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Classic Army M5 RAS (M16 RIS)
Reviews Views Date of last review
1 31350 Fri February 24, 2006
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Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 9.0



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Description: The Classic Army M16 RIS is a replica of the Knight's Armament Company M5 RAS handguard rail adapter.


For airsoft, this is used to convert an M16 Rifle into an M16 Modular Weapon System, capable of mounting vertical foregrips, bipods, flashlights, laser pointers, battery boxes, NVG devices, or any other Mil-Std 1913 devices.
MacGyver
 
Posts: 9,764
Registered: May 2004
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA



Author
TehLlama
MacGyver

Registered: May 2004
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Posts: 9764
Review Date: Fri February 24, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Positive aspects of the product (pros): Rugged, Rock Solid, Extremely good looking, VERY useful.
Cons: Poor sizing, No trademarks, cost

<I> Review by:
TehLlama</I>


<b>Classic Army M5 RAS for M16 Rifles


<I>Knight's Armament Company M5 Rail Accessory System for M16 Modular Weapon Systems</I></b>


This is a review of the CA M16 RAS for M15A4 as installed on a WGC Custom G&P M16A3. This unit was also tested on a CA M15A4 Rifle.



The Knight's Armament Company M5 RAS is a replacement handguard for the M16 rifle, and is intended to be an accessory mounting platform along the weapon centerline, retrofitting existing M16 rifles, as well as being removable allowing original handguards to be mounted. These modified weapons, deemed Modular Weapon Systems (e.g. M16A4 MWS) are user and mission configurable, allowing attachment of vertical forward grips, flashlights, lasers, night vision tubes, IR illuminating devices, sights, and other advanced technologies that are MIL-STD 1913 compliant. The M4 RAS units were originally developed for the M4 SOPMOD kit, the longer M5’s are used almost exclusively by the US Marine Corps.


The handguard consists of two major parts -- the upper handguard possessing the top and two side rails, and the bottom rail, which can be interchanged with an M203 grenade launcher or 12ga masterkey shotgun. Smaller components include the heatshield (after all, the handguard is designed to protect the shooter from the extreme barrel heat) and the gas tube clamp/rear retainer, which keeps the leaf spring tensioned and the handguard firmly in place, especially when mounting underbarrel attachments.


The factory KAC units also come with three RAS panels (11-rib), and presumably simple instructions on how to mount the RAS unit.


//img -- install basic//



<i><b>Appearance:</i></b>


After reading about and seeing the CA SR-15 conversion kit, which by all accounts looks completely wrong, I wasn't exactly optimistic about the accuracy of this model, especially compared to the remarkable quality of my G&P FF RAS conversion kits. In the meantime, I did purchase a CA M15A4 CQB-R, and found myself amazed at the quality of that M4RAS unit. The appearance, quality laser engravings, and solid feel of that unit won me over, so when I got an M16A3, I decided to try and get an RAS for it.


Unfortunately, every overseas retailer was out of stock, and even the Classic Army website listed them as backordered. Out of dumb luck, I realized they had been right under my nose -- AirSplat!


For reasons unknown to me, only one retailer has them in stock, and happened to be priced under HK retailers. Anyway, I have to provide a huge thank you to AirSplat -- thanks!


The Classic Army unit comes packaged simply, elegantly, and attractively in a blue box. Included is a new handguard cap (goes on front of handguard assembly, adjacent to gas block/front sight), Delta ring (not needed for G&P or CA guns), weld/leaf spring, and shims to adjust tension and spacing.


Notably not included are any RAS panels or vertical grips. While I consider the CA panels among the worst made (through much frustration and experience), a kit of this cost really should include these.
Given my experience with each of these brands, avoid the CA RAS panels, and since their vertical grips are nothing special, the best idea is to get G&P set, since they are the highest quality made for airsoft, and not much more expensive than CA or Marui. They also have full KAC trademarks, which is nice.
In short, once G&P does come out with an M5 RAS, I’ll be interested, and they will, it’s just a matter of time.


The RAS unit itself is that same black matte smooth finished metal found on all CA ArmaLites. I happen to very much like the feel of this material, so I must once again commend the quality Yick Fung metalwork (Yick Fung makes CA guns/parts, Classic Army is really basically a servicemark).
The only non-metal part is the plastic retainer piece on the lower handguard section, that covers the front QD mount gap. In order to mount an M203 or masterkey 12ga, there must be an opening in the top handguard side rails, and this part fills it very nicely. To date, this is my favorite piece of CA made plastic.


