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Old 01-28-2011, 04:01 AM
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Ares M4 Review, Picture heavy

Ares M4A1


Testing out of the box:
FPS:
380fps +/- 2 (.2g)
ROF: 1206rpm (20.1rps, 11.1v 1300mAh 15c LiPo)
Wire Connectors: Mini Tamiya
Motor: High Torque Flat Motor
Weight: 6.8 lbs (3100g)
Length: 780 / 865mm (In 5 Steps)
Compensator: 14mm Clockwise

Included:
• Metal Mid-Cap Magazine
• Loading rod and push rod
• Metal Compensator (black) to replace the orange plastic one that is glued one

Accuracy:
These results are based on shooting from a stabilized platform to eliminate operator error, in cold weather.

50 feet:
Average distance from center of target: 1.17 inches (10 shots, semi and measured between shots)
Average grouping dispersion: 1.42 inches (10 shot burst)

Out of the box:
The Ares M4 comes in a standard box, with a small sticker (about 8x4) in the bottom right. It comes with a Metal Mid-Cap Magazine, a loading rod, and is supposed to come with a black metal compensator. My compensator is on the way in the mail thanks to the great customer service at Hot Spot Airsoft. Attached to the gun itself is a tag with QA verification of performance checks. Mine had a listing of 1.3 joules and 115mps (about 374fps) as per the QA officer.


Body:
This gun looks very good. Simple looking, but true to its form. Ares has made a gun that is extremely affordable, and compared to their other guns, extremely cheap. The markings are CNC'ed in, and I'm told each comes with a unique serial number, which I have not confirmed yet. The rear of the gun, from the buffer tube back, is of real steel specifications. This is important to keep in mind as air soft parts might not fit. In fact, this becomes a slight problem, as I recently purchased a Magpul ASAP sling adapter, and it does not fit because the main body is not real steel specification. As such, the supporting arms in the lower design do not fit around the Ares M-series body without modification.


I have noticed also about a 2mm wobble in the upper receiver, not to be confused with the wobble of the front end because of the Delta ring and hand guard. Various tightening should help the front end wobble a bit, but not much.

All of the “plastic” parts of this gun are of a Nylon fiber polymer base, known for durability and resilience. The hand guard is where the battery is stored, as it is wired to the front. This is also another small problem, as the battery compartment is very small, even for LiPo batteries. The hand guard itself is badly designed, as it does not have vent holes that you commonly see on most any other gun, air soft or real steel.


This stops you from seeing their replica gas tube, so I’m not sure why they did that if they wanted to keep it as close as possible to the real deal. The original purpose of these holes was to help cool the barrel and dissipate excess heat. This is not an issue the air soft guns have to consider however. Some people like to use larger batteries, though, and this can be a bit of an issue. Whether we attach secondary rails to the hand guard or just rig a battery with tape, these closed holes do not allow for your battery wires to access outside of the hand guard, limiting you even further. My solution was to get a MOE Hand guard. The battery room is still tight, but I have been able to fit a 7.4v 3000mAh 35c battery in there with a little work. This also looks better and gives you a better option range for rails if you need them.

The Compensator (aka flash hider) is bright orange as per US law, is plastic, and is glued on. Sadly, this is yet another design flaw. Not that it is plastic or glued, but that it is threaded clockwise instead of the standard counter clockwise method. If you want to use a counterclockwise compensator, there are a few options out there. I will be boiling the compensator myself, in order to melt the glue and easily remove the compensator . I plan to attach an aftermarket one since my package did not come with an alternate, metal compensator as is often the case with this model from Ares.

There is a nice carry handle/rear sight that is easily removable. Pretty standard, but the construction is solid. Underneath is a rail mount that contains an Phillips Head Screw that allows you to break down the upper into it’s three pieces, if you are so inclined. I doubt anyone needs to do that though unless you have some serious corrosion issues.


Performance:
I was highly impressed with the performance of this gun. This is where it shines. Probably one of the single most accurate air soft guns I’ve encountered. I was scoring hits at 175 feet with relative ease. This was a bit surprising for a fresh, un-modded gun. At the chrono, I was still impressed. It was making 380fps +/-2 (.2g) consistently over 30 shots. With an 11.1v 1300mAh 15c LiPo it had a ROF of 1206rpm (20.1rps). Pretty impressive when you consider the price.

My only complaint for the Ares M4 is that it’s hop-up lacks a stop wheel, much like the Systema hop-ups. This becomes a problem when you have to constantly correct your hop-up adjustments. Also, there is a strange groove cut into the end (exit end) of the barrel, not really sure what the point of this groove is.

