This Colt Rifle May be the Perfect Deployment Gun

For many decades, Military Contracting has been a valid option for the U.S. Government to augment their existing troops or to address a task for which conventional military personnel may not be best suited. However, the advent of the Global War on Terror has brought Military Contractors and the companies they work for into the limelight.

Whatever your personal opinion about contractors (if that opinion comes from watching CNN tread lightly) they play a vital role. Contractors are often deployed with a particular mission in mind but when they arrive in country the mission changes.

Win Guns, Gear, and Training

For instance, a team that originally had been deployed for close personal protection may end up on perimeter security.  A mission that was supposed to be run in an urban environment changes to the countryside or vice versa.

Like all good troopers, a military contractor needs to be flexible and ready to adapt as the mission changes. First and foremost you must have the mindset to deal with rapidly evolving events and next you should have gear that will support that mission.

LE901 .308 Winchester

Colt uses their Monolithic upper receiver for the .308 and 5.56 configuration

Colt uses their Monolithic upper receiver for the .308 and 5.56 configuration

A few years ago Colt Manufacturing introduced a new rifle called the LE901. The base rifle chambered the .308 Winchester cartridge, despite this fact, the gun was not just another AR-10 clone.  The LE901 has several features that make it unique, to include a monolithic upper receiver with 4-way rail system. The flat-top receiver will accept optics or iron sights.

Many of the components in the LE901 are AR-15 sized, to include the trigger group. The rifle has a 16 inch barrel with 1 in 12 right hand twist rifling. The model I had to work with came with a Vltor retractable stock and PMags for the Ar-10. Quick-detach sling points are located fore and aft on both sides of the rifle. The manual controls on the rifle are also ambidextrous.

5.56mm Conversion

The LE901 would be an interesting rifle as a .308 Winchester only, but Colt had another trick up their sleeves. After purchasing the base rifle, the end user can buy a 5.56mm upper receiver that mates directly to the .308 lower. The 5.56mm conversion upper has a spacer attached to fill in the magazine well allowing standard AR-15/M-16 magazines to be used. Naturally, both the .308 and 5.56 upper receivers have dedicated bolt carrier groups and charging handles.

In order to switch from the .308 Win. to the 5.56mm you simple push out the pivot pin and take-down pin to remove the .308 upper receiver. Swap out the .308 buffer and spring for an M4-style buffer and spring. Install the 5.56mm upper and push the pins back in.  Bam! You are done in less than five minutes, no special tools needed.

Author running the gun in 5.56mm configuration.

Author running the gun in 5.56mm configuration.


Having the capability to convert from a .30 caliber rifle to a .22 caliber carbine and back again is a huge deal. For the American gun buyer that means you purchase one serialized receiver and have two caliber options. For the Military Contractor what this means is that you can deploy with a rifle system that can be used for close-in fighting or protection work. The rifle can also be set up for overwatch and perimeter security.

Field Testing

The Student of the Gun crew has had the LE901 rifle with both receivers in hand for nearly two years. In addition to tradition range testing we’ve taken the gun to the field and hunted with it. The venison we harvested with the .308 upper was very tasty by the way.

More recently, we took this Colt rifle system to a week long shooting camp excursion. We hiked over hill and dale with the gun and ran it hard with both receivers. Your humble author is pleased to report that we did not encounter any issues with the gun whatsoever. Both the .308 and 5.56 configurations ran exceptionally well when fed with black polymer PMags. We used ammunition from Black Hills, Federal and Winchester in both calibers.

As for optics; the magnified optic on the .308 upper was a Weaver Tactical 3-15×50 with a 30mm tube. We attached it to the gun with a Wilson Combat scope mount.  On the 5.56mm upper we used an EOTech HWS (holographic weaponsight). We have used numerous EOTech optics in the past and this one was their new “Zombie Stopper” with HazMat reticle.

Despite being cased and uncased, carried in the field, riding in the back of trucks, etc. both the Weaver scope and EOTech optic maintained their zero. Not that we would have expected any less but it was worth mentioning. Pay for quality and that is what you get. Cheap optics don’t belong on quality rifles such as the Colt LE901.

The Wrap Up

You don’t need to be a Military Contractor to appreciate versatility of the LE901. Consider this, you are taking a week long hunting trip to Texas. On the game menu there might be whitetail deer, wild hogs, coyotes, or even prairie dogs if you are in the west. You can adapt your rifle from varmint hunting one day to large game hunting the next.

In this authors humble opinion, the LE901 rifle is on the most innovative and interesting products to come out of the Colt factory in the last ten to fifteen years. For a serious rifleman, this gun is definitely worth a close look.

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Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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  1. Matt Carman

    Is there an issue with a recoil spring designed for .308 being used with a smaller caliber? Do you have to run hotter ammo through the 5.56 upper to ensure the spring gets compressed enough for the bolt to retract and fully extract/eject the used 5.56 brass?

  2. Gene

    Damn…another gun to add to my bucket-list 🙂

  3. 5WarVeteran

    Should I buy it or build it? I want a 308 with a 22 inch barrel and 1/10 twist. Finding a multiple caliber lower receiver is a little more difficult.
    So where do I sacrifice? Cost for quality?
    As it is these weapons are already drastically over priced. machining is machining and does not cost but pennies difference in manufacturing.

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