The COLT LE901-16S A DETAILED LOOK PART I

Everyone knows Colt.  Colt started a little over 175 years ago and is now one of our country’s oldest gun makers. In the 1960s, Colt secured the rights to the Stoner/Armalite AR15 and AR10.  Back in ’09 Colt introduced the LE6940 to the market as the first major change to the family since the intro to the wildy successful and popular M4 carbine we see everywhere today.  The 6940 had a lot of parts in common with the M4 (known as the 6920 in semi-auto dress). The major difference was the new upper.  The  6940 upper is monolithic and free floats the barrel.  The receiver and the rail of the ’40 are all machined from a one-piece forging and offers the ability to set optics anywhere on the rail and have total stability.  This helps to keeps your zero, well, zeroed.  Another addition was the folding front sight that replaced the fixed military legacy front sight base that dates back to the originals.

Right or wrong, a desire for more power than the 5.56 arose over the last decade because of the GWOT and because our soldiers are sometimes involved in long range contacts.  The tired old M14 was pressed into service in hopes of extending the range of SDMs and to give a little more confidence to those who felt the 5.56 was not quite enough.  In the years since, a lot of companies have started to ramp up and offer their own versions of the AR-series in 30 caliber and anything else they can squeeze into the magazine well of the rifle pattern.  The Armalite AR10 has been around for a while, the KAC was adopted as a sniper weapon by both the US Army and the USMC, and the LMT MWS has seen limited success as a DM rifle for the British military.

It is in the midst of this 30 caliber revolution that people noticed one name oddly absent from the 7.62 AR market game–Colt.  The company had not forgotten or ignored the trend, but it had to make sure to fill contracts worth millions for the US Gov, including the M4 and recent awards for M240 machine guns.  Now that the war seems to be winding down and Colt has more breathing room, they’re expanding and are stating to fire up their impressive R&D again.  Remember that this is a company that has brought out some of the most legendary firearms of the past 175 years.  After the release of the 6940, rumors started about a version chambered in 308 all over the internet with some links to patents to support the rumors.  Then over a year ago at the SHOT show we saw the 901 for the first time. It was shown in several different barrel lengths and finishes.  Now over a year later the 901 is ready to  hit the market.

What makes the Colt LE901 special is not only is it a 308 rifle, but it can be very easily converted to take any milspec 5.56 upper available and made to quality. Colt considers this their “Modular carbine” and it most certainly is.

With a adapter block (which is installed very easily), the modular ambi lower will take any upper you can find.  One extra part and a swap of the buffer spring and buffer give you unlimited combos with the 901.   The rifle takes the SR25 pattern magazines so it will take the Pmag, (and therefore the KAC and LaRue mags as well).  The barrel is 16 inches long and the button-rifled barrel and chamber are chrome-lined.  As with all Colts, the barrel is MPC and proofed–not just in batches, but every single one of them.  The twist rate of the gun is 1/12 which gives you a pretty wide range of bullet weights to use.

Like the 6940 the  901 has a monolithic upper.  It also has a few upgrades the 6940 does not have. The rail of the 901 has QD sockets not just in the front of the rail, but also in the rear of the rail.  Most people want this and it is great to see this added to the rifle. The front sight is like the 6940’s in that it folds, but the difference is that the 901’s front folding sight is not lockable in the up position for those who worry it might fold down in harsh use right when you do not want it to.

As written above, the lower of the rifle is also ambi.  This is another trend that has started in the last decade and one that will be sticking with us in my opinion. The controls are well placed and easy to use.  None of them are stiff or require so much force as to make them useless.  The gun comes standard with a Colt marked troy BUIS.

A nice feature in the lower is the absence of a web blocking the installation of a RDIAS. So if you have one, full auto fire in a colt 308 can be a reality. The FCG parts are all standard Milspec with all the typical colt quality and testing that goes with that. The 308 marked buffer in the gun can be seen in the picture above.

The 16 inch barrel is described by colt as a HBAR but I would call it more of a medium heavy with a straight taper unlike the taper of older colt HBAR carbines of the past. The rail comes off like the 6940 by depressing the lock on the bottom rear with a round or punch. The rifle sent to me by colt defense also needs a screw on each side of the rail taken out for further stripping.  This helps keep the rail from moving at all for  reliability when using IR lasers or other force multipliers.

The bolt carrier group comes apart just like any other AR but with a few slight upgrades. The firing pin has the addition of a firing pin spring that colt advises not to remove.  The gas rings on the bolt are also one-piece instead of three rings like the 5.56 bolt.

