Colt MARC 901 Rifle Family

Colt is introducing a rifle family based on the CM 901 series of rifles, intended to increase modularity and the ease with which one rifle can be converted into another caliber. From the press release:

Colt’s Manufacturing Company, one of the world’s leading designers, developers and manufacturers of firearms, has evolved its highly popular LE901®-16S modular carbine design by introducing the new M.A.R.C. 901™ (modular AR carbine) product family. This family of modular and customizable carbines features four new models:





“The original model LE901 is very popular with our customers, so we are happy to continue its development and introduce new additions to the family,” said Joyce Rubino, Vice President of Marketing for Colt’s Manufacturing Company. “The new M.A.R.C. 901 models allow our customers to more easily move between various caliber and accessory configurations for target shooting, hunting or tactical purposes.”

All new “SE” models in the M.A.R.C. 901 family feature a monolithic upper receiver with a fixed rail at the 12 o’clock position and provisions to mount rails at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The AR901 features a flat-top upper receiver and a tubular forend, with provisions to mount rails at various positions. There are several advantages to these modular rail positions, which make the firearm more customizable and comfortable for users. The design allows shooters to position rail sections where needed for accessories such as bipods, lasers, lights, and more. With the choice to mount only necessary rail sections, users can reduce the weight and diameter of the upper receiver, making it easier to hold. The profile of the upper receiver is also smoother, with fewer sharp edges.

Three three SE models, the LE901-16SE, LE901FDE-16SE and LE901-18SE, all also feature ambidextrous operating controls for the magazine release and bolt catch, and a single-side reversible fire selector. All three of these models are designed with a free-float barrel, VLTOR™ buttstock and locking folding sights. Unique to the LE901FDE-16SE is the flat dark earth finish on the upper and lower receiver, along with FDE furniture. For users who prefer a longer barrel, the LE901-18SE with its 18-inch barrel is the optimal choice. The MSRPs for the three models are: LE901-16SE – $2,181; LE901FDE-16SE – $2,281; and LE901-18SE – $2,181. The LE901-16SE and LE901FDE-16SE models weigh 8.42 pounds and all models have a 1/12 RH twist.

The fifth model in the M.A.R.C. 901 family, the AR901-16S, is the perfect balance between LE901 quality and affordability. It features a free-floated barrel and user-configurable tubular handguard with rail mounting provisions beyond the standard 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions to include rail mounting positions on 16 different planes. The AR901-16S has a B5 Bravo buttstock and measures 34.24-inches with the stock retracted, or 37.5-inches with the stock extended. It has a 1/12 RH twist, weighs 8.24 pounds, and has an MSRP of $1,623.

Like the original model LE901-16S, all of the new LE901 models are multi-caliber, single serial number, modular rifle systems. Chambered for .308 Winchester, the innovative lower receiver and bolt carrier design allow users to easily swap the upper receiver group for any Colt Mil-Spec upper chambered for 5.56 x 45 NATO (.223 Remington). The Adapter Block Conversion Kit includes the needed parts to adapt the 5.56 x 45 NATO upper receiver assembly to the M.A.R.C. 901 lower receiver. These Adapter Block Conversion Kits will be sold separately and are available in the Colt web store for $199.99 (part number SP99415).

Given that there do appear to be conversion kits out there for the 901, this does seem to be a pretty attractive option. The AR901-16S in particular has a very competitive price tag.

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


  • Anonymoose

    No 20″?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      308 burns by 14-16″ typically. The velocity differed in 16″ to 20″ is far less than with a more efficient bullet like 6mm-7mm.

      I have a 20″ bolt gun in 308, but no way I’d do an auto in it. 14-16, 18 maybe if it was a great barrel and a great deal.

      • Anonymoose

        No it most certainly does not. A 16″ barrel leaves .308 (and .30-06) with .300 Savage ballistics. A .308 should have at least an 18″ barrel to get a good burn, although 21-24″ is preferable.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          Modern ammo like M118LR disagrees with you. Ha, 300 savage. You’re showing your age 😉

          I can post a 1000y steel I shot at 1MOA with a 16″ barrel of you like. It’s not 100% burn with factory ammo, but I was seeing 20-30fps increase past 16″ so didn’t see the point.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Have you tried the MK319 cartridge yet?

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Nope. Might be something I would consider for a 12.5″ suppressed heavy hitter, but my 308 use is all precision, so I don’t go under 175gr.

