Last year, I bought a TM M733 to complement my custom TM M4 that I have been using for the last four years. As many of you know, we have been playing a LOT of CQB style games here in the central Florida region and my aging but well functioning M4 was designed for field use - its been upgraded with an M110 spring, a TN barrel, MM RIS, and a Systema metal body. Works great after all these years but it too hot for CQB; the limits for CQB games are 350 fps with .2 BBs and my M4 shoots a consistent 372fps.
The M733 was the perfect answer. Stock it shoots about 285fps and was small and comfortable and easy to point and shoot. It also was able to use all of my gear that I have for the M4: mags, Aimpointe replica red dot scope, flashlight, sling, etc. This is significatant because the accessories taken together can often cost much more than an AEG itself.
I had bought a TM G36 a few months earlier for CQB and although it worked great for that purpose, I really didn't like the feel nearly as much as the M4 and M733. So the M733 has been serving as my perfect CQB AEG for almost a year. I made the decision last summer to put my G36 up for sale. The only problems was I wanted to have a backup CQB AEG in case anything went wrong with the M733 on game day. In over 5 years worth of playing, I haven't experienced many problems with a TM AEG that couldn't be solved on the field but I didn't want to find myself ever without a functioning AEG. So the quest for a new M4 varient began...
To Build Or Not To Build
Originally I was going to custom build an M4 varient specially for CQB. I knew I wanted a RIS system and an adjustable stock so I was going to get the TM M4 RIS AEG and build from there. I was going to upgrade different parts of the AEG as I went along, first by replacing the stock with an 'LE' style retractable stock that had 6 positions. Then I was going to replace the stock RIS with a SIR style one made by ICS. After that, I wanted to get a short barrel kit with a fold-down front sight. I added up the total cost to such a project and it was getting up to the $700 range - way more than I wanted to spend. Months went by as I looked in to different configuration and still I wasn't happy. Then I heard that Marui announced the M4-S...
At first I didn't find the M4-S all that appealing - who knew what kinda quality the RIS was? Were the flip-down sights made out of plastic? Was it going to use the same barrel system as the original M4? Then a week or so ago, the new M4 was released to the public and my initial concerns were answered and more.
A Package Arrives
My packaged arrived at around 12:30pm on December 23rd - just in time for Christmas! I toyed with the idea of wrapping the package up and putting in under the tree for Christmas morning, but there was no way I was going be able to have that thing sit in my house for 2 days unopened!
As you can see from the photos, the box lid was flipped inside-out as is the normal fashion these days when importing AEGs. The words 'S-System' is written out in large, futuristic letters in shiney silver with a picture of the M4-S and another line that reads 'The Ultimate Spec.Ops. Carbine M4 S-system Cal./.223.' Inside the M4 was laying on the combination of cardboard and styrofoam that has become the norm lately.
Its Got Body
The most striking thing I noticed was that this M4 has a black body instead of the usual dark gray Marui uses for its M16's (the only exception I am aware of is the TM SR-16). The body on this M4 is a dull, metal-like black. In fact, it looks much more realistic than the metal body on my old M4, which is unrealistically shiney and peals easily.
The next more noticeable thing is the SIR style RIS. As most of you know, the SIR attaches to the body's top rail near to where the rear sight is found and continues all the way to the front sight and wraps around the barrel where a normal handguard would go. Its attached to the body via 3 screws on the righthand side. It has a very skeletal-like appearance with all the holes and groves everywhere. You can also see the gas tube inside, which is silver in color. There are short, 2.5 inch rails on either side near the front that are stamped with a number '1' on them and a longer, 4 inch rail, stamped with a number 3, on the bottom, also near the front. The rails can be removed and repositioned.
The bottom portion of the SIR serves as the handguard and feels unusually wide at 2.5 inches across. The entire system except for the rails is made out plastic which, from what I understand, is the way the real ones are as well. In the box was a screw-on sling adapter that you could mount on either side or even the bottom.
On either side of the SIR are two large blade-style screw heads that you can turn with either a coin or your thumb nail. These are spring loaded and release the bottom portion from the top and is hinged at the front. Inside you will find a place to put a mini battery in a section below the barrel. Although battery installation and removeal is pretty conventional, there is a new twist that I haven't seen before. Inside the box, Marui supplied a three-pack of plastic 'spiral tube' that you are suppose to use to wrap the two wire leads that come out of your battery. I am not sure what the wisdom behind this is, but it seems to help in containing the wires while trying to close the handguard back up.
Although at first it appeared that battery installation in this AEG would be one of the easiest ever, my first few attempts didn't go too well. On one hand, you have the spring-loaded screws that holds the battery compartment together which great because there are no pins to lose or parts to take off. But there isn't much room inside and you need to be extra careful in getting the battery and cables in just the right spot in order for it to close properly.
The other unique item on this AEG is the 'LE' style stock. Similar to the regular stock that comes with the M4, it has some additional details like vent-style cuts along the side that adds more girth and aids in gripping the stock. It also features an inch longer rear area where it meets your shoulder and has a slight angle to it to make it more comfortable to hold at 'low-ready' and makes it easier to stay at the ready when wearing a lot of gear. The new stock also has a metal sling loop located on the bottom that is removeable and is missing the top sling spot that the regular stock has.
The front sight on this model is made out of metal and is foldable so that is lies flat along the top plane of the rail. In either position, the site is locked into place by a small, push-button cam on the left side, making it easy to raise and lower with your free hand. One thing that is not obviouse from some of the pictures is that the front sight is hooded like the one on the G36 and MP5. The rear sight is metal and foldable as well and features a hook-like catch mechanism that holds it down flat when not in used. The rear site also has two different diopter: one large and one small. By default, the small one is active when you flip-up the sight. To engage the larger one, you have to fold the smaller one back towards the rear. The only problem I see with this arrangement is that when it comes time to flip the whole site back down, you have to move the small diopter back up before the unit will fold down flat.
The outer barrel on this model is also much different from the M4's - its a one piece deal made from aluminum. Its has a really nice, dull black finish that feels very durable. Also new is how the barrel is affixed to the body; much different than the M4, but near identical to the M733 setup. I did not try to take it apart to see how it was assembled, but if the M733 is any indicator, barrel wobble will not be an issue for the M4-S.
Handling this AEG is pure joy - its very solid and rigid along the length of it with no apparent rattles. Its heavier than either the M4 or M733, but it doesn't feel unbalanced or very front heavy. The overall finish of the parts is uniform and realistic. I am intentionally not going to talk about how it shoots - its a Marui and therefore shoots well like most all of the other TM AEGs out there. I have heard that it shares many things internally with the M733.
Is this the perfect AEG? Of course, there is no such thing. Each person will have their own individual sets of preferrences. That said, though, I think this one is as close to perfect as they get out of the box. The parts on this AEG alone can cost more than an AEG so it represents an awesome deal if this is the kind of AEG you are going for. The only thing I wish for is a short barrel similar to the M733. Otherwise, this is the ninth AEG I have ever bought and I think the best one yet!