Range Report: Colt Expanse Carbine AR-15

Colt Expanse AR-15 rifle right side

During most of my shooting life, I’ve trusted Colt handguns, and the very few AR-15 rifles I’ve deployed have been Colt AR-15s. From the HBAR to the SOCOM carbine, these rifles have given excellent service.

I’ve watched the AR-15 platform as it’s been modified and improved for tactical use. Improvements included a removable carrying handle, flattop receiver and first a quadrail, then Keymod rail handguards. These improvements, along with modern adjustable tactical stocks, have improved the efficiency of what was, after all, originally designed as a rifle for close-quarters combat. I’ve also seen the average AR-15 rifle exhibit improvements in accuracy.

Colt Expanse AR-15 rifle right side
The Colt Expanse is one of the best things to come from the company in some time. It’s an affordable, Colt-quality AR-15.

The rifles have also become expensive in quality examples. A few years ago, it became common to see inexpensive rifles offered in the AR-15 platform. Fit and finish isn’t the best, sometimes the stocks have a lot of play, and overall the rifles are not as satisfactory as the better products. Colt remains the AR-15 rifle by which all others are judged.

There seemed to be a race to the bottom in price and cutting corners. Despite the corners cut, cheap rifles sold and sold well. Another phenomenon I find more interesting is the availability of good quality rifles at a fair price. CORE15 offers its M4 Scout at a fair price, and the rifle is both tight and good. It is supplied without sights. Smith & Wesson introduced an inexpensive version of its popular Military & Police AR-15 rifle. Smith & Wesson deleted the dustcover and forward assist from the M&P Sport as a cost-cutting measure.

Colt’s rifles stood at the top of the heap on quality, and the cheaper rifles stood on cheap. But with the CORE rifles and the Smith & Wesson, there were good-quality rifles selling for considerably less than any Colt. These rifles offered a good template for later customization and accessorizing or were just fine for use as issued. Colt responded with the Colt M4 Expanse. The Expanse is delivered without sights, forward assist or dustcover. Unlike the Smith & Wesson M&P, however, the Colt may be retrofitted with a dustcover and forward assist if desired.

AR-15 receiver with optional forward assist
The forward assist may be added at a later date if desired.

My first impression is positive. The rifle’s fit and finish was good, the build quality was excellent, and the carrier keys were properly staked. The bore is chrome lined. The safety, magazine release and trigger action are crisp and positive in operation. Attention to detail is evident in the rifle. Trigger compression was 6½ pounds (the norm for production AR-15 rifles). The trigger breaks clean without creep or backlash. It isn’t the lightest trigger, but it’s reliable and will be familiar to many soldiers and Marines who wish to own a good-quality AR like the one they carried in service.

There is no play in the controls, and the rifle feels like any other Colt. The 16.1-inch carbine barrel features a fast 1:7-inch twist. This means the rifle will stabilize the heavier class of bullets including the 77-grain loads. Since the rifle came without sights, the next step was to acquire a proper set of optics. There is nothing wrong with iron or red dot sights, but I was interested in fitting a versatile all-around scope to explore the accuracy potential of the rifle. I chose the Truglo Tactical Illuminated riflescope.

Truglo Tactical Illuminated Riflescope

Truglo designed this scope to offer a combination of clarity, precision and speed. The scope is designed to offer a bridge between the speed of a red dot and the precision of riflescope. As such, there are inherent compromises, but for use at 25 to 125 yards it works well. The tube is 30mm rather than 1-inch. This makes for increased brightness and also a larger range of adjustment.

Bolt carrier key on Colt SOCOM and Expanse rifles
The bolt-carrier keys are properly staked in the Expanse, right, just the same as the Colt SOCOM, left.

The scope is offered in 1-4x24mm and 1-6x24mm. Either will do a good job. Consider your own needs, and the 1-6X may be your best bet. For my use, 1×4 power is ideal. The mix of clarity and contrast is good. I find this scope to be one of the fastest to a rapid hit that I have used. The scope has a wide field of view that, for some, invites shooting with both eyes open.

If you are young and can adapt, this is the way to go with red dot scopes and this scope as well when set at 1X. Sometimes you need 4X, and the 6X scope allows rapid zooming by virtue of an innovative lever incorporated into the design. The scope is supplied with a monolithic one-piece scope mount. This scope has pre-calibrated adjustments turrets for ranges up to 400 yards. The Truglo scope gives you a lot for the money.

