5.56 Timeline

Abusing the Accurate Rifle

We all love accurate rifles. Col. Whelan  famously said “Only accurate rifles are interesting” and we all love that gun that can shoot little bug holes to show off with. It instils confidence in your fire arm to know it  is capable of such things and in a lot of cases that confidence can equal better performance.  In America we always want the best, and when it comes to rifles one of the defining characteristics of ” the best” is being able to shoot the tightest group possible.  The idea of the one shot kill holds a mighty sway on the american rifleman. So powerful is this myth that  instructors have to teach students to shoot the bad guy to the ground and when a soldier hits a haji with his M4 he expects the bad guy to fall over dead just like in a movie. When it does not happen, complaints start up claiming something is wrong with the rifle or the caliber or what ever. Of course poor  shooter skill and poor  shot placement could not possible be the culprit. Because of this we see a trend demanding larger calibers and more accurate rifles.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more accuracy but the trend for more and more accurate barrels started earlier then you may think. When the lure of the sniper and the one shot one kill legend started first, it was in the 90s. The sniper became the new  focus and sniper rifles became very popular.  The  use of the M16A2 in service rifle at camp perry to dominate also had a large hand. Now, years later  with manufacturing processes and tricks and techniques learned over the years, we now have small shops that offer up barrels on their AR15s that can shoot close to 1/4 MOA.  Of course with this ability to make the rifles that can do this, came the demand to have them.  Even if someone could not possibly hold a 1/4 inch group at 100 yards, it did not stop the desire.

A lot of these high quality super accurate rifles could easily be used as sniper rifles and indeed are more accurate then military issue rifles. The problem  is that all this is all the accuracy from these barrels and the time to make them and money spent is wasted away like a democrat spends your money.

Time after time I look through the popular gun boards and see  users with Larue OBR, PredatARs and  Noveske rifles  doing rapid fire mag dumps at targets no further away then 50 yards.  Most the time it is on man sized targets and they have mounted the popular T-1 or eotech or something there about.   Why do they need a gun that shoots 1/4 MOA to hit a man sized target across the room?  Some of them do not even take the gun off of a benchrest and restrict their shooting to 25 yards incredibly.  I have even seen some shooting these match rifles using  military surplus ball ammo. They do not even bother with the match ammo it takes to achieve the precious level of accuracy they so badly wanted and paid for. The biggest mind boggler to me is the mag dumps. Sure the rifles can handle it, but that accuracy level of the barrel will only last so long and after a certain number of rounds fired, it will go from 1/4 or 1/2 to 1 MOA or 2 or even larger depending on what goes bad or wears first.

Howard:  -The first time I saw a LaRue Stealth Upper, it was being used to bump fire.  All of the 5.56 OBR rifles I have seen have had either an Aimpoint or Eotech on it.  Similar for Noveske rifles.  Often they were just used for offhand rapid fire.  The sort of shooting I witness these precision rifles used for could be achieved with any quality standard carbine barrel.  While it is very nice to have a match barrel, why spend the money one one unless you actually require that accuracy.-

A carbine meant to defend your house and shoot across the room, does not need match accuracy. A carbine that will see mag dump after mag dump does not need this level of accuracy.  A gun meant for SHTF or the end of the world does not need it either. In fact, a less accurate 2 MOA barrel with a proper NATO chamber, chrome lined , tested and made from the proper steel is more desirable to me in a time when conditions are at there very worst then some match barrel.

Further more, other then bragging rights, what do you need with it if you are the typical shooter? I do not mean beginner here either. I am talking about someone who shoots and trains regularly.   If you train for urban fighting and typical carbine distance, you just do not need it and likely you wasted money on something you may not even or will ever, have the ability to shoot to its potential or even half of it.   After taking a few carbine classes with high round counts or showing all your friends how you can shoot 15 rounds in 3 seconds like a magpul DVD  you have just lost a little more of that  expensive accuracy.  A barrel starts to wear as soon as you start to use it. I would bet the farm that those who buy such match barrels are very meticulous about cleaning it. And why  not? It  is so precious and it cost so much!! Probably had to save up for it for months or trade a few guns to get it. Problem is they clean it so much they are wearing it more then the rounds they fired did. Of course if they buy into the  myth of needing to “break in” the barrel by shooting and cleaning, they just started the process off at a faster rate then if they had just shot it. And they did not accomplish any “break in” either.