          • LilWolfy

            All your loads are 100% burned within the first 5-7″. The idea that there is unburnt rifle powder even near the gas port makes you realize that any claims to that effect would have to be supported by powder accumulation or clogging in the gas port, gas tube, etc. The powder is burned well before it hits the port.

  • An Interested Person

    The downer for me is the proprietary 7.62 upper. I love the compatibility with all standard 5.56 uppers, but the non-existent 7.62 options stinks.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      True, but if it becomes popular then aftermarket options will become available.

    • LilWolfy

      No, Colt is actually ahead of the game right now when it comes to competing with the DPMS GII because they broke out of the SR-25 mold, which has an unusually long BCG and receiver set. The 901 has a much shorter BCG and receiver, meaning the balance can come way back to the shooter’s hand.

      Don’t look for any compatibility as the AR10 market evolves forward. People want lighter, more balanced guns that feel like AR15’s, but that are well engineered around the .308 Winchester.

      The 901 has been kinda under the radar, but that is going to change this year, especially with the price point on the AR901-16S

  • JumpIf NotZero

    We’re about to see a ton of desirable models from all sorts of companies… And amazing prices on them. We’re almost at the most depressed gun market we’ll have seen since the 90s.

    Which is interesting because I’m certain a lot of these companies are still thinking he test gun rush of 2013 will happen again, and it might, but not for two years.

    • n0truscotsman

      “and it might, but not for two years.”

      God i hope not XD

      I’ve bought more ammunition over the past month than I have in the past year and I enjoyed every minute of it.

  • hami

    The AR901-16s is an even better value considering the other models don’t take advantage of the current full length, to the muzzle hand guard trend. I imagine a lot of buyers prefer to save a little up front and buy one of the many aftermarket railed forearm options.

    • Joshua

      Also the way the upper is monolithic any company would only need to make an extended bottom rail portion, similar to the KAC FRAK rail system being tested by the Army.

      This would lead to cheaper aftermarket rails as you only need to make the bottom portion.

  • iksnilol

    Something I always wondered about the AR-15: Why is the magwell so long?

    • Joshua

      What do you mean?

      • iksnilol

        If you look at a quad stack magazine (like the Surefire) you can see that there is a noticeable portion that is covered by the magwell (about 10 rounds length). Or if you look at a drum mag you will notice it has a tower like structure protruding topside.

    • Fred Johnson

      It forms the front part of the trigger guard?
      Adds more support to the magazine?
      Adds strength to the pivoting portion of the lower receiver?

      AR-47s look strange?

      Just guesses. 😀

      • iksnilol

        See? That AR-47 has a magwell that does what it is supposed to do while not messing with mags.

        + you gotta admit, it does look cool with the A1/A2 look with the drum mag.

  • Joshua

    Awesome gun, good friend of mine has a T&E model he got from Colt nearly a year before they released and was allowed to buy it from them.

    In my time shooting it recoil is very similar to a 6.8 AR and parts life is excellent, his 901 is up to 9,670 rounds so far and no parts have needed any form of replacement.

    It is a really fun rifle to shoot, and being able to use anything that fits into a standard AR-15 platform is like the icing on the cake.

    • Joshua

      Actually speaking of my friend he just got one of these from Colt to test and review. He has it on,his blog but don’t know if I can link it.

    • n0truscotsman

      Thats pretty impressive durability for a 308 AR10 type rifle. Interesting. I’d like to look at one of these firsthand to see what Colt did with them.

      • Joshua

        It’s a really impressive rifle, but my first hand time behind it is limited to around 400 rounds. He has had his since 4 months before they released.

  • Bob The Wilder

    It would be nice if Colt had an original idea rather than following the market. The marketing and advertising team suck.

    • LilWolfy

      The 901 broke way out from the market. What are you looking at that brought you to that conclusion, especially since the 901 predates the GII by several years now. They are ahead of the trend, and sitting on top of a modularity approach that nobody else is, with a common lower that isn’t out of control like the Cobb was.

  • ColaBox

    So maybe I missed it reading, but do these take any other mag types like a m14 rib cage or an FAL mag? These cant be Magpuls only.

    • SR-25 mags, I believe.

      • mig1nc

        Yep. There be Magpull SR-25 mags in yonder picture.

      • snmp

        SR25 mag is same specs of the Original Fairchild AR10.

