Years ago, we chose AR15.com for one of our W4s, and we got some predictable responses, along the lines of: “That’s where all the posers and neckbeards are, and all the real tactical operatory operators are on M4Carbine.net” or the absolutely true and non-exaggerated: “The signal to noise ratio is way better at M4C than at Arfcom.”
The fact of the matter is, the founders of M4 Carbine (aka M4C) were refugees from AR15.com (aka Arfcom). Those defectors were, originally, serious gun enthusiasts and pros who considered themselves above the amateurs, newbies and wannabes that infest AR15.com, and were sick to death of the juvenile grab-ass that infests that forum. M4C does tend to stick to business more, and so is less of a frat-boy hangout than Arfcom; of course, at either site, whether you pick up signal to noise depends entirely on where you hang out, but the overall s/n ratio is higher by design on M4C.
The Upside of M4C
There is a very great amount of expertise on the site, and it’s focused on subject matter. You’re not going to spend time here exploring the elections or reading a thread about how some guy’s girlfriend left him, dog passed away, and other bare-bones frameworks for country and western songs. That’s all endemic to GD on Arfcom. Here, the GD forum is titled AR General Discussion and anyone trying to drag it off topic is curbstomped by the mods. This is not the site you go to for puppy pictures, or childish hijinks, which probably ruins it for some of you guys (grin).
On M4C you’ll get pretty good advice from people with hands-on experience in combat tactical firearms or in competition (whichever you’re looking for). A number of real-deal armorers hang out here, as do some serious shooters, of targets and of deserving people. Several of the top instructors in the country maintain accounts here, and the advertisers are a who’s who of premium guns and parts.
For reasons we’re about to get into, the very well-organized and easily searched equipment exchange at M4C is more likely to have good name brand stuff, and like other forums, guys often offer it here before throwing it to the wolves on GunBroker, which is good if you’re looking for something high-end or exotic. It’s also a great place to sell something that hardcore AR aficionados might want, but your local gun shop won’t even identify on sight, like a carrier key staking tool.
Some of the users are prone to do evidence-based posts and extensive tests, and the data remains on the site for the benefit of all. If you are new to the AR platform the tuning and setup stickies here are freakin’ platinum.
It’s free to get a login, which gets you the usual forum benefits, mostly access to linked rather than embedded images, and a mailbox for instant messages (useful if you’re going to use the
The Downside of M4C
That said, the original sin of M4C is pride, evidencing as snobbery. There are frequently people there as brand-conscious as a trust-fund chick shopping Newbury Street. We detested those sorts of people as kids, and find the same personality traits (and same hunger for a saintly brand name) just as repulsive in grownups from our own gun culture.
Yes, there are some brand names that get attached to junk all the time, where buying the company’s product is an exercise in hope over experience, and there are some brand names that very seldom get attached to anything but first quality, where a failed or blemished product is distressing to the company’s representatives. In between there is the vast array of parts that will generally work together. It’s an AR-15 we’re talking about here, not a Fabergé egg. It’s a service rifle originally designed to be carried and used by cannon-fodder conscripts, and maintained by guys with 85 IQs and booklets of cartoon instructions. Yes, you can get smarter about the gun as an operator and/or builder/maintainer, and yes, M4C is a good place to do that.
But you’re going to have to endure some attitude. Now, the attitude seldom comes from the real pros, the founding members who were frustrated by the limitations of the Arfcom platform; instead it comes from their fanboys. It’s a bit like the letters guys write to Road & Track magazine disparaging the Ferrari in favor of the Lamborghini, where you can tell from their words and attitude that they drive to work in a nine-year-old Accord (NTTAWWT). We see guys get brand-snobbish on, for instance, upper receivers, and shake our heads. It’s basically a connecting part that has few critical dimensions (parallel of the sight rail to the bore axis is one) that are relatively hard to screw up.
Now, when one of the armorers says he opened the boxes on 400 Brand B carbines and the carrier keys were not staked, that’s a reasonable data point. When some kid whose mode of expression reminds one of the “Chevies eat Fords” t-shirts that grade school kids wore in the 1960s writes that “LMT sucks and BCM is way better,” that’s not. Fortunately newbies seem capable of figuring that out, and the M4C community doesn’t tolerate assclowns, but its toleration of empty snobbery sets them up.
While it’s great to build your dream AR, remember that the popularity of parts and accessories waxes and wanes, and today’s AR will be as clearly a marker of 2014 as an XM16E1 is of 1966. And remember that the guys who just did the incredible rescue of 8 al-Qaeda hostages in Yemen probably carried that were very carefully inspected and maintained, and somewhat personalized in their accessories, but fundamentally standard factory-produced guns.
The Bottom Line on M4Carbine.net:
The reason we go there, and the reason you should go there, snobs and all, is this: no one of us individually has the knowledge available at M4C collectively. Read and watch the threads, so that you can, when you need to, ask for help from those experts without inflaming the fanboy contingent, and your experience with the site will be very rewarding.
Sorry this did not post on time. Holidays, you know? Thanksgiving will be a normal posting day, just late, late, late.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.
5 thoughts on “Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: M4Carbine.net”
Awaiting the book, movie, and sports illustrated exclusive interview on the Yemen raid.
Check into the way some of the “big names” on M4C treated Dr. Gary Roberts (handle: DocGKR), the ballistics guru, after he posted a shooting class review on that forum.
Short version: he was basically hounded off the forum for posting a review that was actually positive, because some “key words” in it apparently annoyed one of the site backers.
Which is not to say that M4C doesn’t have its virtues-it absolutely does.
But along with its sin of pride or snobbery, there can be very much a “cult of personality” going on there. The snobbery extends in some cases to which “authorities” or “SME” types to lionize and which to denigrate, and woe betide the person (no matter how much an SME in his own right!) who offends this sensibility, even accidentally.
Yes, and to go with that, there’s a certain, “this brand good, this brand bad” with firearms. I’ve seen Colts come out of the box unable to pass a function check (er, I have one at the shop to pick up, too… hope this doesn’t happen again), especially when they’ve been having “labor difficulties.” (Has anyone ever taken a pause in combat to say, “Thank God my weapon was made by the skilled and committed union men of the United Auto Workers”? Not when I was there, anyway).
Wasn’t M4C the source of the chart of what brands of gun were good and what not good? It’s modular, FFS. Instead, teach the new guys to identify indicators of proper and correct assembly. This protects them against the lemon from the “big name” and alerts them to the “bargain” gun that’s put together properly.
That review was, IIRC, of a Ken Hackathorn class, wasn’t it?
Roberts is himself a controversial figure, but there was nothing wrong with his review. The funny thing is, if I remember the brouhaha, it wasn’t Ken who was upset about the review (he didn’t seem to give a crap one way or the other), but a couple of his fanboys, and then it became a textbook case of internet piling on. It may be that people pissed off at Gary over other stuff just jumped on an opportunity to ostracize him. It was positively tribal in nature — that I remember clearly.