For those who think they still can benefit from such a high level of accuracy take a look at most targets used in 3-gun or IDPA or  FBI Q targets.  The areas marked as the zone needed to hit for the fastest stops, none of them need  even 1 MOA most of the time.  The head shot is some times used as justification. But I will not take a harder head shot under stress and risk a miss when I could take a body shot and know I am going to hit. Even if it takes two shots, at least  there is greater chance the target will react from 1 hit then the zero chance of the target being slowed from a miss.  A hostage shot you say?   Do you really trust your self to zing a round past some kids eyeball to hit the CNS  on a bad guy with only  a few inches exposed?  In the real world with no sand bags and comfy bench with a rest and a cold drink and shade you are sure you can take that shot with a red dot sight  while the heart tries to beat out of your head?   Maybe its best if those shots are left to snipers or until you got a better angle.  if you are in this position things have gone very bad and probably is not going to end well anyway. If you are a civilian, rambo fantasy aside, there is probably no way this is going to have a happy ending.

A lot of the more well thought of and popular sniper weapons issued by the military these days does not meet the accuracy requirements and specs advertised in the  more well known precision AR makers. The original requirement for the much vaunted USMC M40 rifle was  2 MOA.  Carlos Hathcock pulled off all of his toughest shots with  rifles that  would not have printed under 1 MOA if  Jesus, Buddha, and Cuthulu himself had blessed them.   The current M24 SWS  shoots just over 1 MOA at 1 hundred yards.  For a fighting gun, you really do not need the accuracy it takes to win a NBRSA match.

Of course rifles with this high a level of  accuracy have  use and can really take you to the next level. The trick is knowing when  your skill reaches a point that you can benefit from them and  being honest with your self about the type of shooting you do, what the rifle will be used for and if you will need it.  IF you are going to be using the rifle  for the  ITRC and need to make hits out to 800 yards and you are capable  of making those hits, then it could pay off. If you  compete at 3 gun and do most of your work at 50 yards with maybe a rare shot or two out to 200  on a 10 or 6 inch plate  then you do not.   Urban sniping on the SWAT team? Yes, it could do that, but there is a IF to that. Most  of these guns will  have a round from every group that will be a “flyer” that could take a 1/2 inch group to a 1.5.  The Noveske barrels are known to fling a shot out of a group. It is still a tight group, but I am not comfortable not knowing for sure where the next round is going to hit. If I was a sniper taking a hostage shot, that would terrify me.

If you like to blast dirt clods, go to carbine classes, plink or run serious drills, you are way better served with a quality Milspec barrel. It is very important to note that just because you do not need a “match barrel” that does not mean you should go out and buy a cheap barrel or gun.  There is a huge difference between a quality made barrel and  some no name  barrel from some cheap kit.  A quality milspec barrel , with quality match ammo will often give a match barrel a real run for its money and make high end barrel makers blush.  I have a milspec barrel that will keep 20 rounds inside 1 inch at 100 yards.  That is no small feat for a military barrel and a lot of people trying to sell you a match barrel will tell you that can not be done. But that is a lie. Often good milspec barrels with proper ammo could hold their own in a lot of military type sniping rolls and you could not tell much difference between a quality Milspec barrel and a national match barrel  in the hands of a top 3 gunner in a 3 gun shoot or rifle match.  The best part is, the milspec barrels are hardened for combat with chrome bore and chambers and a NATO chamber keeping them running when things get hot and very dirty. In some cases  this would choke a pure competition barrel and gun. Then where did the extra accuracy get you?

The proper barrel needs to be put in perspective with how you are going to use it and your skill level.

Q&A 3

This is a LooseRounds.com Q&A session.  If you have a firearms related question please email it to [email protected]. We will post the your questions anonymously and give you our answers.

