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Reviews : Arsenal

Colt Defense Law Enforcement Carbines

With Mil-Spec design and construction, Colt's LE M4 variants are "dead nuts" accurate and extremely reliable.

July 30, 2010  |  by Nick Jacobellis - Also by this author


During the early stages of my law enforcement career, I worked as a uniformed New York State Park Police Officer in the Bronx and carried a Smith & Wesson .38 Special service revolver. Later, working as an investigator for the New York District Attorney's Office, the heaviest firepower I ever carried on duty was a Smith & Wesson nine-shot 9mm Model 39.

It wasn't until I joined the U.S. Customs Service in the early 1980s that I trained with Colt M16 and Colt CAR-15 rifles and carbines. I was issued a brand new Colt CAR-15 with a fixed carry handle and a collapsible stock. I liked this rifle so much that I refused to transition to the Steyr AUG when my agency adopted this 21st century-looking bull-pup design in the tail end of the 20th century.

Even though a considerable number of Steyr AUGs were issued to U.S. Customs Agents I continued to remain a huge fan of the Colt M16, AR-15. and CAR-15-so much so that when I took three undercover boat trips to the coast of Colombia I made sure that my crew was armed with four Colt CAR-15s and one Colt M16 Heavy Barrel, in addition to pistols and shotguns.

I also carried my Colt CAR-15 on numerous air interdiction missions and in the trunk of my government ride in case I needed more firepower while working on land. I liked this rifle so much that I ended up buying a fixed-handle Colt AR-15 A2 with a two-position collapsible stock from a local police supply store when I received written authorization to do so by my agency during the assault weapons ban.

Back then we carried Colt M16 or CAR-15 variants (the CAR-15 was the predecessor to the M4) because at that time no other companies made copies of these famous Colt products. Today, things are different, so much so that I cannot begin to list the number of vendors who manufacture direct impingement and piston version copies of the Colt M16 and M4 Carbine. But Colt is the only manufacturer that produces M4 Carbine variants for the U.S. military. Colt also sells its line of select fire M4s to numerous law enforcement agencies.

The Colt Model LE6920

The first giant leap into the 21st century as far as law enforcement patrol and tactical rifles occurred when high-quality optics became available for armed professionals who were assigned to tactical duties. Initially, some rifle operators attached optics to various Colt M4s and other copies of this design that had a fixed carry handle. Then someone got the bright idea to kill two birds with one stone and design M16-style rifles and M4-style carbines with a removable carry handle and an accessory rail system on top of the rifle's upper receiver. The accessory rail on top of the upper receiver was designed to accommodate various red dot and magnified optics.

The Colt Model LE6920 is still one heck of a patrol or tactical rifle. Features of the LE6920 include: a four-position collapsible stock, a 5.56mm chamber, a chrome-lined chamber and bore, a barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist that accommodates ammunition up to 80 grains, an adjustable front sight, a removable carry handle that includes a flip-up iron sight, and an accessory rail under the handle. The Model LE6921 is a semi-automatic version of the LE6920 that is equipped with a 14.5-inch barrel, while the LE6920 is a semi-automatic civilian legal Colt carbine with a 16.1-inch barrel.

From experience I can say that the Colt LE6920 is an outstanding semi-automatic M4-style carbine. If all you need is a patrol rifle that utilizes iron sights or you plan on installing a minimal amount of accessories such as an optic and a tactical flashlight, the LE6920 is well suited to your task. My oldest son who serves as a police officer recently purchased a slightly used Colt LE6920 from one of my shooting buddies so he can carry a high-quality Colt M4-style patrol rifle on duty.

Tags: Colt, AR-Type Rifles, Patrol Rifles, Tactical Gear, Firearms Reviews

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Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

pjjrs @ 8/2/2010 10:28 AM

I own a Colt 6920 and absolutley love it. Just finished a rifle training class put on by my department. I used my iron sights as stated in this article and they were deadly accurate. Shortly after I purchased my 6920 they came out with the 6940 and it was everything I wanted to do to my rifle. 2500 dollars later I have a 6920 that I am trying to turn into a 6940. Some of the upgrades I have added to the weapon are; gas busters tactical charging handle, ambi safety, magpul tactical trigger guard, one piece gas ring upgrade, extractor spring plus o ring, knights armrament flip up rear sight, aimpoint comp m4s optic, standard a2 front sight. I am planning on placing a free float 9in rail system on it with a flip up front sight and already have the surefire foregrip. Totally satisfied with my colt!

texas45 @ 8/6/2010 2:03 PM

Own both 6920 and 6940, both will get the job done.

Wockley6 @ 11/10/2010 8:37 PM

As a retired Army/Infantry officer, I suggest the author review the articles in the Army Times (www.armytimes.com seach M4) starting with the 27 DEC 2007 article (www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_M4numbers_080107w/) about the failure rate of the M4. There is significant discussion about the upgrading and replacement of the M4, including the ammo (stopping/penetration power). The latest article 9 NOV 2010 (www.armytimes.com/news/2010/11/army-colt-vies-for-next-carbine-110710w/) states what is currently going on for ungrading and replacement of this wpn. It should also be noted that the military has purchased the rights, 7 JUL 2009, www.armytimes.com/news/2009/07/army_carbine_070609w/) for this wpn from Colt.

