Colt’s 7.62mm Convertable Carbine

Colt Defense LLC showed off its new LE901 Multi-Caliber Weapon System at Shot Show this year. The LE901 is a semi-auto version of the gunmaker’s CM901.

Colt engineers have done a lot of work over the past few years to push beyond its standard M4 design. The company also seems to have abandoned its hunker-in-the-bunker mentality it clung to in recent years.

The LE901 features a 16.1 inch barrel and weighs 9.4 pounds. It’s chambered for .308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) but can quickly be converted to .223 (5.56mm NATO) with a separate upper. The LE901 should be available in March for about $2,200 retail.

Here’s a couple of videos of the LE901 at Shot.



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Matthew Cox
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  • Huh, Colt said that they didn’t enter the CM901 into the Individual Carbine because they were worried about technical data package control. Turns out that at 9.4 pounds, it’s just too fat.

  • jrexilius

    Hmm.. Colt makes solid weapons, but can anyone tell me what the fascination is with the whole convertible caliber thing that everyone is doing?

    I mean, I’d rather have a solid 7.62 designed, fitted and tested for its mission and the kit-out designed for it as well. If you are in a position to swap out uppers, optics, re-zero, et al (i.e. not down range) and all the associated gear, just grab a different gun and gear?.. If not, *** is going on where you are carrying around a different upper and needing to swap it?

    What am I missing here?

    • hujek

      “but can anyone tell me what the fascination is with the whole” guns ? yea what am I missing here , you asshole

  • HalP

    Two reasons. (for me personally)

    1) You get a better punch when engaging bigger game with .308, yet you can have easier access of ammo with .223 and allows you to stay sharp on the ‘standard issue firearms’

    2) Zombie Apocalypse. “Come on, get a life! you say.” Well I have one and I don’t want no undead walking corpse “unending” mine. If you and a buddy/random stanger/attractive female have firearms of a differing caliber, and one of you runs out of ammo, you’re both scrwd. Interchangeable ammo is a plus. That’s why there are “NATO” ammo standards.

    Hope that helped.

    • Guest

      Special forces are also interesting in a change out weapon, In some cases they have to live off what’s avail, so being able to change from a NATO to other rounds increases the use of a weapon system.

  • KLP

    I think the caliber-convertible rifles are less for the end-user and more for the government’s benefit. Say, every soldier, marine, sailer, and airman that is combat arms gets issued one standard lower receiver they’d only need to then field specialized uppers depending on caliber and operating system.

    • coolhand77

      It also helps the armorers. One lower, one set of parts and specs to check. In addition, before deploying, each soldier can draw the appropriate upper and ammo from the armory, be it 5.56 for CQB and house clearing, 7.62×51 for DMR, mountain patrol or whatever, etc. I like the concept. Also, since its an upper swap, any optics can be pre mounted, tested, and zeroed to THAT UPPER, and then stored/checked at the armory till needed. With the IAR and some of the belt feed uppers, that gives you the old Stoner 63 capability of one weapon being configured as everything from a short carbine up to a GPMG, and using the same selector, trigger, and hammer pack. Consolidate the common parts, but grant the versitility of a modular system

  • Nadnerbus

    From a civilian sale standpoint, one can have the benefit of two different rifles for only one FFL purchase, and at maybe 60% or so of the cost of two separate rifles.

    From a military standpoint, its hedging bets against the never ending chatter and calls for a caliber change. A rifle such as this is able to be converted from 5.56 to 7.62, and presumably anything in between such as 6.8 and 6.5 with only an upper swap. That puts Colt in a decent position if any new secdef decides to pull a McNamara and unilaterally change calibers.

    As far as swapping in the field, yeah I think that is more marketing than reality.

  • Nadnerbus

    Also, shrinking budgets aside, either the SCAR or something like it is likely to be the next standard rifle of the military some day. SCAR brings caliber modularity and common platform to the shooters, and was obviously something sought after by SOCOM since it was their project. The SCAR L has been dumped for now, from what I hear, but that doesn’t mean that the SCAR series isn’t still a competitor to the Stoner design. I see Colt’s offering as a counter to that possibility.

    • Lance

      While the SCAR H may solder on a long time the L is dead mostly. The USMC will not adopt a ICC winner and the Army dropped the Caliber and modular barrel change in the ICC competition. With most companies quitting now there whole ICC may die on its own now.

      The H in 7.62 NATO will be around for a while since SOCOM lost most of its M-14s and MK-11s to the regular military over the last ten years. The M-4 will solder on to be a 5.56mm supplement to it.

