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Western Arms M4 CQB-R

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Western Arms M4 CQB-R Review

by Wupjak






Gas Blowback Carbine. Those three words have been like smoke through airsofters fingers for quite awhile now. Until very recently, the options for a GBB carbine were limited to the Sun Projects route an externally powered, gas blowback M16A1 carbine. While this platform uses take AEG magazines, many players have rejected these guns because of several factors, chiefly surrounding performance. While the SP16s offer the blowback action, snappy recoil and sharp report of a gas gun, they can be cantankerous and sometimes impossible to convince to shoot on a level that is useful on the playing field. I know that there are SP16 users out there who have had great success with these guns and to them I tip my cap. Regardless, in the context of 'out of the box' performance, the negatives of the Sun Projects guns include (in my personal order of importance):


Absence of adjustable hop up in stock configuration

Unacceptable velocity loss in full auto in stock configuration

Reliance upon 3rd party for custom cut tightbore barrels, adjustable hop up, etc.

Temperamental internals may or may not perform acceptably out of the box

Questionable overall performance

Reliance upon external propellant introduces user error into equation. Stock internals are unforgiving of mistakes (airswitch valve solder joint fails, brass buffer screw shears off, buffer screw o-ring fails, airshaft collar shifts, leaks develop, etc.)

Unavailability of replacement hop up rubbers

Furniture options limited for dressing up a gun


Note that I was specific in mentioning Stock configuration and internals. There are options open to users now that were not available in the past. These however come with a fairly stiff price tag that will easily reach into the mid-four figures including the gun, and external rig. Regardless, a slew of high quality replacement/bolt on parts is available through daytonagun over at the classicairsoft.org forums that will cure or prevent many issues associated with the above list of possible woes.


Even with the extra pile o money thrown at a SP16, theres no real guarantee youll have anything other than a very expensive, mediocre GBB. They sound wonderful and cycle beautifully, but if youre a skirmisher, they may disappoint you as they did me.

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Enter the Western Arms M4 CQB-R


Now then, we turn our attention to the topic of this review – Western Arms’ highly anticipated release of the ‘next big thing’ in airsoft – a gas blowback carbine. Months of speculation on the efficiency of the gas-in-magazine system that Western Arms selected as the power source was over and guns began shipping in mid-April, 2008. Expensive magazines, plastic bodies, plastic front sight?! This will stink on ice! It’ll be a wall-hanger, it’ll be inaccurate, it’ll break, it’ll suck, magazine cooldown will kill the gun’s value as a skirmish piece!


Despite the nay-saying and not-undeserved skepticism, I wanted this gun. Wasting hours at a workbench messing with a perfectly good airsoft gun is something that I really enjoy.


(Obligatory rushing home to find the cardboard box drivel purposefully omitted)


First thing you notice about this gun is the weight – or lack of it – without the magazine or carry handle attached. Here's why:






That's just over 2 pounds of weight in the magazine and carry handle.


Now, while that sounds like a negative, this can cut both ways. If you like lightweight weapons, this is a good starting point. Airsoft M4s seem to be too heavy with batteries installed, anyway. I removed the carry handle immediately upon opening the carton since an EOTech was slated to sit on top of the receiver. The gun handles nicely and feels right with the magazine inserted. You can always make the gun into a man-purse garbage-wagon replete with lights, lasers, bipods, vertical grips, scopes, cantilever mounts, jackknives, staplers and so forth to build up the weight, if that’s your thing.


Build Materials/Quality


Construction is, despite many reports to the contrary, quite acceptable. Receiver is indeed plastic (or fiber resin, whatever) but solid. Lateral twists exhibit no creaks. Colt Trademarks are intact from Redwolf thanks to some cleverly applied, strategically located ‘KEEP SAFETY ON’ type stickers on the left of the lower receiver.




Pistol grip is an A2 type/milspec knockoff grip of good tactile quality. The grip is removable from the butt with a 4mm hex screw. Dimensions of the lower receiver make real steel grips a minimal-effort fit. Simply remove the stock grip, install your favorite real steel grip and tighten the retention screw.




