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ICS M4 Commando Sportline / Plastic

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ICS M4 Commando(Sportline / Plastic) Review




I've had 5 AEG's in my 18 months of airsofting, all of which were chinese clones:


JG Aug A3

Dboys M4



JG HK416


Out of the list, only the JG 416 remains (it was the 2008 release with pre-installed MOSFET and Tightbore Barrel as standard) and even then, beyond a good ROF and sturdiness it never "WOW"'ed me with its performance. It was after looking back at my clone army that I decided to try and move away from the cheap and cheerful Chinese clones and look closer at getting an RIF from one of the higher-end manufacturers offerings. I had always shied away from these due to their price and my distinct lack of funding. Luckily some of the "high-end" makes are starting to see a market for cheaper guns. Enter in the sportline series...


I first looked at the Classic Army M4 Sportline guns, but after holding one in my hands I couldn't really find any reason to get one. The plastic felt a little cheap and the externals didn't really jump out at me. The front sight and handguards wobbled excesively on the one I held in the shop and the gun creaked like only cheap plastic can, so I moved onto the next candidate, the ICS Sportline / Plastic series.


The ICS split gearbox always intrigued me and even though I am not really an air-smith and tend not to open up my gearboxes, I did like the spring-tension release functionality offered by the split-design. I've had a few guns lock up on semi-automid-game (some of which even a burst on Auto wouldn't un-jam). Unfortunately the Interweb is 50:50 on ICS guns; you either love them or hate them. I spent a good 2-3 weeks scouring the internet for any information on the sportline series, but largely came up bare, save for a single review of the M4 Sportline (along with washed out pics of the receiver that made it look 50% grey) and another review of the sportline MP5's which was largely irrelevant because I was looking for an M4. Most of the information I came into was out of date or FUD towards ICS guns in general, or didn't apply to the Sportline series.Their is some information out there, but you have to dig deep and wade through torrents of unhelpful information to get to it. (Don't get me started on NO forums allowing 3-letter searches - effectively making it impossible to search for ICS and ICS related information).


It wasn't until I stumbled upon a Youtube review of the Smith & Wesson M&P M4 on Airsoft GI TV,which just so happens to be OEM'd by ICS. The review concentrated on the plastic/sportline version of the M&P M4, but did mention it coming in full-metal for those that want it. It was good to see someone actually holding the ICS Sportline M4 and showing off it's features. It didn't look plastic'y like the 50%-grey pics in the other review and all the features of the full-metal ones (of which I had read many reviews) seemed to be left intact on the sportline version. Seeing the review was the last piece I needed to convince myself it was a worthwhile purchase.




I bought the ICS M4 Commando with a fixed-stubby stock from the folks at Tactical Airsoft Shop for £131. I also took the liberty of getting an SRC hard-case for £40 and a new fast-charger. The whole thing settled for about £196 (I used an Arnies promotional code to get free next-day delivery). I made my purchase on a Sunday, but the next day was a bank-holiday, so it wouldn't get processed until Tuesday. Out of the blue on Tuesday afternoon I received a call from the folks at Tactical Airsoft to say that the size of the SRC hard-case + the ICS gun in its packaging was too big to qualify for next-business day delivery. The guy offered a great solution of unpacking all the stuff from the ICS box and putting it inside the SRC hard-case and shipping it as one item so it would still get delivered by Wednesday. It was a quick-thinking solution that would mean my new baby would arrive sooner rather than later.


Side-Note about Tactical Airsoft Shop:


This is not the first time I have received friendly, prompt and helpful service from Tactical Airsoft Shop. Once, when my partner was trying to buy me M4 mags for Christmas, they phoned her to talk it through with her to ensure she was getting the right kind of mag for my gun. To me this is a sign of true customer support. A lot of other outfits would just as happily shipped her some P90 mags and called it quits. They truly went above and beyond.




I'm not going to go through the unpacking because, as mentioned before, the item was unpacked and shipped in my new hard-case. I will note that the item arrived securely sealed in the hard-case along with the following accessories:


1x M4 Commando (Sportline)

2x 450rnd C7 Magazines

1x Cleaning Rod

1x 1000rnd funnel-fed bottle of ICS brand BB's (more on this later)

1x Front sight adjustment tool


1x ICS M4 Manual (for all ICS M4's -not Sportline specific)


First Impressions:


The gun itself was tiny. I had ordered the Commando for CQB because it was small, but having it in my hands I really could appreciate just how much smaller it was than a standard M4. This was mostly down to the stubby "solid-stock"and the 10" barrel. I had a lot of issues shouldering it at first, because I was used to a fully-extended tactical or solid stock, which offered a good 3" of extra length to seat it nicely into the shoulder. The short-stock took a bit of getting used to, but after a while it has grown on me.






