In military terms, the AR-10 is basically classified as the M-10, as it is associated with the 7.62 NATO round or, in civilian terms, the 308 Winchester. The M-10 makes use of a longer receiver then the M-16/AR-15 (5.56 NATO) and, in general, is a larger, longer weapon overall.
Today, the AR-10 is offered not only in medium-size cartridges, like the 243 Winchester, or the 308 previously indicated above, but also cartridges as large as the 300 Win Mag, 30-06 Springfield in custom models, and heavy bear- and hog-shooting round in 45 caliber as well.
The receiver of this firearm can handle a wide range of cartridges and the industry today is making full use of that feature to be sure. Utilize the AR-10 as an upscaled AR-15, and you're on the right track in terms of understanding exactly what we are referring to here.
Much of my background information about the AR-10 comes from industry shooting events I have attended at long-range by way of the 308 Winchester cartridge, and extensive time with both inservice snipers and retired army vets who spend two or three tours in the sandbox under battle conditions with this rifle.
Wilson Combat Ranger AR 10
Daniel Defense DD5V1
Springfield Armory Saint Victor
AR-10 Palmetto State Armory
Daniel Defense DDS Ambush
Smith & Wesson M&P 10
In general, military applications using the M-10/AR-10 were to advance a unit sharpshooter (sniper) with a rifle team or, in some cases, assign a spotter to that M-10 shooter and then take on specified sniper missions with the longer-range rifle.
In fact, the M-10 was about the best safeguard against the Russian Drag, or PSL-54 chambered in 7.62X54R (the Russian 30-06). These rifles were used by insurgent snipers and totally out-ranged our 5.56mm AR-15s.
As a side note here, it is an example of good old US Government planning against a shooting war in the year 2020, and then getting beat by a Russian cartridge that was developed during WW I.
At home here is South Dakota, I have equipped my two partners when big game-hunting with AR-10s in 308 Winchester, and as built by Smith & Wesson in the M&P-10, and the DPMS-GH series. In general the AR-10 is best known, and extensively chambered in 308.
However, one mate shoots two of the rifles in both 308 and 243 Winchester, while the other shoots the 308 only. I make this point because every year for the past decade I have damage-checked harvested mule and whitetail deer as hunted by these riflemen, and as such have been working on a continuous learning curve for years involving AR-10 rifles.
In terms of rifle offerings as applied to the AR-10 for the most part, you're not going to find cheap budget rifles chambered in the long action rounds. This is because the AR-10 is a much more robust rifle than its little brother the AR-15.
Not that the AR-15 can’t cost a pile of money, but the AR-10 will seemingly always hit the budget harder at the sporting goods store.
1. Wilson Combat Ranger - Best AR-10 Rifle
The Wilson Combat Ranger is a 308 Chamber carbine that makes use of lighter weight parts so as to reduce field carry weight as applied to combat or general defensive postures.
The Ranger is ideal for general hunting of game that fit the performance and harvesting profile of the 308 Win round, as well as working out in high country settings when every ounce carried by a hunter counts as pounds a few hundred yards up a mountain trail.
The rifle makes use of a magazine that has a capacity of 20+1 round. This is not legal for hunting in most states and a five-round magazine must be substituted in place of the factory-installed magazine if the rifle is to be used for legal game hunting.
Receivers on this rifle are built of Machined billet stock high-grade material. I assume the core material here is aluminum and at least aircraft grade. The barrel is also lightweight, but designed to take the heat of rapid fire and not string bullet impact in the process.
The rifle makes use of an adjustable gas piston group that allows the shooter to adjust the operating system to fit the loads being pressed into service.
While I have not tested this specific brand and gas system, I have worked with Ruger firearms and their system on the SR-762 and found it quite effective and a step up regarding AR-style gas piston control. I would have no reason to believe the upper grade rifle covered here would be any different.
The trigger assembly applied to the Ranger is target-quality and designed to give top end performance in this area of the rifle's design. The muzzle is threaded for suppressor or other accessories.
The bolt and carrier are mil-spec, as would be expected in a rifle costing this much, and the grip on the combat-typical AR plastic stock is proprietary.
Armor Tuff surface treatment is applied to both upper and lower. This is a combat-grade rifle, and professional consideration applies in this case.
2. Daniel Defense DD5V1 - Best AR 10
Built in the 308 Winchester chambering, this AR-style rifle retains a 16” strength-2 weight barrel. This barrel is hammer-forged for stiffness and weight control. Accuracy delivered by this rifle is good according to the manufacture (untested by the writer), and handling qualities are also positive,
The bolt and carrier are designed using an oversized cam pin, and an enhanced extractor design has also been incorporated into the rifle. Duel ejectors are installed into this AR as well.
The rifle has been built combat-tough, and is an option for operators (private) as well as police departments.
The rifle makes use of the ambidextrous safety magazine catch bolt-release charging handle. The lower receiver makes use of the oversized trigger-guard (cold weather or tactical gloves). The trigger is a Geissele SSA 2-stage system and carries a smooth 2.5-pound take-up and a 2-pound break.