Inset on every other rail indent is a location index, which is particularly useful when identifying accessories in pictures and critical when attaching location sensitive devices such as M203 reflex or leaf sights (though none of these apply directly to airsoft, except maybe calibrating NERF football trajectory from an M203).
The syntax for these is simple and intuitive §##. First is a letter, 'T' for top, 'B' for bottom, 'L' and 'R' for left and right, respectively. Last is an even (in the case of all 5.56 rifles) number corresponding to how far away from the charging handle in rail spaces (up to 28).
These white laser engraved marks look extremely sharp, but I do find myself wishing that the KAC manufacturer trademarks had been replicated.


One key gripe with the old SR-15 conversion was the terribly inaccurate vent hole spacing, but fixing that issue was clearly on the ‘to do’ list for the M5 RAS, and they got it right. On the upper part, the ubiquitous KAC paired vent holes, and along the bottom, evenly spaced smaller holes – again, true to form.


Another fantastic addition is the mock heatshield (since airsoft outer barrels shouldn't get very hot) which helps round out the very attractive look of the MWS foreend. Although it may require a bit of bending to make it install properly (just pinch it lightly with your hands, it is flexible) it helps secure the RAS in place. Once again, a subtle attractive piece wins me over, kudos to CA for such a nice tidbit.


The last major looking component is the gas tube clamp, for lack of a better term. Its job is to keep the rail system handguard in place, preventing torqueing and also allowing attachment of underbarrel accessories by keeping the leaf spring tensioned and the handguard firmly perpendicular to the delta ring. While this function is not nearly as important on an airsoft gun, the fidelity and quality of the CA copy of this is impressive. Indeed, on my M4 RAS for CQBR, this was probably the most impressive thing on there, though I did run into a snag with this on my G&P gun.


Overall, the look of the CA M5 RAS is just plain stunning. I’m pessimistic to give it a 9.5/10, knocking it only for lacking KAC trademarks and the value score takes a hit for lacking RAS panels, which I maintain should have been included. Still, with addition of nice G&P panels and foregrip, I’m left with a positively stunning MWS, and I couldn’t be happier with how it looks. If you want that authentic USMC MEU look, this is the gun. The Corps has chosen the M16A4 as it’s main battle rifle, and after having this kit, you’ll think they may have done it just to look cool. Did I mention it’s really nice to have a flashlight on a rifle?



<i><b>Installation:</i></b>


Just as Knight’s Armament advertises the easy of installing this unit, the CA follows suit. All you need is a hex key (possibly included, depends on age of set) and a wee bit of know-how. <i>Did I mention it’s easy?</i> It is!


Another thing noticeably missing from the package are instructions. I wasn’t optimistic on the quality of their Engrish anyway, but I was hoping for some pictograms. Nope, nothing, but the saving grace of this being a top quality replica is: how accurate it is. I quickly checked out http://www.quarterbore.com – an altogether excellent Knight’s Armament Co. resource, and saw how to install the foregrip, which it turns out is remarkably easy. If you’re installing it on a CA M15A4, just follow those instructions and you’re there, it’s quite easy. However, for the sake of science, and my personal ownership, I had to also put it on a WGC Custom M16A3 (Basically a G&P gun).


The key difference here is the slight discrepancy in delta ring size, and thickness of gas tube. What I discovered, again from quarterbore, is that it is possible to install these on other Stoner type rifles, by effectively doing away with the function of the clamp member, or at least partially. I decided to file it out significantly, and this works just fine. The handguard won’t torque, and it’s held very securely to the upper receiver. I am currently working on a modified system that would allow correct, intended attachment of the clamp member by using a shorted hex bolt, but that’s a pending update.


I couldn’t be more pleased with how it installs, and how nicely it stays attached. I give it a solid 9.5/10 – again, some perfunctory diagrams and Engrish explanations are something I’d expect on a model this expensive.



<i><b>Function:</i></b>


This is probably the part you’re waiting for, and once again the CA M5 RAS delivers.


The RAS is intended to be a solid, realistic feeling piece that allows attachment of a variety of optical, handling, and ‘pretty’ devices. It delivers and then some.


For any of you who have handled an M16 (airsoft, real, or otherwise) you’ll know that it’s a comparatively light gun, but still bulky in the sense that it’s hard to maneuver the muzzle around. If you’ve ever handled one with a vertical foregrip, it’s another story. While the RAS and attachments add weight to the nose end of the gun, a simple vertical forward grip makes the gun maneuver almost like a carbine. While I may be overstating this, I would happily use this gun in CQB and train for it – only current downside is local fps rules and the WGC Custom’s M120 Spring.


