Do you love your AR-15 but wish you could hunt bear or compete in long-range target competitions with it? The AR-10 in .308 was Eugene Stoner's original AR (unless you count the AR-5 survival rifle) and the first major rifle to feature a stock level with the barrel. This is a great help in recoil management and reduces muzzle rise. The AR-10 is packed full of other original design features that revolutionized the firearms industry.
Oddly, most AR-10s on the market today are based on the original AR-10's own child-design, the AR-15. The AR-10 is a formidable battle rifle ideal for medium to large game hunting. If you love your AR-15 but need to pack a heavier punch, this is the rifle for you.
Comparison of the Best AR-10 Models
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Why Is The AR-10 So Popular?
Compared to its contemporaries, it's hard to believe that the AR-10 was designed in the 1950s. The early involvement of the Fairchild Aircraft company led to the inclusion of space-age aeronautical materials in the firearm's design, such as fiberglass and aluminum alloy. This allowed great decreases in weight, making the AR-10 far lighter than any of its battle rifle contemporaries.
Other ground-breaking design features that increase efficiency and reduce weight include incorporating the gas piston into the bolt carrier and keeping the bolt carrier in line with the bore. The rotating bolt locks directly into the barrel extension, a great innovation in itself, allowing for absolute reliability and lighter receiver construction.
The AR platform has been field proven in almost every conflict worldwide since the 1960s. The full-powered AR-10 has won the admiration of troops and peace officers from the Portuguese in Angola to the Ontario Provincial Police.
In the roughly sixty years since its introduction, incremental improvements have ironed out pretty much all reliability issues. In the early 21st Century, the AR has become the clear rifle of choice for the average American for every intended use from plinking to bear hunting. An increasing number of shooters have trained themselves to instinctively operate the AR-15, a skill set immediately transferable to the full-powered AR-10.
Aspects to Consider When Buying an AR-10
With an AR-15, the high level of standardization means that there is a near-certain chance that any AR-15 component will fit any AR-15 rifle. With the AR-10, this is sadly not so. Although standardization is lacking, there are two main patterns of the platform, the Armalite and the DPMS. Despite Armalite being the original developer of the AR-10, the DPMS pattern enjoys greater compatibility with the components of other manufacturers. Some components are even interchangeable with the AR-15. Below are some of the other main points to consider.
AR-10 barrels come in a variety of steel alloys, finishes, and rifling options. Some shooters swear by polygonal rifling, but most competition target shooters stick to traditional land and groove. Barrels come in carbon steel or stainless steel, the former having a slight advantage in accuracy. Chrome lining and a good mil-spec finish will protect any barrel against the elements, though chrome may slightly reduce accuracy.
Besides the barrel, the trigger is the component that most determines the accuracy of a rifle. Triggers can be either single-stage or double-stage. Either may be adjustable. The lowest level would be a single-stage non-adjustable trigger. The benefit of a double-stage trigger is that the shooter can feel a point in the trigger pull when it is about to break. This allows for a more deliberate shot. Different shooters prefer different trigger weights, which is where adjustable triggers come in. Cheap triggers are heavy and spongy, expensive ones are crisp and light.
ArmaLite vs. DPMS
As noted above, standardization in the AR-10 world is slowly drifting in the direction of DPMS. The DPMS-type already accepts magazines from a wider array of manufacturers. Overall quality or accuracy is hard to determine because so many different manufacturers produce guns in both standards.
Where there is a rail system, the customization options are endless, and the average AR-10, like the average AR-15, sports a full-length universal rail. Handguards are also available with every attachment system available for sights, optics, lights, lasers, front grips, or anything else you might need. Upgraded controls or trigger groups are available, as are adjustable stocks.
How Accurate is an AR-10?
Accuracy, of course, depends on a variety of factors. Fortunately, the .308 is one of the most popular calibers in long-range target shooting. The perfect load and bullet weight will depend on the length and harmonics of your specific barrel. The AR-10 has design features that contribute to excellent accuracy, including the locking bolt and the alignment of the bore, bolt carrier, and stock. With a well-built AR-10, you can expect an accuracy of one MOA or better.
Review of the Best AR-10 Models
Choosing the best AR-10 can be difficult, especially given the lack of standardization. Below we have separated the wheat from the chaff and present you with the best AR-10 models on the market today.
Brownells - BRN-10® Retro Rifle 308/7.62 20in Barrel
The BRN-10 is a newly released model from Brownells that faithfully reproduces Stoner's original AR-10 with a few strategic upgrades. In terms of aesthetics, the design is much sleeker than the later ARs familiar to us all.
It lacks a forward assist or shell deflector and the trigger-style charging handle is oriented upwards under the fixed carry handle. No accessory rails here. The reproduction sights are easily adjustable aperture sights with the rear one built into the carry handle. Inside, the bolt carrier group are constructed of chrome-lined carbon steel and subjected to a cutting edge quality control regimen.
The 20-inch barrel is also finished in top-flight QPQ nitride for outstanding durability. The handguard attaches like that of a modern AR-15 while retaining the original AR-10 appearance. The 20-round magazines and most other components are compatible with the more common DPMS AR-10 pattern. The BRN-10 comes in two configurations, one based on the Armalite design and another based on the Dutch AI version that saw conflict worldwide.
