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Home > Articles & Reviews > Classic Army M15A4 Tactical Carbine Review
Classic Army M15A4 Review
Specifications
Manufacturer Classic Army
Battery Type 8.4V Large
Fire Modes Semi & Full Auto
Muzzle Velocity 280 to 315 fps
Rounds per min. 750-850
Accurate Range 70-90ft
Barrel Length 363mm
Weight 2974g (without battery)
Magazine Capacity 300 BBs

Introduction
Looking for the perfect airsoft gun is in many ways like looking for the perfect wife. Anyone with some experience in airsoft (or in marriage) will tell you that such a thing as perfection does not exist, and that any choice should be the result of quite a few compromises. Having no airsoft experience whatsoever, it took me a while to figure that bit out, and in the meanwhile I have examined and contemplated pretty much every available AEG out there, much to the amusement of my fellow players that wondered (and rightfully so) if I will ever get myself to buy an AEG.


So, why the CA M15A4?
Well, it's been a combination of factors. It has a good reputation on the net, it's metal, which means sturdy construction that's likely to withstand abuse. Also, it comes with a high-cap magazine as standard, and it's pre-upgraded, meaning that it shoots harder, or at least it's supposed to. More to the point, it was readily available in Greece, at a decent price from a local Airsoft importer, meaning I could save a few bucks on the shipping cost. After some thought, I decided to get the "Tactical Carbine" version, essentially an M4 with a fixed stock. For one, I detest the retractable stock of the M4 and two, I wanted the benefits of a large battery.


First Impressions
I purchased the gun from a local distributor, so I was pretty happy I had it in my hands within 24 hours. The M15A4 comes in a nifty-looking box with a picture of the gun on it... inside you'll find what one can expect; the gun itself, a high-cap magazine, a cleaning rod, a tool to adjust the front sight and some paperwork including the gun's manual and a CA catalogue of guns and accessories. I took some time to browse through the former, and while it's all there, and has a pretty comprehensive picture of the gun broken into its parts, I could hardly call it helpful, especially for the new and more inexperienced airsofter like myself.

The gun itself rests on the usual plastic styrofoam-type berth. Picking it up one is struck by how real and how sturdy it feels. Nothing seems to rattle or creak. Those that have some experience with the real steel M4 will find the M15A4's weight comparable with the real rifle, if somewhat lighter. Any way you cut it, it's a heavy beast of an AEG, and that can be an issue after a few hours of skirmishing.

The receiver, carry handle, barrel and sights are made of good-quality metal, whereas the stock and hand guard are made of some composite material, like in the real-steel version. They both look quite sturdy and not likely to come off or break with casual use. My one complaint is about the paint. It seems very thin and easy to come off even with the faintest scratch, revealing a silvery layer beneath it. On the good side, the handguard has a matte finish to it that makes it look very nice compared to the somewhat shinier handguard on the ICS M4A1 model.

Construction on the handguard however, seems tougher on the ICS counterpart as one of our guys with a retractable stock CA M15A4 model already broke his handguard off after just a handful of battery installations (another plus for the M15A4 Tactical Carbine since the battery is installed on the buttstock as opposed to the handguard).

As in the real rifle, the carry handle comes off by twisting a couple of knobs, revealing a rail onto which one may mount scopes, red dots, and the sort. For those that want an older look, a pretty inexpensive adaptor with a rail can be fastened to the carry handle and accessories such as scopes can be attached there raising the top altogether. The sights are typical for the M4/M16 series with two apertures, a wide one for low-light/CQB conditions and a narrow one for sharpshooting. They are not bad, but they are not as ergonomic as the H&K ones in the G3/MP5 series.

The standard 300 rd mag goes easily into the mag well and locks into place.

Removing the mag is equally easy. Your index finger presses a button on the right side of the mag well and the empty mag falls off. My one complaint is that the magazine itself rattles in the mag well. I hear that this is also the case for the real M4, and anyway it is something that a little tape will fix.

The fire selector has three positions for safe, single fire, and full auto, and clicks satisfyingly between the three. The cocking lever and spring-release button are moveable, the bolt slamming back with a very satisfying sound, but unlike the Marui which opens the door when you cock it, and the ICS which opens the door when you cock it and releases the spring tension when the button is pressed, they are there just for show. The spring release does nothing, whereas access to the hop-up is facilitated by manually opening the dust cover on the right side of the receiver. The little hatch is secured with a flat magnet. The markings on the receiver look realistic enough, but I guess I am not the right person to get into these details...

The large battery slides easily into the stock through a small door that is built into the butt plate. Dealing with the wiring takes a little getting used to, but once the little door is closed, the battery does not move inside, and the added weight balances the gun somewhat better.


Shooting the M15A4
My first experience shooting the M15A4 was one of pure horror. I did everything by the book, but the gun would not fire. I checked the wires, the connections, the battery. Stories of faulty Classic Army guns came back to haunt me...

Thankfully it was merely the battery. A custom-made battery I had bought here in Athens did not quite cut the mustard and even when we did manage to charge it, the gun coughed and stuttered. On my second game out, I had bought a better battery and the gun worked like a charm.

In action, the M15A4 shoulders easily, the fixed stock sliding over clothing and gear. The sights come up smoothly and appear in front of your eyes like magic and with some practice, one can take pretty accurate aimed snap shots. For CQB situations the M15A4 like its real steel brother has quite good point-and-shoot characteristics. As one may expect, it's not as comfortable to swing around in closed spaces, as, say, an MP5 or an M4 with fully retracted stock, but it will not cause any problem either. Out of the buildings and into the woods the M15A4 is a very stable shooting platform that can be used just as well as an assault weapon, or a marksman's weapon with the aid of some aiming device. The hop up dial is easily accessible and with some tweaking, the gun shoots straight and pretty far.

I've taken the M15A4 out a couple of times and have shot over 3000bbs without a single problem, once the faulty battery was replaced. However, a few friends that have bought the same model have quite a few problems to report. Either of these could be attributed to bad battery, bad BBs, or just plain bad luck... but it's something that the future buyer has to keep in mind. Most Classic Army AEGs can (and will) be temperamental...


Conclusion
All in all, the M15A4 is a pretty good buy. Perhaps it's not the best AEG for a new player like me, being temperamental as it can be, but it's well-built and shoots pretty well out of the box. In my opinion it is a very good platform for further upgrading, or to form the base of a project gun.

Credits/Acknowledgments
This review was brought to you by Ozymandias.

February 1, 2006. Athens, Greece.
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