The Best Time to Pull the Trigger on a Colt LE 6920—Figuratively and Literally

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

Colt has consistently manufactured the M16/AR-15 longer than any other company. From the ‘60s Vietnam era M16 to the current M4, Colt has also produced more AR-15/M16s than any other manufacturer. It has a history of working with the U.S. Government and setting the Mil-Spec standards for this platform. Simply stated, an AR from Colt is the standard by which all others are measured. In fact, you’ll often see the Colt 6920 referred to as an M4’gery, because it’s as close as you can get. The left side of the magazine well is even stamped “M4 CARBINE.”

M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4

From top to bottom: M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4

It’s beyond argument to say Colt’s LE6920 is one of the best out-of-the-box AR-15s available. Law enforcement officers and agencies across the country carry the LE6920 due to its reliability and performance—the civilian market highly regards it for the same reason. There are other top-rated ARs that compare favorably to LE6920—Daniel Defense, CMMG, Knight’s Armament, BCM and others immediately come to mind, but all come at a premium price compared to the 6920.

The 6920

Colt’s 6920 comes in two different models the LE6920 and SP6920. The models are identical except for the markings, which isn’t to say the marking is irrelevant. Traditional LE6920s hold the distinction of wearing the following badge: “Restricted Military/Government Law Enforcement/Export Use Only.” These markings came about in the 1990s during the Clinton Administration’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The so called assault weapons ban kept them out of our hands for 10 years until 2004 when the law hit its sunset provision and the rifles were again available to the general public. Colt was later able to offer this workhorse to the public, but sadly has discontinued the LE6920, while continuing to offer its twin brother, the SP6920.

Colt LE6920 AR-15

This is your chance to not only own a great firearm, but a piece of history.

To find an original is a chance to not only own a great firearm, but a piece of history. Personally, I must admit: I enjoy owning a weapon that is stamped with a government-mandated message saying I can’t be trusted with it. Beyond being an amazing rifle, it gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence in the product and the American worker. It’s a reminder to myself, and a message to my children, to heed our Forefather’s words:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Although no great calamity has befallen the masses as a result of the Crime Bill’s demise, politicians will—sooner or later—make another run at restricting modern sporting rifles from the public. I would not put much faith that Obama—or the person to be elected—or some similar politician wouldn’t again deem us unfit to own sporting rifles such as Colt’s 6920s. Either way, although several LE6920s have been sold, keeping and holding a firearm with unique markings often brings a significant premium a decade or two down the road. Models once believed common, have paid for second homes or a kid’s college education a couple of decades later. Whether the LE6920 will be one of these guns… only time will tell. However, you can rest assured, you’ll never lose money on one.

Features

Colt’s LE6920 starts with a high-strength polymer, four-position, collapsible stock on the lower receiver assembly and a standard, semi-automatic AR-15 trigger assembly inside. If you prefer a specific brand of custom trigger, no problem. The LE6920’s lower will accept any standard AR trigger assembly—that’s the beauty of a standard impingement AR-15/M4 with mil-spec parts and rails. You can throw any furniture your heart desires and wallet can support on or in it.

Something not seen on many of the ARs being produced today can be found under the M4 hand guards on the LE6920—double heat shields. That does not seem significant on the showroom floor, but it will after you burn through a couple of mags in quick succession. The muzzle compensator reduces muzzle climb and helps eliminate flash and dust signatures.

The upper has all of the standard features such as a forward assist, shell deflector and dust cover over the ejection port. More notable is the detachable carry handle—complete with A2 sights—and the 1913 rail (commonly referred to as Picatinny rails). This gives you the option to shoot it original or customize it to your linking. If you choose the latter, be sure to pick up a quality back-up iron sight (BUIS), which ranges from $60 to $200.

Carrier and gas key for Colt LE6920

The two bolts securing the gas key to the carrier are staked. This is a key to ensuring the bolts don’t work loose.