I had heard a lot of people mistake the ICS plastic receivers for full-metal and at a glance I can see how this is possible. Looking closer though you can tell it is plastic, but it doesn't "feel" like other plastics. It's strong/sturdy and I think it could take somewhat of a beating before it gives in. Overall the finish is great. The plastic doesn't appear to wear down or become shiny after prolonged use and it seems solid and reliable.


I promised myself that I wouldn't strip down the gun until something actually went wrong with it and I had to do it, but curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see how the ICS split-gearbox design worked and see if it really was as easy as it looked to take it to pieces.


I started by removing the plastic handguards. These are the only downside to the whole gun I can find. They are far too shiny for my tastes and don't really match the nice matte finish of the receiver and the stock. It is a slight let-down, but they will eventually get replaced with a simple RIS unit anyway, so no harm done. For someone who is not going to replace them then perhaps a good once-over with black Krylon would make them a little more matte black and balance the gun out a bit more.


After removing the plastic hand-guards I saw an unfamiliar delta-ring configuration. I'm used to the Dboys and JG style delta-rings, which mimic the G&P and Classic Army styled delta rings (with spoked "teeth" to latch onto the handguards). The ICS delta-ring has no such "teeth" and instead has two horizontal tabs on the barrel itself that prevent any movement when the handguards are in place. I asked a friend with a Marui M4 if he could show me his M4 delta-ring and it appears to be a match to the one on the ICS guns. This means that Marui-compatible handguards should be compatible. Hopefully this little gem of information will assist others, as the amount of "G&P handguards should fit" and "It'll fit with a little filing down" answers out there can be mis-leading. For the most part, I would expect any handguard or RIS labelled as "Marui" compatible to work on the ICS.


Side-note: I've heard reports that the threading on the receiver that the d-ring connects to is the same as that on G&P receivers so one could assume that the "real-steel" styled G&P delta-ring could be used as a drop-in replacement on the ICS M4 receiver. I can't confirm this, but I'd be glad to try if anyone has a spare G&P delta-ring they wouldn't mind me borrowing (I'll pay return postage tongue.gif).


Moving towards the front end of the barrel I saw that there were 3 grub screws just before the start of the front-sight. Consulting the manual showed that these could be undone which would allow the front-sight post to move the forward section of the outer barrel and adjust the amount of grip/pressure on the handguards to prevent wobble or lateral movement. Though not strictly necessary I found it a neat little feature that shows ICS are trying to innovate in more than just the gearbox domain. With the three grub screws loosened the entire front section of the outer-barrel, including the front-sight post, move freely and can even be removed totally revealing the shiney brass inner-barrel (of which I believe is roughly 265mm in length).






On to the receiver. The trades are painted on in clear white paint that seems somewhat scratch resistant, but I can see them rubbing off over time. (Lets face it, if you need authentic, engraved trades you'd be getting the metal version, or quite possibly a G&P M4 with laser engraved ones).There are some slight seam lines from the moulding of the plastic, but nothing is raised or jagged. The dust-cover is non-functioning (pulling the charging handle will not open the dust-cover), but it does lock closed should you wish it to. It can easily be re-opened as it only uses a friction lock to keep it closed. Pulling open the dust cover reveals a fake bolt, which can be retracted by pulling the charging handle back. Doing so reveals only a portion of the brass cylinder and the hop-up.


This is my first ICS gun, making it my first experience with the ICS rotary-styled hop-up unit. It's fully plastic made, but feels sturdy. The hop unit can be turned "down" (or clockwise if you are looking from stock-to-barrel) to increase the amount of hop and the reverse to decrease. The hop unit has lots of small incremental "clicks" that allow you to fine-tune the hop. Turning the hop-unit requires a little more force than a conventional hop-unit (but not much). This is because it uses friction to hold the hop-wheel in place and prevent hop unwind. The hop unit differs completely from normal Marui-styled hop units, though other manufacturers like MadBull are now adopting the rotary style for their after-market parts. While I can't really give an authoritative opinion, I can say that having used the Marui M4 hop unit and the ICS M4 hop unit, I prefer the ease of use, sturdiness and the ability to fine tune the amount of hop offered by the ICS rotary-styled unit, but more on this in the skirmish report.






