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

M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4

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.


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…


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


  • 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.

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 decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (71)

  1. Believe me, I hunted and hunted for this one. And once I found it there in the shop I negotiated til no end with a cash offer that we both could agree upon. Well worth the time and negotiating strategy. Didn’t like the Magpul FDE furniture and rear sight on it so stripped it all off and sold it for $100.00 as well.

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