6000 Rounds Later: A Review of a Colt 6920

The author's Colt 6920 AR-15, which has given him years of reliable service over thousands of rounds of ammunition fired.

Four years ago, frustrated after having a bad experience with an Armalite AR-180B, I purchased a Colt 6920 rifle from a gun store in Northwest Louisiana, which I was passing through at the time. Since then, I have put close to five thousand rounds of steel-cased ammunition through the rifle, along with about a thousand rounds of brass-cased ammunition. During the past four years, I have tried numerous times to get the rifle to stop working, and only succeeded once. Along the way, I used the rifle to shoot at targets that conventional wisdom says are too far away to hit with a 5.56mm carbine. This review will cover my experiences with the rifle in greater depth, and conclude with why I think the Colt 6920 is a benchmark for civilian self-loading carbines.

Despite my best efforts to push the rifle beyond its limits, I found the Colt to be as reliable as the Yugoslavian M70B1 AK that I owned at the same time. Shooting through Southeast Texas rain and mud, New Mexico sandstorms, and thousands of rounds without cleaning, the rifle proved itself to me as an outstandingly reliable machine. In one of my attempts to make the rifle fail, I picked the most pitiful looking USGI magazine out of about twenty that a friend had brought back with him from his deployment in Iraq. This magazine had broken most of its welds along its spine, and had been crudely re-welded. The sides of the magazine were not quite parallel; the “box” cross-section of the magazine being more of a trapezoid than a rectangle. Despite this, the rifle – which at this point had not been cleaned in over a thousand rounds – worked flawlessly, for over 120 rounds fed from that same magazine. Even so, the only malfunction I ever experienced with the Colt happened while shooting over three hundred rounds through a New Mexico sandstorm. Towards the end of shooting, the bolt failed to lock back on an empty 20-round Pmag. A quick spray of oil through the ejection port with the bolt closed fixed the problem, and I experienced no further issues with the functioning of the rifle.

Picture 2

Sometimes, the rifle got a little dirty.

Throughout the time that I have used the rifle, I have greased the bolt carrier with TW-25b aviation grease. In the summer of 2010, I bought one tube; which is still almost full, as the rifle needs lubrication very infrequently in my experience (I’d say once every thousand rounds or so, depending on the conditions). While probably a more high-end product than the average user will ever need – I have seen AR-15s run perfectly through several hundred rounds in a session, lubricated with old motor oil – this product is relatively inexpensive for how long it lasts when used in moderation. A simple run over the contact surfaces with a lathered cotton swab is enough in my experience to keep the gun running for well over a thousand rounds.

My only major mechanical concern with the rifle involved the barrel nut tension. As part of a gunsmithing course, I once had to completely strip the rifle down to its pins, and to do this I had to remove the barrel. However, the torque on the barrel nut was so great that myself and my instructor were only able to remove it using a cheater bar, a technique that destroyed the teeth on the nut itself. Once the replacement delta ring assembly came in, I torqued it down to about 50 pound-feet. This issue was mostly likely unique to my rifle, and certainly didn’t affect it in any way outside of being able to take it apart easily.

Over the past four years, I’ve stretched the legs of the rifle numerous times, almost always firing Brown Bear 62gr HP ammunition, of which I bought a 5,000 round lot soon after I purchased the 6920. This ammunition, which typically produced 2.5-3” groups at 100 yards, was capable of consistently hitting a man-sized target out to about 900 yards. Beyond that point, the accuracy of the ammunition was not sufficient to guarantee a hit even given the proper dope and elevation. With more accurate ammunition, such as the Hornady 75gr TAP FPD which I found to provide close to MOA performance from the 6920, it may have been possible to extend the range of the rifle even further, though I never tested this.

