Colt was there when the U.S. military drafted the first mil-spec AR rifles in the 1960s.
Walk the Colt factory in Hartford, Conn., and you will see rifles ready for shipment to the U.S. military. The military does not accept the shipment until they completely strip down a few rifles chosen at random, mix up the parts and reassemble the weapons. If the torn down and reassembled rifles function, then the lot is accepted by the military. Individual parts are put through a range of testing to ensure rifles function regardless if the intended use is combat, defense or competition. Colt products like the 1911s and Single Action Armys are built on some original machines. ARs are built using the CNC machines, as well as high-tech robotics that attack a piece of metal in a fury of cutting fluid and spinning tool bits.
Colt puts its mil-spec experience and know-how into not only military rifles, but commercial versions, and offers civilian-ready AR-15s that can be categorized into three variant types: personal defense, hunting and competition.
Colt’s commercial line of rifles for sporting use runs the gamut from civilian versions of the M4 with 16-inch barrels (military versions have select-fire capabilities and 14-inch barrels) and no selective fire control to hunting variants and competition-ready models for 3-Gun and Service Rifle match competition. Handle a Colt and you will see that the quality is built into the rifle. Colt’s ARs with proprietary monolithic uppers offer a great leap in accuracy since they free float the barrel while offering more rigidity. You just can’t pick one, you have to shoot it.
The LE901-16S is new blood in Colt’s lineup of ARs. This rifle allows monolithic upper receivers of different calibers to be swapped out. The barrel is free-floated in the one-piece monolithic upper and uses the traditional direct-gas system. The uppers sport backup iron sights and a full Picatinny rail to mount an optic. At 9.4 pounds, the rifle’s heft sucks up the recoil with heavy 7.62mm NATO loads. It is an excellent handling rifle with the 16-inch barrel and plenty of tactical firepower to back you up. It can also be used to hunt medium to large game. It is a sweet shoot. The big-bore .30-caliber upper can be swapped with a 5.56mm NATO upper. These Colt uppers make a rifle suited for predator hunting, defense or training. That’s versatility. Assembling the 5.56mm NATO upper on the LE901-16S lower receiver requires the user to use an insert block that allow 5.56mm NATO magazines to function. I used an assortment of metal mil-spec magazines and polymer Magpul magazines with no glitches. The heft of the rifle made the recoil from the 5.56mm NATO round feel non-existent. It also has an ambidextrous magazine release, bolt catch and safety selector.
The LE6940 series rifles are similar to the LE901-16S in that they feature Colt’s proprietary one-piece monolithic upper receiver that free-floats the barrel for enhanced accuracy. All LE6940 series rifles feature a long, continuous mil-spec rail that runs the length of the upper. A Magpul MBUS Gen 2 rear sight is used along with Colt’s folding front sight. The standard LE6940 and LE6940AE-3G use the typical direct gas impingement system. The LE6940AE-3G has an extended rail system and ambidextrous magazine release, bolt catch and fire selector. The LE6940P features an articulating piston system that, when I fired it in semi-automatic, showed little difference in recoil with the 5.56mm NATO round but left the bolt carrier cool to the touch after emptying numerous 30-round magazines. The backup iron sights on these models are flip-up style, so mounting a scope or red dot is an option. The long rail is also designed for repeatability in removing and attaching optics. The monolithic design makes the upper more rigid and slightly heavier than military-style carbines.
The LE6920 variants are similar to the M4 but with 16.1-inch chrome-lined barrels with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate. The LE6920 is the standard version with an A2-style front sight, folding rear sight and an adjustable stock. The LE6920AE builds upon the series and is similar to the standard model but with ambidextrous controls. A Troy rail and Magpul MOE furniture are featured on the LE6920MP-R carbine. The LE6920SOCOM has a heavy barrel, Troy rail and ambidextrous controls. All are chambered in 5.56mm NATO and come with 30-round magazines.
Magpul MOE stocks, handguards, magazines, vertical grips and other accessories outfit the LE9620MP series of carbines. Numerous combinations are available and come in finishes like basic black and camo. The LE9620MP-B is decked out in Magpul basic black. Flat Dark Earth Magpul furniture is outfitted on the LE6920MP-FDE, while the LE6920MP-OD uses Magpul’s OD green finish. All feature a 16.1-inch barrel with the M4 contour, weigh about 6.9 pounds and are 32 inches with the stock retracted, or 35.5 inches with the stock extended. These models have non-free-floated barrels that use the slip ring, or delta ring, to secure the handguards.
Other Mil-Spec Designs
The AR6720 series has features that some shooters request. The standard AR6720 has a light barrel with 1-in-7-inch twist and weighs only 5.98 pounds. The AR6721 is similar but has a heavy contour barrel and a twist rate of 1-in-9 inches. Both are chambered in the 5.56mm NATO round. The 1-in-9-inch twist rate of the AR6721 does good job of stabilizing lighter bullets in the 55-grain to 62-grain range.
The AR15A4 series features longer 20-inch barrels with 1-in-7-inch twist rates. The standard AR15A4 looks like it might have just been issued to a recruit with A2-style features like the buttstock, round and grooved handguard, carry handle and front sight. The carry handle removes to mount an optic, or keep it as is and use it for Service Rifle matches. Sporting an FDE-coated upper and lower receiver, the AR15A4MP-FDE also has Magpul furniture. The AR6951 is chambered in 9mm variant and takes a 32-round stick magazine.
For long-range shooting, the CR6720 series of rifles are built to perform. The standard CR6720 features a heavy stainless steel 20-inch barrel with 1-in-9-inch twist rate and a Colt scope mount with a free-floated handguard. For even more accuracy and muzzle velocity, the CR6724 adds 4 inches of barrel. The 24-inch heavy duty stainless steel barrel has a 1-in-9-inch twist rate. Without a scope the rifle weighs 8.56 pounds, which will help to keep the rifle steady for long-range, precision shots. The CR6724001 is similar to the CR6724. It has the long, 24-inch, heavy duty stainless barrel but uses a Troy KeyMod handguard with sections of rail in key positions.
Colt makes rifles that have been to hell and back. The company knows mil-spec and has built it into its civilian models.
For more information call 800-962-2658 or visit coltsmfg.com.