ARES: N.G. M4e Carbine

While there might be an abundance of M4 style replicas out there, there always seem to be a place for one more. The M4gery is omni  present and were it not for the slightly different approach that ARES are taking with their latest M4, it would hardly be worth  mentioning let alone test and review it. But this one is different, different in many ways but more importantly, it’s different in all the right ways

 


The name, ARES N.G. M4e Carbine (N.G. stands for “Next Generation”) might be a tad confusing but it really tells the whole story  actually. The essence of this new AEG is it’s new gearbox with an all electronic trigger assembly switch instead of an old, mechanical  one.

 

 

That and the clever use of existing technologies, that fuse well with the new. I’m not going to go into the history of the M4 platform as pretty much everything has already been said and told. So, I’m gonna skip that and go straight to the replica at hand. ARES N.G. M4e Carbine is basically just that, an AEG that sports  not much in the basic  accessories but relies much more on the internals rather than on the externals to capture your attention.

 

 

 

The package includes the AEG, a 300rd HiCap magazine, a cleaning rodand the manual. The box itself offers enough protection for the replica even if the delivery service leaves to be desired as far as careful handling of your goods is concerned,

 

 

 

The replica comes with a factory tag, where the test performance of the replica is is  registered. This particular model was built in October 2012, it was tested on 10th October and at the factory test it gave the following performance; 123.7m/s (405.84 FPS), the power output was 1.81 Joule at an ambient temperature of 28 degrees celcius.

 

 

But let’s start with the  externals. The AEG looks more or less like your plain Jane M4, except for the CRANE stock, which is surprisingly labeled/branded with LMT  markings.

 

 

 

 

As we’re starting from the rear, let’s spend some more time with the stock. It’s the typical ARES crane stock, that mimics the  real one very closely at least as far as size goes. It sits very firmly on the buffer tube and there is very little play. The stock in  conjunction with the buffer tube has 4 positions for length of pull and sports a removable rubber butt pad.

 

 

The battery is accessed by  removing the rubber butt pad and than unscrewing the large screw on the cover plate. The cover plate is also secured to the butt stock  itself by two latches that need to be pressed in in order to remove the plate. With the plate removed, you can access the battery compartment.

 

 

 

 

As we move forward, the buffer tube is mounted to the lower recevier or in this case the metal body like with your real steel firearm; it  is screwed into the lower receiver and secured by the buffer castle nut and the buffer plate.

 

 

As mentioned before, there is very little  play with the original stock, however the buffer tube does accept other stocks. We tested it with the Classic Army M15 Special Forces  stock, which is basically Classic Army’s CRANE stock that can accomodate a larger battery. While it was a very tight fit, it can be installed and used without any problems. The buffer tube houses the silicone power cables, the wire connector used on this AEG are the Mini Tamiya.

 

 


 

 

The charging handle on the replica is your normal AR-15 charging handle, it’s not extended nor enhanced, but it is held in place by a  very stiff spring which makes the cycling of it very rewarding. The charging handle also operates the simulated bolt, which is basically a metal plate gearbox/hopup cover.

 

 

The metal used for this cover seems a bit thicker when compared to the competition, but this is quite normal for your ARES replica. There is also a working bolt catch, which locks the metal plate to the rear for ease of access to the HopUp  unit. As is customary with the charging handles on AR-15’s, these also open the spring loaded ejection port cover. The pistol grip is your  regular A2 style grip, which means you can swap it out with one that better suits your needs or just looks better. Either way, it’s  compatible, not that there was ever any doubt about it.. The trigger guard can be opened down for use with mittens or other cold  weather gear.

 

 


 

 

The picatinny rail on the upper receiver is not an integral part of the upper metal body but rather screwed into place, kinda like the first Marui M4 plastic bodies. But to make things clear, Ares uses metal bodies, not plastic and the picatinny rail is installed very firmly, with absolutely no play or movement what so ever.

 

 


 

 

The lower part of the metal body reveals no surprises, the bolt catch is similar to the ones found on King Arms/VFC bodies and as mentioned before, locks the metal plate to the rear. By pressing it, the metal plate, which is spring loaded is pulled to the front in high speed and a very satisfying metal sound. The bolt catch feature works flawlesly every time the charging handle is pulled.

 

 

The magazine  release or magazine catch does not use a small screw to secure the push button but is secured into the lower metal body by screwing it  into the push button. While this can cause some scratching on the body if one is not carefull, it sure beats looking for the right allen key  when assembling, dis-assembling or only tightening the magazine catch/release.

 

 

As far as markings go, these are generic Ares markings, while this might be a slight turn off for all the true and die hard realism fans, but  one can live without these just fine considering all the nice features the replica brings to the table. The removably carrying handle sports the rear adjustable sight which is well known from all the M4 replicas on the market. It’s fully  adjustable for windage as well as for elevation. The click adjustments are audible and very clear.