The bolt and carrier are significant parts are critical parts for mil-spec requirements. When you look at the top of the carrier you’ll see the gas key. The two bolts securing the gas key to the carrier are staked. This is a key to ensuring the bolts don’t work loose. In truth it is found on many ARs, but certainly not all. The bolt is also critical and should be labeled “MPC.” Colt uses carpenter steel and tests each individual bolt to check for micro fissures or defects that could cause a failure down the road. As far as I know… Colt and FN are the only companies that fire a proof load on every bolt before it is inspected.

All this adds up to a top-tier patrol or sporting rifle with a 16-inch button rifled, chromed barrel with a six groove, 1/7 RH twist that’s suitable for all combat 5.56 ammo including the NATO M855/SS109 and U.S. M193. A previously mentioned, the bolt assembly is M16 grade—both the bolt and barrel are magnetic particle inspected for imperfections.

Parting Shot

To say Colt’s LE6920 M4 Carbine is the Gold Standard of AR-15s, would almost be an understatement. In fact about the only quasi-negative comment I have ever received on the 6920 was “Gee, that’s a nice gun, but I bought a clone for less.” If only they knew, what you now know…

Specifications:

Model: Colt LE6920 Semi Auto Rifle
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO chamber (accepts .223 Remington)
Barrel: 16.1″ chrome-lined, M4 barrel
Twist: 1:7″ RH twist, 6 lands and grooves
Magazine: 20 round removable box
Length: 32 inches, retracted – 35.5 inches, extended
Weight: 6.95 lbs

Features:

  • Forged A3 flat top upper receiver with removable carry handle rear sight
  • Gas operated, multi lug rotary locking bolt
  • Anodized aluminum upper/lower receivers
  • Standard A2 front sight base
  • Two piece, black plastic hand guards with dual heat shields
  • Black 4 position buttstock

Mosin Nagant

Do you own a Colt? What is your favorite modern sporting rifle? Tell us in the comment section.

This post originally appeared on September 21, 2012.

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Comments (63)

  • Wes

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    Got my Colt LE6920 SOCOM as an impulse buy at Wallyworld when I was purchasing a gift for my father (he wanted a DPMS .308 sportical). Saw it on clearance for $997.00 (marked down from $1500.00) and immediately laid down the cash. It was also the one with KAC RAS drop in rails, came with 4 KAC rail covers and 1 30rnd mag. One of the best purchases I have ever made. I’ve been in the AF for 10 years, and it is EXACTLY the same as the M4s my Security Forces brethren are issued (drop in rails and all) except for being strictly semi-auto. Did a search recently, and just the 2 piece drop in rails go for around $350.00.

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Wes: I am truly jealous. Hell of a deal. I fantasize about stumbling upon such deals and never seem to though.

      Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    I see where Colt of Canada will be selling 2 models under the DIEMACO NAME for purchase by public and their third black gun to RCMP is an interesting item as it has a heavier lower for 308 or NATO SPEC and with its’ inserts for magazine well you can throw any of colt uppers in 5.56. And use the standard 5,56 mags.
    Colts twonew models are same mil spec as they supply Oggicial and Canadoam military only semi fire .
    Glad to see our NOB getting thrir weapons issues looking more positive.
    Complain all you want US but Canada is huge market and Colt through the KORTH GROUP under the respected brand name of DIEMACO will be introducing 3 more weapons this fall.
    Colts in wiyh US andbCanadian Gov gives it huge advantage in entering new weaponry and sounds like some changes will be coming from NOB to US no other w around.

    Reply

    • Michael_Eh

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      Hide Behind, I recently purchased a Colt Canada Diemaco Limited Edition SA15.7 Semi-Automatic Carbine. I haven’t been to the range to shoot it yet, but am excited as heck to now own one. I can hardly wait to try it out.

      Reply

  • Penny

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    Hi, I am a woman and want to purchase my first AR15- looking at Daniel DefenseV7 and Colt LE6920…you mentioned that the LE6920 is no longer made, but I see it listed on Colt’s website for sale. Is it a different year that you are referring to? I like the idea of having a piece of history as you pointed out…would like to find one of the model and stamp you are talking about…any information you could provide would be wonderful! I am new to this and just discovered my love for shooting and guns!