Moving to the rear of the gun, the short solid-stock has a nice matte finish and very subtle seam lines joining the two halves. One oddity I did come across is the complete lack of a battery compartment door. In order to insert/remove the battery you must undo the two screws holding on the rubberised butt-plate. Undoing these two screws loosens the whole stock, which I found quite odd, so some care must be taken not to completely remove the top screw as the stock will detach from the receiver. While it isn't major problem to perform a battery change, the lack of battery-door on the stock does remove all possibility of changing the battery while in the field (unless you carry a Leatherman and don't mind setting aside 2 minutes while under heavy fire wink.gif). Not the best design, especially when the ICS full-stock model comes with a battery-door on the rear of the stock. Unless you need the Commando, then the Full-stock M4 version may be a better option. I don't mind it and when I finally switch over to Lipo batteries, I'll be able to put a fairly high mAh battery in there that will negate the need for battery changes anyway. I should also mention at this point that the short-stock fits an 8.6v mini-type battery, but the gearbox is wired with a large-type tamiya connector on it, so I had to use an adaptor. Being that it has the large adaptor, the stock may accommodate a large battery, but I don't have one to try out, so I cannot confirm or deny this.


I've perused the manual and it seems adequate and came with a good overview of what to do when attempting to take-down the gun (ALWAYS press the forward-assist button before attempting to split the receiver to ensure that the top gear is not engaged to the piston), as well as some well draw diagrams on some of the more eccentric parts of the ICS M4. I must note that it was for the standard M4 series of ICS guns and covered both front and rear-wired guns in it's pages. It seems to be a one-size-fits-all deal with the manual, but it serves its purpose nicely.


I must take note that this is the only AEG for which I have felt 100% comfortable using the BB's that came with the gun. This is because they were ICS branded and it wasn't just a piddly pack of 50 BB's to try out. No... it was an entire 1000 rnd funnel-feeder container. Even if you were to toss the BB's the funnel-fed feeder unit is a god-send for filling the two supplied 450rnd hi-cap mags. I tend to fill it and keep it in place of my speed-loader inside my webbing for mid-game mag refills.


The two supplied high-cap mags are 450rnds and are in the style of the Canadian (?) C7 thermold magazines. They feed incredibly well and the wind-on wheel has a grooved inset in the bottom plate on the mag making it easier for those of with larger digits to wind-on. The mags feel sturdy and feed well. What more can one ask for?


Overall, the gun exudes quality like I've never experienced from any Chinese clone (even the JG 416 which was £50 more expensive) and I'm very happy with the fit and finish of the sportline AEG.


Skirmish Report:


As the gun was bought from Tactical Airsoft Shop, I decided on taking it to Tactical Warfare Airsoft (the site run by Tactical Airsoft Shop) for its first test-run. I ran the Commando on 1x 1500 mAh 8.6v mini-type battery (I also had one spare). I carried only the two supplied C7 magazines, although in hindsight testing compatibility with my JG and Dboys high-caps would have been more thorough.


The site required all users to chrono their guns before being allowed on the field, which was good for me because I really wanted to know the numbers associated with the stock ICS guns. The gun shot an average of 308 fps over 7 shots, which I found acceptable. It also means that this gun would be CQB-safe straight out of the box, which is a big plus. Now it wasn't until recently that I had started to clear my mind of the myth of "higher fps = more range". I had been reading a lot about the physics of Airsoft and was now of the understanding that it was hop, not FPS,that determined the range of a rifle. With this in my mind I quickly set about dialling in the hop to get it shooting as far as it could.I've never been very good with hop units and often found it hard to hit the "sweet spot" between the BB flying straight or curving upwards, but the ICS rotary hop made getting precise adjustments to the hop a breeze. It took me a whole of 40 seconds to have the hop setup perfectly and shooting, what I felt, to be the maximum range for this particular configuration on this particular AEG.


