Colin, I don't think the M variety requires a battery for the meter but can fire away with a mechanically controlled shutter without it. The A variants are dead without batteries though, unlike an M7 that has 2 mechanically controlled speeds available.
Originally Posted by Colin Corneau
I recently sold my R4A, but not because I didn't like it. It was just made redundant with having 2 M bodies. For an intro into Rangefinder photography, I think Bessas and CV lenses are a great value.