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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been in the market for a "new to me" Colt AR, specifically any of the "LE" versions. As I understand it any Colt AR that starts with for example "LE677885" would be a legit Colt LE6920. Any Colt AR that started with CR (for example CR234456) would be one of the "Expanse" AR's, which is what I don't want.

Do I understand this correctly? My LGS has one of each, a "LE" AR and a "CR" AR that otherwise look identical, but I want to make sure I'm getting the one I want.
 

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Expanse is apparently made to be cheap, some missing parts, non chrome lined .Look for CE model #. Not to be confused with serial # prefix.

Your LGS should know if a 6920 , or Expanse. Look at the model # and End-label on box...and price...

As far as LE and CR prefixes on 6920's, IMHO look for rollmarked vs. laser engraved markings. Go with the most rollmarked, or buy an older one with good-looking/feeling Colt roll marks, before the laser engraved cost-cutting.

Of course, now is a bad time for such, given the Colt pause in Semi AR15 production.

Good luck, and do not settle for second-best , or reproductions/clones.
 

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The CR serial number prefix does not mean it's an Expanse lower end model, there are also Expanse model CE1000 and CE2000 that have the LE prefix serial numbers.

The best way to tell is like another member said here, look at the label at the end of the box, see the model number, if it starts with the model number CE they're an Expanse model.

Another way of telling if it's an Expanse looking only at the carbine is the barrel front of the front sight don't have a notch for the grenade launcher mount, the LE6920 M4 models have the notch for the grenade launcher.

The older model LE6920 M4 carbines from 2012 and on with roll markings are more desirable because of the better looking deeper markings, in the last several years when they changed the serial number prefix to CR they started partially using laser engraving until currently they're using laser engraving with all markings.

There's nothing wrong with the LE6920 with the CR serial number prefix and laser engravings, it's just the look of the laser engravings that looks light and shallow, if that doesn't bother you go ahead and get one with the CR serial number prefix.

Here was my LE6920 with roll markings that I bought in early 2012 when this series with the "M4 CARBINE" markings was first released.
 

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Some Expanse models came missing furniture and ejection port covers as they were often swapped out by owners anyway...just Colt's attempt at being a player in the low buck AR market and giving owners the ability to buy whatever parts they wanted aftermarket. I have a CE marked serial number M4 that's a Davidson's special...all flat dark earth coated, a 14.5'' barrel with the flash suppressor permanently attached.

Whether or a not a barrel is chrome lined is of little consequence for a non-combat rifle...big deal.
 
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As others have mentioned, serial number prefixes LE and CR have nothing to do with the model specifications for the Expanse series of rifles. Colt was attempting to provide a rifle on the 'budget' end of the consumer spectrum. As mentioned they initially had features missing like sights, dust covers, and non-chrome lined barrels.

To further muddy the waters regarding the Colt Expanse line, some rifles shipped at the end of production were not much different from standard Colt LE6920's. Colt provided Bold Ideas (assemblers of the Expanse line) with the parts. Toward the end of production, Colt sent Bold Ideas whatever parts that they had on hand to meet the current requirements and end production. A few purchasers even received Expanse rifles that had Colt SOCOM barrels installed. The end of production saw an dizzying variance in parts and features.
 
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