Firing Tests

Initial firing was accomplished when sighting in the rifle with the Truglo scope. I carefully lubricated the carrier assembly and did not expect any malfunctions, and I did not experience any. For initial range work, I used Hornady #80274 55-grain JHP. This is a steel-case load offered in a 50-round box for economy. The rifle is supplied with a single magazine. Additional magazines were also used.

TruGlo scope mount
The TruGlo mounting system is rock solid.

The rifle was sighted in using the box method in which I use the 200-yard zero, with the rifle dead on for combat ranges, a bit high at 100 yards and dead on again at 200 yards. I left the rifle on the 1X setting and proceeded to address a number of modern tactical targets from Tactical Target Systems. These targets make training interesting and serve a real purpose in tactical training.

The scope proved to be true to its claim. At moderate ranges—25 to 50 yards—the rifle and scope combination proved fast and effective. The trigger is controllable, and the rifle is well balanced. When using the preferred hand-forward method of firing the rifle, control is excellent. If you are used to the Keymod rail, you may touch the gas block of the standard M4 rifle. This isn’t something you wish to do.


I fired 150 rounds in initial range testing. It doesn’t take long, but I do not like to overheat a barrel, so there was an interval between firing strings. I cleaned the barrel and chamber and addressed 100-yard accuracy. I used three loads, the Hornady #8026 60-grain Interlock and #80268 75-grain TAP and the aforementioned steel-case load. I fired three three-shot groups at a long 100 yards with each cartridge, using the 4X setting. Results were good.

AR-15 receiver with optional forward assist
The forward assist may be added at a later date if desired.

The steel-case load averaged 1.6 inches, excellent for an economical training load, while the 60-grain JSP averaged 1.25 inches. Interestingly, this load averages .9-inch in the much more expensive Colt SOCOM, which also has high-end optics. The TAP load is a highly developed load intended for critical use. This load averaged 1.3 inches with a single 1-inch group. Clearly, the Colt Expanse is accurate enough for any foreseeable chore.

The Colt has proven reliable and accurate enough for any chore short of long-range varmint control. America’s first black rifle is still at the top of the heap.

Colt has taken a few bumps and bruises, but still makes one of the finest ARs on the market. Share your Colt story in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (43)

  1. I have several old Colt revolvers (snake guns and troopers) that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I also have three Smith M&Ps that are accurate, tight, and shoot as good as any Colt AR I’ve shot and they didn’t break the bank to purchase them.. My point is that these days there are many AR makers that are as good as or better than Colt and priced below normal Colt prices. Colt has some serious catching up to do…my opinion.

  2. Stoner designed the forerunner to the 5.56 chambered M-16. Armalite had it but ran into financial troubles. They began selling a semi-auto AR-15 varmint rifle to the public. Colt bought the design from Armalite and manufactured the AR-15s and the M-16s.

  3. Army brass want nothing to do with the M-16 from the outset and looked for any reason to kill it. They wanted wood and steel like the preceding wars.

    The M-16 came about because the troops who carried arms wanted something easier and lighter to carry to make way for carrying more ammo.

    The Armalite design was offered to the newest surface which was considered “space-age”… the USAF. The USAF jumped on it for a newly created organization known as the Blue Beret/Air Commandos based at Hurlburt Field, Fl. My father was an instructor there at the time and took me in me to watch this new rifle being tested. After testing, the rifle was adopted for special ops and later for Air Police and Security Police guarding our nation’s nuclear forces. The Army still resisted but were finally forced to accept the M-16, although the kept much of their wood and steel weapons. I carried the M-16 beginning in Jun 1967. In 1968 the USAF took all our M-16s away and returned them to the depot to be refurbished for deployment to Vietnam, and we were issued M-2 carbines. I shipped out to Vietnam before we got M-16s back in service. I didn’t see a bolt assist until at least the 1970s. I wish we had had them in 1969-70 during my SEA tour because without them we sure wasted a LOT of ammo. Which reminds me of another problem we experienced with the M-16 in SEA. A lot of troops added extra tracer rounds which heated up and wore out barrels. This usually was not fixed until accuracy was already screwed.

  4. Yeah me, too. But then I was reminded about Harry Reid. Over the years, I also watched Washington and Oregon go far left.

    My part of the state of California is still pretty darn conservative. Its rural.

