plastic!
If you are planning to power your rifle using the CO2 bulbs, you will need to make sure you empty the 80 BB round magazine because for some reason, Tippmann designed their CO2 magazine as a quick change magazine when replacing the CO2 bulb. Simply drop the CO2 bulb into the hole and load it into the rifle. Yes, it's that simple. So why is this a bad bit? Well, if the user will try and take the magazine out midway through, all the CO2 will be vented out and wasted because it is not a sealed design.
The adjustable stock is quite wobbly but still usable.
And for the picky, the airsoft gun has to have trademarks the trades geeks out there seek. Well, all you will find on this are Tippmann trademarks.
Now let's see the good bits....
The rifle is light, not surprising with all the plastic bits. But its weight is on the good side of things as even I sometimes find it tiring carrying a full metal AEG all day.
The folding sights, although made of plastic as I mentioned before, work pretty well and are spring loaded so they automatically flip up at a push of a button.
The RIS handguard is modular and the rails can be swapped. The package includes short rails which I have swapped with the side rails as this makes the handguard easier to grip.
The rails are of standard width and there is no wobble on the attachments that I have put in place.
FPS, Hop-Up and ROF are all adjustable using an Allen key included in the package. To adjust the ROF, pop the rear bodypin out and split the rifle apart. The ROF adjustment is located within the lower receiver. This, I was told is a bit fiddly to do. The advice given to me is to start by screwing the adjustment all the way down, be careful not to over tighten. Start adjusting form there and when you get it firing in full auto make tiny increments of adjustment until you get the ROF that you want. I was told that if your adjustment is not enough, the rifle will only fire in semi and if the adjustment is too much, the rifle will end up firing in bursts.
The FPS adjustment is also located internally within the upper receiver. Turn the screw counter clockwise to increase the FPS and clockwise for lower the FPS. Now, you may say that this is too easy to do and can actually be done midgame. Worry not because most sites now, including my local site Airsoft Plantation, now require Tippmann users to use the competition lock pin. Basically this is a replacement for the standard lock or takedown or rear body pin. The other end stick out of the receiver and has a hole where site marshals can put lock tie to prevent the player from tampering with the FPS.
The Hop-Up adjustment is located within the upper receiver and can be accessed through the ejection port and like the FPS and ROF adjustments; you will need an Allen key to make changes.
The rifle itself is very solid. No obvious wobbles when shaken apart from the wobbly stock.
Recoil. I think you can call it recoil and this one has got a lot of if. Although, please correct me if I'm wrong, the recoil of this M4 is very different from that of a GBB. My GBB, a TM MWS, has recoil that pushes your shoulder backwards. In other words, GBB recoil goes backwards. The Tippman M4 is more of a wobble or sideways recoil. I think this is the reason why players are saying that a GBB has a harder kick than the Tippmann M4. In my opinion, they are almost the same just different. So make sure that any attachment you put like scopes, torches and other sights are properly secured as I have heard of players losing theirs because of the recoil (or you might want call it vibration) this rifle produces.
Magazine compatibility. For me this is the best feature of this rifle. I have tried three different brands of Marui-compatible Hi-Cap M4 AEG magazines in HPA mode and they all feed really well. You will need the proprietary CO2 magazines if you prefer not to use HPA.
Another good thing about this rifle from what I have read is that the externals of this rifle can be easily replaced with third party brands. I was told that GBB and PTW RIS can be installed without any problems and the AEG RIS will need minimal customisation. Also, Tippmann aftermarket upgrade parts are now available like different length barrels, replacement folding stocks, ambidextrous fire selector switch, and a lot more. Also available is a complete upper receiver which allows the player to swap a totally different top and front end such as switching from a regular M4 to a sniper DMR without needing to make any adjustments.
THE HPA RIG
One thing you will need before you can use this rifle out of the box using HPA is one, swap the mechanism inside to a HPA setup. This was done for me by Gordon of Battlezone Airsoft where I got the rifle from. For an experienced person this job will take less than 10 minutes. It is basically removing the mechanism that punctures the CO2 bulb and holds the gas in place. All the tools that you need to do this are included in the package. And thanks to the very detailed user manual this can be done at home if you prefer doing it yourself.
The air bottle that you need for this from what I've read has to be a 3000psi or higher bottle as this is the working pressure of the rifle. Tippmann offers different size bottles but third party brands will also work fine. You will also need a remote air line or air hose to attach your bottle to the rifle. Again, Tippmann sells different kind sof lines from micro bore to universal coiled lines. The good thing is if you are an ex-paintball player who has the rig and is looking into going into airsoft you can use your rig to power this rifle as long as your kit meets the specifics of the rifle. This I think is a cheap way of swapping from paintball to airsoft without the hassle and expense of buying new batteries and chargers. Refill of the air bottle cost around £2.50.
I was very reluctant to try an HPA rifle but with our recent travel to the Border Wars event in the Czech Republic where a lot of players are using HPA, I told myself that maybe it is time to look into this as it looks like HPA is where the sport is heading to.
There are some advantages in using HPA when it comes to maintenance and cost once you have all your kit. Also, since its HPA powered, it can be used all year long unlike GBBs where you need a good working temperature for the, to be effective and when you live in a cold country, this is good news.
The Tippmann is not perfect but it is a good bit of kit. And knowing Tippmann's history with paintball you know that they knew what they were doing when they made this and are now releasing upgrade parts.
The rifle has a good feel. It is light which makes up for the weight of the air bottle that you need to carry around. It feels solid although I have read reviews that say they have experience parts breaking all the time. This I will try it when I use it on the skirmish field in part 2 of my review.
The rifle also produces a good recoil and a loud sound when fired which makes it enjoyable to use. I have only fired this rifle indoors and the sound is quite loud but I'm sure that will be less outdoors.
And I think one of the best bit of this rifle is that it is compatible with AEG magazines without needing any adapters. This is really good as we all know that only low cap magazines or actually realistic capacity magazines can be used on GBBs, but now finally we can use Hi-cap AEG magazines in a GBB-equivalent rifle, albeit it is an HPA-powered one.
Then we go with the cost. A complete set will probably cost around £500. This would be around the same cost of current high-end AEGs and GBBs and far cheaper than HPA drop-in kits. And the Tippmann M4 is purely HPA or CO2 powered, some if not most HPA kits need an electric source to power them together with the HPA.
I am looking forward to using this rifle in a proper game. I have high hopes for this and deep in my mind I want it to perform really well.
So make sure to check out Part 2 of this review where I will use the rifle in a proper skirmish game.