When it comes to force-on-force training, budgets are sometimes the limiting factor. Expense is always a consideration, and suitability for the task at hand can be a problem. Umarex has introduced its T4E carbine to deal with training issues and provide a viable tool for force-on-force training and solo practice.
Marking rounds are not new, but the delivery system of the T4E is very interesting. The mechanism is simple enough. The T4E is an airgun. Compressed air in the form of CO2 capsules is used to fuel the carbine and provide propellant. The T4E (Training for Engagement) carbine uses balls of about .43 caliber. Marking, paint, and rubber balls are the most common projectiles.
This isn’t a toy; let’s get that out of the way. You do not wish to be struck unless you’re wearing protective gear, but then again, no pain no gain. The T4E is a very close copy of the AR- 15 carbine. Other than the brightly colored furniture—a blue forend, magazine and grip—the T4E might be mistaken for a 5.56mm rifle.
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The magazine contains the projectiles and gas cartridge. The heft, balance and weight are very similar to the AR-15 at 6.0 pounds even. I have seen parts gun AR-15 rifles not put together as well as the Umarex T4E. The adjustable stock is standard AR-15 without shake and rattle. The magazine catch and release work just the same as the AR-15, and the indent is positive. The safety lever works in the standard AR-15 manner.
Of course, it is a copy in appearance only, as the mechanism differs. For example, you can’t slap an AR-15 magazine in place for training. It will not lock in place and you may even damage the internal mechanism.
Trigger compression is crisp and clean. I wish my AR-15s were delivered with a 4.2-pound trigger this nice. A self-loading rifle must have some take up, and reset needs to be positive for safety. This has the nicest trigger I’ve ever felt on an air rifle.
Sights are standard M4 types located in the carrying handle. They are the real thing and may be adjusted. The rear sight features both short and long range apertures. The carrying handle may be removed to mount an optical sight. Rails are marked in the modern fashion to allow repeatability of mount with optical sights. The front post, like other AR-15 rifles, may be adjusted with a .223 FMJ bullet nose. There is a nonfunctioning forward assist. If you wish, the rifle may be equipped with a sling.
READ THE MANUAL
Even if you are very experienced with the AR-15 rifle, study the operator’s manual. This isn’t an AR you can pick up and start using without a bit of study. First, load the magazine with a CO2 cartridge. Loosen the piercing screw to do this, and after the first load you will be unloading spent CO2 cartridges. Do not leave cartridges in the T4E during storage, as this may cause wear on the seals.
Place a tiny drop of oil on the neck of the CO2 cartridge and insert it in the magazine, then tighten the screw with a large screwdriver. Next, pull the tab at the top of the magazine to the rear and load 14 balls. Insert the magazine until it locks home. Actuate the cocking lever—the throw is much shorter than that on an AR-15—and you are ready to fire.
FIRE IT UP
I found that the T4E would fire about 40 balls at full power with a single CO2 cartridge, which means you can reload at least twice. Forty-five shots are possible, but the balls will not have much power.
Also, if you rapid fire as quickly as possible, the rounds lose power more quickly—this is simply the nature of gas. Firing no more than two to three rounds quickly or one round per second seems to preserve power. Just the same, I emptied the magazine on several occasions without a problem.
The projectile clocks at an average of 300 feet-per-second (fps). This means that rubber ball accuracy is good to 100 feet, although man-sized targets may be engaged at up to 150 feet. The marking balls have their best accuracy at about 30 feet. This is ideal for close quarters combat training. The impact is noticeable and protective clothing should be worn, but the rubber balls or markers will not penetrate skin or clothing.
Every test and evaluation has many facets. The viability for training and the use the marker will be put to I leave up to the agency or individual. Since force-on-force is a viable and good form of training, there is no debate the market exists. Within that context, I find the T4E an excellent tool.
DOLLARS AND SENSE
Next, we must look at the viability of the T4E for economics. Let’s face it, ammunition choice and affordability affect service weapons, and the training marker is no different. This device is affordable and may be used anywhere, from inside buildings to parking lots. While the value of non-firearms training may be debated, most switched-on agencies use Simunition or some type of force-on-force gear. The Umarex trainer certainly has its place.
Among the advantages is that this is a complete device, not a conversion, with no FFL requirements. The rubber balls may even be reused if properly trapped. There are also dust markers and paintball rounds in .43 caliber. The T4E is compatible with AR-15 accessories.
The company states that the only high wear part is the bolt assembly. It is recommended that the bolt be changed every 3,000 to 3,500 rounds. An additional bolt assembly is supplied with the T4E.
Replacement bolt assemblies are a reasonable $32. Research indicates that a dozen CO2 capsules average $6.50, while 430 rubber balls or powder markers are around $30. At about one cent per shot, the T4E isn’t expensive to run. As for maintenance, the seals need to be oiled with every 200 rubber balls loaded. When the time comes, changing the bolt is simple. The magazine should not be dropped but, since things happen, the magazine is drop resistant. The feed components would be damaged if the magazine fell at the correct angle.
I cannot comment on long-range durability at this time. During weeks of testing, the T4E has performed well. There is no reason to think the device will not perform well in the long term.
Suggested retail price of the T4E is $550, reasonable for the quality involved. It includes a heavy-duty storage case. Spare magazines are in the $60 range.