  • idahoguy101

    Is the direct impingment system really compatible with 7.62 NATO ammo? Or will it clog up the gas tube with Carbon

    • Joshua

      You do realise that the M110SASS and the British L129A1 are both AR-10’s

    • It uses WC846, which is almost identical to the WC844 used in 5.56mm.

  • toms

    My problem with this gun is that it is not all that accurate. I have messed around with a couple and they were battle rifle accurate but that’s all. Looks like they cut the weight and price down a bit which is good. I imagine most of that savings comes off of the barrel which makes me wonder if the acuracy is worse than the original. Any word on 7.62x39mm conversions?

  • LilWolfy

    2014 has proven to be the year of the new AR10’s, with lightweight and balance being desired by hunters and action shooters, as well as recreational blasters who have been sour to the beastly 1993-forward AR10 market.

    Colt is in a unique position with the market to be competitive with Freedom Group and their GII, since Colt already has a .308 AR10 with a short BCG and receiver set. The AR901-16S model is going to sell like crack.

    • Joshua

      The GII is nice, but first its DPMS who have a history of making sub par weapons that are far below the spec. Second the GII cannot run any AR-15 upper on the lower, this makes the 901 far more modular than the GII could ever wish to be. Third since the 901 can run any 5.56 upper you have this huge array of calibers that it can run since so many were made to work with a 5.56 lower.

      The GII is just a lighter AR-10 made by a sub par company who has been putting out crap since they started. The 901 is a modular AR platform that can fit a number of calibers being made by a company with a reputation for making a reliable firearm.

      IMO when it comes to an educated buyer the GII wouldn’t stand a chance in hell compared to the 901.

      Lastly the GII uses a rubber extractor spring, this is a horrible idea. One thing we learned during the time of the O-Ring(before Colt got the enhanced extractor spring through government testing) was that once you got below 15* you would have issues. They just do not have nearly the same operating range of temperatures as springs do.

      • LilWolfy

        I think the important thing to remember is that “DPMS” no longer exists as the company we were familiar with. It’s a brand name owned by Freedom Group, that Randy Luth sold out to them a few years ago. Freedom Group, along with Remington, has brought a new engineering team on board, and the GII is a product of that teams’ efforts.

        When I look at the GII in hand, I don’t see anything resembling the LR-308 series in the critical core components, nor the fit/feel/finish. They tested that proprietary elastomer extractor spring/buffer over tens of thousands of cycles in temps well below 15 degrees, although I was surprised someone would choose that extractor springing method as well. I think they are actually looking at the military market with that extractor, which indicates a desire to exceed the limitations of wire steel.

        I personally don’t buy rifles from manufacturers anymore, no matter who they are, since trust isn’t there, and I have learned that I need to go the custom route just to obtain bare bones standards that would be peasant-grade workmanship in higher European nations.

        Whether I were to buy a GII or Colt AR901, the barrel is getting pulled anyway. I have no reason to mess around with a factory .308 Win. that was reamed by a machine operator, and I’m chambering in another caliber anyway. I already get better than .308 performance from the AR15 platform with 6.5 Grendel, with half the recoil.

        But for the common consumer who is looking for an affordable, supported AR10 on the cutting edge of being more compact and lightweight, I have no reservations about recommending either the Colt AR901 or the DPMS GII. The GII Hunter is probably the best lightweight option right now, with the carbon fiber handguard.

        Colt would be well advised to offer a hunter 901 model with a tube carbon fiber handguard, since your hands don’t stick to CF after dressing out your kill like they do on aluminum. The AR901-16S is definitely going to sell well at the MSRP listed, plus you get the reputation of a company who has been in this business since 1959, with their original AR10A that they were going to produce at the time, based on lessons learned from the Dutch, combined with the patents and TDP they bought from ArmaLite.

  • Unless they’re bringing back double action revolvers or upping SAA production, I can’t find Colt that relevant or exciting anymore.

    • LilWolfy

      They’re actually more relevant than almost every other manufacturer in the AR10 market right now. They were ahead of the game with the 901 in many ways that will slowly rear their head as the market continues to go the direction that it is going.

  • John Bear Ross

    Once they release the AK-mag compatible conversion kit, the MARC product line will be something to be reckoned with.
    I’d also like to see 18″ or 20″ fluted barrels for the .308 Win version, Colt, please, just to get some more velocity behind the projectile.


  • toms

    When do they ship?