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Penny: There appears to be a bit of confusion the way the article was written. Allow me to clear up some confusion caused by this article’s inaccurate statement regarding availability of the Colt LE6920.

      The Colt LE6920 continues to be manufactured, however they no longer imprint the famous roll markings that read – “Restricted Military/Government Law Enforcement/Export Use Only” onto the side. These restrictive markings had been voluntarily added by Colt during the ban and only used for approximately 10 years (1994 – 2004) during the assault weapons ban.

      However, since the ban is no longer in effect, those voluntary restrictive roll markings have been replaced instead with new markings that read “M4 Carbine/CAL. 5.56MM” which can be found on any LE6920 in stores today.

      I also want to be clear here that this rifle is currently legal to be owned by both law enforcement as well as civilians now that the ban has expired and regardless of either type of roll markings.

      So the hoopla is in seeking out someone willing to sell their older Colt LE6920 with the old “restrictive” roll markings. But the rifle itself, for the most part, is no different than the Colt LE6920s made today. If you do find someone willing to sell the older version, expect to pay 3 times the amount for the privilege of owning this piece of history.

      So, with that bit of confusion cleared up, I shall now explain the Colt SP6920. Note the only difference is that the “LE” in the model number has been replaced with “SP” for “Sporter”. Otherwise nothing about the weapon itself is any different.

      The “SP” came about after the assault weapons ban was over. It was Colt’s intention to forever do away with the “LE” or “Law Enforcement” designation for good. The thinking was so they never again had to contend with any future stigma attached to “Law Enforcement” roll markings if there were ever more future bans.

      However, the “Sporter” or SP6920 markings were short lived as law enforcement procurement offices complained about having to update SKUs in their purchasing systems. As well, law enforcement officers simply did not care for the new “SP” markings on their rifles. And so the “SP” was dropped and “LE” added back. Until the production has run its course, we will continue to see both model numbers for sale, but the weapons are identical.

      As for your original question, if you have the opportunity to afford the old Colt LE6920 with the classic “restrictive” markings, I would go for it. However, if you are simply comparing a new Colt LE6920 with its standard roll markings against a Daniel Defense V7, it should come down to your personal preference and cost because both are very fine rifles.

      Reply

    • jason

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      Thank you, I have been wondering that for a while. I always see LE’s, but have never seen an SP.

      Reply

  • Keith

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    I bought an LE6920 a couple of weeks ago. I love this thing. I am “investing” money into customizing to my liking. I have ordered Aimpoint optics, a vertical grip and looking for the top handle. I bought 4 Magpul 40-round mags (I live in Washington State so far no problems with anti-gun loons. ) I am shoot xm855 5.56x45mm through it. I highly recommend this rifle–it is a classic!

    Reply

  • nathan

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    So i just received my 6920. The part number is le6920mp-fde. However it carries an “sp” serial number. The box and receipt both show LE. Why is it that it has both?

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      @nathan: Your serial number has nothing to do with your model number per se. Colt has been using the “SP” prefix in their serial numbers regardless of the actual model number dating as far back as 1963.

      However, to make some sense of their serial system, the prefix in the serial number does indicate a broader class of that weapon. So for example one of the largest classes of their rifles is the Sporter line of ARs, but the LE model is a subclass within the overall Sporter line and intended for LE use.

      Another serial number prefix for example is “MT” witch indicates their Match Target line and is reflected in both the model number and serial number. So there is significance in Colts serialized prefixes, but it does not always make sense to the consumer.

      My understanding is Colt currently does not manufacture a specific consumer line of ARs, meaning when you order an LE6920, it is exactly what a police department would get if they were to put in the same order as you did and their serials would begin with “SP” as well..

      By-the-way, I own the same FDE model you just bought. It is a beauty. I love all the Magpul MOE furniture and MBUS. I added an EOTech EXPS-3 to top it off.

      Reply

  • Dan

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    Prob like the previous comment which means sporter. I bought my three Colts in 1992 and they are Sporter HBARs A2 type. Zero failures in 22 years, but I do have three part kits just in case. Did your Colts come with the larger trigger housing pins? Just wondering if Colt had changed to the standard pins or not.

    Reply

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