Though I have fired the rifle with the original iron sights several times, most of my shooting has been done using a TA01NSN ACOG, which I bought used in good condition. I have virtually nothing negative to say about this sight. The reticle is clear, easy-to-read, and uncluttered. The elevation ticks are handy not only for holdover, but also as point-of-impact adjustment. More than once, I’ve sighted the rifle in for my home defense load, and then handed it over to a newer shooter to shoot Brown Bear (which shoots a different POI) and told them “use the second tick, you’ll be dead on”. This saves a lot of time and heartache at the range, besides being extremely handy in the field. Because it is a both-eyes-open scope, the ACOG is well-suited to both close range and long range shooting. The housing is extremely durable, and I do not feel at all as though I need back up irons on my rifle. In short, despite its high price tag, I cannot help but recommend the Trijicon TA01NSN ACOG as an all-around carbine optic.

picture 3


As a final part of this review, I took to the range to illustrate the accuracy of a rifle with close to six thousand rounds down the tube. All shots were taken at 100 yards, on the bench, using a Hornady rest.



With my old standby, Brown Bear 62gr HP, it still produced groups of about 3” in size.

picture 5


PMC 62 gr X-TAC LAP produced slightly smaller groups (the topmost shot is most likely the result of shooter error).

picture 6


And, finally, with my home defense ammunition, T556TNB1 Mk. 318, it produces excellent groups close to 1.5” in size.

picture 7


Before taking to the range for this review, it had been some time since I’d gotten out to do some benched target shooting. Between concerns that the steel-jacketed Brown Bear ammunition had worn down the barrel’s throat, and not having really put my skills to the test in about a year, I was somewhat worried that the rifle would fail to perform as well as it had in the past. I was pleasantly surprised, not only by the still very-good accuracy of a rifle barrel well into four digits, but also by the excellent accuracy of the T556TNB1 Mk. 318 ammunition.

My Colt 6920 still runs without issue, and shoots great, even after six thousand rounds of mostly steel-cased ammunition. Whatever doubts I once had about the rifle’s design, or Colt’s ability to make a great product are well and truly gone. That the 6920 is industry standard for civilian market self-loading carbines is no mystery to me.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Doopington

    If I may ask, what was bad about the AR-180B? I’ve been wanting an AR-18 on the GU bucket/dream list, but what problems did you have?

    • It’s been a while since I owned it, and I didn’t record my findings, but I remember it being inaccurate, flimsy, and not very reliable. I sold it before I bought the Colt. It’s an interesting design, though.

      • itsmefool

        That’s too bad, NF, as my three ‘180Bs run fine…in your case, it seemed to work out well since you replaced your with a cool Colt (although I prefer the 6940) and that, in turn, provided you with fodder for a story!

        • I am glad to hear you had good luck with tour AR-180Bs.

  • Gene

    How was wear, overall? Was it consistent with what Andrew found at LuckyGunner labs? http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/

    • gene

      I didn’t expect cutting the bbl. I’d be interested in hearing a real-world usage opinion at 10k.

    • n0truscotsman

      Probably not, because Andrew ran those guns HARD

      that was a very impressive test though. Probably good for justifying whether you want to save money on cheap ammo and have to buy another barrel after 10k, or spend the money on regular military ammo and save your barrel. 😀

      • Honestly I change my barrel out every 10K. I shoot some steel ammo as well but I mainly want my barrel to be 100% or as close as I can get.

        • n0truscotsman

          Cant go wrong with that.

          despite the bull manure going on right now, awesome barrels are relatively inexpensive and very EASY to replace. Although this is coming from someone that thinks changing AK barrels is easy, so milage may vary.

  • Steve

    In the image where you mention using a Hornady rest… please tell me you aren’t resting the barrel against the rest while trying to test the precision capability of the rifle…

    • JF

      Was.. just about to comment on that. Thanks for the review… but you should probably not rest the barrel on the rest itself…

    • Honestly, I did a lot of “glam shots” for the camera before I actually started shooting. My rest options at that range were pretty limited (I think I’ll have to make myself a soft rest), and I had a difficult time finding something that really worked. I don’t know how much of the shooting I did with the barrel sitting directly on the rest, if any, but it probably would only make a difference in the point of impact (i.e., accuracy, not precision), which I was not testing for. The barrel, after all,

      • Steve

        This is incorrect unless you were applying the point force in exactly the same point, at exactly the same magnitude with each shot.

