The AR-15 is perhaps one of the most well known rifles in America, enough to even be known as America’s rifle. And of all the many different AR-15 configurations perhaps one of the most popular is the M4, or one of its clones. Colt has been one of the longest standing manufacturers of this type of rifle, so it feels a bit daunting to try and revisit this as a review. After all, what could I possibly have to offer that hasn’t been said a thousand times over the past twenty years?
The Colt M4 Carbine
The M4 Carbine I received for review is as familiar as Mom’s bacon and eggs on a Sunday morning. The rifle uses all of the standard features we have come to know, a mil-spec two-stage trigger, detachable Stanag pattern magazines released with the push of a button. Charging handle at twelve o’clock above the buffer tube, with a collapsible CAR type buttstock. A single sided safety operated by the thumb, and a bolt-release on the left side of the receiver.
This model came with a sixteen-inch seven twist barrel, threaded 1/2-28 at the muzzle and you guessed it; a bird-cage flash hider on the muzzle. Also included were sling attachment rings front and rear, as well as a fold down rear sight assembly to use with the gas-block mounted front sight.
This is almost exactly the rifle we have all seen in the movies and magazines since childhood, with its flattop receiver designed to take whatever kind of sight you’d like to install there. Commonly you’d see an Aimpoint, Eotech, or ACOG in this position. The only thing left to investigate was to see if it lived up to the expectation.
I prepped the Colt for a range trip, which consisted of mounting up a Trijicon MRO and some ammo to feed it.
Shop all Colt firearms here
On the Range
The M4 is configured for a fighting scenario. Or for civilians like myself lots of shooting and maneuvering at relatively close range. Surely it can be used at further distances but for the most part two-hundred yards or less are a most likely where it will be used. A red dot sight like the MRO works great for that scenario.
After sending a few test rounds, I zeroed the sight at 75 yards. Shooting for accuracy is a little easier for me to do with a riflescope, but I was able to shoot some inch and a half groups at seventy five yards. I don’t imagine it would open up too much more at one hundred yards, but it was certainly accurate enough for hitting forty-five percent IPSC targets all over the range. The XM193 ammo flowed through the rifle like a Vegas slot machine payout, and it felt just as valuable to watch it disappear.
Shooting the Colt M4 was as pleasant as you might expect. The mild recoil of the 5.56 cartridge makes shooting the rifle soft and easy to control. Muzzle rise is minimal and easily reduced by adding a different muzzle device.
The collapsible stock is easily adjusted to fit smaller statured shooters or to accommodate body armor. I’ve never envied left-handed shooters that had to operate an AR. And yet my oldest who has been given by Uncle Sam the opportunity to shoot the M4 extensively using his left-handed stance seemed to not have any issues. He even likes it to my surprise.
Hitting targets for both of us was great fun while using the MRO. I am definitely a scope kind of guy so using iron sights always comes with its contrasting results. It would likely serve me very well to spend more time shooting through these sights if only to improve my capabilities. The Magpul rear sight that came with this rifle was easily used through the Trijicon. I just need to up my iron game.
The M4 comes with pretty much no embellishments, a standard trigger, Magpul Pmag, single-sided safety and so on. That came as no surprise for a service-grade weapon, but I found it didn’t significantly inhibit the performance. Making shots and reloads went as smooth as I could go. And were only slowed by my skills, or lack of them anyway.