 

 


 

 

The Hopup Unit is not your generic M4/M16 type, but rather like the ICS/Madbull/ProWin type with a large rear dial. It would seem the three  gears that are usually found on M4/M16 type hopups were not deemed reliable, robust or precise enough for this replica. While this might  cause some to raise a brow, the HopUp unit was very precise and consistent and as such the right choice to go with. Unlike previous  HopUp units on Ares M4 AEG’s this one is not an integral part of the gearbox. It uses normal nubs and packings and supports regular  aftermarket inner barrels. Which is very nice, if you need or want to upgrade it.

 

 


 

 

The outer barrel seems to be an enhanced and reenforced version of the Marui outer barrel, same goes for the barrel nut and delta ring. But as these all seem to be strengthened there should be no problem with prolonged hard use. The outer barrel is a single piece design,  the front sight is pinned to the barrel, the barrel uses additional small allen screws near the barrel nut to afix it more firmly.

 

 


 

 

The handguard is not as realistic as some would expect, as it does not have any heat shield inside, just plain plastic, which is thick enough to give the user a sturdy feeling.  The plastic handguard consist of two halves, the upper and the lower, which seem to be interchangeble, so there will be no mixup where you put them, top or bottom, anything goes.

 

 

Front end assembly, with the belta ring and front sight handguard base and its dimensions allow you to mount MOE parts for instance, should you not be contempt with the plain Jane look.

 

 


 

 

Other handguards and picatinny rails can be installed. The most important thing is the threads for the barrel nut on the upper metal body are generic which basically means just about any picatinny rail can be mounted. Some will require some modifications to be made to them or the body, but in general the R.I.S. and more or less and R.A.S. or similar railed front end should fit without a hicup.

 

 

The front sight is adjustable for elevation and there is a side mounted sling attachment beneath it, the standard M4 type. The birdcage  flash hider uses a 14 clockwise thread to attach to the barrel, so installing a regular flash hider will require thread adapter or a clockwise threaded flash hider. The flash hider is secured by a rubber washer  inside the aluminum washer as there is no allen screw to afix it to the barrel, so a small amount of blue Loctite would be advisable just to make sure you don’t lose it while skirmishing.

 

 


 

 

And now for the big and important part of the review, the gearbox. This is where the Ares Next Generation gearbox trully shines. This is where is AEG stands apart from the rest. The key innovations of this design all-new NG2-E gearbox are:

 

 


 

 

- Fully computerized electronic firing control system (mush like the SYSTEMA PTW)
- “Non-contact” revolution sensor does not rely on mechanical switches
- User-programmable firing mode (burst, full-auto, semi-only, etc)
- Incorporates the ARES-pioneered RVTS (Rapid Velocity Tuning System), aka the quick-change spring guide.
- Enhanced Out-Of-The-Box berformance & Reliability
- Very consistent muzzle velocity (using 0.20g BBs):  395-400 FPS
- Excelent trigger response
- Risk Free Double-Tap shooting (without the risk of damaging your gearbox)
- Enhanced hop-up chamber, considerably more accurate than old-style design
- Functional bolt-catch allows easy hop-up adjustment
- Lipo-ready
- Reinforced gearbox shell
- Hardened steel gears
- High strength piston head
- Reinforced light-weight piston with full metal rack gear
- 90 % Compatibility with Tokyo Marui pattern Version 2 gearbox parts, these parts include:

 

 

- Cylinder and Cylinder Head
- Piston, piston head, main spring
- Sector and bevel gear
- Motor and pinion gear
- Hop-up chamber and inner barrels

 

 

We opened up the gearbox after firing some 6000 BB’s through it in the course of one week. The AEG breaks down pretty much like your  regular M4 AEG, except for the buffer tube, which screws into the lower receiver/metal body just like the real firearm.

 

 

Taking the upper  half off requires you to unscrew the allen screw from the front pin, keep in mind these pins are not the regular push pins since they have allen screws that secures them in place. After removing the front pin, just pull the upper half off, to the front off course.

 

 

Breaking the lower half down requires you to unscrew the buffer tube assembly, remove the rear pin, the pistol grip, the motor and push  out the pin that goes through the gearbox itself. To remove the magazine catch, you first need to remove the bolt catch lever.

 

 

This is  done by pushing the retaining pin of the bolt catch lever out and pulling the lever out. After that you simply push the magazine catch button in and unscrew the catch. This should be done carefuly or you will scratch the paint of the body. The gearbox itself is not the normal version 2 Marui type, its external size fits the bill but the general design differs quite a bit.

 

 

Removing the spring and the spring guide is as simple as a walk in the park, thanks to the quick-cange feature. Unscrew the retaining screw and rotate the spring guide 45 degrees and it will pop open.

 

 

 

Some differences to the design are small, like all the screws have securing washers and in order to get all the screws out, you need to remove the electronic circuit cover, which is held in place by four small screws. The cover has some of the electronics on it and has a connector that fits the plug on the circuit board in the gearbox itself.

 

 

The externals of the gearbox reveal that there’s a mix of ball bearings and bushings, which are heavy duty steel type. Where one usually finds the wiring and the mechanical switch, electronic circuits are housed. The electronics itself has only one micro switch so there are actually no contact surfaces that conduct electricity, just electronics, so good bye analog, welcome digital. This also means that the
selector plate has no copper or other conductive material, while it still moves when you flick the fire selector it only basically lets the electronics know in which position it is thus dictating the firing mode.