        The rest looks like it would be fully capable of sitting rearward, against the hand guards. Allowing the weight of the rifle to rest through the hand guards against the Hornady rest (only one hand on the rifle – and throw a rear bean bag into the mix for elevation adjustment) would have probably tightened things up a bit.

        Either way – I’m impressed with how well the rifle shot, and by making a few minor changes to the test conditions, you will only see better results!

        • It took a lot of trial and error to get a good bench position, given the rests available. I’m probably going to bring my own sandbags next time.

      • Thomas Gomez

        Awesome review! Thanks for publishing your findings concerning your Colt. It is hardly a surprise that your gun ran dirty and experienced few malfunctions. Quality does not quit. Your work on your other blog is incredible.

  • n0truscotsman

    Its a Colt. It WILL work when you need it.

    Many people are surprised that the internal piston AR design would be reliable, but it is. Even with steel cased ammunition (that the internet forums tell you is a no-no for ARs).

    I’m glad you have had good luck with it so far. I’ve run my Colt very hard and it still is reliable; I just replaced the springs and extractor last month.

    • Pete Sheppard

      Is the 6920 a piston or DI rifle? Between the article and your comment, I’m not clear.

      • Samcolt

        the 6920 is DI.

        • Pete Sheppard


      • n0truscotsman

        Sorry about the confusion.

        Im going against the most popular, but woefully incorrect, operating system designation for the good ol AR15/M4/M16: Direct Impingement.

        It is technically a “internal piston”. http://www.armalite.com/images/Tech%20Notes%5CTech%20Note%2054,%20Gas%20vs%20Op%20Rod%20Drive,%20020815.pdf

      • The bolt itself can be referred to in technical terms as a “piston”, as it operates much like the ones in your car. However, the 6920 is not gas piston operated, but direct impingement.

        Hope that helped clear things up.

  • supergun

    Is a Colt as good as a Daniel Defense?

    • I would say absolutely yes, though many feel they’re less pretty.

      • supergun

        There is a Colt at the local Wal Mart for around $1,000. Should I buy it. The Daniel Defense is around $1,400. I think the Colt is a better looking gun. Does Colt actually make the Colt AR. And finally, many people say the ARs are all about the same.

        • You can’t go wrong with the Colt AR, IMO. At $1,000, I’d buy it.

          • AK™

            Personally I’d go with a Windham Weaponry. My local Wal-Mart has both a Colt and a Windham. My cousin who is former Navy,really likes his Windham. As does his wife.

            When I got my AR,I had a shop build one because it was a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than a Colt. Also,supporting small business.

          • I dunno man, you can’t argue with the Colt Technical Data Package.

          • Thomas Gomez

            Windham doesn’t even come close to Colt. Nathaniel is right….That Walmart 6920 is the closest thing a civilian can get to the real thing…

          • supergun

            I like the Windhams also. They are fine guns. There is just something about a COLT. Would it have to do with the 1911? Which is the most beautiful gun ever.

          • Windham, a nice rifle, is not even close to a Colt.

          • Thomas Gomez

            When it comes to Ar-15’s you get what you pay for…

        • Colt makes there own guns.

    • n0truscotsman

      Just as good. They’re both made to the same specifications. So is BCM.

      You can pick one up for 1000 bucks. 950 prepanic prices. good times 😀

    • Thomas Gomez

      All current Ar-15 pattern rifles are based off the Colt M16 or Colt M4. Every Ar-15/M16 patterned rifle is essentially a copy of those two rifles. Some copies are extremely good…even exceed military grade quality. Excellent “copies” are Daniel Defense, Bravo Company, Noveske, LMT…other “copies” are simply a joke.

      I would say Daniel Defense is pretty close to Colt in regards to quality however I wish they would quit that whole “Milspec +” marketing campaign. A part is either Milspec…size, quality, rockwell hardness, metallurgy…or it is not. The only way to get your hands on a Mil Spec gun is to join the military…although you can buy mil-spec parts. I think the term Mil grade is a more accurate representation.

      • supergun

        Thanks for the info. I just haven’t taken the time to do the research. Some gun dealers say they are all the same, but COLT has proven. I like the 1 – 7 twist over the 1 – 9 twist. Like you said, COLT is the Standard by which the others build on.

