Of all the assault rifles on the market, one of the most prolific is the AR-10. It’s got a rich history that’s closely intertwined with that of its more petite analog, the AR-15, and has risen to a position of well-deserved notoriety. As is with most guns, there is a growing myriad of different models, all with their own offerings and specifications. In choosing the best AR-10, the constant influx of new variations can indeed make tricky work of deciding which one makes the most sense.
This doesn’t have to be a source of stress; rather, it can be seen as a benefit. With so many options out there, it’s almost a promise that some AR-10 or another is going to be a perfect fit, no matter the desires and needs of the marksman.
The AR-10 is known best for an admirable long-range shooting ability, stunning accuracy, and to accomplish these with a husky caliber. These are the constants. The room for customization is a matter of utility; what will the rifle be used for? Is it going to be used exclusively at the range? Or is it likely to be purposed for taking down deer and hogs deep in the woods?
Whatever the use may be, there’s a model that’s designed to get the thing done. Here’s an extended look at some of the best AR-10s money can buy.
This versatile rifle is a modified version of the original military-oriented R.E.P.R. that boasts a revamped gas system. The initial model was limited to only two (“suppressed” and “unsuppressed”) settings; this one features a gas block with 20 separate positions, providing a highly-customized shooting experience.
Its well-crafted barrel also makes it an extremely versatile unit. Treated with Black Nitride and cold hammer forged at a 1:10 threading, the barrel on this LWRCi rifle can handle a broad array of bullet styles. In addition to this, the presence of black nitride reduces copper fouling and corrosion – it’s built to last.
The REPR is also reputed for its chilling accuracy. For those giving this gun a whirl for the first time, shooting at distances upwards of 325 yards often proves to be a simple action; the relatively forgiving recoil pairs with this to make for a smooth and concentrated performance.
Where the REPR really stands out next to other AR-10s is its cleanliness. Even after some heavy use, the bolt carrier is known to remain in pristine condition, except for maybe a few oil streaks. A lot of AR-10s tend to run a little dirtier – the clean function of this one almost seems to do some of the maintenance for you.
All in all, the LWRCi REPR MKII 7.62 is an extremely adaptable rifle that justifies premium construction with a high-class performance. Add to all of this the fact that it’s got an ambidextrous lower receiver, and you’ve got a solid option for just about any rifle enthusiast.
As another awesome ambidextrous rifle, the Daniel Defense DD5V2 has a modular charging handle that provides it with the ability to be set up with varying sizes of extensions.
Using Daniel Defense’s patented Strength to Weight profile, the barrel is forged in a fashion that promotes consistency and accuracy without packing on extra pounds.
Speaking of unnecessary girth, the DD5V2 comes in at a modest weight of eight pounds. Many AR-10s tip the scale at over ten pounds, some of them at a considerable margin. The slender weight of the DD5V2 is a unique trait that guarantees easy packing.
The DD5V2 is specifically crafted for exceptional, stable performance. The rifle is based in a direct impingement gas system, which functions to put a damper on recoil, keep it from overheating, and to shoot smoothly.
For a safe performance, this rifle comes equipped with an over-sized trigger guard, which goes the extra mile in avoiding accidental discharge while you’re handling it.
To further encourage safety, the DD5V2 is also host to a two-stage trigger. The main purpose of this is that it gives the rifle a heavier trigger pull in order to reduce the possibility of an accidental discharge; the two-stage trigger is also intended to increase accuracy, making it a strong asset.
The Daniel Defense DD5V2 is a reliable model that distinguishes itself from other AR-10s on grounds of versatility, innovative craftsmanship, and a reputation for quality –everything you’d expect out of a brand known for its history of numerous military contracts.
Anyone who’s on the prowl for a decent AR-10 is probably already familiar with the name Eugene Stoner. He’s infamous as the brains behind more than one revolutionary model of the assault rifle. But not everyone is aware that he got his start with the Armalite AR-10.
This rugged rifle is where it all began, the true bastion of pure, unadulterated AR-10 attitude. Up against the newer models it has influenced, what makes this AR-10 special?
The Armalite AR-10 is touted for its stable, sturdy construction. The composition of some AR-10s isn’t quite tight enough and allows for some shifting and movement between the uppers and lowers; the Armalite has a snug fit that snuffs this concern.
