Classic Army M249 Para [In-Depth Review]
When I started playing airsoft 15 years ago, Classic Army was a top of the range make and Tokyo Marui was a budget entry level – oh how things have changed.
I always fancied having an LMG support replica in my arsenal, and out of hundreds out there, the m249 Para version was the one that I fancied the most, considering that Classic Army used to be a good reliable make I opted for this beauty.
At just over £300 I thought that this was a more than reasonable price, and ordered it from my local shop, DTW airsoft Colchester, I also ordered a classic army “nutsack” box mag, bringing the total to just under £400.
I received a phone call to say it had arrived one Saturday while I was at a game, needless to say once the skirmish was over I packed my kit away faster than ever before to collect it before the shop closed for the weekend!
Out of The Box
Upon opening the box you are greeted with the replica, instructions and a 300 round M4 style mag – it’s a shame they don’t include a box mag with the product as I am sure there are not many people that prefer to use a high cap magazine in a support LMG…
The replica is of full metal construction and weighs in at a hefty 6.5kg, you definitely want to get yourself a sling if you buy one of these and plan on being mobile during games. Get your arms ready for a proper workout!
- The weight, this is both a pro and a con, as stated this replica weighs 6.5kg, which is as close to its real steel counterpart as it can get, resulting in a solid, sturdy feeling product.
- Quick change spring system, I don’t think there are many springs that can be changed quicker than this one, remove one body pin to drop the stock down, open the top cover, put pressure one the spring guide, move a lever and the spring guide and spring is released from the gearbox, I am sure you could change springs on this in around 30 seconds.
- Built in folding bipod for when you have the chance to lay in wait for the hostile.
- The weight, because this is a heavy weapon it will put some people off, especially maybe the younger airsoft eras who like to charge and spray and pray.
- Battery storage and fitment, the battery sits in the fore end under the barrel, limiting what size of battery you can use, I fit a small 7.4v 1300 nun-Chuck Li-Po battery in mine, you can’t really go much bigger and I strongly wouldn’t recommend going 11.1v, I tried it and had to take the gearbox apart after.
- Lack of box mag from new, and the awkwardness of fitting the box mag to it. Like I said I have a nutsack type box mag for this gun, also made by classic army, it is quite fiddly to mount it and line up the feeder at the same time, this is definitely not something you want to do under fire. Another problem with the box mag is the loading door, I have to tape it shut as it has a habit of opening resulting in you losing half your ammo on the floor.
- Slight receiver wobble, there is just a little bit of play between the lower and upper receivers, it is minor but also the type of thing that does annoy some people (like myself)
- The bipod, although the bipod works well and is ok, it is a little delicate if you are not careful with it and the legs can fold forward bending the mechanism.
Accuracy and range
Out of the box the replica only fires around 310fps, so accuracy and range are generally okay, but nothing too special. It shoots a good 40 metres with around 50% of the rounds hitting a torso sized target at that range, don’t forget that this is a fully automatic RIF, no single shots here.
I upgraded mine with a 6.03 tightbore barrel – this raised the FPS up to around 340 and improved accuracy and range too, now hitting a torso sized target around 80% of the time at 50 metres. A very rewarding upgrade. I do have plans to change the hop -unit in the future but at the moment the standard hop-up copes just fine for my needs.
It has a steady rate of fire on 7.4v Li-Po. I did try running it on an 11.1v but after a few bursts it jammed, once I had opened the gearbox up it became clear that the piston had jammed back for some reason, after resetting it and reassembling the LMG worked fine once again. Since then it probably had around 50k rounds through it without a single issue, most of those were when I loaned it to a friend, (you know who you are).
Hop - up
The hop up unit is a rotary cylinder type set up, made from aluminium with an outer ring adjustment, to adjust it you do need to raise the top cover, but this is easily done by just pushing two pins in. The standard unit has so far worked very well, easily hopping .25 and .28 ammo, being a light machine gun support weapon you really don’t want to use any heavier weight bb’s due to the cost. There are upgrade hop units available for around £55-60, this is something I do plan on doing in the future.
