The M4A4 versus the M4A1-S - Have you made your decision?
The Old M4A1-S
Prior to this patch, the M4A1-S was the go to gun for all professional players other than NiP's friberg for whatever reason. The gun had a low 20 round magazine and a high rate of fire but it made up for it with accuracy. It was capable of a two round burst to the head from just about any range due to its low recoil. The low recoil also allowed players to easily empty a magazine with precision at medium range.
The M4A1-S was a very negligible amount more expensive than the M4A4 but with every advantage. The only thing the M4A4 could boast was a 30 round magazine size making it better for the spray type of player, but still suffered at range due to its higher recoil.
In With the New
More like out with the new...
This patch made some changes that forces even professional players to take a step back and second guess their weapon loadout.
First off we had a rate of fire decrease, permitting the M4A1-S to put out 600 rounds per minute (rpm) rather than its original 667 rpm that it used to share with the M4A4. So what does this mean? Well, many players who complained about the M4A1-S' poor magazine size may welcome this change because it means you run out of ammo slightly less quickly. On the other hand however, they will also find that a two round burst to the head at a moving target beyond medium range is a little more difficult.
The slower fire rate isn't as important as the recoil increase. This means the initial two shots are a tad bit farther apart and if you've used the M4A4 in the past, you know this means that you can't easily land two headshots on a target at medium to long range by firing a two round burst. It's not impossible, but it is more difficult; in fact it is easier to just fire a three round burst with the M4A4 at chest level in hopes of landing the last two shots on their noggin.
So what is the M4A1-S still good for? Sadly, nothing. It's slow rate of fire limits its close range potential and the added recoil makes it less accurate than the M4A4 at longer ranges. Sure, the silenced counterpart has less of a damage drop off but the numbers differ by something like .03 units. The distance that would have to be between you and your target in order for a damage drop off like this to matter isn't ever relevant when playing on active duty maps.
It Could Be Worse
I'm sure there are many of you out there who will continue to use the M4A1-S simple because you enjoy the aesthetic appeal, the sound of the gun, or maybe you actually like the new form it has taken on.
To all those players, I say good for you; stick to your guns! (applause) But you should know, it could be worse.
Valve's original plan was to reduce the armor penetration values on the M4A1-S, essentially making it just an expensive Famas. When the patch launched, this aspect was not included and I suspect that with such a community uproar over this gun balance issue, they never will; however, there's always still a chance.
This patch has some pro players second guessing, but in the grand scheme of things the changes to the M4A1-S don't really effect much.
Sure, the A1 is now a little less reliable at close range due to a lower rate of fire, and can't do any better than the A4 at medium and long ranges, but is it worth it to make the switch?
If your one and only favorite gun is the M4A1-S then keep using it. It's really not that bad (as long as they don't reduce the armor penetration). If you're serious about competitive play and don't want to take the chance that your opponent may have too much of a weapon advantage, then make the switch. Just keep in mind that both are still viable. There's no need to flame your teammates for using the nerfed M4A1-S.