  5. What is “the preferred hand-forward method of firing the rifle?” Personally, I cannot fire with my left arm extended, uncomfortably. Also, any idiot should know not to touch the barrel or anything connected to it, after firing.

  6. Could it bea that he figured that if you could afford all those, then you could afford to gift him the Colts ball team? lol

  7. My Colt weapons, AR, 1911s, and some knives are valued pieces. One time 2 decades ago while cleaning my 1911 Gold Cup, I was telling my #2 son how much this Gold Cup and my Lightweight Commander mean to me, along with all my other 60+ firearms(mostly Rugers, S&Ws, Colts and Winchesters). I patiently explained that if he is a good boy, grows into a fine man(Which he has!), he will someday own some of my guns(got to share with the other 3 kids). In the most sincere way, he hugged my leg, looked up to me with budding tears in his eyes and said, “Daddy, I want the Colts!”

  8. I served in Vietnam and carried the M-16. I take exception with your comments. We were well trained on maintenance, and those who followed their training had little problems. The situation improved when the tolerances were relaxed. GIs were bad for over-using full auto, and the burst was a great improvement. As for ARVN, most were pretty lazy about many things. Like on ambush squads they would set up and then fire up a portable radio and start cook fires. VNAF were superior in my opinion.

  9. I bought a Bushmaster AR in 5.56/.223, and since then I added a CMMG .22LR upper for cheap plinking, and an upper in .300 AAC Blackout.

  10. My Bushmaster is chambered for both 5.56 and .223. I can’t recall, but I think the Mini-14 is also dual chambered.

  11. “Colt remains the AR-15 rifle by which all others are judged”… Give me a break, quit drinking the Colt lemonade please… You just blew your own argument out of the water when you mentioned Truglo in the same sentence as a supposed “High-end” AR… If Colt is such a great weapon then why is the company is such dire right now? Because nobody is buying them, well that and the fact the managing group is sucking them dry 🙂

  12. I am very satisfied w/ my Olympic Arms KB-4 5.56/.223. No wobble and good fit through out the firearm. Oly makes a fine product as does Colt and other makers. Oly makes fine firearms and they are accurate as any Colt I have observed so far.

  13. I bought my Colt AR-15 Sporter in 1983 with my reenlistment bonus. Dust cover yes, forward assist no. With a good Weaver 3×9 scope it was just over $1000 as I recall. Quickly had it modified to full auto, and have put a few thousand rounds through it. Mostly letting others fire full auto it seems like, one mag per person. Always enjoyed seeing that ear to ear grin. Weapon remains tight and has never given me a reason to curse it. Quality ammo is a must for hunting, otherwise cheap foreign surplus ammo is fine. Sadly I must admit that it hasn’t been fired in a dozen years or so, as I moved to Austin TX and have yet to connect with anyone who owns enough land. Yes, there are paid ranges, but I still prefer the bed of my truck as my reloading bench.

    Colt, like most companies that are around that long, have their ups and downs. Remember the crap Harley Davidson put out during the AMF years? Their ‘Nam rifles had issues, but they did something about it and focused on quality. Through the years its inevitable that some management leaned too heavy on profit vs. quality. But It’s still a Colt and that pendulum swings both ways. Wouldn’t trade her for a Packard even if I could.

    1. This cal in 223 not 556 which limits the use of 556 if you going to buy Colt buy LE 6920 or LE 6940

  14. I am never going to hype Colt products and contrart to this article Colt could be and most likely is culpable in the deaths of numeroud GI’s and thouands of S. VIetnamese soldiers loves as well.
    Colt contract called for numbers they could not produce with quality asdured, anf to this day no pne but the Pentagon and the now drparted.Mass. librral Senator Kenrnrdyknpwd the total of bent barrrlsd M-16’s Colt knew and willingly sold.
    The Poorly trained S Viet troop exacberated the problem by firing gull auto al long as.wespon ran, thusnthe heat cool made the inate problem even worse.
    Armoers aftrr.war did not rebarrel they trashed oldrrbwespons that Guarf umits and foreign natoons would not take.
    Nationds like s. Korea, Israel, Gormosa, Philippines searched elsewher or began producing own weapons, vlones in 5.56

  15. Curious what is the actual model of TruGlo scope that was mentioned here. The link provided is pretty useless when trying to find this exact scope.

    Also, I see in one of the closeups the Colt is stamped “.223”. Granted – I have limited knowledge of the AR rfiles and am just getting into them but from what I have read this means one should not use 5.56 mm ammunition only .223. Is this correct??