The buffer tube is plastic. Its dimensions are compatible with AEG sliding stocks as well as some real stocks. There are 6 detent positions on the stock as one might expect. One of the detents doubles as a lubrication port for the buffer tube spring. I have not disassembled the buffer tube from the receiver to see whether the real part will work.


The outer dimension is close enough to the real thing that my Midwest Industries buffer tube sling adapter bolted right onto the tube, although I was careful not to cinch down the screws too hard so as to avoid deforming or damaging the tube. I have it on good authority that a Magpul CTR will fit with no modification (thanks Fade). Any of a number of readily available aftermarket airsoft sliding stocks and/or real sliding stocks should slide right on to the buffer tube. Good news.




The stock outer barrel, front sight post and stock flash hider are plastic. Of all of the gorgeous bits there are to admire and rave about on this gun, the front sight post and the RIS are almost unsightly.


The RIS unit is metal, but is without markings and of not-very-good quality. What appear to be sand casting marks and uneven rail surfaces are visible through the black paint. The RIS mounts on the barrel nut as is to be expected and locks up nicely with no lateral play. The right hand rail on the RIS on my gun is slightly wider than the left or bottom rails. I did not measure them with the calipers, but my M3 slides tightly onto the left rail and flops around on the right and bottom rails. A dummy gas tube is present and pinned in place in the front sight post and then feeds through the delta ring and into the upper receiver as is to be expected. The handguard end cap is a metal piece, albeit with a chintzy looking silver/grey finish.


The stock barrel nut is about a millimeter or two short of real steel spec front to back. As a consequence, the headspacing of the barrel nut to the outer barrel is incompatible with mounting real steel forearms and accessories. The teeth on the barrel nut therefore sit too close to the upper receiver to mount real forearms and rails. A simple workaround to this is to use an AEG piston head o-ring as a spacer and slip it over the outer barrel down to the junction of the outer and the upper receiver. Tightening up the barrel nut against this spacer allows for real accessories to be mounted as seen below. There is absolutely zero play in the receiver/barrel joint with the o-ring in place.



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I replaced the front end with a G&P RIS M4 length front end kit. The G&P barrel nut is real steel spec, unlike the stock WA part.


Pictured below is the stock WA RIS, end cap and front sight/gas tube below the G&P M4-length RIS front end kit.


G&P kit at top, WA stock parts below:




G&P Kit Photos:










With kit installed:






Notes: Flash hider on both stock outer barrel and G&P outer barrel are 14mm+ threaded. Front sight post is made to the AEG part specification, not the real steel dimension. This means that the distance between the front and rear post pins is incompatible with real front sight posts.




Yeah yeah, it looks like every other M4 on the planet. HOW DOES IT SHOOT, MAN? HOW DOES IT SHOOT?!


Western Arms provides a little tube feed ‘speed loader’ which, unless I am way off base, is about the silliest excuse for a speed loader developed by human beings, ever. To properly operate the thing, you need three hands: One to hold the magazine; One to hold the funny loading tube in place atop the magazine and one to load the BBs into the funny tube and then use the little ramrod to load the BBs down into the magazine. Yikes.


Fortunately, the bit that fits over the magazine feed lips is detachable and fits perfectly onto any of the M4 magazine- or pistol magazine-sized loaders on the market. Long story short, remove the loader from the box, detach the little square bit and attach it to your favorite loader and then bin the rest.


Loading the magazine is pretty simple and BBs slide down into the feed channel easily. Gassing the magazine is straightforward as well but takes a remarkably long time. Evidently the gas reservoir in the magazine is quite large. I was not filling my magazines properly at first and was getting only 30-35 shots per ‘fill.’ Patience is key here. Wait til gas starts venting from the fill valve before you stop with the fill.


This replica functions like the real thing. To charge the weapon, you can do a couple of things:


1. Insert magazine, rack charging handle

2. Fire




1. Pull charging handle to rear

2. Lock bolt open by depressing bolt stop lever on left side of receiver

3. Insert fresh magazine

4. Hit bolt stop lever on left side of receiver to release bolt

5. Fire


I am not trained on a real AR (I do shoot real steel recreationally, but in Kalifornia, the Black Rifle is still evil, so I don’t have one and have to make do with a couple of Mini-14s for my 5.56 fix), so I can’t rattle off the proper procedure for charging and firing as some of the other members here can. However, there are only so many steps to the process and I think for the purposes of this article we’re okay with the above steps.


