If you have an expensive new product and want to increase sales, you have a few options. You can tell customers to suck it up because your product speaks for itself and is worth every penny. You can cut corners and discount the gun, run special manufacturer sales or rebates and try to attract more buyers. You can also take the current product, make a “budget” variant and remove some odds and ends and premium features that buyers can add later on. With the modular LE901 rifle, Colt did the latter. Sort of.
The problem is that Colt seems to have a different definition of odds and ends as I do.
First, the gun ships in a cardboard box. Not even a nice one, just a flimsy sticker-covered fall apart box with no heraldry printed on it. Even Ruger, the king of cardboard boxes, slaps their logo on there or gives you a reasonably sturdy box for storage. The problem is most of the guns Ruger ships in cardboard boxes are a third of the price of the LE901, which even in budget “SE” model form tips the scales at over $2000.
Second, the gun ships with a single PMAG, so-so flip up rear sight, and a chintzy A2 pistol grip. The stock is a genuine VLTOR which is nice, but if you’re going to use a third party for mags and stock, why not slap a MOE+ or Hogue grip on it out of the box? It might seem nit-picky, but it’s just another straw on the camel’s back.
Finally, the kicker: the SE model doesn’t even include the magazine well adapter that gives the LE901 its signature caliber conversion capability! In its place is a little card urging the buyer to purchase the kit separately from Colt or any Colt parts supplier. People don’t buy an LE901 because it’s a nice, overly expensive .308 AR… they buy it because with the adapter, buffer and spring normally included on the non-SE model you can drop a standard 5.56 upper onto it. What reason is there to buy an SE model if you have to go out of your way to buy the parts that make the gun unique in the first place?
As they say on the internet, RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE! The card doesn’t mention that the adapter kit, which is a machined aluminum block, a standard AR-15 carbine buffer and spring, retails for $199.99. Putting aside the absolute absurdity of charging so much for a magazine well adapter, where’s the savings that make the “SE” model even worth considering for a potential buyer?
The LE-901 is a hell of a great concept and it’s awesome Colt brought it to the market at all, but they’re doing everything in their power to drag it down. The high price point was already a deal breaker for the vast majority of gun buyers who tend to heavily favor or outright limit themselves to sub-$2000 guns for the most part. AR builders and DIY types have largely written off the LE901 due to the price as well, since a thrifty builder can easily put together a quality rifle in each caliber separately for less than Colt’s single gun and adapter.
C’mon, Colt. Get it together over there.