Now, I'm not good with distances, soI'm not even going to guess'timate the distance it was reaching, but I do know from sight alone that it shot about 50% further than my JG416 does. I was shocked to say the least. A gun with such a small barrel was out-ranging even some of the bar-10 sniper rifles on the site. While the non-tightbore barrel was not giving the best groupings at longer distances, I was still able to make many a successful kill on the day. I was astounded by the amazing distance I was getting. I attribute this solely to the rotary hop design on the ICS M4. Even with the standard bucking and hop-rubber it was performing flawlessly. After initially setting the hop I never once had to touch it for the remainder of the day. I had even placed a small "nick" on the hop-dial so I could see if it had unwound at all throughout the day. It had not budged an inch after 5.5 hrs of play.


The second thing that surprised meabout this rifle was the rate of fire. Now, having gone from a Dboys M4 with a standard inline fuse, to the JG 416 with built-in MOSFET I was now used to the amazing and sustained rate of fire the MOSFET provided, so I had prepared myself for a dip in ROF with the non-MOSFET equipped ICS rifle. I was pleasantly surprised. While trigger response was not as snappy as the JG 416, the rate of fire seemd about equal (read: really high tongue.gif). A an additional note to the performance of the magazines, they never once mis-fed with this high rate of fire.


There are only two quirks that I found with the ICS M4, the first being a result of the spring decompression mechanism that is activated when pressing the forward assist button. After decompressing the spring and placing the gun in semi-auto, the first trigger pull will cycle the gearbox on full-auto, no matter how long you hold the trigger (there is no difference between quick trigger pull or sustained for the first shot). I would attribute this to the gearbox re-aligning the gears after having the anti-reversal latch depressed. It worried me the first time it happened as I had thought that semi-auto had broken. Releasing the trigger and depressing it again showed that this was not the case and the guns semi-auto had returned to normal. Don't panic!


The second quirk is the gearbox sound.The ICS gearbox is louder than most other gearboxes I've heard. I've read plenty of reports of this just being a factor of the two-part gearbox and the different angles used on the gear teeth. Even though it is louder, it's not unbearable or worryingly so and after a while I forgot about it completely (mainly because I was too busy putting plastic down range to notice tongue.gif).


The mini battery lasted me roughly 5 and a half hours of continued use in game, which was good enough, but due to the battery compartment being so difficult to access, I had to leave the game prematurely to go back to the car and get a screw-driver to open the stock, instead of just doing a battery swap in the field.








All in all, I came away from the first skirmish with a big smile on my face. I am very happy with the ICS gun and I think, at least for the foreseeable future, I have found an airsoft manufacturer that I will stick with. I could find no fault with the gun that would stop me recommending it to anyone at all. To anyone that is contemplating the purchase of an ICS M4, in either Sportline or Pro-line configurations, I'd say "go for it". It's a great gun at a great price and I personally feel it out-performs many clone manufacturers offerings by far.

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Awesome review. I too have a few ICS and love them.


For some really cool ICS reading, and a greater idea of whats compatable and not I present to you the following links:







I still wish they would offer A2 and VN based upper receivers for their M4/16 series.....

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  • 4 weeks later...

we just bought a new ICS plastic RIS m4 full stock to replace my dads busted up old TM m4. i must say i was a bit skeptical at first because of my fear of plastic M4s in the past (barrel wobble, poor quality etc).


i must say, all doubts have been blown out of the water. imagine, if you will, a top end ICS gun. take the metal body and replace it with a well finished, strong plastic body that looks exactly the same finish wise. these guns are fantastic. my friends have been using them for a while and have promised they are very relable (ie they last a long time before they need repairing) and they are very simple to repair because of the gear box. im also very jelous of the hopup unit in them as the one in my CA M4 RIS requires constant adjustment and winds off.


i will be replacing my M4 witha plastic bodied ICS one if my CA should give up any time soon. very very good guns for a very very very good price


edit: forgot to mention that it also came with a silencer, a foregrip, 2 canadian style hicap mags (which dont feel very high quality to me, but they function very well, and snap into the magwell very nicely), and a metal ready mag system. my dad bought it yesterday,wanged a big 8.4 battery in it and was totally set up for the rest of te day.


p.s. they hopup was already set to perfection.

Edited by thewallhitme
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I absolutely love my ICS M4 too and would highly reccomend it to anyone. When I first got it I genuinly thought firesupport had sent me a metal bodied one by accident, no joke! After installing a tightbore and a prometheus purple bucking this thing has got unbelievable range.