The BRN-10 can fill many roles. It is a faithful replica of an iconic 1950s design for the collector and a very accurate, reliable workhorse that can handle any task you throw at it. The .308 is ideal for long range target shooting, pronghorn hunting, or heavy-duty tactical work.
2. Daniel Defense - Dd5 V1 308 Winchester 16" Black
Daniel Defense has a reputation for some of the best quality and most innovative AR-style rifles that money can buy. World-class quality and innovation don't come cheap, but you get what you pay for. Every detail of this gun has been engineered with the greatest care.
The 16-inch barrel is cold-hammer-forged in one process including the bore and the chamber for perfect alignment. The barrel is then completely free-floated from the full-length universal rail and handguard to get the utmost in accuracy and is fitted with a suppression device that completely eliminates flash and muzzle rise.
The rifle features the KeyMod accessory mounting system on the handguard and a proprietary adjustable stock that comes with two butt pads of different thickness. All controls are ambidextrous. The trigger is a top-flight Geissele SSA two-stage unit with a two-pound break.
The lower receiver features a flared magazine well and an oversized trigger guard for quick and easy handling. It accepts 20-round Magpul PMAGs. Inside it features an oversized cam and dual ejectors for maximum reliability.
The reputation of Georgia-based Daniel Defense is simply unrivaled. If you must own the best, here it is.
3. JP Enterprises - LRP-07 Supermatic 18in 308 Winchester Black Synthetic 20+1rd
JP Enterprises designed the LRP-07 specifically for deer hunting and long-range shooting. Like the Daniel Defense, this is a high-end, ultra-engineered modern marvel. The LRP-07 is unusual among AR-style rifles in that the charging handle is on the left side. The charging handle automatically folds against the receiver. It uses JP Enterprises' proprietary Low Mass Operating System to completely eliminate felt recoil despite the full-powered .308 chambering.
The trigger is a bit heavier than that of Daniel’s at 3.5 to 4.5 pounds, but that is a matter of taste. All components are machined and manufactured to a very high standard from some of the best materials available. This is particularly true of the barrel, which is manufactured through a rigorous series of four or five of JP's proprietary procedures.
Many of the standard features, the full-length rail, the shell deflector, adjustable stock, flash suppressor, and floating two-inch wide handguard come together to form a rifle with formidable and distinctive aesthetics. Every component has been optimized by JP for comfort, accuracy, and reliability.
This is a unique, elite AR-10 designed for hunting. In terms of quality, we're getting into Rolls Royce territory here. Better accuracy and reliability cannot be found. Despite the attention to detail and near-perfect design, this is a heavy-duty rifle that means business and is ready to be put through its paces.
4. Colt - M4 Carbine 16.1in 308 Winchester Matte Black
This is a great standard AR offering from the legendary American arms maker, Colt. Given its military contracts, Colt plays a big part in setting the standard in the AR family of rifles.
One very attractive feature of the M.A.R.C 901 is that you can use a conversion kit to swap out the upper receiver for any Colt upper in .223, and therefore any other AR-15 upper you like.
Otherwise, the layout is quite standard for an AR. You have a standard ambidextrous charging handle and magazine release. The full-length top rail comes with fold-down front and rear sights. The 16.1-inch barrel is fully floated for accuracy and chrome-lined for durability.
As you would expect, it comes with an M4-style adjustable stock. It also comes with one 20-round Magpul magazine. Just for fun, there is a bayonet lug behind the flash suppressor. This is a mil-spec AR-10 carbine perfect for law enforcement and other tactical uses.
These rifles are as close as an AR-10 gets to the tried and true weapons our troops use to do social work overseas. The ability to slap on a .223-chambered upper can offer a heck of a lot of versatility and save you a lot of money and the bulk of two full guns. Whichever upper you use, you're already looking at one of the most versatile rifles on the market today. With both, you have everything from prairie dogs to fools to apex predators covered.
Best AR-10 for the Money:
DPMS - Oracle 16" 308 Winchester
DPMS is the second largest manufacturer of AR-style rifles and one of the major players in the AR-10 game. Their Panther LR-308 model was instrumental in popularizing AR-10s in recent times. Nevertheless, you're not going to run into any surprises or major innovations with a DPMS, just a rock-solid, reliable, and affordable iteration of the .308 AR.
The Oracle looks just like a slightly larger mil-spec M4. Unlike most AR-10s, the Oracle has a forward assist. Other standard M4-style features include an adjustable stock, shell deflector, and standard ambidextrous charging handle. The old-school handguard lacks a rail or mounting points, leaving just the top of the receiver and a small space in front of the handguard sporting rails.
The 16-inch chrome moly barrel comes with a birdcage-style flash suppressor. The Oracle ships with one ten-round magazine. DPMS leaves you to select your sighting arrangement separately. Despite the lack of bells and whistles, fancy materials, and manufacturing procedures, you can expect to get one MOA pretty much out of the box with an Oracle and the right match ammo.
For the money, this is an incredibly accurate rifle. As for aesthetics, this rifle makes you look like you mean business without trying too hard. DPMS is a mean tool, a solid choice in an all-purpose AR-10 that you can throw in your truck and keep on hand for any practical need without worrying about it.
While the AR-15 has emerged as America's favorite all-purpose rifle, the firepower leaves something to be desired. Whether you're looking for simplicity, a firearm classic, the best that money can buy, a purpose-built hunting rifle, or a practical workhorse, there's an AR-10 on our list for you.