If overheating is cause for constant concern, this rifle is a formidable foe to the adverse effects of over-use; its stainless steel, triple-lapped barrel has the mass necessary to deal with heat in the wake of rapid fire.
As if it weren’t appealing enough, it’s also fit with M4 style feed ramps. These will give you peace of mind that your gun feeds smoothly with minimal chance of hiccups.
Dependable as the oversized barrel may be, it’s also an unfortunate shortcoming on the Armalite AR-10. It causes the rifle to be a little muzzle heavy, which is typically an uncommon issue for AR-10s. A day on the range with this one is likely to call for the use of a bipod.
The Armalite AR-10’s track record for reliability and its historical significance cement it as a desirable addition to any collection.
When it comes to AR style rifles, Bushmaster is a name that’s been in the ranks forever. The XM10 is their contribution to the legacy of the AR-10.
The Bushmaster XM10 has been the cause of some controversy among rifle owners. On many of their rifles, Bushmaster makes use of polymer lower receivers; the integrity of these is up for debate, facing the scrutiny of those marksmen who prefer the time-tested durability of stainless steel and other metals.
This shouldn’t necessarily be considered a drawback. Despite what the purists may say, polymer components are known to be reliable. Not to mention, they’re also responsible for one of this rifle’s most attractive qualities: high performance at a shockingly low weight.
The XM10 weighs only 7.75 pounds, making it one of the lightest AR-10s available.
Along with being a featherweight marvel, this rifle embodies other features that create a well-rounded package for those who might intend to use it primarily for hunting.
For one, it has an A2 style birdcage flash hider to reduce visibility and ensure that a hunter’s position isn’t compromised.
Secondly, it features a sixteen inch, chrome-lined barrel. The chrome lining is a strong proponent of durability and- most importantly- accuracy. The barrel is designed to make the most of those delicate, woodland moments.
Another noteworthy thing about this rifle is the forward assist; it’s built into the brass deflector for improved ergonomics.
All in all, the Bushmaster XM10 is an ideal rifle for hunters and those who desire the benefits of a lighter gun, and its quality is backed with the credibility of one of the oldest names in the industry.
This gun from Grey Ghost is a burly machine that is made to maintain unfaltering, top-notch performance in the grittiest conditions. Even in situations where it’s being fired after being out on the range a little too long, maybe with some neglect in regards to cleaning and maintenance, the reliability of this Grey Ghost rifle is unhindered my rough circumstances.
Although it’s not the sturdiest rifle in its class, it still has a reputation for being as easy to handle and responsive as many of its solid-construction counterparts.
The features of the Specter Heavy that might suggest some shortcomings seem to be easily mitigated, too. The barrel is shorter than standard, and it’s also got a collapsible stock. While these traits, in combination with the fact that its relatively lightweight is shadowed by bulkier models, could promote muzzle rise and recoil, the Specter Heavy still provides smooth action.
The rifle also makes special use of its 7075-T651 billet upper and lower. In some other guns, this component can be cause for a lethargic shooting experience, but it doesn’t seem to slow down the Specter Heavy one bit.
An important thing to point out with the Specter Heavy is that it doesn’t come with a scope, a detail that’s easy to gloss over in the excitement of everything this gun has to offer.
At the end of the day, the Grey Ghost Precision Specter Heavy is one of the most long-lasting, wear-resistant AR-10s on the market. It’s perfectly designed to keep up with long days on the range and will plow through piles of ammo while remaining sleek.
Up front, Palmetto State Armory takes the craft into their own hands with this AR-10. This rifle is constructed entirely in-house, meaning that none of the components are taken in from other manufacturers. The quality is single-source, with Palmetto State Armory taking it into their own hands to put the love and care into building an exemplary product.
This AR-10 is made for the long haul with its mid-length gas system. A mid-length system, as opposed to a carbine length system, is known to have less impact on the bolt carrier group (BCG) which will allow the owner to get more life out of it. The mid-length system also offers a lighter recoil, if that’s a concern.
The eighteen-inch stainless steel barrel seen on this model doesn’t exactly go above and beyond compared to other rifles. As it goes, it’s a pretty no-frills, run of the mill feature –but that isn’t to say that this is a deal-breaker. It’s reliable enough, but might be a deterrent for those who prefer a barrel with any variety of protective coatings.