      .308 is the way to go anyway.

      • xcalbr

        “SOCOM lost most of its M-14s and MK-11s to the regular military over the last ten years”

        SOCOM did not yield M14s to the regular army. They already had the M14 and improved variants in service when the M14 was withdrawn from service. The M14’s the regular army received were dug out of storage.

        and nadnerbus, the SCAR would be a excellent rifle for the army. I have to argue against mass adopting it since telescopic ammunition from the LSAT program yields much promise.

  • Lance

    The ICC competition is running into some BIG controversy and road blocks the Budget being one of them. Most gun maker outside of Colt HK and Remington have left the competition saying they DoD had asked them to go since they didn’t like there company size or some other excuse. The the barrel and caliber change requirements gone the ICC is already be called a sham and a joke. Most gun makers like LWRC and LMT and even some larger ones like Colt already state that the winner probably will be the Army’s improved M-4A2 they are working on right now

    With the Army’s budget slashed most funds will goto the new APC program the Ground Combat Vehicle or the JLTV HUNVEE replacement.

    • xcalbr

      The reason why some competitors withdrew because if they won: “the challenger scores a knockout, the winner will be required to sell its technical data rights soon after. Tamilio said the victor will get the bulk of the contract, but get two other manufacturers to join in production. Expanding the new contract to three suppliers expands the industrial base and enables a higher rate of production.”

      “Phase one has had nothing to do with evaluating test prototypes, but instead has focused on weeding out companies that may not have the production capacity to make thousands of weapons per month. This has become a bitter point of contention that has driven away some companies with credible names in the gun business.”

      Something sure doesn’t jibe.

      And fyi, the defense budget isn’t getting slashed. The only thing getting cut is growth in the budget, which is being scaled back from the 18% growth annually.

      • Lance

        I don’t reply to you because your on a name calling streak and fact is also Most makers are not going to make a ICC rifle since the Army buys the rights of any ICC winner. And two other makers make a ICC winner. BUT the fact is the ICC is being rigged anyway. Most gun maker already state the improved M-4A2 would probably win anyway.

        Fact is I will NOT reply to you you keep name calling and say anything because you hate the M-4 and any Stoner rifle. So if you want to make your own comment about how you hate American guns and it must be a Euro design fine quite tryng to pick a fight with me I will not get dran into one.

        • FormerSFMedic

          Dude, ***! You need to check your ego at the door! Xcalbr didn’t call you any kind of name nor was he confrontational in any way. He simply replied to your comment. He even agreed with you at one point. He never said a single word about the M16 or any other Stoner design.

          Have respect for people and stop putting words in other peoples mouths.

        • Lance


          Don’t jump in pls. You don’t know the half of it this guy has been name calling and jumping on me on other sites as well SO Im telling him to stop.

          I know you think it sounds harsh but this guy don’t listen.

        • HalP

          Jeez louise, at this rate KitUp! will soon have more drama than Top Shot! Nasty.

        • xcalbr

          yeah i was actually agreeing with him about the carbine competition being botched and controversial already. LOL. I guess he missed my entire previous posts about the evolution of the AR15 into a outstandingly reliable rifle due to civilian innovation.

          yeah, if you get angry over electrons posted over the internet you have issues. Its just electrons. They cannot physically hurt you.

        • xcalbr

          and other sites??? LMAO. dude…really!? don’t worry. if its any consolation, i first started posting on here about a week or two ago after i discovered this site. nobody is attacking you.

        • Lance

          If I hurt your feelings then sorry If you agreed with me than awesome im sorry to jump on you we had a bad tiff last time sorry.

  • Sean

    I heard from a soldier close to the trials that the Colt M4 piston and LWRC are in a close runner up position. The 416 is kickin butt in every way by a land slide but costs will be a issue. I personally love the 416 better than any weapon I have ever touched except it is 1.5 lbs heavier. With some Of that new plastic jacketed ammo it won’t matter. I really hope regardless of my preference that the COLT Piston gets the nod and I would love to see the Army field the IAR also. But them again if **** hit the fan right now I would pick up my 556A1 . Guess I’m a little confused but Colt screams America and Im red white and blue through and through.

    • Lance

      The 416 is a awesome weapon and since a few NATO nations adopted it I can see it or a Colt Clone of one making it USMC and Delta Force use them already.

      Not sure if the IAR will be in Army service. The USMC dose like them.