Nick Jacobellis @ 8/21/2011 11:50 AM

Response to Wockley6. While I am well aware of various complaints about reliability problems and ammunition ineffectiveness with the M4 platform in the U.S. Armed Forces, I have found M4s to be virtually flawlessly reliable during my law enforcement career and since I retired. I have tested numerous M4 variants in different conditions including in sand storms and in the desert along the U.S. Mexican Border and have been incredibly impressed by the overall reliability of 5.56 caliber carbines. If you are interested I suggest that you contact Pat Rogers a retired NYPD Sergeant and retired U.S. Marine who runs a training concern called EAG Tactical. Pat and his instructors and students have put tens of thousands of rounds through numerous M4s with incredible reliability. Pat has fired some 48,000 TROUBLE FREE rounds through his personal Bravo Company M4 with minimal maintenance and the proper lubrication. As you well known, 7.62 NATO caliber DMR platforms have been specifically adopted because 5.56 NATO compliant ammunition has generally proven to be ineffective beyond 300 yards. Even though I am a huge fan of my FN SCAR Heavy MK17S in 7.62 NATO caliber, I have absolutely no problem relying on my Bravo Co. EAG Tactical Carbine M4 (5.56), a SIG 556 Patrol SWAT Model (5.56) or a Bulgarian AK74 in 5.45x39. I have carried M4s in harms way and would have no problem doing so again. Thanks for your comments Nick Jacobellis

Daniel @ 10/18/2011 6:01 AM

The Colt 6940 is amazing! I have recently heard Colt is discontinuing the LE models. Any info on that? I have a 6940, but might be getting another one if the discontinued rumors are correct. Notice the "officer" has to quote the Army Times. As an enlisted soldier, I have relied on the M-16 through several deployments. I have trusted this weapon with my life, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Would a .308 been better? Yes, but the 5.56 was sufficient. The military sets up quantity over quality. Soldiers aren't always the best shot, so magazine capacity is more important that stopping power. This holds true with rifles ( 5.56 vs .308) and handguns (9mm vs .45). Anyway, just my thoughts. Great article.

george @ 9/15/2012 6:12 PM

I have and carry an Colt HBar lower with an A1 lightweight barrel upper. It is old school but in the 14 years I have owned it never once has it failed to fire. At 200 yards I can hit 1 foot by 2 foot targets off hand all day long. ...very quickly with iron sights. I have kept the rifle cleaned and the bolt well lubed with Mobile 1 synthetic 30st all these years. I am looking for another 15 years of service. God bless Colt rifle division.

Ken Webb @ 12/7/2012 10:34 AM

Any problem converting to left hand ejection? Does Colt sell this? I heave heard Stag Arms sell conversions that are mil spec too. Thanks for any response

Sid @ 6/3/2013 9:09 AM

gents, there have been many great rifles made since hte advent of the rifle. Most have their limitations. As someone that has carried an M4 in every war (US) since 1994 and has put thousands of rounds thru them I can say without hesitation that I would (and have) trust my life on the reliability of Colt M-4.

There are many reasons for the 'reliability rap", mostly crappy marksmanship. Many a cop (I'm an ex cop, fed and local) has shot at a doped up dude and still seen him walking after taking several hits. Same for the 'skinny's in Somalia and Afghanistan. The enemy in Iraq was a little 'beefier' so the round had a chance to work.

This is the same complaint that the venerable 9mm Luger often gets. Most cops and a boat load of Germans during WWII have used the 9mm very effectively.

Moral of the story, if you shoot a bad guy in someplace that counts, he'll drop, if you shoot him in the arm, ass, leg, or finger...he most likely won't...sot placement trumps BS anyday!

Patriot @ 6/9/2013 5:11 AM

The Colt LE9640 can be extremely accurate with careful ammo selection. My best 100 yard group with this rifle is .430. Less than .5 inch! This was accomplished with a Burris 4.5 X 14. The handload consisted of a 52 grain Sierra HPBT match, 24.9 grain of AR Comp, Winchester case and Remington 7 1/2 primer. I lightly stoned the trigger engagement surfaces and added the JP Enterprises reduced power spring kit for a much smother and lighter pull. The gun is capable of accuracy equal to some of the much more expensive match grade rifles.

RPK @ 7/14/2013 7:42 PM

I own a Colt LE6920, Colt LE6920 SOCOM and a Bushmaster M4A2. All three are reliable platforms for the 5.56 round. All three have a NATO 5.56 stamp on the barrel. BUT, only the two Colt's have a 1/7 barrel twist. The Bushmaster is a 1/9 twist. The Colt's can handle up to a 77 grain round. Normally, a 62 grain round is preferred. But, in the heat of battle, a 55 grain round will do the job. What is my point you ask? Depends on the purpose the shooter has in mind when the weapons platform is selected for purchase. You can put all the add-ons attached to the weapon as desired, but if the basic functioning of the weapon is sub-standard, you have a fancy looking paperweight. I spent over 20 years in the armed forces trusting my life to a Colt. As a retiree/civilian, I still make that a conscience decision. But, if the Bushmaster is the first M4 I grab to defend my life or that of my family, I am confident our lives are in trustworthy hands.

deebs @ 10/19/2013 1:44 AM

Just put together a frankengun, colt m4 style upper, on a DELTON lower with BCM lpk, ,bcm H2 buffer and tube,mag pul moe furniture. My M4 gery runs smooth and when I "focus" I get 1.5 " groups @ 100 yds.(with a decent scope probably could do better). What I've noticed are the 100% Colt snobs at the local range. One such lout looked at lowers DTI symbol and his response was, "cheap junk, you shoulda bought Colt".....really?

Michael @ 9/11/2014 9:31 AM

Le6920 Le6920 socom I have them both.Accurate reliable great weapons,but my Adams Arms and Bushmaster 14.5 upper cmmg lower are just as reliable and accurate.Im rebarreling my Colts with 14.5 inch barrels and while theyre down my other rifles are my go to weapons.I trust them as much as my Colts unless Im going to war.

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