The real disadvantage with this rifle is the unsophisticated trigger. Two-stage triggers are abundant in the search for a proper AR-10, yet this one comes with a standard trigger. This can make for an abrasive pull, and is often one of the first things people choose to upgrade on a gun.
The Palmetto State Armory AR-10 is one of the most bare-bones assault rifles out there. Whether it’s in the hands of someone making their initial plunge into the world of AR-style rifles or a seasoned marksman, the simplicity of this gun is hard not to love.
DPMS is a name you’re sure to have heard by now. As one of two definitive faces in the AR realm, DPMS stands tall next to the mighty Armalite. Characterized by immaculate accuracy that reaches beyond what’s expected out of its weight class, the Oracle .308 is undoubtedly a fearsome contender.
The carbine-style stock on the Oracle .308 is made to be comfortable for the user, no matter the dimensions of their body. It adjusts into six different positions. Whether it’s being passed between people with wildly different body compositions or needs to be adjusted in order to complement varied shooting positions, this stock gets the job done.
This rifle pulls extra points for its unique trigger system. The patented GlacierGuard uses grip-boosting ribs, reinforced polymers, and internal fins to alleviate issues with stability and provide a firm grip.
When it comes to sights and optics, The Oracle .308 has a lot to offer in terms of options. DPMS designed the Oracle with versatility in mind, which prompted them to fit it with a railed gas block and a MIL-STD A3 flat-top upper receiver. Equipped with these, the Oracle can be set up with an endless combination of sights and optics.
Some frustration might arise from the A2 pistol grip found on the Oracle. A pistol grip will distribute recoil into a shooter’s hand, rather than their shoulder, and this can be taxing during extended shooting sessions.
The DPMS Oracle .308 is certainly one of the top choices among AR-10s. Produced by a company that does it like no other, and with one of the most adaptable designs out there, the Oracle is a singular gun whose reputation rightfully precedes it.
Following the buy-out of Bushmaster, a new rifle manufacturer was born: Enter Windham Weaponry. Drawing on the trove of experience gained at Bushmaster, Windham has moved past the industry standard and broken into innovative territory.
One distinguished area of innovation that’s prominent with the R16 is its polymer lowers. Though polymers are a divisive topic, it should be said that Windham is responsible for the trend. It’s thanks to them that polymer components abound, and it’s the quality of their work that’s made them such a mainstay.
As can be expected, the result is a lighter rifle.
The gas block is fitted with rails, so it’s the dealers choice whether the rifle is mounted with a scope or iron sights. It should be noted that the R16 doesn’t come stock with its own sights.
For those with a yearning for blistering accuracy, the R16 satisfies kindly with a 20-inch barrel. The 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E steel used to craft the barrel offers all the strength and durability attributed to steel barrels of its kind.
As a unit, the R16 is a bit unflinching in regards to creative control. The overall length of 40.75 inches is set in stone on behalf of its fixed stock. Empty, it weighs a hair over nine pounds, which is something to think about the added weight of a magazine and an optic. What you see is what you get.
The Windham Weaponry R16FTT-308 is a tightly constructed rifle that is born of notoriety for industry-leading technology.
The Aero M5E1 is an evolution of typical AR-10s. It’s built for heightened accuracy, practicality, and the ability for sustained-fire that surpassed the function of other defense and hunting rifles.
The barrel is a perfect balance of comfortable dimension and functionality. It’s eighteen inches in length, which promotes maneuverability. Though the shorter barrel length could potentially mar the rifle’s accuracy, stainless steel construction is said to increase accuracy; it’s a good way to get a more compact rifle without the compromise.
The M5E1 is a little front-heavy on its own, but this imbalance is remedied with the installation of a scope. If long hours shooting sans-optics are on the horizon, the weighty front end of this rifle might make for some discomfort.
Another shortcoming of this rifle is the sensitivity to different types of ammunition. Most of the time, the type of ammo used comes down to personal preference. Unfortunately, with the M5E1, its accuracy seems to be greatly affected by the rounds run through it.
Though it must be said, the M5E1 is an exceptionally powerful rifle. It’s geared to be a beast for long ranges, and that shows in its powerful recoil. This places added importance in finding steady shoulder placement while shooting, but its a small price to pay for the brute strength showcased by this firearm.
Aero’s M5E1 .308 is ideal for seasoned gun aficionados who are comfortable with AR type rifles and are looking for something with greater range and firepower.