The bottom line is that, after the bolt carrier slams home, the gun is ready to fire. 'Nuff said.


Shouldering and firing this gun for the first time was a HUGE surprise. My right ear was ringing and the recoil surprised me with its strength. A distinct ‘SPROING’ from the buffer tube was audible as the buffer returned to the forward position.


At 80 degrees F, my gun makes nearly 400 FPS on a freshly charged magazine. The following is a 20 shot string of BBs across the chrono produced the following results with .25g AE BBs. Shots were fired 5 seconds apart.























Gas consumption is the weak point of any gas-in-mag blowback, whether pistol or rifle. The WA M4 is no different. With that having been said, the results above are pretty good for a limited supply of gas in a magazine. No huge power dropoff in 20 rounds is nothing to be ashamed of. Granted, the proof will come at the end of a magazine when the gas supply has been depleted. I will conduct a more thorough chrono session over a 50 round mag when I have the opportunity and update this article with the results. The manual advises against sustained automatic fire for the obvious reasons associated with cooldown. I play a field that uses semi-auto exclusively, so no biggie.


Recoil is massive - much heavier than I expected and on par with a .22 rimfire at the very least, if not heavier. In airsoft terms, the recoil is heavier than my fully upgraded SP16 was (with recoil weight at 140 PSI), and many times greater than my Escort MP5.


Report is loud. Much of the report is generated at the breach by the open bolt. I put a suppressor on the gun briefly to see if it changed the pitch of the muzzle report. It probably did, but there’s so much noise coming from the bolt area that a suppressor is not an effective accessory.


After the last BB is fired from the magazine, the BB follower trips a lever in the top of the magazine, which in turn presses up on the bolt hold-open locks the bolt open in its rearward position.


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Heck, the forward assist even works. That's a first for me. Usually the FA button is just that, a button. ICS's FA decompresses the spring, but this thing shoves the bolt forward. Pardon the blurriness, these were the best of the 6 or so photos I took of the assembly in the 'at rest' and 'forward' positions. You'll get the idea:






I experienced a bit of trouble with the bolt stop on my M4. Namely, the reinforced steel part that is designed to absorb the impact of the bolt carrier slamming forward dislodged itself from the bolt stop lever. I noticed this only after many rounds had gone through the gun and the remaining soft metal of the bolt stop had been deformed by the bolt carrier. Fortunately, I was able to locate the steel part and reattach it using some industrial adhesive. It's not pretty, but it'll suffice until a steel replacement part is offered:




Word to the wise - keep an eye on this part of your bolt stop. The steel part found its way under my trigger/hammer area in the lower and started causing firing problems, else I might not have noticed it for quite some time. Some have lost the part entirely, which sucks (sorry kit0074). Serves me right for trying to stay out of the internals of this gun, I should know better. The troubleshooting of the trigger problem was the first time I'd cracked the receiver open after getting the gun, some 3000 rounds down the pipe.


Hop Up and Controls


Adjusting the hop up is simple once you remove the bottom section of the RIS. Hop up is fairly sensitive, although in my experience the gun needs a lot of hop to stabilize the BB out past 40 yards or so, else BBs quickly run out of backspin and fall from the sky. At the moment I have the hop up set for .28g BBs which are traveling 160-170 feet (probably more) with a repeatable trajectory. That kind of performance is absolutely acceptable for my needs, especially given the inner barrel that’s about 8” long. The barrel and hop up rubber need to be kept clean for best performance. Both get fouled fairly quickly using Propane with silicone oil mixed in.




I have removed and inspected the hop unit on this gun just to see what it's all about. If you don't have to remove it, don't. There are a couple of potential pitfalls to removing the hop unit. The first is the itty bitty spring that is mounted inside the rear edge of the unit. This spring applies tension to the hop up arm and is not secured in place. As soon as the spring clears the upper receiver as you remove the hop unit, this spring will launch itself in whatever direction it's facing and immediately go into hiding. I taped mine down with a bit of scotch tape upon reassembly so I didn't have to crawl around on hands and knees for 15 minutes again.


