Colt AR15A4 Semi-Auto Rifle Review

Colt AR15A4 Review: Summary

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This is a mil-spec AR style rifle made by the company who first introduced the AR-15 to the consumer market. Outside of special custom match guns, you will get no better reliability.



Expect a minimum 3-4 MOA from this rifle, however with good ammo it should be capable of far better groups, particularly if an optic is used when shooting from the bench.



A standard A2 configured AR style rifle. The ergonomics will work for most people, but like any one size fits all approach, there will be shortcomings.



Classic design, classic styling and classic construction. This gun looks fantastic- if you are into old school AR’s.



AR-15’s can be customized in nearly any fashion possible. Entire industries exist to do just that. Customize away!

Bang for your Buck

Bang for your Buck

Honestly, you are paying for the Colt name here. It is quite possible to build a mil-spec AR rifle in this configuration for less, but then again it wouldn’t be a Colt. On the other hand, you get what you pay for.

We Like

The overall design. Retro style AR rifles are a growing market, and since Colt literally invented the commercial AR-15 market, it is only fitting they offer a high quality old school rifle.

We Don't Like

These days a thousand bucks builds you one heck of an AR-15. Or it gets you a rack grade Colt AR15A4. You can build a functionally identical gun for less.

Overall, the Colt AR15A4 is a fantastic, top shelf AR style rifle. Built along classic lines, it offers retro styling with brand name construction. It is reliable, and easily is a heirloom grade rifle to pass down for generations. Of course you can also use it as a tactical rifle. It’s just that good.

Hello and welcome to my detailed Colt AR15A4 review.

While the AR-15 has become the “everyman’s rifle” for the modern day, most of that attention has gone to carbine length AR style rifles, and perhaps for good reason.

After all, a carbine is a handy, near universal longarm suitable for most purposes. But we aren’t talking about carbines today. No, we are talking about full length rifles, and a real retro looking blast from the past made fresh again today- namely our Colt AR15A4 review.

Patterned after the classic M16 rifle, the Colt AR15A4 is about as close as a private citizen can get to owning an M16. Built along classic lines, using mil-spec parts, there is an awful lot to like about this rifle, and little, if anything to not like.

Who is Colt AR15A4 for?

A generation of Americans were introduced to Colt rifles during the Vietnam War. While the army rather disastrously botched the initial introduction of the M16, it soon settled down into the reliable warhorse that has served this nation in active service for over half a century.

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It did not take long for commercial semi-auto variants to be available, but they suffered from high prices, limited interest, and a handful of non standard parts.

As the AR-15 ownership revolution grew though, there has been an increased interest in getting “back to basics”, and that is what drove us to do a review of Colt AR15A4.

While outwardly it closely resembles the M16, internally it has been built to only function as semi-auto rifle. However, military veterans will appreciate the distinct similarities, and of course, the famed Colt quality.

Unlike the earliest M16 rifles, the Colt AR15A4 has a removable carrying handle, which allows the user to easily mount a scope or red dot sight, or retain the iron sights as they might prefer.

Beyond that, this is truly a faithful civilian legal recreation of the US Army’s famous M16 rifle as it exists today, while still paying homage to the M16’s of the past.

Ideal for target shooters, collectors, varmint hunters, and of course people needing a tactical rifle, the AR15A4 is truly to the 21st Century what the lever action Winchester was to the 19th.

Colt AR15A4 Features

Inside and out, the Colt AR15A4 is a high quality rifle.

Featuring a detachable carry handle, flat top upper, 20” chrome lined 1:7 twist barrel, A2 stock, pistol grip and handguard, a proper M16 bolt carrier group, mil-spec trigger, safe/semi auto selector switch, and a 30 round Magpul PMAG magazine, this rifle also ships with a standard safety cable lock and weighs just under eight pounds.


If you are familiar with the AR-15 style of firearm, this should all be old news to you. Colt didn’t built a race gun, or a weird tactical rifle with trendy bits and pieces, they built a faithful copy of an old school rifle length AR-15, and they did it perfectly.

Colt AR15A4 Review: Breakdown

The Colt AR15A4 breaks down like any standard AR style rifle.