        • Thomas Gomez

          Sure thing Supergun. If you have any technical or general questions concerning the platform email me at loadthatbipod@gmail.com.

          Hope this finds you well!

          • supergun

            Conservative Joe out of New York advised me not to put my e-mail on the comments. He says the liberal lunatics can play havoc with it. If you can get it off, do it.

          • Thomas Gomez

            No worries Supergun. I write for this Blog. That email address is my main email that I use to correspond with my readers and is at the bottom of all my articles.

          • supergun

            Cool Man. Wasn’t paying attention to the TFB. I have been looking at that Colt 6920 sitting in that display case at Wal Mart way to long. Need to go ahead and pull the trigger on this one. Hope I didn’t offend any liberals on that last comment. Thanks again, Thomas.

          • If you’re still interested, here’s The Chart, which gives you exactly how rifles do and do not conform to military specifications: http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?6642-Comparison-Chart-of-Major-AR-Brands

          • supergun

            Thanks a million. Love to research guns. Thats part of the fun. Sometimes I go into a gun store and educate the sellers. Don’t mean to make anyone look bad, but life isn’t fair. I get my share of education each day. I love it. Nice communicating with you Nathaniel,,,,thats a good 1776 Revolutionary Name.

          • Hahah! If you ask my mother, she’ll say it’s from the Old Testament, but if you ask my father, he’ll say I’m named for General Greene.

          • Hey we encourage all of you to contact us anytime for questions etc.

          • J.T.

            Unfortunately, rob_s nuked the chart. It was several years out of date and he didn’t feel like updating it anymore. I think the screenshot below was what it looked like before it was nuked.


          • CDK

            If the Wal-Mart rifle is the only option you’re looking at, and it’s a Colt, and it looks affordable to you, then do it. They probably have a baseline model (not SOCOM or MP), and depending on the lot they get, might not have all the add-ons (or so I’ve heard) like a second mag where offered by Colt, cleaning kit or other minor differences. But the “new” market is going to have little price difference unless you come across a scalper. Your first Colt, the only one you’re looking at and priced for your wallet, buy it.

            Once you learn the platform and decide what exactly you want it to do for you, and have comparison shopped on them Internetz for models that have the features that you now discriminate for, then you’ll hem and haw over details between models.

          • The quality will be the same. As CDK said you might not get a cleaning kit or something minor to keep the price down but that’s about it.

          • The emails we have are for TFB business only and are never shared with anyone outside of our daily business.
            If you want it taken off the sight I can but I can assure you we keep them close.

    • Yes—

  • SM

    Looks like a nice, simple shooter. It’s refreshing to see an AR without rails covering every horizontal surface and without 10 pounds of “necessary tactical accessories” hanging off said rails.

    • Thanks! One of the reasons it’s seen so many rounds through it is that it is my “do everything gun”, from defending my home to target shooting, to taking whitetail. When I weighed it, loaded with a Lancer AWM with 30 rounds of T556TNB1, it clocked 8.6lbs.

  • nester7929

    I really like the 6940 (the one with a monorail and integrated front flip up sight), but can’t seem to find one at a reasonable price.

    • NikonMikon

      Wal-Mart dawg!

      • itsmefool

        Where? I know those ’40s were once sold there, but I don’t think they’re available today.

  • Lance

    Always said a good AR is just super reliable as any other weapon and ill shoot as good as a shooter is. Brand has no difference.


    Glad yours is still going strong, the 2 I had (in country and home) were nothing but trouble. I remember outside the wire we had 2 go down with broken bolts with less than 1k rounds through them as we had recently been given our cycle retrofit.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. From what I hear, it seems like just about anything can happen in-theater as far as rifle reliability is concerned.

    • Albert

      Were you issued brand new Colt M4s, or frankenstein carbines with mismatched parts by armorers of dubious competence?

  • Sledgecrowbar

    Interesting to read this after this: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ as a comparison between Colt and Bushmaster’s barrel quality. I know the LuckyGunner test said that you could hope to get 5000 rounds of bimetal crap out of a barrel but it wouldn’t be accurate at the end. I’d like to see an erosion gauge put to this barrel. Anyone know if the 6920’s barrel is CHF?