1.  Sirs,

A friend and I are working up loads for his hunting rifle and during the discussions a question came up that neither of us have seen addressed. When shooting (right-handed) for group from a bench, with the rifle supported by sandbags at the forearm and butstock, what is the best position for the left hand on the rifle?

Is it important to control the forearm laterally with a hand on the forearm? I recently watched a video showing a rifle with a bipod and butstock monopod being fired with the left hand on the monopod controlling vertical sight movement. The bipod controls the lateral movement but maybe not so much during recoil.

We’d like to read your opinions (and reasons) on this question.

Thanks. We enjoy your site.

Howard:  Normally the forend/handguards are on a rest/sandbags/bipod, and the left hand is used to adjust the rear bag/monopod for elevation.

Sometimes for expediences the left hand is put directly under the stock(often as a fist) and clenched or unclenched to hold up the butt of the rifle.
Just resting the front of the rifle on a rest helps steady the rifle a great deal, but when the rear of the rifle is resting on something as well, the rifle is far more stable.  When using something like a competition bench rest all adjustments are done from the front rest.  However for most of us, the front rest we use(bipod, sandbag, wooden block, backpack, enemy cadaver, etc) is not so adjustable.  So we pivot the rifle on the front rest for left and right, and we lift or drop the buttstock for up and down.  Using a rear rest gives that additional stability, and the left hand(for a right handed shooter) is used to control/adjust that rear rest.
2.  I am trying to help new hunters as well as others to select and purchase the right optics for the type of gun as well as the type of hunting or shooting they enjoy doing. The right equipment is a sure way to be a safe and happy hunter.
Shawn:  For medium to large size game:  For deep woods or anything other then open plains something like a 1-5x.  If you are in an area like out west where you have longer distances, something like a 3.5-10x.  Preference for 10x or under so you don’t have to worry about adjusting parallax because you don’t have time to fiddle with it in the field.  No bigger then a 40mm objective lens as long as the optic is clear, because anything much bigger doesn’t really make anything much bright.  Larger just adds weight and size that makes the rifle top heavy.  Stay away from scopes with friction plate elevation or windage adjustments, you want to be able to zero as precisely as you can.  For varmint hunting, I prefer 12-20 magnification scopes with target turrets with positive clicks with a click value of no less then 1/4 MOA.  Has to be adjustable for focusing and objective lens size doesn’t really matter, go as large as you like.  For long range varminting, scope base and ring selection is just as important as the scope.
Howard:  The problem with picking a scope is that there are so many options and personal preferences.  Thicker reticles can be faster to pick up, but may cover a target at longer ranges.  Too much magnification can make it slower to acquire targets.  Adjustments values need to be appropriate for the type of precision necessary for the type of shooting.  I think a decent 3-9 would cover the average deer or hog hunters needs.
Optics are very much a personal preference.  LooseRounds.com always recommends that you always try to buy the highest quality optics you can afford.
3.  does the colt rail gun have a throated barrel?
Shawn:  Yes and a polished feed ramp.
4.  How did the Unertl scope hold up in tropical climate?
Shawn:  The Unertl in the war in Vietnam did tend to fog up at time in the rainy season.  But this isn’t the flaw that it seems to be, John Unertl designed the scope to be very easy to repair and worked on by the end user.  So the Unertl is easily taken apart and can be dried off or wiped dry and cleaned with simple tools.  Even the cross hair was designed to be replaceable by the end user with anything suitable in the event of failure.  With those in mind, you could seal the scope yourself, at the cost of no longer being able to do field expedient disassemble.  Other then that, the Unertl scope was very difficult to break or render unusable.
5.  can i own a krinkov if it has no stock
Howard:  You can own an AK pistol.  For example the Draco and the SLR106-47.  However I do not recommend this setup as they are heavy and awkward.  Shooting them with out a sling for stabilization is also awkward, best used for turning money(ammo) into noise.
6.  Is the Colt 901 an AR10
Howard:  No.  While the 901 is a 308 AR like the AR10s of old.  However now the term AR10 refers specifically to the trademarked Armalite (Eagle) brand .308 rifles.  The Armalites mostly use a M14 style mag.  Often you will see people refer to the lesser DPMS (Panther) .308s as AR10s.  These are not AR10s but a whole different model.  No one with a premium .308 such as a LaRue OBR, Colt 901, KAC EMC or SR25, GAP, LWRC REPR, POF, etc call their .308 variant an AR10.  Only people who have purchased the cheaper DPMS tend to want to call it by a most expensive models trademark.
7.  What ammo does the USMC scout snipers use?
Shawn:  Ammo used in all USMC sniper system is the M118LR.  175 grain Serria hollow point boat tail bullet and Lake City match brass.  Of course, other loads like ball or tracer can be used in specialty or emergencies situations.
8.  Will the Magpul BAD lever work on the Sig 716?
Howard:  No.
9.  Surefire 60 round magazine stripper clip?
Shawn:  The Surefire mags will accept stripper clips when loaded with a stripper clip guide.
Howard:  The Stripper clip guide is often called a “spoon”.