After you remove the magazine and clear the chamber, you can push out the rear takedown pin, and allow the upper to pivot on the forward pin for a quick cleaning and lubrication, or you may push out the second pin and completely remove the upper.

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You may also pull out the charging handle to remove the bolt carrier group. No other disassembly is needed under normal circumstances, nor desired.

Quickly reversing the takedown procedure puts the rifle back together. If you wish to remove the carrying handle, two oversized screws can be quickly turned to remove it or put  it back on as needed.

Rear carry handle sights are adjusted with a click adjustment for windage, while a front sight tool is used to adjust  elevation.

Colt AR15A4 Safety and Reliability

There is perhaps no safer, more reliable rifle on the market today than a well built AR style firearm, and the Colt AR15A4 is no exception.

The long rifle length gas impingement system is time and battle proven, and when used with clean burning ammo, rarely requires cleaning or adjustment.

The simple and easy to use safety selector switch permits the user to put the gun on safe with a simple thumb flick, as opposed to awkwardly handling the gun to engage levers or crossbolts as on other types of firearms.

As with any removable magazine firearm, the magazine is a weak point in reliability. 

Traditional metal mags can wear out or suffer from deformed feed lips which can cause a jam or failure to feed. Modern polymer mags can also be deformed through use. The Magpul PMAG which Colt ships, is one of the finest AR-15 magazines ever made, and is currently being adopted by the US Marine Corps.

However, any clean, well maintained magazine should work just fine in your rifle. Discard any magazine that causes trouble.

When properly lubricated and cared for, the Colt AR15A4 will give excellent performance, and like any military spec firearm, may surprise you with the amount of  neglect and abuse it can put up with.

However, unless you are crawling through mud, dirt or sand, there is little reason not to baby your rifle. Take good care of it, and it will take good care of you.

Colt AR15A4 Comfort and Recoil

Recoil? What recoil? The 5.56mm/.223 cartridge the AR15A4 is chambered in has almost unnoticeable recoil in a firearm of this configuration, making it a real joy to shoot as long as your ammo supply holds out.

The ergonomics of the rifle should be suitable for most people. However, you may want to change out the standard A2 style pistol grip for something different, like a Magpul grip, or perhaps a finger groove grip.

The fixed length buttstock means taller and shorter than average people may have some issues with this gun, although tall people can add a rubber buttpad, while a shorter person may have to change stocks altogether.

The A2 style handguard does not lend itself to much accessory mounting, although rail adapters are available which would let you mount a vertical or angled foregrip if you like, or you can always change the handguard entirely. There are plenty of drop in replacements out there.

As it ships from Colt, the AR15A4 should be comfortable for most people though, and if not, well, the AR-15 is one of the most customizable rifles ever built.

What’s in the Starter Kit?

Well, not much really. You get a 30 round magazine, a manual, trigger lock, and not much else. You’ll want to add a few things, like a sling, a front sight adjustment tool, and probably a few more magazines. Because it does have a flat top upper, you should also consider buying a red dot sight or small scope to put on here, unless you prefer the iron sight configuration.

Out of the box, expect a quality rifle that is ready for you to add your personal touches to.

Accessories and Upgrades

We’ve touched on some of this already, but there is a lot more, in fact a bewildering variety more.

With a few simple tools, every part down to the barrel can be replaced or changed out.

If you don’t want a bone stock AR15A4, then you can certainly change anything you don’t like about it.


However, the main attractions of this rifle- the classic styling, the 20” rifle configuration, really don’t lend themselves to the consumer who is after a quickly customizable rifle.

If I had one of these, I’d change out the pistol grip, add a sling, maybe a rail adapter to add a light or vertical foregrip, and get a nice optic to put on top. Otherwise, you are best served by keeping this stock.

Beyond that, the  most important thing is a few more magazines, maybe a shorter 20 round or even 10 round for benchrest use (or if you live in a capacity restricted state.)

Of course if you want to go crazy, well you can swap out any sort of upper you like to quickly change calibers, or barrel twist rate. Either way, it’s an AR pattern rifle, the sky is the limit!


As you can see from this Colt AR15A4 review, this is a no nonsense rifle based on over fifty years of military and consumer demand. Based on combat proven technology, it is truly an everyman’s rifle.

Let’s see how it stacks up!

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