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An Overgrown Kid in a Colt Candy Store (Part 2)

Colt M4 Carbine .22LR

August 15, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

There are several companies manufacturing or importing military/law enforcement style rifles chambered in .22LR. One of those companies, Umarex USA, has a licensed model of a Colt rifle. It's the M4 and there are two models, the M4 Carbine and the M4 Ops. I was really hoping to test the M4 Ops, but stock availability from Umarex is an indication that it is extremely popular. So, I chose the Colt M4 Carbine by default. Based on the results from the Colt Government 1911, see "An Overgrown Kid in a Colt Candy Store (Part 1)", I had my expectations set high. Right from the beginning, I was not disappointed. This is a fun rifle to shoot.

Colt M4 Carbine

The similarities between the M4 .22LR and its big brother, the Colt LE6920 Carbine 5.56x45, are many. These similarities include: barrel length, compensator, front sight, rear peep sight, retractable stock, safety, break down, ejection port cover, hand guard, carry handle, charging handle, magazine release, hand grip, and a mil-standard rail. The overall looks may not be identical, but they are really close.

Article Video

Both the front and rear sights on the M4 are adjustable, just like the LE6980. The front sight can be raised and lowered to make the initial adjusts for elevation and then the rear sight can be adjusted for windage and elevation. The rear sight is actually a peep sight that pivots. When forward, the aperture is .2"; when flipped backwards, the aperture is .06". If you don't like the existing sights, they can be changed. Open sight accessories include a flip-up front sight, folding rear sight and a tactical rear sight. By removing the carry handle/rear sight to expose the rail, you can add on any rail compatible optic you prefer.

The factory specs state the single stage trigger pull on the M4 is 6.6 lbs. to 9.9 lbs. On the M4 used for this article, the trigger pull was 9 lbs. There is about .060" travel in the trigger before engaging the sear (measured in the middle of the trigger), then a crisp release. Since this rifle is best suited for plinking fun and not intended to be a 'tack driver', this trigger pull is fine for most shooting.

The charging handle pull measured 9 lbs. when cocked and 10 lbs. after being fired. A youth or novice shooter will not have any problem pulling the charging handle.

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Colt M4 Carbine

On the outside, the barrel shroud looks just like the barrel on an LE6980 and even has the standard M8x.75 muzzle threading for goodies like a suppressor or compensator. The rifling is 6 grooves with a 1 in 13.78" twist.

From the factory, the blow back bolt speed is set for 40 grain bullets with muzzle velocities between 1040 fps and 1250 fps. By adjusting the bolt speed to match high or standard velocity ammunition, you can minimize ejection and loading problems. Having the ability to adjust the bolt speed for different types of ammunition is a big benefit of this rifle for the shooter.

There are three magazines available for the M4, a 10-round (as required by some state laws), a 20-round and a 30-round. The M4 only comes with one magazine from the factory. For this review, the M4 came with a 30-round magazine, so I requested a second magazine with a 10-round capacity. The MSRP for additional magazines runs from $31 to $42. Both the 10-round and the 30-round magazine used for this review functioned perfectly.

When I compared dimensional measurements, it was surprising how close the M4 Carbine .22LR came to the Colt LE6920 Carbine 5.56x45. Umarex did a good job of having the M4 physical dimensions come this close to the LE6920.

Colt/Umarex M4 Carbine .22LR

Length - 31.1"-34.4"

Height - 8.75"

Width - 2.4"

Barrel Length - 16.1"

Weight (w/o Magazine) - 6.0 lbs.

Colt LE6920 Carbine 5.56x45

Length - 32"-35.5"

Height - 8.63"*

Width - 2.6"*

Barrel Length - 16.1"

Weight (w/o Magazine) - 6.9 lbs.

* Measurements not supplied by manufacturer; approximated measurements taken from actual LE6920

The M4 can be nicely 'tricked out' with Umarex accessories such as: Special Forces Crane Stock, Magazine Speed Holster, Rail Interface System, Compensator, Flip-Up Front Sight, Folding Rear Sight, Red Laser, Green Laser, Xenon Tactical Light and Walther Red Dot Sights.

--- At the Range

The Colt M4 Carbine was evaluated for accuracy with 13 different types of ammunition**.

ManufacturerCartridgeBullet Wt.
CCIMini-Mag HP36 gr
CCIStinger32 gr
FederalLightning40 gr
FederalAutoMatch40 gr
RemingtonThunderbolt40 gr
RemingtonTarget40 gr
RemingtonGolden Bullet36 gr
RWSR5040 gr
RWSR10040 gr
RWSRifle Match40 gr
RWSTarget Rifle40 gr
WinchesterSuper-X37 gr
WinchesterWildcat40 gr

After removing the handle, a 1x45 red dot sight was attached to the mil-standard rail. The red dot was initially zeroed at 25 feet and then 25 yards. Since the red dot sight was a 1x optic, the accuracy shooting distance was kept to 25 yards. As you can see in these 3-shot groups, 9 of 13 were under .5", the largest was group was .7" and the smallest group was .37". These targets are not the best of 3, or 5, or 10; they were shot consecutively...13 targets, 3 shots each for a total of 39 shots. Then, the 10-shot group was shot with the 36 gr. CCI Mini-Mag HP that can be covered with a quarter. With a crosshair scope, I am confident this rifle is easily capable of shooting sub 1" groups at 50 yards with the right ammunition.

Next, I tested for failure-to-fire/failure-to-eject/failure-to-extract (FTF/FTE) problems. To start, 250 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag HP's were shot fast fire alternating between the 10-round and 30-round magazines. Then, 100 rounds of 8 other cartridges were fired (1 CCI, 2 Federal, 3 Remington and 2 Winchester cartridges). Umarex recommends not using bulk pack ammunition, but I tested both Federal AutoMatch and Remington Golden Bullet anyway. The M4 only had one (1) failure-to-load; it was the top round after a magazine speed change and I may have not pulled the charging handle completely back. There were 2 Remington Thunderbolts and 1 Winchester Wildcat that did not fire but did show a solid firing pin hit (obviously not the fault of the M4). In total, over 1,100 rounds were fired. What's even more impressive is the fact that the M4 was not cleaned at all.

--- Summary

The MSRP for the Colt M4 Carbine is $563 and has a one year warranty against defects in material and workmanship for the original owner. While some shooters would say this is too much to pay for a .22LR, it's more of a question as to what you want. A better question to ask is, "for an hour of relaxing plinking at the range, would you rather spend $7 for 100 rounds of .22LR or $45 for 100 rounds of 5.56x45?"

It's really hard to find fault with the Colt M4 Carbine. A lighter trigger pull would be better, but that is my own personal preference. The adjustable stock piece had a little looseness and rattled if the rifle was shook. I really like the Colt M4 Carbineit has the look and feel of a military/LE rifle, it's a lot of fun to shoot, functioning is very good, accuracy is better than expected, and ammo is inexpensive. Borrowing a line from Will Smith in the movie Independence Day, "I have got to get me one of these."



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