    • I would absolutely attribute the difference in barrel life as a difference in how the different brands were shot. Andrew ran his Bushmasters far, far harder than I ran my Colt, to the point of doing rapid-fire mag dumps one after another. I certainly didn’t baby my Colt, but at the same time, I’m not going to equivocate what I did to my rifle with the torture Andrew put those Bushmasters through. I feel like my article gives the average shooter a better idea of how long his barrel life will be if he doesn’t abuse his rifle in the manner of the LuckyGunner test, while not being a direct comparison between brands.

  • Suburban

    Brown Bear is lacquer-coated, isn’t it? I’ve shot a lot of lacquer-coated surplus ammo, without issue. I get stuck cases with the new-tech polymer-coated cases that were supposed to fix the problem of stuck cases caused by the lacquer coating.

    • I’ve personally not had any problem with either lacquer or polymer coated steel ammunition (besides the latter corroding), but yes, most of the ammunition I fired through the rifle was lacquered.

  • gaosmer

    well done review i wish i had the time to shoot 5000+ rounds.

  • Buxy

    I’ve yet to see a similarly detailed article on the platform resulting in absolute failure. If the anti-DI/AR crowd could produce them, I’d be more open to what they’re trying to sell me. Until then, I’m quite confident my own Colt will work when called upon.

    • I’m definitely less receptive now to claims that the AR-15 is an inherently flawed platform, especially after having a few experiences with improperly made AKs.

    • RealityCheck

      So glad to see you didn’t say it will “run” when called upon.

      • Reality,

        I haven’t had a gun get up and run away from me yet, so I must be doing something right!

  • bob

    I call fucking bullshit.

    • What in particular didn’t pass your smell test?

    • RocketScientist

      Well that is certainly an elegantly stated and well-documented objection.

    • st4

      If that is the extent of your argument, I suggest never representing yourself in court.

  • Mark O’Connor

    I’ve got an M&P 15 that’s pretty much on par with his, with about a thousand less rounds fired, and hasn’t been lined since it’s initial treatment of TW-25b. Dunno if it’s the rifle or the lube but I’m tickled to death.

    • Mark O’Connor

      forgot to mention that all I fire is Federal ball 55grain. Sorry.

  • Hank Seiter

    My thought exactly regarding the “rest”. AR pencil barrels are notorious for deflection when they rest on anything. Unless the AR has a free-float handguard, using a tight sling isn’t advisable either. I shoot both the AR-10 and AR-15 platform for decades now from below zero temps to 110 plus tempts and I’ve never known a reliability issue in the twenty or so ARs I’ve owned and shot over the years. Even the ARs with polymer lowers (like the Plum Crazy lowers) run great. I do hesitate to endorse the polymer uppers that companies like Windham Weaponry produces. Maybe someone else has had a more positive experience with them.
    The longest I’ve managed to push myself between cleanings is about 800 rounds. No failures of any kind. BTW, technically, the bolt catch not working isn’t really a “failure”. There are those ARs like Daniel Defense, Rock River, DPMS, Colt, Stag Arms that do seem a cut above the rest, but the other five brands I’ve shot also work reliably and seem to be manufactured to the same basic mil-spec tolerances. The lone exception being Bushmaster which for a few years had some quality-control problems which they’ve now gotten under control in recent years.
    BTW, if you want a true MOA AR-10 rifle that will easily get you out to a 1000 meters with 175 grain match ammo, I’ve been utterly amazed by Rock River’s LAR-8 in either the 20 inch Wilson cryo barrel with match crown (.5 to .75 MOA accuracy with mine) or the 16 inch Operator Elite with the Wilson cryo barrel and flashhider. Though the latter is only guaranteed to produce 1.5 MOA accuracy, my sample yields .90 to 1.00 MOA using LC 77 Match brass and 175 grain Nosler Match bullets and 39.6 grains of pull-down military WC846 powder. This reproduces the actual military match almost perfectly.
    Dollar for dollar the LAR-8 is the best semi-automatic commercially mass produced match-quality rifle on the planet. And I have extensive experience on the SCAR 17 platform which is also capable of MOA performance — but it costs twice as much … if you can find one.