The Brownells BRN-10 is an attractive throwback that mimics the original used by Eugene Stoner.
This blast-from-the-past eliminates the task of constructing a retro AR-10 piecemeal; what was once the arduous endeavor of seeking out parts to compliment an old-fashioned style has been reduced into a ready-to-shoot period piece.
A great perk of the BRN-10 is that it’s not limited to its initial configuration. It’s compatible with DPMS/SR25 components, so it’s possible to upgrade the furniture set, trigger, bolt carrier, etc. if more customization is desired.
In spite of its old-school design, the BRN-10 is more than capable of keeping up with contemporary AR-10s. For experienced shooters, it doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of accuracy. Even in adverse conditions like high winds, this sharpshooter stays right on the mark.
Although it is known to misfire every now and then, the use of quality ammunition usually ensures that the BRN-10 will devour hundreds of rounds with amazing consistency.
As much as the gun’s looks are the major draw to it, they also bring forth most of its setbacks.
It’s made to embody a very specific style, and this doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization. For one the front sight: it’s elevated to emulate the original, and it does so beautifully, but the front post isn’t adjustable, so here’s to hoping it suffices in exactly the position it’s in.
There’s also no option to fit this rifle with flashlights, scopes, or any of the other fundamental accessories that have become the foundation of modern assault rifles. Play with the strap a little, sure. Maybe consider throwing a different magazine in there, but compatibility isn’t guaranteed. This is mostly a collector’s item (but one that can SHOOT, alright!) and that fact is going to stand.
For the hobbyist who wants to add a touch of old-school cool to their gun safe, the Brownells BRN-10 is a surefire way to delve into history.
What to consider before buying an AR-10
What to Look For in an AR-10
No doubt about it, there’s an immense variability of what can be done with an AR-10. But what makes one gun better than another? Does weight matter? What about an adjustable stock? Scope options? There are a few things to think about before choosing to make an investment.
The weight of a rifle is an important factor in the way it’s going to handle. There are numerous options that come in on the lighter side at less than ten pounds, as well as many that creep towards the twenty-pound mark; both have their ups and downs.
A lighter gun is going to have more recoil and might feel less steady when aiming. But, of course, less weight is always a benefit when carrying guns on longer treks.
The characteristics of a rifle’s barrel are also going to have an impact on performance.
What is the barrel made of? Stainless steel is a common material that’s renown for its time-tested endurance, but that’s not to say that it’s without flaw. There are other metals out there that don’t retain heat as much as steel and therefore make a barrel that can better withstand prolonged use.
Some barrels are coated in different agents that can ease the wear-and-tear of frequent shooting; a coated barrel isn’t mandatory, but it’s something to consider for anyone who shoots often.
Is the Stock Adjustable?
Another useful feature seen on some rifles is an adjustable stock. In short, having one of these makes it possible to change the angle of the stock, so as to make it fit the situation. They can make it easier to switch from standing to prone, and also make it more customized for each individual when the gun is being used by multiple people.
The AR-10 has been the cause of a rift in the firearms community. Gun owners who are steadfast in their devotion to AR-15s relentlessly extol the perceived advantages of the AR-15 over the robust AR-10. They’re often touted to be lighter, less prone to mechanical failure, and overall more versatile of a weapon.
As it’s been said, the development of modern AR-10s has reduced most of this to a moot point. With endless options in what can be done with base materials (metals vs. polymers), barrel coatings, and accessories, it’s safe to say that purchasing an AR-10 for its larger caliber, superior long-distance shooting capabilities, and remarkable stopping power shouldn’t in any way compromise enduring quality.
When you get down to it, the diverse range of AR-10s available offer up just about any characteristic needed out of an assault rifle.
For the purpose of hunting large game, any number of the bulky models available will provide the accuracy, stability, and range required to bag raging beasts from a long distance. If unloading rounds for hours at the local range fits the bill, there’s an equal multitude of coated and anodized rifles that will take the heat while keeping the bull’s eyes consistent and sharp.
The key here is personal preference; if that preference happens to involve putting big ammo through a target from hundreds of yards away, rest assured that an AR-10 will make a welcome, powerful addition to the gun Cabinet.
Regardless of which rifle makes the final cut, never forget the importance of practicing adequate safety measures –both on the range and in the wilderness. No one likes an irresponsible gun owner. Here’s to shooting for another day!