AR-15 Review: Colt Expanse M4

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Colt Expanse M4 review.

The Colt Expanse M4 is priced affordably and comes ready-made for customization.

Ready for customization, the Expanse™ M4 comes with a 16-inch barrel and A2-style components.

Ready for customization, the Expanse™ M4 comes with a 16-inch barrel and A2-style components.

Although many gun store owners have been reporting declining sales for so-called “black rifles,” the AR-15 is, without question, still one of the most popular rifles in the nation. For this reason, manufacturers are continuing to produce “America’s Rifle,” and especially affordably priced versions that are attainable to the average gun owner.

Colt has long been a recognized name regarding ARs. In fact, for many years after the AR-15/M16’s official introduction, Colt was essentially the only name in the AR business. Despite this historical association with the AR-15, for the past several years Colt really hasn’t had a truly entry-level AR for buyers. This appears to be changing in 2016.

Keeping in step with the affordable AR trend, Colt is introducing the Expanse™ M4, a quality-manufactured black rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO that comes with all the basics a shooter needs to start delving into ARs and sells at a very palatable price point. Retail priced at $699, the Expanse™ M4 could be a very attractive option for those looking for a base rifle to customize, which is one of the main draws of the AR platform.

The Expanse™ M4’s upper and lower receivers are manufactured from 7075-T6 aluminum and have a black hardcoat anodized finish. The rifle incorporates a 16-inch, 1:7-inch twist, non-chrome-lined barrel manufactured from 4150 CMV steel with a manganese phosphate finish.

Colt’s new Expanse™ M4, which has an MSRP of $699, is the first budget-friendly AR offered by the company.

Colt’s new Expanse™ M4, which has an MSRP of $699, is the first budget-friendly AR offered by the company.

Additionally, the Expanse™ M4 comes with many of the same features found on other ARs. Namely, these include Eugene Stoner’s enduring direct-impingement gas system; an A2 front sight and A2 pistol grip; a right-handed safety selector; a standard, M4-style collapsible stock; and a Mil-Spec single-stage trigger.

What it does lack, however, is a forward assist and a dust cover. This is done because the average user simply doesn’t need or use these features. That said, a dust cover and forward assist can easily be added if needed.

Everything about the Expanse™ M4 points to future customization on the part of the user. The upper receiver has a flat top for adding optics or rear iron sights, and all of the standard parts—grip, stock, safety, charging handle, handguard—can be easily replaced with aftermarket parts if desired. This is exactly what most AR owners want from a basic rifle.

Colt Expanse M4 Specs.The Expanse™ M4 accepts standard AR magazines and comes with a 30-round steel magazine. It has an overall length of 32 to 35.5 inches, depending on whether the stock is collapsed or fully extended.

Colt Expanse™ M4
Type    Direct-impingement gas, semi-automatic
Caliber    5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.
Barrel    16-in., 1:7-in. twist, non-chrome-lined
Overall Length    32 to 35.5 in.
Weight    6.44 lbs.
Handguard    Standard Mil Spec AR/M4
Stock    Standard collapsible Mil Spec AR/M4
Grip    Standard Mil Spec AR
Trigger    Standard Mil Spec AR
MSRP    $699
Manufacturer    Colt.com


This AR-15 review appeared in…

Modern Shooter Winter 2016Modern Shooter Winter 2016
Modern Shooter is your source for the modern firearms giving you the inside edge on tactics and accessories for the newest ARs, shotguns and handguns. In the Winter 2016 edition we focus on Colt! Instant download

3 thoughts on “AR-15 Review: Colt Expanse M4

  1. bhp0

    I have always liked Colt AR15’s but I am not sure I want to go to the extra expense of adding a dust cover and forward assist that I consider essential. Too bad I would have liked to have bought one.

  2. Mikial

    I spent over two and a half years doing private security work in Iraq. During the first couple of months I carried a locally procured AK. The next few months I was issued a Bushmaster SBR M4 because I was a tactical driver for a convoy escort vehicle. It was a terrible rifle and was very unreliable. But during the last 20 months or so, I was issued a Colt selective fire M4. It was smooth, reliable and accurate. I was highly impressed and never once doubted that it would work for me when I needed it to.

    If I can buy a genuine Colt M4 for $699 . . . count me in!

    I believe this is a wise move by Colt in light of the poor management they have suffered under for years. Military contracts are fine, but the sale of quality guns to the people that they can afford are what makes shooters love a company. Colt seems to have lost sight of that for a while, I hope they have realized their mistake.

  3. wraith67

    I think the market is pretty saturated with AR15/M4 clones. At this point, manufacturers will be competing to sell the product with the most features for the money, as has been the case for a long time with the 1911s… I’m not seeing anything here that’s really going to tempt me to spend the money on Colt over anybody else.

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