The rest of the BCG is  no surprise. It is made to the same standards as any colt rifle meant for hard combat use with everything tested to milspec and Colt’s TDP that has served millions of military, LEO and civilian personnel for years.

The conversion kit that lets you use the 5.56 upper of your choice comes in three parts. The adapter magazine well block, the 556 buffer spring and the standard Milspec  M4  “H” buffer.  It takes less than a minute to convert the rifle over to 556 and having it operate just like your favorite 556 slayer.  Some people are already saying to use the 308 buffer for a softer shooting carbine but this is a bad idea and I will go out on a limb and say if something goes wrong with your rifle in this configuration of 556 with 30 buffer parts, Colt may not warranty it.  That is PURE SPECULATION on my part, but we all know how companies view such things.

The 901 receiver extension or “buffer tube” as it is commonly called, is standard M4 all the way with the normal colt 4 position. In the picture above is the 308 buffer inside its spring on the left with the 556 buffer to the far right. The 5.56 spring is far left next to the block.

The upper can be tilted down for removal of the BCG and cleaning without taking the entire gun apart. If you’re in a hurry, it’s the way to go although it’s easy to remove the upper completely with the block still on the upper.  The pin is captured so there is no fear of losing it.

Picture shows 556 upper opened as far as it will go with block installed and attached to the lower.

A few people have voiced concerns over what mags the lower with adapter block may or may not take. I found every mag tested will work, including uncommon mags.

Above is a pre-ban colt upper in 7.62×39 with a  ’39 mag in the well. The gun runs flawlessly with the commie caliber upper and magazine fit.

Here is a 6940 upper with the surefire 60 round magazine showing off its stuff and working perfectly.

The world standard 6920 ( M4) upper and the beloved 5.56 Pmag in the 901 lower and working 100 percent.

Finally the Colt  HBAR ELITE  CR6724 24 inch barreled precision upper takes a turn on the lower. All uppers ran as expected with no trouble.

In part two I will write about shooting the 901, its recoil, accuracy and how it does out to 1000 yards along with pictures of targets in testing.

Colt LE901 1st Impressions

Loose rounds was sent  the new modular 308 rifle from our friends over at Colt Defense today.  This is the new gun that has a 308 upper and a lower that can take a 5.56 upper to with a slight addition of an adapter block.  I got the gun and did a few groups with it and took some pics to get them up for everyone to see. Much much more to follow in the weeks to come!!

I set it up for the groups using a Leupold in Larue mounts. Shot at 100 yards with match ammo.

A lot more to come. I will be running it pretty hard and shooting it out to 1000 yards. More if I can pull it off. But this is a hint of things to come.

and yes, the 901 will take a bayonet

Dead batteries, LaRue, and M4 zeroing.

I went on a trip to Michigan recently.  During this trip I ended up using my hand held light for 40 minutes one night.  It still boggles my mind that some people feel it is not necessary to carry a flash light, however that is beside the point.  This use drained the battery in my light, so in the morning I went to replace the battery.  Turns out both Panasonic brand batteries I bought with me as backups were dead.

So from now on I am going to check my spare batteries before I pack them.

LaRue has announced an upcoming price increase.  At the 1st of next month prices will jump 7.5 to 12.5%.  While I understand that prices will change, and that change is normally upwards, it saddens me to hear of this.  I already know to many people who have bought far inferior gear just to save a few dollars.  I hope that this increase in price won’t discourage new buyers from buying LaRue products.  If you were planning a purchase from LaRue, might as well try and get it in before the price increase.

Yards vs. Meters.  Turns out there really is a difference.  In the USMC we often used the two terms interchangeably.  However yards are not the same as meters.  Currently the Army uses a 300 meter zero on their M4 carbines. This is accomplished by firing point of aim (POA) point of impact (POI) at 25 meters with M855 ammunition.   This puts the round about 7 inches over POA at 175 meters, and 7 inches low at 350 meters.

Zeroing at 300 yards with the same ammo gives you a max hight of 5 inches over the point of aim (at around 175 yards), then the round drops to 5 inches below point of aim at 350 yards.  However at 350 meters the round is about 9 inches below point of aim.  I have not double checked the numbers yet, but it looks to me that the distance numbers on the detachable 6/3 carry handle for the M4 are a better match if you are shooting in yards instead of meters.

For many civilians, the 300 yard zero may be more practical then the 300 meter zero due to the flatter flight path under 300 yards.  Most ranges are measured out in yards, so a reduced 300 yard zero could be had by having your impacts 1/2 inch low at 25 yards or 1 inch high at 50 yards using your 300 yard sight setting.  As always, when possible confirm your zero at distance.

