Colt LE901-16S: From 5.56 to 7.62 in 30 Seconds

Colt LE901-16S: From 5.56 to 7.62 in 30 Seconds
The Colt LE901-16A configured with 7.62 upper. Photo by Corey Graff
The Colt LE901-16S at SHOT Show 2012 Media Day.
The Colt LE901-16S at SHOT Show 2012 Media Day.

There was no shortage of AR-style rifles at SHOT Show 2012. But one of the most interesting was the Colt LE901-16S, a select-fire rifle designed to allow you to change the upper from 5.56 to 7.62 in a matter of seconds.

With a simple swap of the upper receiver, the chambering can be altered from .308 Winchester to .223 Remington, making the Colt LE901-16S a versatile rifle for a variety of shooters.

The Colt LE901-16A configured with 7.62 upper.
The Colt LE901-16A configured with 7.62 upper.

Outdoorsmen who need a versatile hunting weapon, sport shooters seeking a high-performing target rifle and tactical professionals seeking an accurate shot in a sniper situation will all find what they are looking for in the Colt LE901-16S.

“This is an exceptional rifle for a wide variety of shooters due to the interchangeability in caliber,” said David Ridley, Vice President of Colt Defense, LLC, “With a simple swap of the upper receiver shooters can switch to the caliber they need for the shot they want to achieve.”

In the classic .308 Winchester (7.62×51 NATO), the LE901-16S is chambered perfectly for a tactical professional’s sniper shot. By changing the upper receiver and buffer system, you get a .223 Remington (5.56×45 NATO) weapon.

The Colt LE901-16S rifle weighs only 9.4 pounds and measures 37.5 inches with the stock extended. It has an effective range of 700 meters and a rate of fire between 700 and 950 rounds per minute when configured for .308. Exceptional accuracy comes by way of the free floated, 16-inch, chrome-lined barrel and one-piece monolithic upper receiver.

The Colt LE901-16S set up with a 5.56 upper.
The Colt LE901-16S set up with a 5.56 upper.

All operating controls on the LE901-16S are ambidextrous, including the magazine release, bolt catch and fire control selector. The monolithic rail covers the foreend and is suitable for mounting optics in addition to the back up iron sight (BUIS) offered standard on the rifle. The LE901-16S features a black Vltor buttstock and comes with two black 20-round Magpul PMAGs.

The rifle will come in five different anodized camo finishes, in addition to black. I was told that the anodizing process used by Colt is itself a tightly-guarded secret (the rep at the SHOT Show wouldn't even disclose who does it) because it masks the weapon's Infrared Red (IR) signature.

As a designated marksmanship rifle (DMR) the benefits are obvious: The sharpshooter can enter and exit an area with the upper configured as a 5.56 CQB carbine to fight his way in and out; and once in position it's only a matter of seconds to swap the upper for sniping.

While the Colt rep I spoke to at SHOT said it takes about 30 seconds to change the upper, I witnessed him do it in about half that time. MSRP is $2129.00.

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Corey Graff is the managing editor of the <i><a href="">Standard Catalog of Firearms</a></i> and <i><a href="">Gun Digest</a></i> annual book. In addition, he is the author of <i>What's In Your Bug-Out Bag?</i> and <i>The Comprehensive Guide to Concealed Carry Holsters.</i> His personal interest in firearms includes handguns for hunting and self-defense as well as bolt-action rifles for western hunting.


  1. Beautiful. Man, I was thinking of designing a lower to do exactly this. I’m glad someone is thinking about platform streamlining and full spectrum dominance.


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