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The M4 RAM (REAL ACTION MARKER)

The M4 RAM (REAL ACTION MARKER) Launcher has been introduced to be used in "a new concept wargame," the Real Action Game, "evolving from [the] paintball game." Different from paintball , the game has a law enforcement or military background story line. Played primarily in Asia, the Real Action Game has been designed to bring a "war simulation feeling" to participants.

Launching .43 caliber paintballs using casings (cartridges) and compressed gas or air, the M4 RAM specifically was designed to give Real Action Game players the look and feel of a firearm. The M4 RAM resembles the Colt M4 (M4 Carbine) and the M4A, made by Colt's Manufacturing Company, Inc.

The M4 RAM has a selector switch on the left side for Safe, Semi-auto, and Full-auto (current models only operate in full-auto mode). Rules in Asia allow the use of full-auto in the game. According to the manufacturer, the low rate of fire (2 to 8 balls per second) of the M4 RAM, plus the lightweight, small paintball with low impact energy, are reasons the full-auto launcher is allowed. Proper goggles are required for safety. A distinctive red muzzle end to the barrel distinguishes this launcher from the real firearm.

In the Real Action Game, players are supposed to call themselves out of the game when they are marked. A mark over 1 inch (25mm) is the test. After the action, there are strong penalties for having marked players on your team who did not leave the playing field when marked. Honor is a key component of the Real Action Game.

POWER SOURCE

The M4 RAM comes with a refillable carbon dioxide cylinder of stainless steel that is long, fairly thin, and holds 1.4 ounces (45 grams) of CO2 by weight. Its valve has U.S. standard CO2 threading and it threads into a U.S. paintball-standard ASA (Air Source Adapter). The cylinder, when attached to the launcher, fits inside the collapsible butt stock. To start the flow of air/CO2, turn on the cylinder knob. which is at the end opposite the ASA connection. The company advised that when you use a 30 grams CO2 cylinder, turn the cylinder on before putting on the butt stock. The 30 gram cylinder is shorter, and the on-off knob is completely enclosed when the stock is attached.

Before inserting the cylinder, put a few drops of lubricating oil into the ASA. There is a button to press before inserting the cylinder. After the cylinder is in place, the butt stock can be adjusted to a comfortable position for play. In testing, a 20 ounce CO2 tank was used as well.

AMMO

The M4's "ammunition" is in cartridge form. It consists of a small aluminum or plastic sleeve casing loaded with a .43 caliber paintball. The ball weighs 0.8 gm (.029oz). One complete "cartridge (paintball and casing) weighs 20 grains. (By comparison, a .68 caliber paintball weight generally between 3.2 and 3.5 grams.) The ball can be removed the the cartridge rather easily, yet does not fall out on its own.

Each magazine holds 20 "cartridges." With each shot, the bolt moves forward and pushes the ball out of the cartridge as the gas is released. The empty casing ejects out to the shooter's right. An attached catching bag would be a very handy accessory to catch and save these reloadable casings. Ejecting sends them as much as five feet away.

The ammo comes ready to use in a package of 40. Paintballs of .43 caliber could be used for reloading; if you can't find any, buy the pre-loaded "cartridges" in bulk, because the M4 RAM can go through some rounds!

Inserting the "cartridges" into the magazine is easy. Simply wind the spring handle a few times, then push each "cartridge" into the top opening. There is a definite front and back to the sleeves - the "cupped" end goes to the rear so the paintball can exit from the unrestricted front end. The magazine inserts into the M4 RAM so the lower part of the magazine curves forward, away from the shooter. It is not possible to insert the magazine backwards.

Once you insert the magazine, pull the cocking handle back. This opens the "cartridge ejection" opening. Next, the selector switch needs to be taken off safety and moved so it points to full-auto. The M4 RAM is well marked to show these positions. (There is a semi-auto position, for future designs.) Now the launcher is ready to "rock 'n roll"

FIELD TESTS

During our testing, everything worked well. Every hit on a hard surface 42 feet away left a goodly-sized mark bigger than the one-inch called for in the Real Action Game. It shots fairly well, holding a pattern of about 12 inches at that distance, on full auto. There is only a tiny bit of "recoil," actually nothing more than reflecting the bolt movement during shooting.

Since the launcher could be shot only in full-auto mode, the test team members each took turns dry-firing it until getting a sense for the trigger pull. Then it was fairly easy to shoot two balls at a time, and often one ball, to chrono accurately. With the velocity all the way up, it shot from 304 to 320 feet per second

Velocity adjustment requires opening the top of the launcher body. First remove the rear locking pin, then push the lower body shroud down, letting it pivot on the front locking pin. The core assembly is now exposed. the velocity adjuster is a brass end cap visible almost directly above the safety. Turning the cap clockwise (in) lowers the velocity and counter-clockwise (out) increases the velocity. The needed 5/32" Allan wrench is provided. On the company's web site are pictures that help walk you through many of the disassembly procedures, and the velocity adjustment.

The velocity was easily reduced with a half turn, which brought it into the 290s.

At 80 feet, the accuracy dropped off. It was often tough to hit a 16 in target at that distance, at speeds in the 290 fps range. The balls would bounce off clothing and often off hard surfaces at that distance, even at that speed.

Shooting the M4 RAM is different. Shouldering the launcher, you feel the six-pound weight. while wearing goggles, it is nearly impossible to use the mechanical sighting system. The sights do adjust for windage and elevation.

The M4 RAM does not come with a barrel blocking device. A barrel bag will easily attach

INTERNALS

The M4 RAM disassembly is not difficult. First, remove the magazine, and be sure no cartridge is loaded into the chamber. If the magazine was not empty, the cartridges will be pushed up into the magazine receiver cavity itself as the magazine is withdrawn. Tip the launcher on its right hand side to let the cartridge in the chamber fall out, if one was in the chamber. Turn off the air source, drain the launcher of air (about 6 or 7 shots will do that), and remove the air source cylinder. If you did not shoot the air out, in or test model the system would empty itself within 2 or 3 seconds after the air source cylinder was removed.

Next, pull the spring loaded fixing ring toward the receiver to release the upper and lower halves of the foregrip. Using the fixing ring, unscrew the barrel locking lug. Gently wiggle the barrel to loosen and remove the barrel from the upper body shroud. You can clean the barrel after it has been removed from the M4 RAM. Dry it before reassembly. (It is also possible to clean the barrel while it is attached to the launcher, by using the included pull-through patch.)

Two, locking pins hold the upper body shroud onto the receiver. Remove the pins and gently rock the shroud while lifting. The shroud should come off, letting the spring loaded casing ejector pivot out on the left side of the "core assembly." You now have access to the upper part of the core assembly of the M4 RAM, as shown in the photos.

The grip, magazine, catch, and safety assemblies must also be disassembled and removed to release the lower body shroud and gain access to the rest of the core assembly. This step would be necessary to replace the cup seal, for instance. The unit comes with repair control stickers across several parts of the core assembly. since the unit was functioning well, we did no further disassembly into the core, leaving the stickers intact.

CONCLUSION

For well over a decade, various police, military, and security forces in the world have used "paintball" type equipment for training purposes, and for riot control, shooting less-than-lethal rounds such as chili pepper powder balls or rubber balls. They generally prefer devices that simulate "real firearms"; the M4 RAM has potential in these markets.

Primary, though, the M4 RAM is for Real Action Games. For those who live where Real Action Games are played, this launcher should give you many hours of good game fun.

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