One last thing, please don’t try to get a 300 METER zero by shooting at 25 YARDs.  This is closer to a 350 meter zero, and puts your rounds about 10 inches high at 200 meters.  If you want a 300 meter zero on the M4, shoot at 25 meters.

Home made Rifle Tripod. cheap precision

Bipods are great.  I love them. Years ago  I when I was under the wings of two older gentlemen who had become accomplished highpower and benchrest  shooters, I was told that there was no need for them. That  if I laid prone the weeds or grass would obscure the shot and if I was in any other positions I could find something to rest on  anyway. Like a fence post, tree limb, mother in laws back etc.  And I was told rifleman used a sling to shoot with.  I found this odd coming from a BR shooter that used a rest  when not in the field but thats another story.

Of course years later and a lot of rounds later  after college I had enough money to buy a harris bipod. Once i had it, I could not see how I ever lived without it.  I believe firmly that rifleman should know how to use a sling. but, I also think to not used ever method of making yourself as steady as possible to make a precision shot is simply foolish.   To me a sniper, no matter how accomplished, that has a chance to use a bipod and a rear bag or even a front and rear bag and does not is not the kinda guy I want taking a shot  a inch past my head. It is not cheating.  Cheating wins fights, not honor and fair play.

With this in mind I had seen camera tripods modified for years to be used in a myriad of sniping situations and instantly saw the brilliance of this simple rig.  Lately after seeing more and more of the expensive camera tripods being used for the Larue OBR and the adapters to make them  work together I got thinking about it again.  Where we shoot it is often covered in knee high grasses during the warmer months.  This makes it hard to get a shot at a coyote laying down and there is no  handy tree branches or fence posts to use while standing up as I had been told years ago there would be.

I lusted for the   more elaborate setups for a while  but of course the price is pretty daunting. So I decided to use the my usual method of making something I want.  And that is to get my Dad to help. He is of the generation that can do anything when almost nothing to work with.  I am an idea man where my Dad is the one I go to that can actually make something of my crazy ideas. So together we  were able to come up with a  simple but highly effective  tripod.

A trip to the local flea market and  8 bucks later, I had a very nice used camera/video tripod  that was completely adjustable in every way and very high quality.  It can be adjusted to be very short and tall enough to use standing  with plenty of room left over  for more vertical adjustment. The top will swivel and rotate and can be locked. The arm or moving the top fixture can also be swapped for a lefty or righty.

After getting the tripod, A half of a PVC pipe was  secured with screws and epoxy. Then to make sure the forearm would be snug I glued on foam padding. This made a nice little rest without adding any weight.  After it was dry I used krylon to  subdue it with tan and OD green so it would not be shiny black and silver.

After everything was done I had to test it a few days later to make sure it was stable enough.  I was not worried about stability when low to the ground, but when it is high up in the air thats when wobble starts.   After taking it to the usual place and shooting it from a variety of heights and angles  i have to pronounce it a success.  I was able to hit skeet out to 300 yards using it and my rifle.  It may not sound like a big deal but to do this while standing straight up is pretty nice.  It is not as steady as bipods in prone and I don’t think I could make hits every time on a man sized target  past 700 yards when fully extended but thats OK.   No one takes shots at people shooting back at them from a full exposed standing position unless you are in a hollywoood action movie.   As steady as it is even when at its lowest setting i would not use it for zeroing.  The more the gun weighs  of course the more it helps steady things but it has no way to support the firing and alternate killing hand when shooting.  These are pretty big factors for precision and its a drawback with a tripod this high.  When  used to a tripod locked down with a rifle in it, the thing can pull off some amazing hits  and give some serious versatility  but nothing will beat sandbags and all the traditional stuff for zeroing and pure accuracy work.

But if you can find a good used tripod I say give making one of these a try. They are not hard to make and the components are not expensive. Why not add something that can fill a need like the tripod can. At least if you want something more specialized or better quality you can make one to try out if you really want/need this tool before you spend huge amounts of jack on the higher end  models.

Check and recheck your gear.

When ever you buy new gear, or change the setup of your gear, you need to test it out.  It is good to make sure there are no unexpected issues.

For example, today I found that the LaRue POD stock attachment I have interferes with my plate carrier.  Shooting with out the body armor was a non-issue, however with the body armor, getting the stock where I wanted it was not working out.  I also installed an ITW Fast Mag M16 magazine holder on my belt.  While I loved the pouch, I found that its’ rigid body got in the way when I got into the kneeling position.

As always, it is better to find out issues in practice then then find them in the fight.