Another thing of note is the surprising lack of motor whine out of the box. Most guns, to include KWA rifles, have a significant whine present and you have to adjust the motor depth immediately. This isn’t a huge problem to worry about, since it’s one of the easiest fixes, but in the Ares M4 it goes to show the Quality Assurance checks in place.

Breaking it down:
Outside of the slight upper receiver wobble, the body is strong. The receiver pins are Allan keyed (size 2.5), so over time they wont slip out easily if you break it down frequently. The pistol grip is secured the gear box by 4 screws instead of the normal 2 screws. You must remove the bolt catch release paddle to get the match catch out. Mag Catch release is removed by pushing it in as far as you can and unscrewing it by turning the other side. Next you must loosen the buffer tube castle nut, and then unscrew the buffer tube, with the buffer tube lock ring at the same time. Next, set the selector to semi and tilted the GB down, removed it with ease.

Gear Box:
The gear box has some nice features to it, including a build-in wire guide instead of the screw on plate that can often get in the way or deformed. Another nice design feature is a slot for the ground wire where it crosses under the motor, making it less likely to get chewed up because of coming out of place. The bearings have 2 enclosed bearings and 1 open one. There are 2 spacer extrusions, makes me wonder if this is one of the few bodies that can fit a KWA G2X Gearbox. The gearbox is held together by Philips head screws. These screws also come with External Counter-sunk Tooth Lock Washers for added retention.


Taking out the spring you need a flat head screw driver, and a Metric size 6 Allan key. In order to remove the spring, you must push in this part and turn, much like a quick disconnect screw. Pops out just fine. The spring guide that this Allan key removes is disappointing, no bearings at all. Just a thin washer.



The cylinder set is pretty basic, but doesn’t hold compression well. Teflon tape should fix that. The air-nozzle is a weak point, lets out a lot of air. It also doesn’t have an o-ring inside of it, the possible cause of loss of compression. Replacing that as well as tefloning the cylinder head. Probably a good idea to just replace the cylinder head as well, maybe even get a full cylinder kit. It comes with a POM like piston head, as well as a piston that has 6 metal teeth. The piston itself is has a closed in teeth design where the polymer teeth are, and does not have the last tooth shaved off. This closed in tooth design makes it all but impossible to shave that tooth, which could create unnecessary stresses. The AOE was only slightly off, an easy fix.




Shimming is actually pretty decent, but a bit to tight. Had to remove one shim from the spur gear (.2) and replace one from the bevel gear (.3 with a .1), added a .1 with the sector gear. Lubrication isn’t over done in the gears, but the piston is definitely oversaturated. It is listed as a polycarbonate piston so I’m hoping it will hold up fairly well.




Taking out the inner barrel and hop up, I noticed a few things of interest. First, as previously mentioned, there is a groove cut into the exit end of the barrel. Not sure what this would be for except maybe factory control while boring the barrel to exact specifications.



Next, there is no stop wheel, making it difficult to maintain a constant adjustment. For now I am replacing the hop up with the Madbull Ultimate hop-up until I can get my hands on a spare stop wheel. The bucking for the bucking was extremely disappointing, a clear rubber that was very soft. Taking that off actually wound up tearing the bump part of the interior of the bucking, effectively making it useless. This is something that is integral, as running a high powered setup (easy as a spring swap) can potentially tear this part away and ruin your accuracy. Finally, an odd design that I noticed and have yet to see mentioned anywhere else it their method for bucking. It consists of the bucking arm, but has a feature where the nub is in the shape of an “8,” with one end being the operating nub (it’s the open/hollow side) and the other being secured by the bucking arm itself. This makes it much easier to install the nub, but also much more difficult to find a compatible nub.


Another issue with this design is that the nub itself was not cut properly, it was too thin and not cut straight. This didn’t affect the accuracy at first, but it makes me wonder what would happen over time if the nub shifted to one side or the other given how thin it was cut.


Inside the upper where the hop up slides and locks into place, there is another odd design. The top right portion of the hop-up containment chamber has a quarter section missing, going only about 50% deep. When I swapped out their hop up for the Madbull Ultimate hop-up, I had to Dremel down the guide fins to fit into their gun a bit. Nothing drastic, but notable.


Assembly:
Assembly was simple and easy. With their spring swap design, its much easier to close the box up. Also, with the designs implemented for the wiring, both guiding it and making extra room for it, there is much less chance of damaging the insulating rubber that protects you from shorting anything out. You do have to connect it at a bottom angle as the trigger group has to slide under a spring that holds the trigger mechanism open while you are not firing the gun, but it’s fairly easy to work in. The trigger itself stays in place remarkably well, with no play or indication that it might pop out like with regular V2 gear boxes.

