With the rise of better machining and more advanced electric motors, the world of airsoft has exploded. Whether for casual use shooting cans and bottles or in a competitive capacity playing in squad-based wargames, the automatic electric gun, or AEG, the market continues to evolve.
Still, figuring out which gun to buy can be a difficult task. This is especially true since the price is quite often less of an indicator in this market that it might be in some others. Magazine capacity, feet per second, and a host of other qualities all determine which guns are better than the others.
That is why we have put together a list of the best airsoft M4 / M16 guns on the market, highlighting what each one does better than the rest. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the right AEG for your needs.
Best Airsoft M4 / M16 2018
|BBTac M4 M16 Replica Airsoft Gun M83 A2|
(Best Budget M4)
|200-250 FPS||ABS plastic||45|
|G&G Airsoft Combat Machine M4 Raider|
|380-400 FPS||High quality plastic body instead of a metal body. Full metal gearbox||450|
|Lancer Tactical LT-12TK M4||405-415 FPS||Durable polymer, full metal gear box||300|
|JG M4 RIS System||415 FPS||Metal gear box. Heavy weight body, with a lot of metal parts||300|
|BBTac Airsoft Gun CQB 315-FPS AEG M16/M4||315 FPS||Plastic||300|
|Lancer Tactical Velocity Airsoft LT-02B||400 FPS||ABS and Metal. The internal parts are made of metal||300|
|Lancer Tactical M4 CQB||401 FPS||Durable ABS Plastic body construction, but its also has a Full Metal V2 Gearbox||300|
|JG M4 S-System RIS||420 FPS||Metal + ABS plastic||300|
1. BBTac M4 M16 Replica Airsoft Gun M83 A2 – Best Budget Air Rifle
We all have to start somewhere, and in the air rifle world, the BBTac M83 A2 is the great place for beginners to look. While it may not be able to boast the best specs nor the best build quality, it does provide a wide range of features at an incredibly attractive price that makes it a solid entry-level air gun.
On top of that, this air rifle also comes with a couple of other add-ons that make sighting your target easier. For instance, this is the only gun on our list to feature a side-mounted tactical flashlight. This is especially beneficial if you ever choose to compete in a nighttime wargame. Even better, the included red dot scope can help sight your target day or night.
2. G&G Airsoft Combat Machine M4 Raider – Editor’s Choice Air Rifle
Once you graduated to a more advanced skill set and are ready for a higher level of competition, the G&G Raider is a logical choice. That said, this airgun is rated the Editor’s Choice primarily because it can serve equally effective in anyone’s hands. This makes it a solid option whether as a personal primary or as a team primary backup in case someone suffers equipment malfunctions at a competition.
This is accomplished specifically through a design that is made to be as easily used by a left-handed competitor as it is by a right-handed competitor. This is fairly rare in the airgun world as most are made for a single handedness configuration. With a charging handle and magazine release that is ambidextrous, anyone can pick this gun up and go without issue.
3. Lancer Tactical LT-12TK M4 – Best All-Around Value Air Rifle
While there might be some air rifles that edged the Lancer Tactical LT-12TK out for all-around use, there are none that we saw which provide a better all-around value. That is because this air rifle provides a solid set of features all competitors seek at a far more reasonable price than most. That said, it is not the best performing in truly any respect.
Still, with a 300 BB magazine, the LT-12TK meets the standard average that you expect to find on any competition worthy air rifle. With an fps between 405 and 415, it provides a consistent rate of speed for accuracy whether you use heavy or light BBs. Combined, they provide an overall solid performance.
4. JG M4 RIS System – Fastest Shooting Air Rifle
Jing Gong, or JG, is a brand of automatic electric guns that have a bit of an up-and-down reputation. While it is by no means a bad brand, it does feature some design qualities that can be frustrating at times. Still, it often comes through in some way, and this air rifle proves to be no different.
The rail system is solid, though it is not the best on our list, and the retractable stock does provide the option of transitioning the air rifle from a close quarters combat primarily to more of a marksman primary should the need arise–though this is by no means a suitable replacement for an air sniper rifle.
5. BBTac Airsoft Gun CQB 315-FPS AEG M16/M4 – Best CQB Air Rifle
BBTac makes another appearance on our list, this time with an air rifle that is similar in design to most of the others with one notable difference: a greatly shortened barrel. With a barrel that is sized more closely to a submachine gun than it is an assault rifle, this BBTac is far more easy to manoeuvre in the tight quarters that might be found in an urban-themed course.
Still, this air rifle does offer a decent magazine capacity with 300 BBs, though the 315 fps is definitely on the slower side of our list. This air rifle includes a free red dot sight as well as included iron sights. With a collapsible stock, this air rifle can easily manoeuvre in and out of any setting.
6. Lancer Tactical Velocity Airsoft LT-02B – Most Accurate Air Rifle
Quite often when the marksman of a wargames squad looks for an air rifle, they choose one that is centred around a sniper design. However, few courses actually offer the kind of high nests or open spaces that make sniping the best tactic. Instead, a marksman is better served by an air rifle that can provide excellent accuracy at mid-level ranges while still easily converting to short-ranged firefights.