    1. .223 is just stamped on the lower receiver, that is really meaningless. It is what is stamped on the barrel that is important in determining what the chamber specs were cut to.

    2. The “.223” stamp in the photo is on the lower receiver. It’s the stamp on the barrel that determines whether the rifle can shoot only .223 Rem or can also shoot 5.56 NATO.

    3. Correct, it’s not recommended to use 5.56 in a .223 barrel due to the higher pressures of the 5.56. That said, a lot of people do and report having no problems.

      I also just wanted to add that you can’t always trust the roll mark on the lower receiver for the caliber of the barrel. Usually when an AR is bought as a complete rifle the roll mark will be correct. But sometimes people piece them together and the roll mark won’t mach the barrel. For example, I built an AR pistol and the barrel is 5.56, but the lower is marked .223. I also have a DD M4A1 that came with the lower roll marked “CAL. MULTI”.

      I hope that helps.

  16. I’m REALLY Not into either “AK’s” or “AR’s”! I’d like to get a Good Quality Lower Receiver and Get Upper Receivers of Varying Calibers AS or WHEN NEEDED…

  17. Just before the scare on M855 ammunition, I saw that Colt LE6920’s with Magpul furniture were going for $699-$1099 new online. I just had to have a Colt so at the recommendation of my officer friend I bought one. I found a brand new one for $600 even. I thought it was expensive, but it quickly went up in value to around $1,000. It came with the flip up sights, but I added a top notch Sight Mark red dot sight and a super bright 3rd party remote light. It matches my officer friends’ AR15 and I could not be happier. I keep it for home defence so I zeroed it at 50 yards. I have taken it to the range a few times and noticed it does well under 50 yards with any ammunition but extremely well at 50+ yards with M855 ammunition. With only the red dot sight and no magnification, I can easily hit my target at 50 yards. Then again, I can hit the target well, (but not as quickly), with my 12 gauge shotgun and iron sights using slugs out to 50 yards.

    I just wanted to shoot the breeze here. But in all, I believe the Colt LE6920 is a fine rifle for home defense, small game and fun at the range.

    1. That’s awesome to hear you’re enjoying your Colt. I got a 6721 for my first AR and I love it. It’s very accurate and reliable and has malfunctioned once in 100’s of rounds. People love to bash Colts for being expensive, but you can find great prices and it seems that they are starting to offer more budget friendly options.

  18. Used M-16 A-1 from ’78 to ’92, had AR-15 Sp-1 from “80 until “85 When one of my brothers doper friends stole it. I found out who in ’93, by then dillwad was doing life in Pelican Bay.
    During 25 years working in prison I only shot for work qualifiers. Just before retiring bought a Spikes Tactical to replace stolen gun. Much had changed since my old AR-15.
    Colt is the standard I measure by, have built a few different AR platform rifles, some on the cheap, some all MIL-SPEC, even a few retro’s using original parts with new barrels.
    When working in gun shop One thing I stuck to was ‘Colt’ was MY favorite. I would show customers difference between Colt and other well made rifles, then compare to some more ‘budget friendly’ rifles. Someone was always looking for a cheap AR type rifle, cheap people will by cheap guns, can’t change that. Others will save a little more or pay half down and the rest on pick-up, (good for them). I love Colt and always will, my shooters are home builds with same quality built in. My Colt’s will be reserved for kids and grandkids. They deserve to own a piece of history also.
    Right now in Peoples Republic of Kalifornia the quality AR’s can cost as little as $950-about $1250 for good Mil-Spec rifles, COLT included, and up from there for exotic high end rifles. I have a couple ‘exotics’ and shoot just as well with my builds and Colts.

    1. In my opinion being a native of Arizona all California AR rifles are exotic.. I was looking at a used AR15 at the sporting goods store next to Cardinals football stadium and noticed the magazine button was stuck so I tried to fix it and the clerk told me don’t bother it’s a California Bullet Button. Good grief, how can a state be so leftist bordering right up against the most conservative state in the country, one would think we would of rubbed off on ya at least a little.