Features of note:
• Hop-up is made out of high quality aluminum, as is the body.
• Unique Hop-Up Control arm that locks their nub in place
• Functional bolt locking catch and release w/ the ping pong paddle
• The upper receiver is a three piece.
• The trigger grouping is a M249 type electric micro-switch setup, common to Ares guns
• Trigger itself is extremely easy to work with, and doesn’t tend to pop up as per usual with V2 gearboxes.
• Came with a metal Mid-cap and a loading rod
• All set pins have a lip to them, so that when you use a proper punch you don’t mar the body at all. Very simple, but extremely nice to see they thought about that.
• Nylon fiber / abs stock, handguard, motor grip.
• Charging handle is held in by a hook, not a screw.

Features Left out:
• A fuse
• Proper dimension main body to compliment the buffer tube designs, mainly for sling adapters that extend forward and over the lower receiver.

Improvements on current design specs:
• Wobble should be cut as much as possible in the front end with tighter Delta ring design, and eliminated in the upper altogether. ( It should be noted that there is often wobble in the upper of the real steel version, but not as much)
• Hop-up needs a stop wheel and better QA for cutting specifications on their unique control arm/nub design
• Lower Receiver should be more to specification so you may use real steel components and sling adapters.
• The gear box is missing 2 External Counter-sunk Tooth Lock Washers, not sure why
• Hand guards should be a bit larger and include air vent holes, especially if they are going to go to the trouble of including a mock gas tube.
• Hop-up chamber is a bit tight for the guiding fins.

Final Word
This gun is well worth the cash it demands. $235 is a hell of a steal for something that performs this well. Aside from the noticeable wobble in the upper receiver (that is easily fixed) and some over shimming, this gun is an extremely accurate and exhibits high performance on par with KWA, but with better magazine compatibility and an ingenious spring swapping design. They have few design issues, but nothing that most players would be concerned with outside of the stop wheel on the hop-up. The ASAP sling adapter might be a fluke, and since most all other sling adapters do not wrap around the main lower receiver this is not much of an issue. I highly recommend this gun to starters and veterans of air soft alike, especially those who play on multiple fields or arenas who need to swap out springs due to fps regulation differences. For those with multiple guns, this is still an excellent addition to your collection due to its accuracy, performance, and flexibility for most any situation.

In the future I would like to test out the motor, wires, and mosfet/trigger system for their resistance and handling capabilities, but at this time I was unable to do that since I have neither the tools or know how for that level of detail.

Further Pictures are available at my Photobucket Album
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:24 AM
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Very nice review Deviated. I recently acquired one of these at Blind Fury 7 (Thanks Zshot!) and I have to say you are spot on. I was slightly disappointed by the way Ares designed the hop up system with the locking Nub, I would have liked to put my H-nub in there.

I will have to check mine for body wobble, I don't really remember if there was any. What was your FPS after fixing the compression issue? Mine out of the box was shooting a consistant 395-398 FPS out of the box.

The one thing I did was replace the bucking with a systema bucking, which I had to cut to get it to fit. But I would agree, this is a great gun for the price you would pay.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:14 PM
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Great review, quite thorough. However, I have question that requires you to speculate. Do you happen to know if you can flip the "8 nub" around? I'm not entirely sure, but perhaps they made one end solid and one end hollow so that you can switch it around to have a soft or a hard nub.
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Old 01-28-2011, 04:59 PM
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That hop up unit looks nice and I have a question for you. I've been considering buying one of these and have Madbull inner barrel would it work with the existing stock bucking or should consider swapping it out for another?
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:47 PM
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Nice review, Ares makes a solid product. Have to agree with everything said about about Ares flawed hop up system. I changed both our TAR and PPSh out within 30 days of purchase.

I did find it interesting about the small size cut for the nub, as well as the cut on the outside of the barrel. I just had my Echo 1 AK wolverine opened, and its barrel has these similarities? Would Echo 1 and Ares be using a third party to provide their inner-barrels....?
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougrich View Post
That hop up unit looks nice and I have a question for you. I've been considering buying one of these and have Madbull inner barrel would it work with the existing stock bucking or should consider swapping it out for another?
Switch out the bucking. We've seen dozens of the Ares clear/blue bucking tear within 100 rounds. Not joking, it's made of a really soft material and it tears right at the hump. See the picture attached. This one actually jammed the air nozzle.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:21 PM
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The groove on the outside of the inner barrel is for an O-ring to stop inner barrel movement in the front of the gun.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:29 PM
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This was one of the best reviews I've seen ... lots of bullet points that get right to it ... and a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

All that being said, I just can't excited about another M4
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Old 01-28-2011, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Head View Post
Switch out the bucking. We've seen dozens of the Ares clear/blue bucking tear within 100 rounds. Not joking, it's made of a really soft material and it tears right at the hump. See the picture attached. This one actually jammed the air nozzle.
That's pathetic, but a new bucking beats replacing other parts because i don't.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:32 AM
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Nice review, thanks for posting!
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteRook View Post
This was one of the best reviews I've seen ... lots of bullet points that get right to it ... and a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

All that being said, I just can't excited about another M4
WR you just need some Miagra 4 your old age.
Please don't shoot me with your PPSH...