      • coolhand77

        I do like the concept of open bolt for full auto, and closed for semi auto. Didn’t LWRCs design do that when switching from SA to FA just with a switch, instead of thermally? Anyway, that would be a good feature to carry over to a common trigger pack. You still get the benifits of open bolt for use as an automatic rifle [or if they adapt a SAW type upper like the Ares Shrike, or a 7.62×51 version to go on a 901 scaled lower] while you get the accuracy of closed bolt first shot and semi auto fire when you need it.

  • jake

    I like the Smith Vortex on the end of the barrel, i use them all the time and there great.Colt in my personal opinion did good this time and i look ahead to when they sell this in the civilian market down the road.

  • Thomas Carney

    Hmmm. I have a Robinson XCR-L that can do 5.56, 6.8, and 7.62×39 by just changing barrel, bolt and magazine. It weighs 7.3 pounds.

  • William C.

    I wonder if Colt will eventually sell the CM901 with a 5.56mm upper receiver as standard, that might be a bit more attractive for the military/LE markets. Then they could just buy complete 7.62mm CM901s (or just the 7.62mm upper receiver) as needed.

  • jake

    William C. i think it is a better idea also what Colt has, just switch uppers keeping the lower reciever.This is the quickest way to change cals. They took the lego weapon to a better level. I agree with your comment. I do this with the beowulf just switch out the upper and ready for hog hunting/big game also, can even use the M16 mags to hold beowulf ammo

  • jason

    When converted to a 5.56 it is less than 1/2 lb more than a standard 5.56, not to bad…. its the only colt with ambi controls right now, in a few more months there will be a 6920 with ambi controls

  • jason

    there is no need to re-zero optics when you change calibers unless you only have 1 form of optic, everything goes with the upper when it is removed.

  • Bob

    The data about the winner being forced to sell their technical data rights so that the two other downselectees can build them is completely false. The guy who wrote that in the Army Times article was totally incorrect and had obviously never read the RFP. The RFP did require that you provide a proposal for providing Government Purpose Rights that would eventually allow second-source production, but it was up to the contractor to state its terms (royalties, minimum amount manufactured under the IC contract, etc.). That means that if you wanted to manufacture all 178,890 weapons on the initial contract before selling the technical data rights, you could propose to do so, and then charge the Army a hefty royalty fee for each gun manufactured by another company.

    So, Colt’s story about giving the Army a less capable weapon because of the data rights was utter BS.

  • captaindoc

    it is obvious that change is needed as the ranges the enemy has taken have increased to where the 5.56 is not as easy to make hits at the extended ranges. humping the 7.62 ammo and weapon is not easy, but shooting at ranges with a sub caliber, using more ammo to get the job done is not any easier. solders should have more training at the range and be given a caliber that will “reach out and touch someone” plus each unit in the field should have at least one rifle chambered in 300 win. mag. to keep our losses to a minimum by making them suffer from the extreme ranges that this rifle is capable of. the big bang will draw the most fire, unfortunatly but smoke a few of the enemy due to surprise and extended range.

  • APAC

    M4s work, the reason they don’t is because the soldiers don’t do maintenince as well as they should. Leaders need to enforce standards. Before missions my sections would check weapons, wipe em down check mags. Weekly we would do by the book cleanings and mag cleanings. The gas tube will work if you clean it and not let the armchair experts over sell the piston. It is better and Colt tried to sell it in the 70’s with an updated M16 but wasn’t adopted. You can make it work so do so by following the PM. I love these stories about a soldier putting 30/40 mags thru their weapon and it jammed. Who has that many mags in a 2hr battle? Reloads, How fast are you shooting? Any weapon might fail with that amt of ammo. Use common sense. I was an active duty soldier 32 yrs and heard all the war stories, when you press for the truth, the story is a bit different. Every one wants 15min of hero fame!

    • apac is very correct. i spent 36 years using the m16 and had no failures. leadership should be making solders take care of their equipment and that the individuals are properly trained. stoner produced a 7.62 before the stoner 63 and it was taken out of service, i did not like it due to the magazine(there may have been models that were belt fed that i did not fire), the 63 was belt fed with a box on the side and had less recoil and of course i liked that. the 5.56 should be replaced with something, for the type of combat we are involved in now, that has better range. the 7.62 will be prone to burning up a few more barrels if indivuals are not careful, again leadership and training. there will lots of griping about the 7.62 ammo weight and size.

  • Zspoiler

    Here they go again .making thing more complicated than need be One caliber or the other.Make up your feeble little minds,