With the new Millennium, the M4 carbine has all but replaced the Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun as the main weapon for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). The main reasons for this are the M4’s 5.56mm caliber (harder hitting than the MP5’s 9mm) and the fear that enemy combatants may be wearing body armor, which would most likely stop the MP5’s 9mm round. The 5.56mm M4 has a longer range and greater penetration power than the MP5.
As with the M-16A2, the M4 has a firing option of semi (one shot) or three-round burst (each squeeze of the trigger releases three rounds; holding down the trigger does not release more than three rounds). The newer M4A1 does away with the three-round option and gives the shooter semi- (one shot) or fully-automatic (holding down the trigger releases as many rounds as contained in the magazine). Most U.S. SOF Operators prefer the M4A1 for its fully-automatic feature in order to deliver high-volume suppressive fire since SOFs often fight in small squads where firepower and fire superiority can mean the difference between life and death, mission success or failure. Thus, the M4A1 can deliver sustained fully-automatic fire similar to a machine gun until its magazine capacity has been expended.
As of late 2006, BLAST Models produces the most modern and best M4A1 aftermarket (resin) carbines for the 1/35 figure market. No construction is required; the M4A1s are all one-piece casts. Simply sand off the pour block from the buttstock and cut off thin resin holding rods on the triggergrip and behind the scope, both rods being attached to the pour block. As such, I will spend this review describing what the buyer gets with the BLAST M4A1s.
Six cream resin M4s come in a nice clear plastic Ziploc bag inside a clear clamshell plastic box with a color paper printout of the guns (same as the photo on BLAST’s website). Fortunately the box is large enough and thick enough to absorb some weight and prevent crushing damage from reaching the resin pieces. Casting and detail on all my M4A1s are superb. I found no flaws, no flash, bubbles, warps, bends, breaks, or blobs. All my barrels were straight and true; the RIS grooves are straight, flash-free, and evenly spaced, quite an amazing quality-control challenge for guns so small and delicate. The AN/PEQ-2s have excellent and accurate surface details. To my eye, the BLAST Model’s M4A1s’ accessories have accurate proportions. I am downright impressed!
All of the M4A1s have the Rail Interface System (RIS) replacing the circular barrel handgrips, and the AN/PEQ-2 Infrared Illuminator/Aiming Laser, both expected options and accessories almost found on all U.S. SOF M4A1s today. Having the RIS and AN/PEQ-2 just increases the M4A1’s capabilities and also make the M4A1s more modern, up-to-date, and state-of-the-art because as more RISs and AN/PEQ-2s enter the SOF’s inventory, more M4A1s are outfitted with them. Immediately, one notices that no two BLAST M4A1s are exactly alike; a good thing considering each SOF Operator customizes his M4A1 to his preferences.
The six BLAST Models’s M4A1s have these accessories:
Collapsed buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with M203, AN/PEQ-2 on the 3 o’clock position, dual magazines, and COMP-M “Red-Dot” scope with open cover in place of the removed receiver’s carrying handle.
Collapsed buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with M203, AN/PEQ-2 on the 3 o’clock position, dual magazines, and COMP-M “Red-Dot” scope with open cover on top of the receiver’s carrying handle.
Extended buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with AN/PEQ-2 on the 3 o’clock position, and COMP-M “Red-Dot” scope with open cover in place of the removed receiver’s carrying handle, Surefire Millennium vertical foregrip under-barrel weapon light, and a magazine pouch on buttstock in the 3 o’clock position.
Extended buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with AN/PEQ-2 on the 12 o’clock position, Surefire 951 Series tactical flashlight on the 3 o’clock position, ACOG 4X day scope in place of the removed receiver’s carrying handle, and backup iron sight on rear of receiver.
Collapsed buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with AN/PEQ-2 on the 3 o’clock position, dual magazines, COMP-M “Red-Dot” scope with open cover in place of the removed receiver’s carrying handle, and Surefire 951 Series tactical flashlight on the (under-barrel) 6 o’clock position.
Collapsed Crane Division ergonomic buttstock M-4A1 (RIS) with AN/PEQ-2 on the 3 o’clock position, COMP-M “Red-Dot” scope with open cover in place of the removed receiver’s carrying handle, and forward vertical handgrip on the (under- barrel) 6 o’clock position.
I really like option of having extended or collapsed buttstock M4A1s since when I kitbash 1/35 figures, I hardly ever cutting up or bend arms to get weapons to fit. Therefore, an extended or collapsed buttstock makes a world of difference in getting the carbine to fit within the hands of the figure.
BLAST gives the buyer three carbines with flashlights, two carbines with 40mm grenade launchers, and all six carbines with rails, optical scopes, and night vision illuminators and designators, making these carbines truly “special” for Special Operators.
Preparation is simple and straightforward. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that no parts get broken though. I made the mistake of sawing off a holding rod, which resulted in a buttstock snapping off at the receiver attachment, so I recommend using sprue cutters to snip off the holding rods and then sawing off the buttstock’s pour block. Although thin, I don’t recommend snipping off the pour block with sprue cutters because the end result would be a buttstock that has a slight angle conforming to the sprue cutters’ blades. One also needs to cut off the short support rod at the tip of each barrel. BLAST made identification easy since the barrel support rod is off-center from the barrel. Just looking down the barrel, one can see the support rod either to the left or right of the barrel. The M203 trigger guards are filled with thin resin (not resin flash) for support. The audacious modeler may wish to carve or drill out the resin from the tiny hole to free the M203 trigger; I wasn’t so brave and just left the resin in there for added support. A degreaser solution bath and priming are a must before painting to ensure that the mold release agent was removed so that the paint will stick to the resin carbines.
If you are a diehard modern 1/35 SOF figure modeler, BLAST’s M4A1s are definitely worth the cost. They are the most state-of-the-art, up-to-date, high-tech and capable 1/35 M4A1s on the figure market today with all the expected accessories. The carbines appear nearly flawless. They can be used for day or nighttime combat (nighttime use being limited to flashlights; operators would use passive night vision goggles for night combat anyway). I testfitted the carbines in the hands of some of my DML and resin modern U.S. figures and the M4A1s scale extremely well with 1/35 figures.
What’s more exciting is how NATO nations are beginning to use M4A1s for their SOFs as well, thus giving BLAST Model’s M4A1s even more functionality. I highly recommend this kit for upgrading 1/35 plastic and resin modern SOF and even conventional figures to year 2006 (as of this writing). In the future, another company’s aftermarket 1/35 M4A1s make take the crown; however until then, Blast Models’s 1/35 resin M4A1s reigns supreme.
Pushies, Fred J., Weapons of the Navy SEALs; Motorbooks International: Hong Kong, 2004
Concord Publications “Special Operations Journals.”