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ICS M4 CQB Review
#1
ICS M4 CQB Review

Introduction

The team over at ICS were kind enough to send me a sample of their new M4 CQB to review, now as ICS is not available here in Japan, through high street retailers this is actually the first ICS I have ever handled and the prospect of actually getting my hands on one at last had me pacing the floors once the tracking number had been sent to me.

For those not familiar with ICS, I Chih Shivan Enterprise (ICS) was founded in 1983, in the early stage mainly concentrated in airgun and gas-pistol development and production. In 1998, ICS decided to devote their efforts totally into the research and development of AEG, with best quality and pricing to Airsoft lover as main objective. One of the main goals was not to produce “CLONES” of already existing models but to improve on the designs and thus a new type of gear box was born.

No many of you are probably wondering why on earth would I be so excited over another brand of gun when I live in the home country of Tokyo Marui? The simple answer to this is “The Gear Box” and as you read on those not familiar with the ICS gear box will soon learn why.

The Box

The box that the ICS M4 CQB came in might or might not be the actual final production box due to the fact that I was sent a sample product a little before it was actually released, but the box that it did come in is the standard M4 box.

The box itself is hard corrugated cardboard and will take a beating before it crumples the construction also means that unlike other brands of Airsoft guns it is made from one sheet of card and folded.

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Another nice touch is the convenient carry handle built into the side of the box to assist carrying. Anyone who has experienced carrying an unwieldy box across Tokyo will agree that the built in handled is an edition that all companies should think of including.

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The design is nothing special and basically has the range of M4’s and M16’s that ICS currently produces it also has a nice sticker announcing that you have purchased a fully licensed COLT product.

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Another cool touch is the Velocity sticker in the top left corner informing you of the guns performance, in this case 75-85 m/s making it legal in Japan and the UK.

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Upon opening the box you are not greeted with the usual expanse of white polystyrene that is infamous in the Airsoft world or the sexy polyester fabric of the latest Marui’s on the market. But rather with a vacuum formed plastic tray that is red felted and holds the gun very firmly in place, so firm in fact that it takes a little leverage to get the gun out of the packaging.

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For those shipping in from overseas it’s a reassurance that in transit it will take a lot to dislodge the gun from the protective tray. The deep velvet red contrasts nicely with the gun and already you get that sense of a quality purchase that you get when you know you have made a good purchasing decision

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What You Get

The ICS M4 CQB package comes obviously with the gun it’s self but you also get a few extras that add a nice little touch to the package.

Firstly the pack comes with two high capacity magazines, players with numerous M4/M16 variants will be happy to know that these also fit Tokyo Marui, G&G and STAR variants of the rifle. The Magazines themselves are very well constructed and fit nicely in to the magwell without being too tight or having any excessive wobble, players who grab the magwell and mag to steady the weapon will appreciate this. Loading the BB’s is the same as any other high capacity magazine and the winding dial has a nice smooth action without being noisy.

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Another nice touch is that it also comes with the rear mounted sling mount to replace the stock allowing you to also turn the folding or sliding stock version into a pistol style M4 CQB.

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For those wanting to place a 3 point CQB sling you will also find a RIS mountable sling mount. Both of these are “Quick Release” meaning that to remove the sling you put pressure with you thumb on the push pin and the sling mount pulls out no need to unscrew or unbind slings or mounts anymore.

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The M4 CQB also comes with the ICS “Compact battery and Laser Module” this is perfect for players who don’t already have an external battery pack rigged up such as a Peq2 or battery sling. The “CBLM” will house an 8.4v or 9.6v mini type battery. Although the ICS “CBLM” might not be to everyone’s tastes it does make the gun useable straight out of the box.

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Finally you will also get the ICS MC-74B laser, this is a really cool little feature as this can be mounted inside the “CBLM” even if you have a battery installed in it, thus giving you an aiming device that can be run parallel to the iron sights. For those of you that have a MP5, the ICS MC-74B laser unit can also be mounted inside the gas tube of pretty much any MP5 variant where the gas tube screw at the front can be removed.
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The power of the laser unit isn’t very strong so you will not be able to illuminate targets outside during the day but for indoor and night games the unit has a range of around 30 meters. ICS make an external mount for the unit which sadly isn’t included in the package but if it had, would have made a nice little option for players wishing to mount it outside of the “CBLM” or on another weapon.

The M4 CQB

The ICS M4 CQB comes in 3 different varieties, The 6 position sliding stock, frame folding stock and also the Pistol version as mentioned before. Each version caters uniquely for the individual player and its best to feel one on for size to determine what version you should get. (The sling cap version comes with both the sliding and folding stock version).

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The ICS M4 CQB is a very solid weapon with no creaks or barrel wobbles what so ever. Having owned the G&G LR300 I can say that the folding stock on the ICS is a lot more solid and able to take more of the stress associated with skirmishing.