Colt 901 Part 4

In parts 1-3 Shawn has pretty much covered most of I would say.

Previously, I owned an Armalite AR10 model 10A4F and I replaced that with a LMT MWS which I quickly got rid of.

The Armalite was about $1500, and was a nice rifle.  However with its 20 inch barrel, A2 stock, and longer then AR15 action, it make for a long almost awkward rifle.  While it did deliver its guaranteed 1.5 MOA, it was neither the handy battle rifle I would have liked, nor a semi-auto precision rifle.  So I replaced it with a LMT MWS.  The MWS had some very nice features, but I had some issues with mine, and sold it quickly.

Now having tried the Colt 901, I much prefer the Colt over the previous two rifles I owned.  The 901 is surprisingly soft shooting.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t have recoil, but that it is a smooth impulse.  Perhaps the M1 Garand might be a good comparison.  The Armalite I owned was not that pleasant to shoot, and the MWS, while nice, was still a much sharper recoil impulse.  When shooting the 901 off of a Harris bipod, the rifle recoils straight back, making it easy to watch my impacts through the NightForce 2.5-10×24 scope I was using.  When shooting offhand with an Aimpoint T1, the 901 recoiled smoothly up and back, I want to say that the recoil impulse is smoother than shooting a M4 with M855.  I don’t want to make some claim that the rifle has light recoil, but I find it extremely fun and easy to shoot.

I have noticed some people questioning the choice of the Vortex flash hider on the 901.  I know it to be an excellent choice.  16 inch barreled 308s have a good deal of flash and blast depending on ammunition used.  This pronged flash hider helped break up the flash and concussion from the shorter barrel, and makes the rifle much more pleasant for those around the shooter.  While a pronged flash hider will ring(most noticeable when dry firing), it is not noticed when firing the rifle.

The 901 is not light, but in my opinion, it balances well.  The Armalite rifle felt very nose heavy.  The MWS, while similar weight, had most of its weight in its barrel, making the rifle far more awkward then the 901.  The 901 handles very similarly to a MK18/CQBR with Daniel Defense RIS II and a suppressor.  It is not light, but it feels far closer to that of a M4 then the MWS.  I found the 901 easier to shoot well then the MWS.

On a side note, when I tried DAG surplus 308 in the LMT MWS, I could only get 6 inch groups at 100 yards with it.  It got to the point where people were making fun of me with my performance with that rifle.  This same ammo gives me 2.5 inch groups in the 901.  So far, in my limited testing, the 901 seems less ammo sensitive then the MWS.

I spent much of the time shooting the rifle with a Magpul CTR stock, the VLTOR IMOD that came with it works very nicely as well.

The Colt 901 is an awesome rifle, but it is not perfect.  So there are some things you should know before you buy one.

1.  The 901 uses a non-standard height front sight, so it comes with a Troy micro rear sight.  Standard AR15 rear BUIS will not work unless you use a rail mounted front sight on the monolithic top rail.

2.  The area where the trigger pins are on the lower is reinforced.  This means if you replaced the trigger, you will want to use the slightly longer trigger pins that come with the 901s trigger.

