We recommend reading our best airsoft gun guide first, to learn more about basics of airsoft guns.
The M4 platform in the airsoft community is one of the most popular options because it is adaptable, ergonomic, and very easy to learn and master.
The M4 as a platform is popular throughout the world for a reason. It is a double-edged sword when it comes to airsoft guns. It’s great because you have lots of options to choose from, but it’s also bad because some of those options are complete crap.
So we’ve put together a simple and efficient buying guide for M4 platforms to help you select wisely.
Due to the difference between gas and AEGs, we are going to focus on M4 AEGs solely.
We’ve gathered a few features that are exclusive to the M4 platform and developed some essential aspects to look for when shopping for an M4 AEG.
- 1 The Top Airsoft M4 AEGs of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- 2 Important Choosing Factors
- 3 Final Thoughts
The Top Airsoft M4 AEGs of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our two recommendations for Airsoft M4 AEGs of 2018:
- Best budget picks under $200: Get the G&G Combat Machine M4 Raider or Valken Battle Machine M4 SD
- Best for beginners: Take Krytac Trident MKII CRB
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Model|| || ||
|Muzzle Velocity||380-400 FPS||350~380 FPS||380-400 FPS|
|Weight||7 lbs||8.5 lbs||5.5 lbs|
|Magazine Capacity||450 rounds Hi-Cap||300 rounds Hi-Cap||300 rounds Hi-Cap|
|Firing Modes||Semi-automatic, Full-automatic||Semi/Full-Auto, Safety||Semi/Full-Auto, Safety|
|Battery Type||8.4 V Nunchuck||9.6v 1600 mAh Small Butterfly Type||9.6v 1600 mAh Butterfly Type|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Best Budget Picks Under $200
G&G Combat Machine M4 Raider
The G&G Combat Machine M4 Raider is an excellent beginner’s rifle that is priced superbly low. It is a platform for the airsofter on a budget.
- Metal body
- Slimline M4 type with a round handguard
- Detachable carry handle
- Can mount a red dot or variable optic, or you can rock the old school iron sights built into the carry handle
- Stock is a standard M4 design with six different positions and an adjustable length of pull
- Comes with iron sights and is ready to play out of the box
- All metal internals and is compatible with G&G and Tokyo Marui internals, so upgrades are available
- Hi-cap 450 round mag, compatible with all M4 and M16 series magazines
- Muzzle velocity is up to 400 feet per second so it’s legal on any field of play
- Adjustable hop-up is simple to utilize
The biggest downside is the lack of a rail system for additional accessories. You can always add your own but be prepared for a stock M4 style rifle.
It is a very good stock rifle that is easily upgraded. The price makes it an excellent option for the budget airsofters.
Valken Battle Machine M4 SD
The Valken Battle Machine M4 SD has a high-tech, ultra-modern M4 design.
- Fake suppressor that is dimpled and resembles the Knights Armament suppressor. It is part of the barrel and you shouldn’t attempt to remove it
- Carbine length quad rail with plenty of space for extra accessories
- Crane stock that is easy to use with an airsoft mask
- Can be utilized with both NIMH and the superior LiPo batteries
- Flip up iron sights and a full-length scope rail
- Adjustable hop-up and a standard long type battery
- Three position safety — safe, semi and fully automatic modes
Downside is its overall weight. It weighs 8.5 pounds which is almost the same weight as a full sized M16 rifle.
The Valken Battle Machine M4 has a unique and cool design that appears unique. It is also versatile.
Best for Beginners – Krytac Trident MKII CRB
Krytac is a well-known brand that makes incredibly strong and durable rifles that excel for long term use. It is for a beginner with a decent budget.
- Modern M4 style rifle
- Barrel is covered with a 10-inch free floating handguard. The handguard is nice and light because it utilizes a KeyMod layout. This allows you to mount sections of rail where and only where you need it.
- Adjustable iron sights and hop-up
- Built to last and utilizes incredibly strong and powerful internals. It isn’t likely to break or wear out until it’s put through years of abuse.
- Quick change spring system, an integrated MOFSET, and aluminum alloy receivers.
- Compatible with almost all M4 style airsoft magazines including Tokyo Marui, Matrix, and G&P. This makes it easy and affordable to find magazines.
The Krytac Trident MKII CRB is an excellent rifle for new players and it lasts for years. It is excellent for close quarters combat at 5.5 pounds. It’s light but durable and easy to use.
Important Choosing Factors
With so many different M4 variants out there, you are likely to find builds in every option you can imagine. The outer designs of airsoft guns are just as important as the internals.
Let’s be real. Airsoft can be a rough sport. Even unintentionally you can run into walls, take a hard dive behind cover or bump into a tree. In any of these situations, you can easily damage a weak external body.
This is why I always advise against a plastic body. Going for a metal body results in a stronger and more authentic airsoft gun.
Metal externals are less likely to break in the event of a bad bump. The main issue with metal bodies is rust and general corrosion. You need to pay special attention to ensure rust doesn’t occur, especially in the smaller, harder to see areas.