While the vertical foregrip is the most used part of the MWS setup, I think the flashlight is probably the most valuable. If you’ve played many night games and are versed in the ways of properly wielding a weaponlight (I try, hence why I have 6 such flashlights), the invaluable uses of a flashlight are not lost upon you.
I usually hear ‘go ahead and use that flashlight so I can tell where you are’. They do, in fact give away your position, but when used judiciously, you’ve already blinded, identified, and eliminated any foe who could fire on your position. So there.


Since virtually every flashlight can be somehow mounted to this RAS, the choice is really yours. I would highly recommend something that takes a surefire P60 bulb (65 bright lumens, economical on batteries – the P61’s are much brighter, but not for the feint of wallet) or an Insight Technologies M3 light (whopping 95 lumens, compact size, can be used on railed pistols). I’d say the Surefire G2 is your best bet, since it’s virtually indestructible, cheap, and only needs a 1” scope rail to be attached (or a much nicer flashlight mount intended for a MWS).
Pressure switches are also very nice, and can be attached a variety of ways (loose, on foregrip, or integrated with special RAS panels) and while not a personal favorite, are excellent for temporarily blinding somebody, and then leaving them without the ability to see you.
Again, the choice is yours, and the www.surefire.com and www.insightlights.com websites are great resources.


You can also attach lasers. While I’m not a huge fan of using them in airsoft scenarios, the RAS still allows you to add them. With a solid 5mW laser and a correctly zeroed scope, I can light up people’s chandeliers from almost half a mile away. Not highly recommended.


Perhaps my favorite attachments are for slings and bipods. If you suddenly want to use your M16 in a support or marksman role, then just get a bipod adaptor, and a CA Harris Bipod (another great CA product) and you’re set. It’s almost painfully simple, and it stays neatly attached retracted or in use. Again, you can also adjust where on the rail it goes, and even have a vertical foregrip for use as a mobile LMG.


While the addition of night vision and IR illumination devices is really beyond the scope of this review, they will certainly fit on here, as will other replicas. It is possible to add an AN/PEQ2 dummy or battery box, though I must mention to mount the PEQ2 realistically you’re going to need more 18ga wiring, and possibly some retaining mechanism to keep it tidy looking. I keep a G&P (dummy) or WELL (blue LED) AN/PEQ2 on mine, but the ergonomics and stylistic appearance choices are all yours – again this is the beauty of a Modular weapon system.


Once I had this all set up, I took it to play, lots. I must say, in every configuration I’ve tried I’ve been pleased with the gun. It’s very easy and comfortable to use and maneuver, so much so that I just leave flashlights on it even for day games, just to look cool. While it does add some weight to the gun, especially when coupled with an M203, I think it’s still a very good functionality to weight ratio item.


As far as durability goes, I’ve put this through some paces early in its life. Mine shows a few bumps and scrapes, mostly involving an encounter with a wall. The finish remains tough, and I think a fair bit of wear adds to the authentic look of the RAS. The more use I give it, the better it seems to look, though it never behaves the worst for wear. Here, at last, I give the thing a 10.5/10.



<i><b>Summary:</i></b>


If you’re looking to add some goodies to your M16, or replicate that USMC M16A4 MWS look, this is the unit for you. G&G makes one for almost twice the price, but I see no reason to do that. Fine metalwork, excellent design, and fantastic looking laser engraved bits give this piece high marks on appearance. Like it’s real Knight’s Armament counterpart, it’s easy to install, and stays securely in place. Most of all, it’s a fantastic functional addition to ANY M16 rifle out there.
Being the cheapest such replica, I give it high marks on value as well.


My principal gripes are with the lack of RAS panels included in the package, the lack of KAC trademarks, and the lack of instructions included. Each of these is minor and all but the trademarks easily remedied.


<b><i>Appearance: 9.5/10
Installation: 9.5/10
Function: 10.5/10
Value: 8.5/10


</i></b>Overall I give it a <i><b> 9.5/10 </i></b> which means it comes highly recommended. I’ve owner nicer Free Floated RAS units, but the CA M5 RAS is certainly a good buy, and probably why it’s hard to find in stock.



<I><b>Links:</I></b>


Airsplat – awesome US Airsoft Retailer
http://www.airsplat.com


KAC M5RAS patent from QuarterBore.com –
http://quarterbore.com/library/pdf_files/us05826363.pdf


AR-10 M5 RAS Installation from QuarterBore.com –
http://quarterbore.com/kac/ar10ras.html


KAC Catalog from knightarmco.com (pdf) –
http://knightarmco.com/knightscatalog.pdf






<i>Questions, comments, complaints, and fart jokes can be sent to:
TehLlama, dcappel@gmail.com</i>





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