3.  5.56 PRI Gasbuster charging handles will not work with the 901 lower.  It is unknown if the BCM gasbusting Gunfighter charging handles will work.

4.  The 901 comes with “Colt Spec” .308 PMags.  These Colt Spec mags have an over insertion prevention tab on them.  I primarily ran the 901 with standard Magpul 308 Pmags and had no issues.  When using the standard PMags, think just like using standard GI mags in an AR15, push into the mag well, then pull to make sure it is seated.  The Colt Spec mags are nice, but not mandatory.  With the upper removed, I found it was a non-issue.

5.  The quad rail on the 901 is tall and narrow.  I think that rail panels might not be a good choice for this rifle, but it does work well with ladder covers.  I think that LaRue index clips were a little too slick for the 901.  A Knights handstop and VFGs work well on the 901, but are lower from the bore then I am used too.(I mainly use the Daniel Defense RIS II rail).

6.  The 901 is nose heavy, however it is not too different then a M4 with accessories, or a SBR with suppressor.  I find it better balanced then many of the other .308 variants I have owned or used.

Please don’t read this list the wrong way, I HIGHLY recommend the 901.  It is good to know these sort of things before you buy the rifle.

What I am looking forward to most is having an SBR 901.  I am excited about having a 308 upper, and a short 5.56 upper in the same case, with a single .30 cal can I could run on both uppers.

Testing The Colt LE901-16S Part II Accuracy Testing

Part two of my review of the Colt LE901 will be the results of  my shooting of the gun, its accuracy, performance and handling. I shot the rifle with all of the more popular match ammo and with handloads. I also took the gun out past what the company reasonably expected it to be fired at.  I expected the gun to perform well with its accuracy since it is in essence a larger 6940. The 6940 with its free floated barrel and unique barrel nut has been a very impressive performer.  The results still surprised me a little bit and shocked me with what it did at 1000 yards and beyond.


The 1st set up groups were shot using  168 grain federal match, M118LR, Black Hills 175 match. This was the first shooting from the gun after I got it. I placed a Leupold 18x target scope in larue mounts on the upper and got a rough zero then proceeded to shoot for groups.  The groups were shot at 100 yards on a calm day using  bipods and a small rear sandbag rest.  I considered this to be outstanding accuracy from a chrome-lined military 16 inch barrel. The 901 is pretty much a battle rifle, and to expect this accuracy from a battle rifle is not always reasonable. Some battle rifles will give good performance but  2-3 MOA is usually considered  fine for such weapons.

Above picture represents the rifle setup used for all accuracy testing.

The next set of  testing of accuracy was long range. I started out shooting the rifle with the common Federal Gold Medal 168 grain loading. I  used steel gongs at 600 yards the size of a man’s chest and a steel shaped groundhog.  With only 16 inches of barrel, velocity did fall off as expected causing me to need more adjustment on the optics compared to my normal 26-inch bolt-action. Some people seem to think shorter barrel means less accuracy but this is simply not true. You lose velocity but not accuracy. A quality barrel will always shoot and the shorter it gets, the stiffer it becomes and usually will gain a slight edge in accuracy with the shorter stiffness.

Posing beside the target for scale,the T-1 was not used for the 600 yards shot and was installed afterwards.

The groundhog target can be seen over the authors left shoulder. Hits were made easily once the scope was adjusted. Military ball ammo could be used to make repeated hits out to 600 yards though not with the reliability of the match ammo.

The next step tried with the 901 was 1000 yards. For this test I used the popular 168 grain load and my own handlaods of Berger 175 grain Berger VLD bullets with Varget.  I set up the target at 1000 yards and got to work. Because of no cant on the base or the upper I ran out of elevation on the optic. The optic was the Leupold 18x with a 1 inch tube. It is a target varmint scope and not suited to true long range work unless a canter base is used.  Not being able to zero and hold point of aim/point of impact, I had to hold off.  This made wind correction difficult.  It did not take long to become frustrated trying to determine hits on target with using hold off. So I settled on using the steel gong I used to get the rough zero at the distance by putting it a foot behind the paper target. In doing this, I was able to hear the steel ring when I was enough on paper to record a hit. With the wind blowing 8-12 MPH on the day trying to watch the dust from misses was not going to work. The gong behind the target worked well.