    • I wasn’t really happy with any of the rest options at that range. I normally shoot from sandbags.

      I certainly have not had any of the problems with steel cased ammo that you describe, but everyone has different experiences.

      Thank you for commenting!

  • LittleLebowski

    This is supposed to be a review? You need to learn how to shoot from a bench. Good god.

    • Lance

      I am just surprised you didn’t somehow manage to mention your brother into this post like you have done over and over again when mentioning the SR25.

      • LittleLebowski

        Me too! 😉

    • I’m sorry to hear that you found my shooting unimpressive! I know I am not the best shot in the world, but I did the best I could under the circumstances!

  • sometrend

    I love the colts,got 6 of them. My first I bought in 1991,it is an H-bar rifle that I used in DCM competition. I saw the AMU using them and they cleaned house at the nationals. I didn`t quite make the presidents 100 with mine but it wasn`t the guns fault. To this day that rifle has never failed to feed or fire,it isn`t quite as accurate as it once was due to throat erosion but it is still my favorite rifle. My 3 carbines are also fantastic shooters,all 6920`s with various sighting options. Colt does build a great gun

  • Brandi

    Great article, I’m not going to disparage your shooting technique since the results speak for themselves. You can’t please all the armchair critics who have dubbed themselves experts. I’ve had my Colt LE6920 for about 8 years or so now, also equipped with an ACOG ( TA11J-RMR) and Crimson Trace MVF-515 light/laser vertical foregrip. I have been impressed every single time she is shot. Extremely good quality and top end performance every single time.

    I’ve yet to shoot at the distances you have but it’s accuracy at 100 yards is so good I have no doubt it would do well pushed out into the backfield. My sister purchased an M&P15 Tactical at the same time I bought my Colt and it’s also really impressed me. Her M&P has never had so much as a hiccup and has very similar accuracy. I wasn’t very sure about the M&P at first but it’s definitely a gun I’d keep as a backup to my Colt.

    Thanks for the review and the article, I’ve always considered Colt to be my favorite AR manufacturer and it’s good to hear others are having great success with them. I would recommend a better rest, I recently started using a Caldwell Dead Shot and really like it.

  • IndianaBruce

    I just zeroed my Colt, and was surprised how hot the barrel got after ten rounds. Does the heat on the barrel have any effect on accuracy?

  • Joe DiAntonio


  • valorius

    I am boycotting colt until they move their facilities and hq to a free American state.

  • Nic_223

    I think there is hardly an honest review of AR platform rifles.They are simply the greatest thing ever created , end of story.It is iconic and it sh*ts stars and stripes forever.Lets be real though it is not the most reliable platform out there this has been proven by the US military in its own tests.The M4 in particular has all kinds of problems especially in rapid fire with gas tubes breaking and God knows what.The US military wants to replace the M4 but lacks the funding to do so.The XM8 , SCAR L/16,ACR have shown better performance as has a gas piston HK version of the M4 the HK416.The AR is also quite complex and requires excessive maintenance and care that most grunts cant master in an actual war situation.Imagine trying to keep a AR clean and running in a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland and losing some of the tiny screws or pins.

    • Uniform223

      what are you basing that on?
      Not to be a dick but we have all heard and read those claims all over the interwebs and it has come to the point that people are simply regurgitating those comments. Worse yet is that a good portion of those individuals have very little to no real experience or training with the rifle / carbine itself. From MY personal experience with MY M16A2 and later M4, it worked!!!

      Perhaps you should read this person’s article and personal experience, it well shed much insight against the claims that the AR-15 is NOT reliable, too delicate, and a faulty system.



      its should be said that NO SOLDIER or MARINE would EVER purposely put dirt into the actions of their rifle!

      Here is a good one

      it should be noted that in the last video NO rifle or carbine can physically handle that much stress place on it without failure. That amount of sustained fire from an individual rifle is not representative of real situations.