The Armalite AR-10, a precursor to the ever-popular AR-15, never quite took off in terms of popularity. Despite this fact, it’s still a rifle that has proven over the years to be a reliable, accurate, and high-quality weapon for self-defense and sporting purposes. If you’re a fan of the AR-15, then you’ll most likely be a fan of the AR-10 too.
The AR-10 offers very good accuracy, right out of the box. With the right scope, you can expect consistent, flat-flying five-shot groups of just one-inch from one hundred yards! This is partly thanks to the design of the barrel. It’s a stainless steel bull barrel, triple-lapped with a 1:11.25-inch twist. The larger size, weight, and design of the barrel give it a lot of space to dissipate heat, which can greatly improve the accuracy of follow-up shots.
The rifle comes with a non-removable front sight post and iron sights, which provide a perfectly adequate sight picture. If you’d like to mount an optic, however, then it does include a Picatinny top rail in A4 configuration to accommodate high-powered sights.
Thanks to the high-quality manufacturing, I’ve had no reliability issues throughout the hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds I’ve fired through this rifle. No failures to feed, no failures to fire, and no failures to eject. You can expect 100 percent reliable performance and to hear a “BANG!” every time you pull the trigger.
The AR-10, available in .308 Winchester and 7.62 configurations, is well-assembled and handles beautifully. It features a comfortable pistol grip and a semi-automatic action. The upper and lower receiver fit together snugly, and if you’re familiar with AR-15s, you’ll be immediately comfortable shooting the AR-10.
Almost all of the controls are in familiar places for AR-15 users. The charging handle works the same and is in the familiar built-in rear position you’d find on any other AR. Additionally, the takedown and pivot pins, bolt catch release button, and magazine release button are in the expected locations.
The only real difference is within the heavy-duty bolt carrier group. The bolt is slightly larger than that on an AR-15, and it features just one gas ring, wrapped around the bolt three times. The spring-loaded firing pin is also slightly different and will require you to take a bit of a different hand position to properly snug the firing pin into the bolt.
The AR-10 features a very well-made two-stage trigger with a removable trigger guard. The first stage pull measures around 2.5 pounds, and the second stage measures a little less than 5 pounds. The overall pull feels very smooth with a nice, crisp finish.
Magazine & Reloading
The supplied magazines vary based on what caliber you choose. The 7.62 caliber’s magazines are a little bit bigger than the standard AR-15 magazine, in order to accommodate the larger 7.62x51 NATO ammo. Also depending on which specific model you choose, you’ll either get a ten- or twenty-round straight magazine with your rifle.
AR-15 users will be pleased to hear that the magazine release button is in its familiar location on the right side of the rifle. The M4-style feeding ramps on my rifle help promote smooth feeding, further increasing the rifle’s reliability.
Length & Weight
With a 20-inch barrel, the overall length of the AR-10 measures just about 38.25 inches. At just about eight pounds, it is a little heavier than an AR-15 and a bit muzzle-heavy due to the oversized barrel. Just keep this in mind, and don’t expect it to be an overly lightweight rifle that you can carry around all day long.
Despite the lack of a rubberized buttpad, the recoil of the AR-10 is very manageable. The size of the bolt helps a great deal with recoil, as does the muzzle brake. I’ve never experienced any pain or soreness, even after shooting the AR-10 all day!
Armalite sets the MSRP on the AR-10 as $1,773. While you can find it for a bit cheaper at some retailers, don’t expect to find a new model for any less than $1,300. It’s not a budget AR, but worth the money, in my opinion, for a good, reliable weapon that holds its value over time. If you’re still not convinced, Armalite does offer a (non-transferable) lifetime warranty on the AR-10.
The Armalite AR-10 is a reliable, accurate, and time-tested weapon. This is no new rifle—it was first introduced back in the 1950s and has only improved since. If you’re looking for a high-quality semi-automatic rifle, then I’d fully recommend checking out the AR-10.
Richard Douglas is a long-time gun owner, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at the National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.
Image: Wikimedia Commons