 

 

The electronics are built very sturdy, we tested the AEG in heavy rain and there was no problem. So unless you drown the replica in a bucket of water or a puddle on the skirmishing field, the electronics will not fail, they will work in moist and damp conditions and even heavy rain, as long as they are not directly esposed to large quantities of water. As ARES claims, these electronics are pretty much fool
and bomb proof.

 

 

ARES advertises the electronic trigger as programable, at the moment the programing units are not yet available, but these will be available at the retail stores shortly. The idea is, retails stores will have these programing units and will be doing the programing or re-programing, hopefully free of charge on player/user request.

 

 

The programing units will be also available to players, the price is not known at the moment, so you will also be able to customize the firing mode to your needs. Here we were corrected by ZShot regarding our statement that the programing was difficult and complicated; the truth is, usually it is complicated with mosfets that are on the market at the moment. Ares decided to circumvent this and develop a programing unit to make this easy.

 

 

While the internals seemed a bit too lubricated, they showed no signs of wear or tear, which excellent, considering the AEG shoots 400 FPS out of the box. The electronics integrated into the gearbox, from what we can tell don’t have an active breaking function, so an anti reversal latch is still present, the piston has full length teeth and the gears are standard. We are still awaiting a response from ARES for the confirmation on this matter. It may be that the unit has active breaking and that the anti reversal latch is not needed at all. But for the time being, we’re going with what we observed; no active breaking and anti reversal latch still required. We will keep you posted on this. OK, back to the gearbox itself. The air seal to the cylinder, cylinder head, piston head and nozzle is fenomenal, no leaks what so ever.

 

 

As you can see from the pictures, the silicone wiring is guided somewhat differently and the gearbox has a special insert with four threads to secure the pistol grip onto it. Yep you read it correctly, the pistol grip is secured by four screws. While some might say this is not necessary, I beg to differ, as this only means more rigidity and sturdiness while manipulating the replica.

 

 

On the chrono the AEG was very consistend, clocking no less than 395 FPS and no more than 400 FPS, this was off course tested with 0.20g bb’s. The metal body & HopUp geometry were gratious enough to allow the use of many different magazines, that ranged from the Ares HiCap, KingArms CAA HiCap and Star GreenLine PMAG’s.

 

 

 

It worked flawlesly with all of them, never missing a beat or in this case a BB. We tried metal NormCap from Classic Army and King Arms magazines, these unfortunately did not feed correctly or at all. This can either be contributed to the worn out magazines or the geometry of the lower receiver/metal body.

 

 

The battery consumption was not that bad considering we used a 9.6V 2200 mAh NiMh battery that lasted about 3000 shots on 400 FPS. In my case this was one all day skirmish and in my book this is very good performance. The barrel is the standard 14.5" brass barrel, it seems to be a tight bore or at least of good quality as accuracy is very good for a stock barrel.

 

 

Torso sized targets were easily and consistently hit at up to 50m using iron sights. The HopUp adjustment was very precise, much more than on my other M4 type replicas that use the normal M4 HopUp units. 400 FPS combined with the very precise HopUp and 0.25 BB’s meant the effective range was well beyond 50m on semi and 60+ on full auto. Rate of fire is at about 850 rounds per minute according to the chrono, which is plenty for 400 FPS stock replica.

 

 

All in all this should be an AEG you should consider buying if you don’t mind the lack of cool trades, as it offers a trully great value for all the performance and features you get. The street price should be somewhere in the 280 USD range, but probably much lower. For this you get an easily up or downgradable AEG that has a full electronic trigger, is very consistent, reliable and rugged. Are there downsides to this AEG? Yes, but not many.

 

 

The main complaints would be outer barrel (...allen screws need to be tightened to remove all barrel play out of the box), the  picatinny rail on the upper metal body has an additional screw like the old TM bodies. The upper metal body also has some aditional  screws that seem to secure the barrel housing and the front pin housing. These are the issues that I see as problematic, all this can be quickly remedied with either super glue or some Locktite.

 

 

The no trades is not really an issue, and the clockwise threading on the barrel is also not an issue, but it should be mentioned none the less. What about the upsides? Well, this is one of the better out-of-the-box replicas lately, it’s reliable, rugged and very consistent, it has some very nice features, it is LiPo ready and the price is right and it’s about to get even better, the price I mean.

 

 

This just might be the AEG to start with for a new player or the main gun that should not give you much if any problems for a seasoned veteran. I can only warmly recommend this AEG, actually it’s so nice that it might find a place in my permamnent armory.

 

 

This product was supplied to us by ZShot, who are the official and exclusive ARES distributor for North America, special thanks go to Mr. Wallace Lau who took it upon himself and had this AEG shipped to us. Final note to all US based players, ZShot offers no questions asked 30 days warranty and a 3 year performance guarantee on this replica. Which means, if they can not fix the AEG, they will replace it with a new one.

 

 

Gorazd Bau, Editor in Chief, AirsoftNews.EU