Trucks, steaks, and cartridges — sometimes, size does matter.
If the AR-15 is America’s rifle. I think we should agree that it is, and the AR-10 is America’s rifle built like Rocky Balboa. Bigger, stronger, faster, and a mean left.
From the history of this awesome platform to the practical applications. Plus, my recommendations for the best you can buy, we have all this and a lot more in store.
So scroll down and read on for the Best AR-10 Rifles!
|Aero Precision M5E1|| ||$1400 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|LMT MARS-H|| ||$3300 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Palmetto State Armory PA-10|| ||$900 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|LWRCI REPR Mk. II|| ||$4100 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Sig Sauer 716i Tread|| ||$1430 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Daniel Defense DD5|| ||$2400 Shop NowClick to read my review|
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AR-10 History and Origin
In the early 1950s, George Sullivan founded ArmaLite in Hollywood California as a division of Fairchild Aircraft Corporation. He quickly recruited Eugene Stoner as Lead Engineer after running into him at a local shooting range.
Following World War II, the United States and just about everyone else in the world started looking for their next generation of service rifles.
Everyone knew that semi-auto was the way of the future and that a detachable box magazine was another must-have.
Most also agreed that a smaller caliber than the current standards of the world (like .30-06 for the USA, 8mm Mauser for Germany, 7.62x54r in Russia, and .303 British for the UK) was going to radically improve combat effectiveness also.
To that end, NATO (after being strong-armed by the USA) adopted the 7.62×51 NATO cartridge. But we still needed a new rifle to shoot it from.
Enter the 1952 Infantry Board Service Rifle Trials.
Conducted by the US Army the goal of the trial was to find and adopt the next American service rifle. The front runners were the T44 (what would become the M14), Springfield’s T47, and the T48 (a copy of the FN FAL).
After working on a number of designs and inventing rifles like the AR-7, Stoner and his team quickly developed the AR-10 in time to submit the rifle in 1954-55 to the trials.
At the time, ArmaLite’s design was revolutionary. Using primarily plastic and aluminum the AR-10 weighed only 6.85 lbs unloaded. This compared to the T44’s 9.2 lbs and the T48’s 10.2 lbs.
But life was not all sunshine and roses for Stoner and ArmaLite. Over Stoner’s very strong objections, the rifles submitted to the trials had a relatively untested barrel that was a composite of metals.
As Stoner predicted… the barrel failed. Catastrophically.
This failure was the end of the line for the AR-10 in American service. The T44 would be adopted as the M14 in 1957 and the AR-10 rifle would become a footnote in history for the next several decades.
However, even with this major failure — the AR-10 didn’t go away completely. During the late 50s, ArmaLite would produce the AR-10 for a number of military contracts overseas including West Germany, Sudan, India, Cuba, and many more.
In the 1990s Stoner would start working for Knight’s Armament Company and would be the primary designer of the SR-25 — basically an improved and modernized AR-10 that incorporated design improvements made to the M16A2.
By the year 2000 USSOCOM adopted the SR-25 as the Mk 11 Mod 0 making it the first AR-10 derivative to be adopted.
50 years after the barrel of an ArmaLite AR-10 exploded in testing, in 2007 the United States Army adopted a variation of the SR-25 as the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS).
While it took a few decades, Stoner’s AR-10 finally made it to the big leagues where it belonged.
DPMS, SR-25, and ArmaLite
Sadly, with no real large-scale military adoption of the AR-10, the platform isn’t as standardized as the AR-15 has become.
Instead of one standard that makes everything interchangeable, there are a couple of mostly standard patterns — DPMS and SR-25/ArmaLite.
By far the most common is DPMS, but a couple of huge brands still make SR-25/ArmaLite patterns still but none of them are on our list today.
Neither pattern offers anything over the other, neither pattern is “better”, they are just different.
To my mind, part of being the best in giving the end-user as wide a range of options as possible, and to do that with the AR-10 it needs to be a DPMS pattern.