  19. Good article. Good to see Colt attempting to make a more affordable entry level AR. I also understand how the target price point requires cutting pennies here and there, but some cuts make sense and some don’t. I carried 4 different Colt A2’s in my 3 tours in RVN. All performed well because I understood the A2 is a high maintenance weapon. 45 years later and that hasn’t changed. I’m retired military, retired Fed and been an FFL and a smith for about 30 yrs. I honestly don’t know why anyone would buy an AR without a fwd asst and dust cover, or why a gun manufacturer would even make one. To incorporate them cost pennies. I still build AR’s for friends, some into 3-gun, and I won’t build an AR without these features. I also only build 5.56. I shook my head when I saw M4 CARBINE on the mag well. This is obviously NOT an M4. This is a civilian version of the M4, and there are many differences, i.e. 14″ bbl versus legal req’d 16″. Another general gripe I have is why anyone would buy a .223 chambered weapon when 5.56 is readily available. You can’t run 5.56 in a .223 chambered bbl for obvious reasons. Also 5.56 NATO is a better round on just about all counts than the .223. The .223 Wylde is just a higher pressure compromise design. It costs no more money to build a 5.56 in lieu of .223. I didn’t find any reference to M4 feed ramps, which is a definite improvement. I went to the Colt website and couldn’t find whether or not the Expanse had M4 ramps. This is well worth paying a few bucks more for. In any case, it cost no more money to cut M4 feed ramps. A bayonet lug. Really? LMAO. Get rid of it and save a penny. The cheapie hand guards are too short, too fat, and a pain to remove. It would only cost a few pennies more to incorporate much better designed handguards. Lastly I was surprised to see an outdated A2 front sight. No sight would be a better option and set up for iron sights and a red dot/scope. Colt makes excellent firearms and they are a good investment. However, I’m disappointed with their latest iteration (Expanse). As far as an AR platform, you can find better deals from other gun makers. Or for $600 you can build an entry level AR, good quality, with fwd asst, dust cover, 5.56, QD sling mounts, iron sights, good hand guards, mini-gas block and a better muzzle brake.

  20. I carried a Colt throughout my military career, including Vietnam. Never had a problem as long as I kept it clean. It kept me alive. Today, I have a Bushmaster in 5.56/.223, with extra uppers for the .22LR for the range, and 300 AAC Blackout.

  21. Bob,

    I am probably the least expert person there is regarding AR type rifles. I recently bought an S & W M&P at what I thought was an excellent price. I had read and researched the rifle after I saw it for sale and before the purchase and read that it did not have the forward assist or the dust cover. However, my particular rifle does have both, much to my satisfaction.

    I could not begin to name the model other than it is an M&P. I have only run 50 rounds through it and it went bang every time I pulled the trigger. Not being a huge fan of diminutive calibers, I should more appropriate say that it went pop when I pulled the trigger. I still find it difficult to see the rifle as more than a rat/rabbit gun, but others obviously disagree. I suspect it will do a marvelous job on sage rats and jack rabbits but that is yet to be proven.

    As to low power scopes with a lighted reticule, I played a role in the 70’s in their being made legal to hunt with in Oregon. For years, I used open sights and was proud of my ability to hit running game. I never mastered that art with scopes with power.

    As I aged, my eyes changed and my ability to shoot with open sights waned. A gun smith friend who was building race guns at the time put me on to zero magnification red dot sights and suddenly my ability to shoot successfully at running game was back.

    For the past 40 odd years, I have shot exclusively with zero magnification red dot sights. At least in part, through my efforts such sights are legal to hunt in Oregon, provided that they do not project beyond the sight.

    All of this is offered as counterpoint to your comment that those with younger eyes might adopt shooting with both eyes open. I have done that all my life, except when compelled to do otherwise in the military.

    None of my rifles wear glass with magnification. Further, my favorite deer rifle has a Tasco PDPII which has to be at least 35 years old and is still functioning just fine. Batteries have been changed but nothing else. It has probably been responsible for the death of 30 or more black tail or mule deer. It has also seen the demise of a couple elk and at least 3 moose.

    When I shot with the military, we shot the M-1 (younger readers may see one in a museum) and we shot routinely to 600 measured yards and, when we shot with the army, we shot “rattle battle” out to 1,000 yards.

    We used open sights and most every one on the team could shoot very respectable groups out to 600 yards any day of the week. Some could routinely shoot very respectable groups to 1,000 yards. No magnification necessary or needed.

    I may be 74, going on 75 but I still do not need or require magnification on game at any range I will shoot — which is probably a maximum of about 300 yards. So, the 1X4 scope might be just fine — if it is left on the 1 power and both eyes are used.

    I cannot hit anything with magnification unless I have a very definite rest and time to carefully aim. However, within 300 yards, both eyes open, I have yet to miss a running deer sized animal. Have missed a few hogs but no deer.

