Did you know that the term AR in AR-15 doesn’t stand for Assault Rifle, but Armalite Rifle?
Here we’ll be discussing the rifle that’s the predecessor of the AR-15 and started the AR revolution.
The focal point of this discussion will be the AR-10. A powerful modern rifle that gave military rifles their modular design.
An AR-10 Overview
The AR-10 was designed by Eugene Stoner who with his team was working to produce a modern survival rifle for downed aircrew. The design came into being in the year 1956 and was expected to win the race with other companies as the new service rifle for the U.S Military.
Call it fate or just carelessness in the development of a good prototype for evaluation. Armalite failed to pass some torture tests not just with the U.S Military, but also in the tests of a few other nations. That too with humiliating results.
Chambered in the 7.62×51 NATO, this rifle was designed to be a modular and modern version replacing the old M1 Garand rifles. Originally only 9,900 of these rifles were built by Armalite. Mostly supplied to the military forces to some countries. So apparently, the AR-10 may not be called a successful rifle. But what it inspired was revolutionary.
The resurrection of the AR-10 design in a .223 caliber chambered rifle in the year 1958 came to be known as the AR-15 rifle.
The rights for the design of AR-10 and AR-15 were sold to Colt. Who owns both these trademarks in the United States. Many other companies have acquired trademark rights and also developed their own variations of this design.
However, the AR-10 continues to be manufactured by its original parent company with some units being sold to civilian customers in the U.S, U.K, and Canada.
So why does the AR-10 still command popularity among civilians? That’s because of its chambering. The .308 Winchester is a versatile caliber. Combining it with a modular rifle like the AR-10 greatly improves the possibilities of use. Ranging from tactical to hunting use.
What the AR-10 Does Best
As I already mentioned, the AR-10 saw very little use as a military rifle. It was produced in very limited quantities for combat use. But the AR-10 should not be seen in the image of its original 1956 version. Instead, we should look at it as a big brother to the AR-15.
The AR platform is known for its modularity and ease of customization. Generally speaking, the AR-10 comes into use everywhere where an AR-15 can but with more hitting power. That’s because of the .308 caliber of this rifle. Additionally, an AR-10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor will be a dedicated long range rifle.
The AR-10 is an extremely versatile rifle. Especially when you know the excellence and also the limitations of the .308 caliber.
The AR-10 is a great hunting rifle, thanks to its hard-hitting power and also accurate long range. It can be used for deer, pronghorns, elk, and even some bear species in the right hands.
Talking about range, AR-10’s designed to custom specifications or match use are also fairly suited for long range precision uses.
Like competitions, tactical use, or even practice. With an effective range of 600-900 yards, a good rifle can be put to combat use with the right accessories.
The AR-10 is also available in short barrel versions that are used as a defense or assault weapons by some law enforcement government agencies. All because of the sheer power of .308 and the maneuverability and customizability of the AR platform.
Where the AR-10 Falls Short
Falling short would seem to be an overstatement for the AR-10. Given its powerful caliber and good reach, this is a versatile rifle. But with a few minor considerations to look out for.
First and foremost, let me make it very clear that the AR-10 is not a home defense weapon. At Least in my opinion it is not. And I have a very good supporting reason for that. The most common caliber for the AR-10 is the .308 Winchester. Which is a bulky cartridge. With enough power to bring down a bear if done right.
Even if you have an SBR AR-10, those .308 rounds will have too much penetration to affect bystanders. It may be people sitting in the next room or even the next house. You may rather consider using a handgun or shotgun for home defense.
The AR-10 is a long action rifle designed to shoot longer rifle cartridges. Which also causes it to be a bit longer and hence bulkier than an AR-15. However, the addition in weight and size may not seem very significant. But the recoil definitely will.
The smaller .223 caliber is more controllable. Even in the hands of recoil-sensitive shooters. However, the .308 requires some practice and skill to handle.
Another shortcoming of the AR-10 is the compatibility of parts. While it shares many parts in common with the AR-15. There are different standardized versions available from different manufacturers. Which may create some compatibility issues in the long run. Especially with AR-10 magazines. Additionally, the options for aftermarket accessories aren’t very vast for the AR-10.
How to Take Advantage of the AR-10 Platform
There are a lot of ways you can upgrade your AR-10 and enhance its performance. Afterall it is one of the most customizable rifle platforms available today. So let’s divide these possible upgrades based upon use cases.
Possibly the most common use for an AR-10 is hunting and long range shooting. As far as hunting is concerned, the AR-10 will do great with a good rifle scope and a bipod. Since this rifle has long range potential, you should consider having a scope with at least 3-9x magnification.
Red dot sights and tactical sights are mostly suitable for tactical and combat applications. So if your AR-10 doesn’t fit that role in your hands. It’s better to steer away from them at the moment.
Another good use for the AR-10 is long range shooting. Which is something that requires precision. Now there are two ways to achieve that. You can either buy a high-end AR-10 rifle straight from the manufacturer with high-end parts. Or may build one for yourself.
Just like AR-15, there are AR-10 build kits available on the market. Building a rifle will allow you to tune it specifically to your needs and tastes. You can use barrels, BCG, adjustable gas block, trigger, scope mount, and other accessories of your choice. A hybrid muzzle brake works really great for long range use and also minimizes noise.
Factors like barrel length, trigger, and magazine type will play an important part in precision applications. Additionally, if you already have an upper receiver, you can also opt for lower parts kits for better customizability. Plus, saving some money compared to buying a complete rifle.
Further Reading on AR-10s
With many companies manufacturing and selling their AR-10 designs out there. You must conduct a thorough introspection about what kind of rifle you want. The first step of confusion for many people is to choose between the AR-10 vs AR-15. Which in fact is quite usual. Since the latter has a ton of aftermarket support.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of scouring through the innumerable market shelves to find the right rifle. We have also compiled a list of the best AR-10 rifles on the market.
Furthermore, the AR-10 and AR-15 rifles are basically the same platform and share many parts. If you already use an AR-15 and want to get an AR-10. You must learn more about the interchangeable parts between the AR-10 and AR-15. That’ll help you with economics and also save trouble in finding parts for the AR-10.
Before you buy an AR-10, make sure you know what to do with it. I mean it’s a 7.62 (or whatever caliber you choose) rifle that will either be used for hunting or long range shooting. The caliber will essentially decide the dedicated use for the rifle.
If you are already an AR-15 user, you’ll be familiar with this platform. But if you’re not, research first about whether it will suit your needs. Once you are sure about buying the AR-10, come back here and learn about the vast expanse of accessories, upgrades, and knowledge related to it.
Designed in the year 1959 by Eugene Stoner, the AR-10 became the revolutionary platform that is the base of design for the civilian AR-15 and military M4 style rifles.
Commonly chambered in the 7.62×51 mm rifle cartridge, it is a long range sniping and hunting weapon. With the modularity and customizability of a modern sporting rifle.