September 23, 2010
Colt goes monolithic with its new LE6940 carbine.
Colt's been busy with military sales, but it has also introduced an excellent new carbine that sports a monolithic upper receiver/rail assembly.
Down through the decades, one company has done more with the AR design than any other, and that is Colt. Lately, though, it has been busy supplying M4 carbines to the U.S. military, so things have been a bit quiet on the commercial side. However, the company recently introduced an interesting new model, the LE6940, in its law enforcement line. More than just another dressed AR carbine, this new model is a departure from previous models bearing the rampant Colt logo.
What makes this model stand out from others in the Colt line is how it's built using a monolithic upper receiver/rail assembly. This is machined from a single 7075 T6 aluminum forging. All the magic is contained here.
Why a one-piece upper receiver? By having the railed fore-end integral with the receiver there is no chance for the handguard to become loose or twisted through hard use and abuse. This design also ensures mission-essential equipment such as night vision devices or IR lasers can be mounted with no worries of zero shift.
To make the LE6940 more versatile, the six o'clock rail is not integral. It can be easily removed using only the tip of a cartridge. Doing so allows a 40mm grenade launcher or breaching shotgun to be easily mounted.
The 1913 rail cross slots are also numbered to allow equipment to be quickly returned to previous mounting positions. To enhance accuracy, the fore-end does not come in contact with the barrel, which is fully free-floated. The fore-end also features heat shields and QD sling swivel mounts.
Fitted to the front of the receiver is a 16.1-inch mil spec barrel. This sports a government profile and is chrome lined. It features a 1:7 rifling twist and a 5.56x45 NATO chamber. Cross-pinned to the barrel is a gas block with integral folding front sight. This robust piece dates back to Colt's 1984 vintage M16A2E1 Enhanced Rifle. A standard M16A2 flash suppressor finishes off the barrel.
Inside the upper receiver rides a mil spec bolt carrier assembly. Fitted to this is a bolt that has undergone a 70,000-psi proof load. The gun employs a carbine-length gas system with a stainless steel gas tube. Finishing off the upper is a mil spec MaTech folding rear sight. This GI-type back-up iron sight sports elevation adjustments from 200 to 600 meters.
The upper receiver drops onto a conventional Colt lower receiver. This features standard diameter front and rear push-pins, an A2 pistol grip and a four-position M4 stock. Riding inside the buffer tube is an H buffer.
While the upper receiver itself is proprietary, items such as the forward assist, dust cover and charging handle are all standard, and the lower is fairly straightforward.
I have to say, there is just something about the rampant Colt logo on the side of an AR that is both appealing and reassuring. On this one you'll also find "Restricted Military/Government Law Enforcement/Export use only" engraved on the right side of the mag well. However, Colt LE dealers are free to sell this model commercially, and it is indeed available to legally armed citizens.
While the exterior of the LE6940 looks good, it's what you can't see inside that sets a Colt apart from the run-of-the-mill AR. Unlike the vast majority of ARs out there, Colt's commercial guns are made using the same high quality parts as its military models. All the internals are mil spec, and that really does mean something.
The LE6940 feels good in the hands, and at just over 35 inches, with the stock fully extended, it's a short and handy piece. The pinned on front sight/gas block is both good looking and robust. The MaTech rear sight has not proven to be the most robust sight available, but I had no issues with it. Accessories are easily mounted onto the rails and the uninterrupted 12 o'clock rail is a plus for mounting optics.
To see how the LE6940 performed, I gathered up a variety of loads and hit my range. The first thing I did was to mount a Trijicon TA33-8 3x30 ACOG onto it. The TA33-8 is a compact but rugged little optic that provides 3X magnification. The ACOG zeroed easily, and soon I was shooting groups from the bench at 100 yards.
I used three loads during testing: Black Hills Ammunition's 77-grain Mk 262 Mod 1 military match, Federal's American Eagle 62-grain FMJ and Wolf Performance Ammunition's 75-grain HP steel case load.
The trigger was typical service grade and a bit on the heavy side but proved quite acceptable for its intended use. Accuracy proved quite good, as you can see in the chart.
Next I loaded up a pile of 30-round magazines and ran the Colt through a variety of drills from two to 300 yards. This involved rapidly engaging multiple steel and paper silhouettes from a variety of positions while making proper use of cover. Drills were performed first with the ACOG and then again using the factory iron sights.
During these drills the LE6940 proved quick handling, easy to swing and very controllable. Hits were easily made at these realistic ranges, and making rapid multiple hits from the sitting position at 300 yards was a snap. The LE6940 shot well enough that I decided to stretch its legs out to 500 and 600 yards on LaRue sniper targets. Even with the gusting wind, the 500-yard targets were well within reach of the LE6940. At 600 yards I got hits when I really watched the wind and concentrated on fundamentals.
The new Colt impressed me with its accuracy and reliability. My only objection is the price, but here again the Colt is not out of line with the competition. Colt does not provide MSRPs, but a quick check online revealed street prices running from $1,599 to around $2,000. All in all, though, I have to say it's a nice stick.