Anyway's great review, nice to see the internals up close and great job documenting the inner part of the upper receiver. Please make more reviews.
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Old 04-13-2011, 09:10 AM
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Wow. Sorry for the complete failure and lag on my part to get back to you guys. Right around the time I posted this review up I had just returned or was in Las Vegas for Shot Show AND I was getting my local Airsoft Forum up and running, still working out kinks and getting it squared away.

Ok, so on to the update and addressing questions:
  • After fixing compression the increase wasn't that huge, went to about 390fps. Groupings were still very tight.
  • I tried to swap the nub around, but if you look at the pics it wasn't cut straight. So when I put the solid end in it was too thin and was messing up the trajectory quite a bit, and even moved around side to side after a while.
  • The hop-up has been a huge pain. Whereas at first it was accurate consistently out to 160 feet, able to reliably hit targets at 180 feet after a few bursts, the wheels were much too loose. Adding a shim or two this weekend to see if that does the trick.
  • Replacing the hop-up arm. This design would be a great idea if the nubs were cut straight, but they are not and this is causing a lot of problems. I added a regular nub to it just to see how it would do. It's working find, but not to the levels that I would want to keep doing it.
  • Being as there is no stop wheel, the spiral on the other side is larger, and I believe I need to find a matching arm due to that. Comparing them tonight probably.
  • I have noticed an insane amount of heat generation when firing on Semi-auto. This is with both the stock grip and the Magpul MOE grip. If fact, this generation was so bad I wound up completely destroying the stock motor, lots of black "Grease" all over the place that I can only assume is tiny magnet pieces since it now retains virtually zero torque.
  • As urbanmarine state the groove is for an o-ring to stop the barrel from bouncing around. Came to the conclusion by myself and then confirmed it with a local tech. Pretty damn good idea if I do say so myself, surprised I haven't seen it before.
  • In the first 8 games I have played with this gun I scored 13 175' kills, all confirmed by others. Pretty sick. Since I had issues with the hop-up and tried multiple different approaches my range has been cut drastically to about 100' though (see next bullet as to why), and the spread is about 4 feet vertically(this is probably due to hop-up issues I have stated before). Tearing into it soon to see what happened.
  • The body was being a red headed step child* and wouldnt come apart a few weeks ago, even though everything was aligned properly. Best guess is the wiring was in the way. Anyway in finally getting this thing apart (a tech couldnt get it apart with ease so they had me come break it) I bent the cylinder head tube and damaged the nozzle. Now compression has an m120 at around 320fps w/25s. This should be fun.


Overall I am still in love with this gun, despite the hop up issues. I am looking into the motor thing, I think that has something to do with the trigger itself since its the same one found in SAWs, which aren't meant to fire on semi. Probably going to get a new cylinder kit and a TM bucking.



*I was once a red-headed step child.

Last edited by Deviated Rationality; 04-13-2011 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:00 PM
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Strange to read about Evil Heads experience with Ares buckings. I've sold many, many Ares AEG's and I've never had a single customer come back with a complaint about the hop bucking tearing. The only issue I've ever had were cracked bushing on their G36 series guns, and a broken spring guide on an M4.

I highly recommend the Ares M4 series based on the trigger assembly alone. It's just awesome with the relay in there. Great trigger response!! Gearbox and trigger assembly is a bit more complex to work on, but once you do it, it's no more difficult than a normal trigger assembly. The quick change spring is a nice touch, and generally the Ares M4's are very solid guns.

Also sounds like you either got a bad motor, which I've not seen yet from an Ares gun though always a possibility with any gun, or you adjusted the motor depth too deep, which is a fairly common way for people to kill their motors.

One last thing, your review is GREAT, but extremely difficult to read as you didn't put carriage returns between your images. So not only is the review several pages long, it's also several pages wide. Go back and edit your original post and make a carriage return break between each of the images. If you don't know how to do it, maybe a Moderator or Admin can help.
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Old 04-25-2011, 10:51 AM
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Thanks for this review it was extremely informative, especially with the pictures included.
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