One of the main areas an AR-10 rifle can shine is hunting. Commonly chambered in .308 Win/7.62×51 NATO or 6.5 Creedmoor, an AR-10 can take any North American game ethically from at least several hundred yards.
If your aim is for things like whitetail, you can extend that range much further.
Many AR-10s will be on the heavy side for hunting, but trimming down the weight to something more manageable is fairly easy if you go into it with that goal in mind.
If you’re worried about predators, 10 or 20 rounds on tap should make you feel a lot better.
Long Range Precision
There aren’t many gas rifles that are also great long-range rifles. The fact is, bolt-action rifles are still king in this area.
But a precision AR-10 is totally doable and very fun to shoot — just be ready to drop some $$$$ on it and feed it great ammo.
Personally, I love my precision long-range AR-10. I’ve taken mine out to 800 yards with ease and really enjoy it.
If you want to get the most out of a long-range build, I strongly recommend 6.5 Creedmoor, but we’ll talk about that in detail later.
To me, a “ranch rifle” is for anyone that works the land or spends a lot of their working day outdoors. Maybe you tend animals, maybe you farm, maybe you maintain equipment in the middle of nowhere — whatever your reasons, you spend a lot of time with the four-legged company rather than 2-legged.
As such, you might want or do keep a rifle with you as a “just in case” option. Be it bear or cougar or wolves, you might bump up against something that just won’t take no for an answer.
If that is the case, an AR-10 is outstanding. Customizable, big caliber, easy to move with, and with a whole lot of rounds on tap.
The End Of The World
An AR-10 might be overkill for things like zombies or the general collapse of civilization. But if your doomsday prepping plan includes things like invaders wearing body armor or space aliens — then an AR-10 is perfectly reasonable.
When you need more punch, the only thing that will do it is a bigger caliber. And for an AR-style platform, that means going from an AR-15 to the AR-10.
If you look hard enough you can find AR-10s in some weird calibers like .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .260 Remington, and more.
But those are super niche and crazy expensive. I wouldn’t really recommend these.
Really what you’re looking at for most AR-10s is the choice between .308Win/7.62×51 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Almost every major brand that has an AR-10 has them in these two calibers, the same goes for barrels and BCGs. Anything outside of these two options is going to be proprietary and hard to get.
A debate on .308 Win/7.62×51 NATO Vs. 6.5 Creedmoor is a bit outside of our scope today so I’ll just give you my opinion and reasons and let people argue in the comments about the rest.
If you want long-range precision, get 6.5 Creedmoor
If you want the option for inexpensive ammo or are limited to under 800 yards in range, get .308 Win/7.62×51 NATO.
Match ammo prices are basically the same between the two.
6.5 Creedmoor ballistics are much better past 800ish yards.
Both calibers will take game basically the exact same, in fact, 6.5 Creedmoor will normally have slightly higher energy on target past ~450 yards than .308 Win/7.62×51 NATO will.
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Best AR-10 Rifles
If I had to pick the most value-to-cost AR-10 in the world, it would be the Aero M5. It’s really hard to beat it.
I built my M5 and love it to bits. I’ve shot it to 900 yards several times and it’s a rock-solid platform.
In fact, I shot it enough that I actually burnt out my first barrel on it. At around 3,000 rounds my 6.5 Creedmoor barrel gave up the ghost and it’s time to replace it. Sadly, I haven’t gotten around to that yet so my poor M5 sits here without a barrel… for now.
Barrels are consumable parts though so this is totally expected. As for the rest of the rifle… it’s still alive and kicking.
Aero Precision includes a nice list of features and upgrades over more standard options, but the price barely moves. The only downside is that Aero doesn’t offer quite as many factory options as some other brands do.
But Aero is also one of the few brands that offer all of the parts either separately or as a complete rifle.
Need a stripped lower? Aero. Stripped upper? Aero. Complete upper? Aero. Barrels, handguards, BCGs, parts kits, even builder kits — Aero Precision has it and sells it all.