That said, you will likely need to adjust to the kick of this air rifle and it is not the best for firing from the hip. Still, the all-around build quality of this gun is one of the better that we saw with mostly metal construction–including the gearbox.
7. Lancer Tactical M4 CQB – Best Replica Air Rifle
Lancer Tactical makes another appearance on our list with its CQB model, though it is not necessarily the best CQB air rifle we reviewed. That is because Lancer Tactical made it a point to model this air rifle as accurately as possible, manufacturing a gun that features a true 1:1 scale. As such, if you are in the market for an air rifle that most accurately replicates the M4 / M16, this is the best choice.
Thankfully, the LT-CQB is not just a pretty face as its general specs are solid. With a 300 BB capacity magazine and a 400 fps, this air rifle may not jump out at you, but it more than checks the boxes for competent use in competitive play. However, one of the best qualities of this air rifle, and likely why it was designated as a CQB gun, is its physical qualities.
8. JG M4 S-System RIS – Best Rail System Air Rifle
The JG S-System will likely not blow many competitors away, but if you are looking for an air rifle that you can customize and make your own, then this is the product for you. That is because this is one of the few air rifles we saw that features a rail system which is made entirely out of metal. The benefit of this arrangement is that you can actually install sights and other additions that are meant for heavier guns onto this bad boy.
On top of the customization options, the JG S-System also provides a decent magazine capacity of 300 BBs with a better than average fps of 400 for 0.2g BBs and 420 fps for 0.12g BBs. Even better, both the gearbox and almost the entire body are made out of metal for durability that is hard to find in this market.
Let’s review the basic characteristic of the automatic electric guns.
This is by far the most important quality to consider when purchasing an automatic electric gun specifically for lifespan and durability concerns. Basically, the gearbox is was allows the gun to fire BBs in the first place, so you want to make sure that it is built to last over the course of extensive use. Thankfully, this consideration is fairly straightforward.
Do not, we repeat, do not purchase an automatic electric gun without a full metal gearbox with the intention of using it for any sort of competitive purpose. Whether it is competitive target shooting or wargaming, you need to make sure the gunfire continuously without fail. In fairness, the quality of the BBs you are firing can affect this as well, but the gearbox is by far more important to this equation.
Of course, if all you intend to use the automatic electric gun for is to plink tin cans and glass bottles, then this is an area where you could conceivably skrimp to save a little money. Just keep in mind that even moderate use of the gun is likely to wear out the gearbox fairly quickly and will ultimately cost you more in the long run.
Feet Per Second
This is likely the second most important consideration when choosing an automatic electric gun for competitive purposes. That said, much like with gearboxes, if you only intend to use this weapon for plinking tin cans and glass bottles, you do not necessarily need to worry about this factor quite so much.
For competitive uses, on the other hand, the feet per second, or fps, of the gun will often play a huge role in your ability to be successful. While those who use automatic electric guns for wargaming competitions might argue this is a vital component of their success, that actually does not hold up as much as they think.
Instead, it is the target shooting crowd that should be far more aware of the fps of their automatic electric gun. This is because the fps of their weapon will play a large role in accounting for the rate of drop of the BB after they fire it which will ultimately impact the general accuracy of the gun.
Wargamers, on the other hand, will actually need a gun that is more accurate while in motion. Considering wargames often involve competitors moving in squad formations and high-intensity firefights, the ability to set up a stable shot from a hundred plus yards away or more will ultimately pay fewer dividends than a gun that can handle rougher use.
Incidentally, this quality will likely only be relevant for certain types of competitors who use electric air guns. Even more, interestingly, this is actually one of the few considerations that are likely to truly matter to those who intend to use the gun for plinking tin cans or glass bottles. Essentially, anyone who intends to fire the gun for extended periods of time is liable to prefer a larger magazine.
This explicitly does not generally include competitive target shooters. This niche of air rifle user may want an automatic electric gun with a large magazine capacity for an extended practice session, but they are unlikely to use it as much during the competition where they will rarely if ever, take that many shots throughout the entire competition.
Of course, this quality is often vitally important for competitive wargamers as running out of ammunition essentially leaves you helpless. As such, wargamers are not only likely to seek an automatic electric gun with a large magazine capacity, but they are also fairly likely to carry numerous backup magazines in competition as well.
Depending on what you intend to use your AEG for will factor heavily when figuring out which is the best airsoft m4 / m16 for you. If you only intend to use it occasionally and for non-competitive purposes, then the list of features preferred will differ greatly compared to someone who intends to use it for competitive wargaming.
For the beginner, we recommend the BBTac M83 A2. While it does have some distinct limitations to its fps and magazine capacity, it is also the least expensive product that we reviewed. On top of that, it comes with numerous extras and an adequate build quality.
Of course, once you are ready to graduate to the competitive world of wargaming, you will want to upgrade to the G&G Raider or Lancer Tactical LT-12TK. The G&G features the largest magazine capacity on our list, while the LT-12TK is the best all-around value. Both use full metal gearboxes for long-lasting play.