Because of the distance and the length of the barrel, the 168 grain load was a no go. I tried but the rounds just could not make it. The 168 has trouble staying super sonic even in a 26 inch barrel at 1000 yards, and in a 16 inch barrel, it was pointless though I did try. A lot of people seem to think the accurate 168 load is the standard but it simply is not. The 175 grain loadings for long range are better in every way and have been in use for sniping for years now in its M118LR form.

Once I fired at 1000 yards and saw the 901s performance I tried my luck at 1200 yards. So I moved back another 200 yards and tried again. The group at 1,200 may not seem like much, but in a carbine  not meant  for this work, it is impressive.  The groups are marked in the picture circled in different color to indicate which groups was shot at the different distances. Blue for 1000 yards and green for 1,200.   The 1000 yard groups does not seem as impressive as it really is at first glance. Wind was catching me and taking the shots off to the left. Since I could not see the hits I used the same hold through the whole string of shots, but if you move the holes over to the right, you will see the most of them would have fallen in the bad guys chest and would have been lethal. The position of the group is my fault , not the fault of the rifle. The 1,200 yard group is better than at first seems as well. It may not be sniping precision but it is enough to make hits at the range or at least provide effective covering fire.  It is surely good enough to disable a vehicle form the distance, or any other machine that needs stopped, or even to direct fire for a machine gun team? Who knows, the possibilities are what you make them.

After this testing I shot the rifle in the usual fashion using tactical drills and IDPA target, Q targets, clay pigeons and steel gongs. Most of this general purpose was done with ball ammo and some match thrown in. After over 1,200 rounds at that point I had not cleaned or lubed the 901. It worked as flawless as it did when I took it out of the box. At times I heated the gun up so much I needed gloves to continue to fire it and even the mount that held the T-1 to the upper was too hot to the touch for bare skin. At no point did the gun have a problem or feel sluggish.  After totaling up those rounds fired with no cleaning I decided to test its accuracy again.  I would test it dirty and if it did not do well I would clean the barrel and try again, showing the effect of fowling if it was drastic.

I used the same optics and mounts as before but for the next test I used a dedicated Benchrest competition style front rest that weighs about 35 pounds, with a sandbag on the rest and a rear bag.  To get all I could from the gun I concentrated and used all my effort to shot the best groups I could. Most groups took longer then 10 minutes for 5 rounds. It is hard work to shoot small groups and total effort when using a milspec trigger and a semi auto. Shooting a semi auto is a different animal then shooting small groups off a bench with a dedicated bolt gun with a target stock and has different needs you have to be aware of.

This set of targets were shot first while the gun was dirty with over 1200 rounds of fouling. I decided there was no need to clean after getting these result.  They are slightly better then the original test for accuracy so I felt cleaning would not help or hurt much. If anything the gun shot slightly better, perhaps do to some break in. After years of experience I have come to the conclusion that barrel break-in is a waste of time.  I can not think of any good reason why the gun did better and I surely never used the conventional “wisdom” of 1 shot, clean, repeat etc etc.

The 10 rounds group of Black Hills 175 grain was shot last and is very impressive to me. I have seen few factory bolt guns that would shoot this well and I do not recall ever seeing a factory M1A or M14 that would do as well.

Here is a picture of all the groups side by side.

The gun now has close to 2000 rounds though it still with no cleaning. I am able to make head shots out to 300 yards with it and stay within the CNS or “A” zone of the badguy targets if the wind is not too bad and I do my part.  If not, head shots are still easy.  I have lubed the BCG since it was bone dry, and have created a nice black slurry that has not done anything negative except ruin my t-shirts.

In Part 3 I will talk about shooting the gun in a more “run and gun”manner, how it feels, what the recoil is like and how I set it up for comfort and shooting it wearing gear.


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.