    People may not believe me, and after all I am Irish so that may be understandable, but what I have said is the truth and I would swear to it. So would several who have hunted with me.

    1. OK BOB, I do believe you. I am still under 60 and for 25 years in law enforcement I only shot for work. I always shot well. I loved my M-16 from Army days, had my own AR SP1 (brother stole it). Five years ago I got back into shooting regular. Even with age and corrective lenses I prefer Iron sights for daytime shooting and am still very respectable. 1 VET to another, THANK YOU SIR.

    2. MacII, I would say if you have an Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II. The original M&P Sport didn’t have the dustcover or forward assist, but they changed that with the Port II and put them on. I’ve got one, and I had an original AR-15 that I purchased for $700 back in the early 80’s while stationed on Guam. It was the original model, no forward assist, full stock with the cleaning kit well, triangle hand guards. I wish that I’d never gotten rid of it but I’m ok with my Sport II. Shoots well, feels tight. I put a UTG Pro detachable carry handle on it for a “retro” look and feel, but I’ve also got a Vortex Strikefire red dot that mounts to the rail if / when I want to use an optic. Not a bad setup.

    3. i note that’s you said you can ‘hit’ a running deer at 300 yards with zero magnification. I’m glad you didn’t claim that you can precisely place a humane one-shot kill like that, which is what the scopes magnification is designed to deliver.

    4. Listening to the anti gun left would have one believe that you could instantly kill 15 deer with one squeeze of the trigger from an AR15 and all hits from an AR type rifle are instant kill shots that reduce the prey to a pink mist.

  22. According to Colt’s website, the Expanse does NOT have a chrome-lined barrel (the article claims it does) and has a MSRP of $699. For comparison, the S&W M&P-15 Sport II has a MSRP of $739 (just $40 more) and includes a MBUS rear sight, forward assist, dust cover, and nitride-finished barrel.

    The Expanse is certainly a better value than the usual Colt offerings, but if you’re not obsessed with the Colt name there’s still much better value for dollar from other manufacturers.

    1. @ Adam,

      Good catch on the NON-chrome lined barrel and a big difference too; especially for those folks weighing out costs on this rifle as a possible base platform to build upon later. Even after one considers the lower street price, which appears to be settling in around $640, you could instead get a barebones Colt LE6920 for only a hundred more and save your pennies to add your own custom furniture. At least you’d have the real deal with all the bells and whistles: M4 roll mark, barrel lug, forward assist, dust cover, and the superior longer lasting chrome lined barrel.

    2. I bought the LE6920 as a Christmas present from my wife. I put a Magpole stock on it and a DD rear sight. About all I have added additionally is a Truglo red/green dot which o-witnessed with the front post perfectly. It is definitely a tight rifle. No slop, no wiggles; just tighter than Dick’s had band. A young ex-marine who works at the gun club I belong to said this was the best deal going for the money and for future enhancement. I don
      ‘t believe he led me wrong. In time I may modify it to add an optic and use it for varmints, but now, I like it the way it is, a fun gun to shoot.

    3. He never said the barrel was chrome lined he said bore was chrome lined and unless your going to war or shooting full auto melonite treatment is far superior than chrome by far

    4. My bad please disgard previous post had a brain fart was thinking chamber not bore shouldn’t post sleep deprived

    5. I’m not sold on chrome lined barrels. Colt only started chrome lining the bores to make them more reliable because the original M16 was designed to use a 5.56mm round loaded with a certain type of propellant that was clean burning and left next to no residual carbon crud behind after firing hundreds of rounds hence the reason why they claimed the rifle never needed to be cleaned. The Army decided they wanted to stick with their own propellant that u fortunately did leave a crap ton of carbon crud behind and was not at all clean and efficient making the new issued rifles extremely unreliable after a few magazines. Since the Army would not change to the propellant that the rifle was designed to use the bores were chrome lined and some tolerances were slackened and the foreword assist was added. Chrome lining the barrel came a little later with the unfortunate side effect of reducing accuracy to enhance barrel life when firing full auto. All of the changes including the chrome lining and the foreword assist are the result of the US Army refusing to switch to a different gun powder. They would rather soldiers die than switch to a different powder made the manufacturer make expensive and stupid changes to an excellent rifle.

    6. Actually the designer Stoner made the changes and Colt was the company that built the rifles.

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