I built mine using an Aero builder kit and I’ve loved it from day one.
Tell me I need to buy 1 AR-10 to last the rest of my life and the LMT MARS-H is hands down my pick. No question. If you want the absolute best on the market, this is where the buck stops.
All models come with the fully ambi lower that includes magazine release, bolt catch/release, and safety.
Most of the models come in 7.62×51 NATO only but the DMR version is also offered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
A monolithic upper blends into the handguard in one unit for unparalleled strength and rigidity.
LMT also makes its own EDM machined two-stage triggers that are simply perfect.
They aren’t cheap, but they are the best.
The PA-10 might not be the coolest or the best looking, but if you want an AR-10 that performs well even on a budget, this is a top-of-the-line option.
Now on their 3rd generation of the PA-10, PSA has put a lot of development and time into perfecting their line of big boy rifles.
From a better BCG to a more widely compatible upper, the PA-10 is better than it ever has been and yet still is one of the most affordable options on the market.
I’ve shot my Gen 2 PA-10 past 700 yards often and loved it, I’ve seen the Gen 3 shot out to a mile and that is massively impressive.
I highly recommend the PA-10 for anyone that is just getting into the AR-10 platform or if you need a great ranch rifle that you won’t feel bad about abusing.
Spoken as “Reaper” and an acronym for “Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle” the REPR might sound like a rifle that was named by a 15-year-old coming off a 3-day bender of Call of Duty and 24 pack of Monster energy drink, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great rifle.
The name aside, LWRCI has a long history of building high-quality rifles, and that legacy is continued with their AR-10 line.
Not cheap by any means, but you get some really nice features.
Available in both side and rear charging models, sporting Geissele triggers, short-stroke gas piston, adjustable gas block, and a monolithic upper with a custom muzzle brake.
I mean, it even has a fully-ambi lower!
The REPR is designed more like a battle rifle or DMR than anything else. If you’re expecting commies falling from the sky or giant bugs bursting from the ground, this is the rifle for you.
For everyone else… this might be a bit much.
Sig Sauer has never made a huge deal about their AR-10 line and as such, it is very underrated.
I’ll admit that I’m a fan of Sig Sauer’s offerings and their AR-10 is no different. They have a few different tiers and versions, but the 716i Tread is their more “everman” budgeting option, much like their AR-15 Tread.
Direct impingement, very well set up, durable, and reliable, this is a great rifle in every aspect.
There isn’t anything major that sets the Tread apart from other AR-10s, it isn’t fully ambi, it doesn’t have a cold-hammer-forged barrel or anything fancy like that.
What it does have is a great price point and great quality in every part. This is designed to be abused and run rough.
Daniel Defense and I have a spotty history, I love some of their rifles and kind of hate others. But when DD gets something right, they really knock it out of the park.
The DD5 line includes a lot of options including odd-ball calibers like .260 Remington but what all of them have in common is some of the best quality and durability you can find in an AR platform.
Cold hammer-forged barrels, DLC coated BCGs, dual ejectors, adjustable gas block, Geissele 2-stage triggers, and a whole lot more — the DD5 is packed with features.
You’ll have to break out the checkbook for a DD5, but the end result is totally worth it and still a lot cheaper than some rifles out there.
Coming in at around $3,000 the DD5 line is surprisingly great value for what you’re getting.
If you’re able to spend the money, spend it. Daniel Defense gives you a lot of rifles for what they charge here and I say it’s worth every penny.
And that concludes our review of the best AR-10 rifles available today. The AR-10 is the older and bigger brother to the AR-15. If you ask me, it is also the most modern battle rifle you can get your hands on.
My choice for the best caliber would be 6.5 Creedmoor and my choice for the best rifle would be LMT. But if you don’t want to throw down used-car money on your rifle, Aero Precision and Palmetto State Armory are awesome options.
Don’t forget to get some optics and magazines for it!