Gun Digest

AR-15 Review: Colt Expanse M4

The Colt Expanse M4 is priced affordably and comes ready-made for customization.

Ready for customization, the Expanse™ M4 comes with a 16-inch barrel and A2-style components.

Although many gun store owners have been reporting declining sales for so-called “black rifles,” the AR-15 is, without question, still one of the most popular rifles in the nation. For this reason, manufacturers are continuing to produce “America’s Rifle,” and especially affordably priced versions that are attainable to the average gun owner.

Colt has long been a recognized name regarding ARs. In fact, for many years after the AR-15/M16’s official introduction, Colt was essentially the only name in the AR business. Despite this historical association with the AR-15, for the past several years Colt really hasn’t had a truly entry-level AR for buyers. This appears to be changing in 2016.

Bone Up On Legendary Colt Firearms

Keeping in step with the affordable AR trend, Colt is introducing the Expanse™ M4, a quality-manufactured black rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO that comes with all the basics a shooter needs to start delving into ARs and sells at a very palatable price point. Retail priced at $699, the Expanse™ M4 could be a very attractive option for those looking for a base rifle to customize, which is one of the main draws of the AR platform.

The Expanse™ M4’s upper and lower receivers are manufactured from 7075-T6 aluminum and have a black hardcoat anodized finish. The rifle incorporates a 16-inch, 1:7-inch twist, non-chrome-lined barrel manufactured from 4150 CMV steel with a manganese phosphate finish.

Colt’s new Expanse™ M4, which has an MSRP of $699, is the first budget-friendly AR offered by the company.

Additionally, the Expanse™ M4 comes with many of the same features found on other ARs. Namely, these include Eugene Stoner’s enduring direct-impingement gas system; an A2 front sight and A2 pistol grip; a right-handed safety selector; a standard, M4-style collapsible stock; and a Mil-Spec single-stage trigger.

What it does lack, however, is a forward assist and a dust cover. This is done because the average user simply doesn’t need or use these features. That said, a dust cover and forward assist can easily be added if needed.

Everything about the Expanse™ M4 points to future customization on the part of the user. The upper receiver has a flat top for adding optics or rear iron sights, and all of the standard parts—grip, stock, safety, charging handle, handguard—can be easily replaced with aftermarket parts if desired. This is exactly what most AR owners want from a basic rifle.

The Expanse™ M4 accepts standard AR magazines and comes with a 30-round steel magazine. It has an overall length of 32 to 35.5 inches, depending on whether the stock is collapsed or fully extended.

Colt Expanse™ M4
Type    Direct-impingement gas, semi-automatic
Caliber    5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.
Barrel    16-in., 1:7-in. twist, non-chrome-lined
Overall Length    32 to 35.5 in.
Weight    6.44 lbs.
Handguard    Standard Mil Spec AR/M4
Stock    Standard collapsible Mil Spec AR/M4
Grip    Standard Mil Spec AR
Trigger    Standard Mil Spec AR
MSRP    $699

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