The second potential problem is the tiny o-ring that mounts around the feed opening of the hop up rubber. It must be remounted with care as it is a delicate piece and can tear or deform rather easily. I found success by putting the inner barrel and hop rubber in my left hand, holding the right half of the hop unit in place with the thumb and index finger of my right hand and mounting the o-ring gently around the right half of the hop rubber first, then pinching it in place with the hop up unit housing. Sorry, no photos of this, I'm not going to do it again until I have a tightbore to drop in there. :)


The inner barrel on this gun is well short of even 10.5 inches as can be seen below. Adding a 10.5" barrel will no doubt increase velocity. Adding an M4 length will do even more (I hope). I'm allowed 450 fps at our local field in semi without a 100 foot MED, so I think a longer barrel is just the ticket to get this gun to that threshold. If it goes over, well, the gun can certainly perform past 100 feet. :)




Selector lever position changes are crisp and fairly solid. There is a bit of play in each selector position, however. A nice real steel feature that has been replicated in the WA M4 is that the selector cannot be moved to the SAFE position when the hammer is down.


Magazine insertion/lockup and release are positive. Magazine does not rattle around in the well. A press of the magazine release results in the magazine falling from the well. No need to tug, the magazine is heavy and drops from the magazine well with no additional effort required.


Upgrades and the Future


In case it's not obvious by the tone of this review, I like the prospects of this gun ALOT. With the obvious backing of the HK parts market that this gun already enjoys at such an early stage, there will be no end to the upgrades that are coming in the not-too-distant future. Reinforced internal bits such as the bolt stop, bolt carrier, the plastic bolt assembly itself, aftermarket hop up parts, tightbores, etc. will make this gun a very durable package. At the moment, the pot metal/weak spots include:


Bolt Stop as I've reported ad nauseum

Hop unit is not the most robust construction. Click detents are already wearing after one disassembly.

Hammer, trigger group parts and sears will wear out over time and with heavy use

Bolt carrier may or may not be durable enough to withstand many thousands of cycles, time will tell.


The gun out of the box is definitely a playable piece, with a couple of obvious caveats. Magazines will be expensive as everyone is aware. Also, if you are a spray and pray type of player, you'll be let down by the gas consumption. I don't like full auto at all, quite frankly. I’d prefer to shoot in semi auto exclusively, with at most a 3 or 4 round rat-a-tat now and then just for effect. If you're of this mindset, you'll be pleased with the performance of the gun.


Good days ahead. Thank you for reading. Please let me know if I've missed anything or if I can clarify or expand on anything contained in the review above.

Edited by Wupjak
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Awesome review, really informative! Thanks.....I'm still not 100% sold mind you, and I wonder if its a good idea to wait a while until theres either more robust parts availible or WA brings out an upgraded version. Certainly it looks like a rifle with amazing potential, and the way it mimicks a real steel rifle surely makes this a collectors wet dream.


Question to Wupjak....is this now your new primary, or will the sewing machines continue to cut the rug for you :D

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Western Arms M4 CQB-R Review

by Wupjak



In this first pic, can you give me details about the front end set? It looks like a 10" Samson-Mfg rail. Curious about which manufacturer's Medieval Flash hider you used, and also which outer barrel you used (was it the standard WA CQBR Outer Barrel). Did you use a low profile gas block? Just interested because I love the look. Thanks!

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Thanks gents.


As for a primary, not yet. I'm sticking with the tried and true - my PTW still has yet to fail, my M14 is amazingly accurate, an Asahi M60 for support duty and a CA SA58 that's a friggin laser, although it's not quite skirmish proven (feeding issues).