A few problems that I should mention after half a year of skirmishing:


The C7 mags are 300 rounds BTW and one of mine has broken slightly. The small screw at the bottom of the mag managed to wiggle itself out and strip the thread slightly. I have managed to do a little repair job and it holds together but it isn't the best. Can't complaint too much though as you get 2 of them! :P


The original ICS hop-bucking is a complete pile of *suitcase*and the first thing I would reccomend anyone who is thinking about buying this gun to do is replace it. STRAIGHT AWAY! ;)


It constantly locks up on semi-auto and I have to use the forward assist every 5 shots or so when using semi. I put this down to the crappy ICS infinite motor in there. Thats one of the biggest benefits of getting the metal bodied M4, you get an ICS turbo 3000.


All in all for the price it's an absolute beast and if your looking for a cheap M4 around £130. Don't get a chinese clone, get one of these!

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  • 5 weeks later...

So i went to fire support and bought one of these off the strength of this review, and can say i'm very very impressed much much nicer than my CA sportline, but there are a few odditys, firstly mine is front wired, meaning i have to buy new batteries, but that's not really a problem, second they were kind enough to chrono it before sending it, at 345fps!, was hoping it'd be sub 328 as i play cqb with a strict limit.


Also first thing i did was take it out and wave it around pressed the forward assist and it have been cocked! guessing this was from the chronoing as there was also bbs in one of the magazine, i don't know when it was chrono'd if before being sent then that's not so bad, but if when they took delivery i wonder how the spring will have held up. Over all i'm very impressed and happy with the service i've had from fire support though.


Also the DVD is pretty sweet, not much on it but well made and worth sending a few mins with.


Also pictures of the box for anyone that wants to see, as the op didn't have it delivered in box, nice to see it has a handle.










the orange tip is just plastic and slides off.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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  • 8 months later...

my ics m4 sportline full stock has a battery compartment door in the stock on the down side its only shooting at 280-290fps ou the box what was everyone elses shooting standard?


Have experience of 3 ICS M4's recently (2 sportlines) and they were all shooting at least 330fps. Two were in and around 340-345fps with the last one at the 1j level (328fps with .2g). The 1j gun had the stock spring clipped down by a couple of coils, so I would say that as standard you should be looking at 330-345fps. I would check the cylinder head in the upper gearbox for sealing, and also ensure the hop unit is tight to the nozzle (make sure the little spring attached to the hop is nice and straight and bouncing back on to the nozzle/upper gearbox.)


Good luck in any event.

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Have experience of 3 ICS M4's recently (2 sportlines) and they were all shooting at least 330fps. Two were in and around 340-345fps with the last one at the 1j level (328fps with .2g). The 1j gun had the stock spring clipped down by a couple of coils, so I would say that as standard you should be looking at 330-345fps. I would check the cylinder head in the upper gearbox for sealing, and also ensure the hop unit is tight to the nozzle (make sure the little spring attached to the hop is nice and straight and bouncing back on to the nozzle/upper gearbox.)


Good luck in any event.

taken the gun to bits again and removed the upper gearbox and the hop and barrel the little spring on the hop unit is slightly bent but not compleatly bent could that be the fault and wear do i get another from?

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taken the gun to bits again and removed the upper gearbox and the hop and barrel the little spring on the hop unit is slightly bent but not compleatly bent could that be the fault and wear do i get another from?


A bent or missing hop spring will perhaps cause 15-20 fps loss, but I don't think that it could account for the loss in fps you are experiencing. Sadly I am not aware of any source for a "new" hop unit spring, and would suggest a spring from a cheap pen or maybe you could straighten out the one you have. Have you taken the upper gearbox apart yet?


Loss in compression could be occurring at the cylinder head or on the piston "o" ring. Have you tried a compression test on the cylinder with your thumb? i.e assemble the cylinder head with cylinder and push forward the piston whilst holding your thumb on the nozzle. It should be firm and almost impossible to push through if everything is nice and tightly sealed.


To be honest if this doesn't work you may be better posting up on the technical pages for a possible answer there.


Good luck in any event.

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  • 5 months later...

Sorry for the necro, just wanted to leave my impressions after a couple of games.


Got the sportline because it was cheap (relatively in my country) but after some easy external and internal mods this gun has become a "feather from hell", its lightweight, maneuvrable, tunning it is a joy, shimming is great (making shooting in semy with a regular lipo almost funnier than full auto), I cant put into words how I feel about this gun, my only complains are that it has norecoil or bolt lock like my SOCOM, but performancewise, both are on par and I wont regret when I have to choose one or another

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