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The term M4, in airsoft, is generally used to describe a broad range of AR-15, M4, or M16 style of rifles. This is because there are so many possible configurations and variants of this style of gun, the term M4 is used for short. This is the workhorse of all the airsoft guns you will see in use on the airsoft field. It has the most aftermarket support and is the most upgradable externally as well as internally.
It is also a great foundation for the majority of airsoft load-out/impression kits that people use. For most people that aren't looking for something very specific and just want a gun to go out and get started playing airsoft, we 9 times out of 10, recommend they choose some sort of M4 variant to start. This will give you the longest service life from your new airsoft rifle. As you grow and your needs/requirements change, you can modify your M4 variant to suit those needs. While you can modify almost any airsoft gun, the M4 variant will be the most affordable and easiest to modify due to the large array of parts to choose from.
Something to consider when getting an M4 is to look into a rifle that has a rail system already installed. This is becoming more popular on variants, and it gives you the ability to add many popular accessories to your rifle right away. There are 3 main styles of rails that are on the market today: Picatinny Rails, Keymod, and MLOK. Picatinny is the original mil spec 1913 rail system that is in widespread use. There is virtually no shortage of accessories that mount to a a picatinny rail system. MLOK is the newest version that is gaining popularity very rapidly due to it's simple design. New accessories are coming out every day for MLOK rails, so this may be a great option to consider when purchasing your M4 airsoft gun.
Q: What does Front Wired or Rear Wired mean?
A: The M4/M16 family of guns will typically be Front or Rear wired. This means the wires from the gearbox will end with the battery connector at the front of the gun or at the rear of the gun. This will dictate the type of battery size and shape you will choose. Now days, rear wired is the most common/desired configuration. Before the ubiquitous "CRANE stock" was used or became standard, you couldn't typically fit a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) of any usable voltage or capacity inside the buffer tube extension of the rifle. This required the use of the foreend/handguard of the rifle to hide the battery. Once the rail system became standard on most rifles, the battery wouldn't typically fit under the metal rail system, a battery box was used and the battery was put inside a fake laser replica and attached the rail of the gun. Now days the better battery technology allows us to typically hide the battery inside the gun and deciding between Front Wired or Rear Wired shouldn't really be a concern when choosing an airsoft gun.
Q: What is the difference between an AR15 and an M4?
A: The AR15 is the family of rifles that the M4 is based off of. The M4 is a military designation of a short barrel AR15