The front of the weapon consists of a nicely machined gas block and an Olympic Arms style RAS with flip up front sights.

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The RAS attaches to the body screwing it into the upper receiver and then locking into place with the hex bolts under the RAS, making for a very solid fit.

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The upper and lower receiver is also very well made and feature authentic trade marks, which slightly differ to those on the Tokyo Marui M4/M16’s which is a nice touch. The markings are nice and deep, so no worries about wear and tear removing them.

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Unfortunately they have also added that the gun is “Manufactured under license from Colt and Cyber gun by ICS Taiwan R.O.C” on the other side of the lower receiver. To be honest it’s not really noticeable but I think it would have been better to have left this part black without highlighting it in white.

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The pistol grip on the ICS M4 CQB is excellent, made from nylon fiber it is a lot stronger than that of the Tokyo Marui and even some of the 3rd party versions available. For players looking to upgrade or modify their weapon you’ll be happy to know that the mounting holes for the heat plate a reinforced and that the motor adjuster plate is not the notorious disk that you lose down the side of the motor housing but is a solid piece built in to the heat plate.

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Now one of the things I don’t understand about the ICS M4 CQB is why they packaged it with a carry handle? I have seen the other rear flip up sights available from ICS and these would go perfectly with the ICS M4 CQB. I just feel that the carry handle detracted some what from the look and feel of the weapon.

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The carry handle in it’s self is excellent, full metal and totally adjustable for windage and elevation. The motion and feel of the adjustment dials feels good and while playing you’ll have no fear of accidentally knocking them and off centering your sights.

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The Stock

As I mentioned before the ICS M4 CQB comes in 3 different versions and as this will determine which version you purchase I thought I would highlight the sliding and the folding stock in a little more detail. One thing I would like to point out before I begin is that the ICS stock is not in any way compatible with other stocks on the market due to the way they attach to the receiver and gear box. Unlike the Tokyo Marui style connection the ICS stocks but in all of ICS’s wisdom Marui Style stocks will fit the ISC receivers as it has a dual connection system.

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As you can see the top hole is for Tokyo Marui type stocks while the bottom is for ICS stocks. Now I must say that the ICS mounting style is a lot more robust the Tokyo Marui style and any impact or over tightening to the stock isn’t going to strip out your spring guide, good news for players who switch out stocks on a regular basis or tinker with the gear box.

Folding Stock:

The first thing that strikes me about the ICS folding stock is that it actually contains the recoil buffer tube just like on a real folding stock on M4’s.

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The stock itself is solid and in the locked position while when closed the spring latch holds it in place ready to snap back into the open position.

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The shoulder rest is metal with no rubber buffering what so ever, thankfully this is not a real gun otherwise your shoulder would take a beating. Although for those of us that love accessorising our weapons will certainly add one for looks.

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Sliding Stock:

The ICS sliding stock is pretty standard but the actual cheek piece is made of high quality nylon fiber like the pistol grip, it has 6 positions and that locks securely into place but is also easy to adjust.

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I have tried mounting other cheek pieces to the stock tube but standard Marui types will not lock in the fully collapsed state and some 3rd party cheek pieces were a very tight fit, so for those wishing to fit a 3rd party stock I would recommend using the Tokyo Marui style fitting on the receiver.



Forward Assist:

Now some of you not familiar with ICS M4/M16 variants will not know that the ICS forward assist actually serves a purpose on their weapons and isn’t a dummy like other versions on the market.

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The forward assist is actually designed to release spring tension in the gear box after shooting in fully auto mode. By pushing on the forward assist the latch engages the anti-reversal latch in the lower gearbox and releases the spring tension. This is ideal for players who have long gaps between their skirmishes and also players wanting to prevent compression of their springs especially if they are running customized gear boxes.

The other cool feature of the forward assist is that it can clear unwanted jams at the push of a button!

The Gear Box:

The ICS M4/M16 variants have a unique gear box seen nowhere else in the market, we have already looked at the forward assist, but what else is unique to the ICS M4/M16 range?

One of the first surprises was the two piece gear box, that’s right! The ICS gear box has a lower and upper part and you can’t help but chuckle to yourself every time you open it, especially if players with Tokyo Marui variants are around. You can get access to the whole gear box, in particular the upper half of the gear box by just removing the rear receiver pin on the lower receiver. This allows you to flip open the receiver, just like on a real M4/M16.

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The lower part of the gear box is still held in place by the motor housing, but if you are using the ICS type stock you will be able to remove the upper part of the gear box without any further disassembly of the weapon as it will just slide out of the upper receiver. This will also give you access to the hop-up unit and also the barrel.

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As you can see the upper unit contains everything regarding the air compressing allowing the user to gain access to those areas without having to disassemble the lower unit, which houses the gears and switches.

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This cuts down on the wear and tear of the gear box and also makes the end users life a whole lot simpler!