The LMG is mostly metal with only a few ABS parts, hence why it’s a heavyweight replica. This may put some people off but I think most who play the role of support gunner would appreciate the realistic weight. The extendable stock is also metal, but feels quite flimsy and loose at times, there is also a flip up shoulder support on it that is about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike, the slightest bit of pressure applied to it sees it folding over on itself which voids it useless.
It also has a functional folding bipod clipped up into the foregrip, this does work very well but can be a little delicate if you are not careful. The metal used seems to be quite weak in some areas around the pivot points.
The trigger assembly is fitted to the body via two body pins, the fitment could be better as there is a very slight wobble due to this. I know it’s there and it does annoy me. However, I just haven’t gotten around to addressing the problem yet, it doesn’t affect the operation of the replica in any way as the trigger is controlled with a micro switch.
The LMG can be totally disassembled in an easy manner and anybody with a basic tech knowledge should be able to do it themselves. As mentioned earlier the spring can be changed in less than a minute.
Because I opted for the para version the battery fits in the foregrip, limiting your choice of batteries. I use and recommend a 7.4v 1300mah nunchuck style battery as it lasts long and works quite well. To fit or change the battery you unclip the top of the foregrip and slide it forward complete with outer barrel, this just leaves the inner barrel and hop unit behind, these just pull out from the housing as one unit, so barrel and hop unit replacement are a very easy job. What you are left with is a small space in the bottom of the foregrip for the battery, as standard it has a mini tamiya battery connector.
In the box you get a classic army 300rnd M4 style metal mag, I have found these to be very good as a high-cap magazine, but an LMG really requires a box mag. I purchased one of the Classic Army nutsack type box mags – they are listed to hold 1200 rounds, but in all honesty it seems closer to 1000.
The box mags are quite good, they include features such as: constant wind or sound activated wind which allows for continuous stream of BBs without worrying to wind manually. These mags are powered with a 9v pp3 battery which allow for these features to work well.
However, there is room for improvement, the loading door always seems to want to flip open, resulting in half of your ammo often lying on the floor. I use a piece of insulating tape to ensure this doesn’t happen (anymore). Fitting the magazine to the replica can also be a little fiddly, lining everything up and fitting the feed unit feels like it requires three hands.
Specs and features
|FPS (Feet Per Second)||292fps on Duster Gas / 338fps on Green Gas|
|ROF (Rate of Fire)||700 rpm|
|Effective Range||40-50 metres|
|Recommended BB Weight||0.25 – 0.28g|
|Gearbox||Aluminium Shell M249 Style|
|Hop-Up||Adjustable Aluminium Cylinder Type|
|Inner Barrel Length and Diameter||363mm|
|Battery Connector||Mini Tamiya|
|Battery Type||7.4v LiPo|
|Fire Modes||Safe/ Full Auto|
|Construction||Metal and ABS Plastic|
|Rail System||Picatinny Rail on Top of Receiver Cover|
As stated throughout the review, here are the highlighted issues:
- Delicate bipod pivot
- Useless shoulder support
- Receiver wobble
- Battery storage is quite limited
- It would be nice to see the Box Mags come included in the box, instead if a standard M4 hi-cap.
As stated I have carried out a barrel change to a tightbore, this saw an increase in FPS and accuracy, so I would highly recommend it, also I hope to be upgrading the hop up chamber soon, not for any reason other than and upgrade, as the standard one so far has been faultless.
With the U.K. FPS limits I do not see any point in upgrading the spring as this will put the gun above 350fps with the barrel fitted.
The only other improvement I plan to make is to change the battery connector to a Deans style one, but I hope to carry this modification out to all my guns due to reliability and the Deans connector being superior to the tamiya one.
For looks I brought a 5.56 inert ammo belt of 11 rounds, one end slides into a slot on the box mag and the other tucks nicely under the top receiver, being firmly held in place when it is closed.
But the most important and first thing you should buy for it is a good sling, it really is needed.
Although this review may sound a little negative, I can assure you that I love this gun and do not regret purchasing it at all! With a couple of minor and easy upgrades this replica becomes so much better than the original standard. So my advice to anybody who is thinking of buying one is – if you can handle the weight – get it, if you can spare extra cash to get the small upgrades – get it, if you don’t mind purchasing the box mag as an extra – get it! You won’t be disappointed, just make sure you have plenty of ammo to spare.