I love the potential, but until I'm really comfortable with it, it'll likely be a parking area and workbench gun for awhile: Show it off, shoot it a bit, put it back. Shoot it at the bench, see how reliable it is, etc. I don't like to field something that might fail at any time or that I don't trust. Done that too many times in the past and my current practice saves me lots of cursing and stomach acid.


uscm - thank you. The rail is indeed a Samson MRFS-MX midlength rail, Samson low profile gas block. Stock outer barrel, yes. Flash hider is a KingArms Troy medieval replica, I believe. Bought the flash hider from Titleist back a ways. It's now back on my PTW as pictured in my signature, much to that gun's relief. :)

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Nice review. It looks like it has a lot of potential.


I was not filling my magazines properly at first and was getting only 30-35 shots per ‘fill.’


How many shots can you get off on a proper fill?

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In theory this type of rifle has been on my list of desired guns for years now. Its basically everything that i want in an airsoft gun.


The problem is that in practice, i feel as though the WA is not QUITE there. I am waiting before i purchase one to see what kind of parts become available in the coming months.


If there is a steady supply of replacement and reinforced parts then you will bet your *albatross* im going to jump on the bandwagon. Good review WUP, well written and shows off the flaws and strengths of the rifle rather well.

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An excellent review. Thank you for taking the time, and putting in the effort.


Now set that thing to AUTO and go and fire off a whole mag in one go and let us all know how bad the cooldown is.....or isn't (hopefully)! ;)



On average you'll see 30ish shots before the cooldown kills it all together. I'd say the rof starts to slow down around 20 shots.

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I don't think I've seen the word "cantankerous" used effectively in a review...very informative and well written!!!


The weight of the carry handle is interesting - it's actually more than a real Colt handle.


Quick question - I've worked with a few G&P parts in the past and I've been VERY unhappy with their quality. Specifically on their front-ends, the lower never met up well with the upper hand guard. Also, I always had issues with their front sight post as the pin holes were typically misaligned. Have you had any issues with the G&P front-end for the WA? Any modifications you needed to do to install the front-end kit?


FYI - the WA buffer tube is indeed milspec. However, I'm having issues with replacing it with a real tube/receiver extension. I'm not certain if it's the receiver or if the threads on my tube is damaged.


Guarder did a comparison with a real Colt AR: http://www.intrudershop.com/showreport.asp?report_id=47

I thought it was very interesting as well.


Again, good and accurate write up!

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Thank you for the compliments. I appreciate it. Good knowledge also with the buffer tube. Tumerboy already asked me if he could put a full stock receiver extension on one to add a full stock, so I'd be willing to bet that the HK guys are working on one.


I was also very nervous about the G&P front end kit. So much so that I attempted to cancel the order before it shipped and wait for another guinea pig to try the sets out and report on the quality. Redwolf being Redwolf, however, they efficiently shipped out my package before the 'Enquiry' could be processed and the order stopped. Oh well.


The kit is very nicely done. Rail halves mate nicely. I had a hard time getting the Knights' type barrel nut grabber thingie to uh, grab the barrel nut. Wound up removing the front sight, shoving the upper part of the rail on, then mounting the front sight and gas tube, then pinning the front sight in place.


Other than that it's a nice kit. Looks good, finished nicely. Recommended.

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FYI - the WA buffer tube is indeed milspec. However, I'm having issues with replacing it with a real tube/receiver extension. I'm not certain if it's the receiver or if the threads on my tube is damaged.

How is the RS buffer tube feeling when it's screwed into the receiver? What issues are you having? :mellow:

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Ummmm...in the foreword I said 'mid-four figures' when describing the cost of an SP16. That's obviously WAYYYY incorrect. I intended to imply a pricetag of roughly 1500 USD including gun, rig and upgrades. Toldja guys I was going crosseyed proofreading it. :P

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a sad accident came


my M4 jam during auto shooting

after I clean out all BB , I find part 48 damaged , and the losse parts had been found and clean it out


I found my M4 can continue to shoot without problem, but I guess the accuracy would be affacted


I would to fix this part 48, but don't know how to take it out... poor...












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Great review, thanks!


But the buffer tube is metal, isn't it? It is a bit shiny and looks plasticky, yes, but is still metal.


Regarding the G&P parts, I agree there are some parts they could do better, but the front sets have always been really good quality in my experience.

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