The Colt .22 Tactical M4 Rifle
One of the loudly heralded rifles from the 2009 SHOT Show was the Umarex/Walther/Colt M-forgery. I had heard that the big box store had a couple of Colt rimfire M4s in stock, so I drove over to take a gander for the first time today. Overall I was impressed at Walther's ability to make a rimfire replica of America's favorite black rifle. The fact that the carry handle was detachable on the M4 version was a big plus for me. The barrel contour seemed pretty close to correct. I'm not certain if the hand grip or the adjustable buttstock will swap out with conventional AR aftermarket equipment though. If it does not, then shame on Walther. A major component of the AR's allure is the modularity that makes the rifle user friendly towards customization.
The magazine was not in the rifle that I examined, so I asked to take a look at it. The salesman assured me it was "exactly like a M-sixteen clip." All I had to do was fill out this yellow sheet....... I asked again to see the magazine. When the salesman's assistant brought the 30 round magazine from the rear of the big box store, I was not surprised. It was heavy plastic with a cut out on either side to show the remaining ammunition inside. A follower button was present on each side to aid in loading. That was a shame, to make a replica so close and then let the magazine destroy the illusion. There are many who would purchase the Colt/Walther M-forgery as a 22 rifle simply because it mimics the real deal so well. With the magazine in place, only Paul Helmke would have a problem seeing the difference.
The blue hang tag on the forward sling swivel attested to the rimfire rifle's all metal construction. Indeed, it felt to be about the same weight as it's more powerful cousin. I began to wonder if the receiver was good aluminum, or if it was pot metal. I remembered the problems Walther had a couple of years ago with the P22 slides. I envisioned this rifle after a year of use, with silver showing through the black paint on the receiver. It would certainly take on a patina common to a well used and well loved rifle through legitimate high volume use.
The asking price at the big box store was $589 before tax. I had ascertained that this was about a hundred bucks above dealer cost. That was fair enough, and for a man who shoots a lot of .223, it could mean the rifle would pay for itself quickly. My appetite for black rifle goodness is not that voracious, however. Perhaps it should be. If I owned one of these carbines, I would likely shoot it a lot. It would not be a substitute for a rifle i presently shoot a lot however.
I decided I would wait. I would wait until I saw some real world durability reports and real world reliability complaints. I would wait until the aftermarket caught up and accessories became available to fit the rifle. I would wait until I could purchase it used at the next gun show. Before I saw the magazine I almost had my checkbook out. I had always said if Colt made a 22 rimfire M4 replica, I would buy it. I probably still will, in time. I just want to know a little more at the price they are asking.