Today, we’re taking a close look at the CMMG Mk4LE M4-style carbine rifle. It is made in the U.S.A. Over the past 30 years or longer, I’ve had the opportunity to test a lot of AR-15-style rifles; some were excellent, some good, and some were just so-so, not eliciting any real surprises. I know a lot of folks love the Colt line of ARs, and I don’t have a problem with that at all, but I work hard for my money, and I look to get the most for my money. I’ve only owned a few Colt ARs over the years because they are so expensive. I’m not saying they aren’t worth it. I’m just saying I want the most I can get for my money.
There are companies who claim to be “manufacturers” of AR-style rifles, when they are nothing more than an assembly line. They buy the parts from other makers and have their name stamped on the lower receiver and barrel, and just throw the parts together. Some are decent guns, and some are real bargain basement guns, looking like something they really aren’t. Corners are cut, and you aren’t really getting what you think you’re getting in many respects. CMMG is NOT one of those companies.
The good folks at CMMG are producing some outstanding firearms these days. Some time back, I reviewed their new Mk9 T, 9mm AR. SurvivalBlog readers got a first look at it, long before any other gun writers, magazines, or blogs had a sample; I had the first one. I was very impressed with the 9mm from CMMG. However, I’ve owned several different variations of the standard “M4” over the years, and that is the gun we’re looking at today.
A quick run down is in order, the Mk4LE is chambered in 5.56mm and will also shoot .223 Remington, and they are not the same round. The 4150 CrMo barrel is 16-inches long and has a Nitride coating on the inside. CMMG used to call this a WASP coating but no longer use the term, for whatever reason in their literature or on their website. However, the barrel is stamped “WASP” on it, and it has a 1:9 barrel twist. There is the standard A2 flash suppressor on the end of the barrel. The hand guards are M4 type with an aluminum heat shield. The pistol grip is the standard A2 configuration as well. The upper and lower receiver is forged 7075-T6 aluminum– the industry standard. The trigger pull is mil-spec; it is not the greatest but not the worst I’ve run across. There is a mil-spec 6-position telescoping butt stock. The front sight is the “F” height and forged, and the rear is a flip-up/fold down MagPul back-up polymer sight. The gun weighs in at a little over six pounds without the magazine, and you get a 30-round aluminum magazine with each gun, plus a lifetime warranty. No sling was included, and I wish AR makers would at least include a plain old GI Nylon or web sling with their guns. The upper receiver is a flat top version. I took off the MagPul poly rear sight and installed a detachable carry handle on my gun. This is a personally owned gun rather than a sample from CMMG.
There is an on-going debate over AR barrels. Many insist that they need a chrome-lined chamber and barrel. I’m not one of them. I can take or leave chromed barrels. The military mandates that all their M4s have chrome-lined barrels for longer life and easier care. However, many experts say that chrome-lined barrels are not as accurate as barrel that are not chromed. In my experience, and I’ve owned both chromed and non-chromed barrels, the difference in accuracy isn’t all that different. I own ARs with chromed barrels and chambers, some with the Nitride coating, and some with no coating, and I honestly don’t see any difference in combat accuracy between the barrels.
There is a bayonet lug under the front sight for all you deer hunters, who insist on a bayonet on their ARs. The only time I used a bayonet on an AR was in my Infantry School for stabbing stuffed dummies. However, I know a lot of folks insist on having a bayonet lug; to each his own. I don’t have a dog in this fight.
I like the heat shields in the two-piece hand guards on the CMMG AR. Many, many makers or assemblers of ARs elect to use much cheaper hand guards with no heat shields. I prefer mine with the heat shields. During rapid-fire, the hand guards can get hot. The hand guards are the M4 style– oval and not the smaller “carbine” hand guards.
I’ve been cutting back on how many rounds I put down range during my firearms testing. To be sure, I lose money on firearms articles. I receive some gun samples from the gun companies, but by the time I’ve done the paperwork, calculated my gas going to get the guns and doing the testing, and added the cost of the ammo I expend (I get some ammo free but not all), I actually lose money on each and every gun article I write. So, I’ve cut back to about 200 rounds of ammo for my testing. However, sometimes a gun is a just a lot of fun to shoot, and I get carried away. During my testing for the Mk4LE, I fired more than 400 rounds over several shooting sessions. No one ever accused me of being a good businessman!
When I first bought this rifle for my personal use, I fired it with the MagPul poly rear sight, and the gun’s zero was dead-on for a 300-yard zero. I’ve only run across this, having the sights zeroes when I took the gun out of the box, a very few times over the years. When I replaced the MagPul rear sight with a carry handle rear sight, I had to adjust the windage a bit to get my zero back.
I used Winchester’s www.winchester.com 55-grain FMJ USA-brand white box for function testing. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition www.buffalobore.com I had their 69-grain JHP Sniper load, and from Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com I had their 55-grain FMJ reloads, 52-grain HP reloads, and their 68-grain Heavy Match HP fodder. I also fired the Winchester 55-grain FMJ for accuracy; I was getting 3.5-inch groups, if I did my part. The Black Hills 68-grain Heavy Match HP load gave me a 2 3/4-inch group, and the Buffalo Bore 69-grain JHP Sniper load tied the Black Hills 68-grain Heavy Match HP load. I mean it was a dead-heat time between those two roads. All this firing was done using open sights, too, over a rest. However, I thought the Mk4LE was capable of better accuracy. So, I mounted a cheap 3-9X40 scope on the gun and didn’t zero it. I just wanted to see what the gun was capable of. The Black Hills 68-grain Heavy Match HP load gave me several groups right at 1 1/2 inches and the Buffalo Bore 69-grain JHP Sniper gave me groups just a hair bigger, and I mean it was just ever so slightly bigger. On another day, the accuracy test could have gone the opposite with the Buffalo Bore load beating the Black Hills load. Needless to say, my groups weren’t centered on the target since I didn’t zero the scope, but it was still on paper.
There were zero malfunctions during my testing, and I fired not only 400 rounds during my testing, I’ve also fired this gun numerous times since I purchased it, and I’ve yet to encounter anything resembling a malfunction of any kind. I’ve gotten the gun hot, very hot, firing four 30-round magazines through the gun, as fast as I could pull the trigger. What a waste of precious ammo, but I like to know what a gun is capable of, and it just perked along.
I like to save the best for last. The Mk4LE has a full-retail price of $849.95. However, you can usually find them discounted quite a bit at your local gun shop. I purchased mine for $799.00, and I’m extremely pleased with it. You can find lesser-priced ARs on the market, and you can find more expensive ARs as well. With the CMMG Mk4LE, you are getting a solidly-built gun with all the features you want in an M4-style rifle. You can check out the CMMG website and find quite a few different variations of M4-style rifles. I’m willing to bet you’ll find exactly what you’re needs require. For survival, law enforcement, small game hunting, personal/home protection, and just plinking fun, I love my CMMG Mk4LE and have all the confidence in the world that it won’t let me down under the harshest conditions– survival or combat.
I don’t like to compare one gun against another. However, if your local dealer has other AR-style guns in-stock, compare them to the CMMG. If they happen to have a Colt AR, compare that side-by-side to the CMMG. Then make your decision on which you want to spend your hard-earned money on. I’m betting most would pick the CMMG over the Colt. Also, please, all you Colt fans, save the hate e-mails. I’m NOT putting the Colt AR down. I’m just alerting SurvivalBlog readers to some other options when it comes to an AR for self-defense, survival, or whatever your intended purpose is in wanting an AR. The Mk4LE is a lot of AR-style gun for the money. I have to carefully watch how I spend my money these days, just like everyone else. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio Pat Cascio