The insides of the gun are pretty dang important. Any quality model has a metal gearbox and metal gears. This ensures it doesn’t easily fall apart when it hits a high rate of fire.
Metal gearboxes are easier to work on and replace the parts as they wear. ABS and plastic gearboxes, on the other hand, are much easier to break.
Poor quality metal boxes also break. We could have an entire guide of just quality control on airsoft guns. It is ideal to stick with high-quality models from reputable brands. This ensures quality and warranty in case something goes wrong.
Metal gearboxes and metal bodies add a certain amount of weight and increase the price of the individual airsoft gun.
Lastly, an AEG M4’s hop-up should be adjustable. It allows you to adjust the backspin on a BB. Certain guns perform differently with different BBs.
Sometimes, there is too much or too little backspin. This can cause the round to hit the ground too early or cause the round to have an upswept firing path. An adjustable hop-up is a must have so you can get every round shooting straight.
The power behind your gun is necessary and many people think that a higher muzzle velocity is better, right? In some ways yes, but not for playing airsoft with other people.
Most ranges for airsoft competitions have velocity requirements. Too high FPS can:
- cause serious injuries
- break the skin
- implants airsoft BBs in uncomfortable ways
The velocity always depends on range conditions, as CQB is a lot different than open field play. The settings are usually between 350 and 500 feet per second depending on the weapon. The full auto nature of M4 platforms ensures that it’s going to be closer to 350 FPS.
Guns can be tuned to different FPS but the closest you can get to 350 FPS, the better. This gives you a safe FPS to play at, and lets you shoot at the appropriate range.
How your M4 AEG handles is another important consideration:
- How does the weapon handle?
- Is it light enough to be carried comfortably for extended periods?
- Or is it too heavy that it can get old pretty quick, especially after a full day of playing?
In the midst of combat, a heavy gun may ultimately make you a slower player. It is difficult to transition between targets or lead a running target with too heavy M4 AEG.
Ergonomics is a broad category, so we’re going to break it down based on specific needs:
Length is commonly determined by the barrel. A longer barrel allows more room to mount a rail system while a shorter weapon is lighter and more maneuverable in close quarters combat.
If you want to rock a CQC M4, you’re likely to have a lighter, easier to maneuver rifle.
Accessories like a collapsible stock also makes your weapon more ergonomic. If you wear a complete tactical vest or plate carrier, you want to have a collapsible stock on your M4.
The reason behind is that a tactical vest makes you thicker, the ability to adjust your length of pull allows you to compensate for this extra bulk.
Another factor that makes the weapon easier to handle is the presence of a foregrip. A foregrip requires a rail system but allows easier maneuverability and increased control over the weapon.
This is especially true in close quarters with a vertical foregrip and it really helps you take corners with low elbows.
Purchasing an AEG M4 is a bit of a compromise between weight and accessories. Since both are important factors to consider, you need to find the perfect compromise for you.
One of the biggest factors is being able to find and purchase parts in case of repair. Small one-off companies who produce decent M4 AEGs may disappear, making it impossible to find replacement parts.
It’s great to find models that feature interchangeable parts with famous airsoft companies — guns that are compatible with parts and pieces from manufacturers like Tokyo Marui and Krytac.
This is especially true when it comes to magazines! You always need more magazines. Guns that are compatible with Tokyo Marui, Matrix, and G&P magazines give you a full selection of compatible magazines.
Ability to Upgrade
Upgraded internals can increase accuracy and the life of the gun.
Capacity to upgrade your AEG M4 is also a consideration. Sometimes, you can purchase a quality but budget M4 and then upgrade the internals down the road.
Matching proper internals with high powered batteries can increase the full auto rate of fire and allow higher FPS for certain games and roles.
Ability to Mount Accessories
One of the biggest draws to the M4 is the amount of customization you can do to the platform. The barrel system is very friendly for installing various accessories.
Depending on your play style or if you are trying to replicate a certain gun, the attachment system can be invaluable.
The presence of well made, preferably metal Picatinny rails is a sure fire way to accessorize your gun. Polymer rails are a no go especially if you are rocking a KeyMod or MLOK handguard.
The thing about polymer is ensuring that they are built to the actual spec and compatibility with Picatinny accessories.
I’ve never come across metal rails that weren’t in spec. This is due to the fact that a weapon rail requires time and effort to build, and making one out of spec isn’t going to sell if a builder is trying to turn a real profit.
A good rail system will allow you to mount:
- grenade launcher
Battery Size and Type
Generally, the more mAH a battery has, the longer it lasts.
If you already own some AEGs, it’s a good idea to match the battery to your guns. This allows easier logistics between guns.
If the gun is only compatible with low mAH batteries, you may find it inconvenient when your weapon runs out of battery halfway through the match. Some guns may come with smaller batteries and that’s fine, just ensure they can accept larger batteries.
The M4 platform is modular and adaptable to use for any airsoft player. It’s the perfect platform for new players due to the availability of parts, magazines, and accessories.
As long as you know a thing or two about M4 AEGs, you’ll find one that fits your needs and play style.