The lower half of the gear box is removed in the same way as the conventional gear box by first removing the motor and its housing. Apart from the anti reversal latch the rest of the lower gear box is the same as non ICS gear boxes for the M4/M16 and the standard ICS gears can be upgraded or replaced with 3rd party gears for those wishing to do so.

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The ICS M4 CQB comes with their Turbo-3000 which offers a pretty good rate of fire using a standard 8.4v battery. Using 0.20g BB’s I was able to achieve a cycle rate of 17 s/s (shots per second) which is outstanding for an out of the box gun.

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Some of the other things that stood out on the ICS gear box is the quality of the wiring, compared to that of the Tokyo Marui the wiring is of a much higher quality and players looking to run upgrades that require a higher voltage won’t need to worry about rewiring the gun.

Conclusion::

I have to say for my first experience of ICS products I am very impressed! I must admit when I first saw the ICS M4 CQB it wasn’t my cup of tea but when I set this weapon up to be used for the skirmish report that follows I ended up with a very unique weapon that I actually liked the look of.

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The gear box and receiver set I have to say is the most unique and innovative on the market in fact I will put it on the line that it is the BEST on the market, I’m a player that likes to do all my own upgrades and repairs and often get stuck with the teams lemons to fix and if everyone on the team had an ICS I could halve the time spent disassembling and rebuilding gear boxes.

The quality of the gun is awesome and I couldn’t find any fault in the manufacturing of the unit, or its parts. One or two niggles are purely cosmetic, such as Cybergun having their name plastered along the side, all because they own the licensing of Colt. But for those who really feel strongly about this, some permanent marker will do the trick!

The other niggle was the choice of putting a carry handle in the package rather than a flip up rear sight which I feel would have completed the look and feel of the weapon.

So, the scores? Well I have deliberated over this for a few days now and I have decided to give the ICS M4 CQB two categories, one for the actual package and the other for the actual design and manufacturing of the unit.

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ISC M4 CQB package score: 8/10

Not to everyone’s taste but an excellent out of the box CQB package that is 100% skirmishable out of the box. Design and features off the ICS M4CQB is good although 1 or 2 small things leave you asking why? With a few external pieces the look of the ICS M4 CQB changes to the point of looking mediocre to awesome and will certainly turn heads at the skirmish field. For me the folding stock won over that of the collapsible stock due to its uniqueness, but players with short reaches would be recommended to go for the 6 point sliding stock. Would I recommend this to first timers or veterans? Yes.

ISC M4 CQB design and manufacturing score: 10/10

I never give 10 out of 10’s I always feel that something could be improved on, but the ICS M4/M16 gear box design and quality of build can’t be faulted, ICS has taken the plunge from copying the standard Tokyo Marui gear box and invested time and money into a totally new and revolutionary design to their M4/M16 gear boxes. It makes your gunsmiths life a whole lot easier and for novices just getting into the repair and upgrade side of Airsoft will find the ICS gear box a whole lot easier than that of the standard Tokyo Marui type. Closing words, The ICS gear box just can’t be faulted and I wish all my M4/M16’s had them!

Skirmish Report

I have to say that fellow members of Team Setsuna are finding it funny that I turn up to games with my car brimming with boxes full of guns or accessories in need of skirmish testing and its getting to the point where I am worried about getting stopped by the police with the pending question of “What’s in your boot laddie?”

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For the review on the ICS M4 CQB we headed out to “Blam!” one of the teams favorite indoor CQB skirmish centers. After unpacking getting kitted up we head in to the warehouse for some CQB action.

I decided to use the folding stock on the ICS M4 CQB as this would give me the added bonus of being able to fold it up and turn it into a pistol style weapon ideal for room entry while also giving me the full stock option for more accurate ranged shots.

I have to say with a tactical vert grip on the front the ICS M4 CQB is very easy to bring to bare and get positive target acquisition fast, the small size of thee gun makes it ideal for tight spaces and sharp turns that ordinary M4’s would leave you exposed of fighting for space.

The rate of fire also proved ideal for CQB and the two high capacity magazines were an added bonus to the package.

Also using holographic sights made a huge difference and really gives you an edge over conventional sights, especially when using the pistol style configuration of the ICS M4 CQB.

Conclusion:

You can’t really fault the design of the ICS M4 CQB, it performs perfectly in the CQB environment, which is what it is designed to do, the accuracy of the hop-unit and also the rate of fire put it on par with a lot of other out of the box guns that have full length barrels. For best results though players should spend some time getting the feel of the weapon and tweaking it to suit their needs.

The external battery pack with the laser unit built in also gave a slight edge as well and created a fear factor, especially when other team members are using them.

Skirmish report Score: 9/10

Straight out of the box and straight onto the field, perfect!

I would like to thank the team at ICS for providing this sample , especially Patrick for answering all my questions and putting up with the constant barrage of e-mails regarding information on the ICS M4 CQB.
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