SHOT Show 2014 takes place this week in Las Vegas. Consequently, I’ll be blogging about some of the new guns, ammo, and related products that might be of interest to Preppers. The AR type rifle is sure to be a mainstay at the show, in .223, .308 and an increasing list of other calibers. The AR, in appropriate calibers, is popular from home defense, hunting, target shooting and competition.
As a prepping gun, an AR is particularly useful for several reasons. Any long gun is more accurate than any handgun. Accuracy is in the number one feature you want in a self-defense firearm. The most powerful caliber is useless if you miss, and even a .22 LR gun can suffice for defensive purposes with an accurate shot. In addition, ARs typically are modular, allowing upgrade of parts and interchangeability with other ARs (to some extent). The typical AR has rails (everywhere), for attachment of a wide range of optics and other accessories. These features make the AR adaptable to different purposes: defense, hunting, target shooting.
Another important feature of the AR platform is the option to change calibers. An AR in .223/5.56 can convert to any of several other calibers with a swap of uppers and in some cases the bolt and magazine. AR-15 platform calibers include: .300 blackout, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, among others. But the AR-10 platform has a different set of calibers: .308/7.62, .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, .338 Federal and others. The AR-15 caliber set is useful for home defense and hunting some types of game. The AR-10 caliber set is more powerful, offering longer range defense of a ranch or farm, as well as the ability to hunt larger game. These two sets of AR calibers/uppers are not interchangeable on the same lower. Until now.
Colt Defense is introducing a new AR system that allows you to swap a .308 Winchester upper for a 5.56×45 NATO upper on the same Colt lower receiver. The trick is found in a single adapter part that allows the .308 lower to accept the smaller 5.56 magazines.
Is this awesome AR available only for LE and Military? No. It’s offered to the civilian consumer. Colt’s website has this to say:
Be it prairie dog hunting in Texas, whitetail hunting in Maine or elk hunting in Colorado, the Colt LE901-16S™ is the rifle for the hunt. Chambered in the classic .308 Winchester cartridge, the LE901-16S is the perfect choice for medium to large sized game animals. Exceptional accuracy is assured by its full floated, 16.1” chrome lined barrel and one-piece monolithic upper receiver, suitable for mounting your optic of choice. Keeping the varmint hunter in mind, the .308 Winchester upper receiver group can be easily swapped out for any Mil-Spec Colt upper receiver chambered in 5.56×45 NATO. The fact that all operating controls are ambidextrous, including the magazine release, bolt catch and safety selector, makes for versatility and ease of use. You can depend on the new Colt LE901-16S to take the shot of your lifetime!
Yes, there’s some marketing hype in the above paragraph. But the ability to swap .223/5.56 calibers with .308 deserves some rhetorical emphasis.
From a prepping and survival point of view, the ability to swap .223 and .308 uppers allows you to swap between a .223 defensive rifle and a .308 hunting rifle. It also allows you to respond to an ammo shortage by switching between whichever caliber ammo is available.
But there’s more to this gun’s versatility. Reportedly, uppers from other manufacturers will fit the Colt 901. If this report is true, then you would have a rifle with a wider range of caliber options than ever before. And the Colt 901 might turn out to be the ultimate prepping AR. But I’d wait to see several firsthand reports from Colt 901 owners to be sure. Here’s an early review of the Colt 901 from The Firearm Blog. TFB has many more details about the function and design of the gun.