Magazine capacity 20+1. (Hunting requires a 5 round limit.)
Rifle finish consists of a hard-coat anodized upper and lower, and the grip and butt-stock is a basic combat-style six-position unit in terms of its design.
The rifle has no sights, but the Weaver-style rail can mount any number of sighting options as selected by the buyer. This rifle retains a basic firearm weight (no sights) of 8.3 pounds. The action is of a semi-automatic standard.
3. Springfield Armory Saint Victor
The Springfield Armory Saint is a well-made mid-level rifle in terms of a combat- or competition-race gun-style pricing. This is a solid example of a priced-right working AR-10 platform that will deliver the mail. The construction of the rifle is solid, and the design is true to the AR platform across the board.
This rifle has been offered in several variants and each add cost and an increased level of component quality. The rifle retains the basic styling of most AR-10 rifles and makes use of a 15 inch free floating hand guard complete with M-Lok compatible slots.
The barrel measures 16.1 inches in length, and it is chrome moly lined (CMV) at a 1:8 inch twist rate. In terms of the bolt carrier group, the bolt is enhanced and makes use of a staked gas key. The gas block used on this rifle is offered as a Springfield design, and it is pinned to assure no movement or failure due to alignment issues.
Muzzle break design on this rifle is different and is set up to reduce muzzle-jump and recoil. This is not the standard “birdcage” system found on many AR platforms.
The trigger on this rifle is designed as a flat surface, and as such rides along with the competition style of weapon in use today for three-gun and other shooting games. Trigger pull is about 6 pounds.
Stock construction on the rifle is the BCM Gun Fighter adjustable stock and pistol grip. I like the stock a whole lot in that it has a sizeable rollover cheek-piece that is both right and left in terms of mounting ability by the shooter. The grip on the rifle is also ergonomically designed.
The slight stop and the base coupled with the flat trigger assembly makes this a rifle that is easy to control regarding rapid fire or double/triple tap-dispensing of rounds downrange.
4. AR-10 Palmetto State Armory
This is an outfit I know well in that these guys have saved my bacon when other companies would just not advance the deal in terms of me getting a job done in the writing market. This company builds rifles for lots of people and, as such, is right in the groove in terms of the latest designs and materials.
Now that's stated, Palmetto can offer a very good rifle at a super reasonable price due in part to their bulk handling of materials and parts.
Enter the AR-10 built by this company. This is a competition AR-10-style rifle, and it carries an 18 inch PSA Gen 3 PA10 length stainless steel barrel. As to accuracy, while I have not test-fired the 308 variant in the rifle, I have owned and shot several others and, to the rifle, all have been tack drivers.
I don’t know who pounds out the hammer-forged barrels of this company, but they are doing a very good job of it.
This rifle has a barrel length of 18 inches, a bit longer then some, but carries good velocity and energy for longer-range shooting. The bore retains a 1-10 twist rate that makes it ideal for 55 through 60 grain bullets.
The gas system is a pinned piston in the mid-length design. These are easier regarding action function and recoil, due to the operational length.
The gas block is a five-position adjustable system found on rifles costing a great deal more then the AR-10 reviewed here. This is a heavy money feature and Palmetto tends to do this often as in adding nice features that cost an arm and a leg with other brands.
The upper receiver is made from 7075 T-6 aluminum, and it is a PA10 flat-top design with a Weaver rail for riser or scope-mounting a Best AR-10 Scope.
The rifle retains a forward assist right side, which is mil-spec required, a full flap dust cover, and standard positioning of operation controls. In terms of the lower, it is built from 7075 T-6 aluminum as well, and is hard-coat anodized for surface protection.
The trigger on this rifle is nickel boron and is a two-stage system.
This whole rifle is stocked in a well-known 6-position Magpul STR stock (black). The grips are overmolded A2-style in black. Magazine capacity 20+1.
5. Brownells BRN-10
Brownells has taken a different approach to the AR-10 with the introduction of the classic and historical “Stoner" H-bar designed AR-10. The BRN-10 is a clean-lined 308 with a straight magazine, no forward assist to the right side, and available in a brown color versus the standard black furniture.
The action is a direct impingement design and the barrel is 20 inches in length. Magazine capacity is 10 rounds (308 Win).
This rifle is partnered with FM as the builder, and makes use of a billet aluminum receiver in 7075 T6 material. The stock is a classic AR, and the whole rifle lacks clutter or tack on gadgets.
Front sight and rear H-bar sight are fully adjustable, and the weight of the rifle in its clean classic design is a total of 8 pounds. The rifle carries the lines and design of the late model Armalite AR-10 battle rifle.
6. Daniel Defense DDS Ambush
This model of the Daniel Defense AR-10 in 308 Win is again an upper end professional design that is best offered to operators, police and any area of special operations that require heavy small arms weapons.
The action is a direct impingement system, and the rifle retains an 18” barrel and a 5+1 round capacity. This makes the over-the-counter rifle legal for hunting big game in most states. The rifle retains a camo coat finish, with a poly stock, and the whole thing weighs in at 8.6 pounds less sights.
The rifle is set up with a Weaver-style upper full-length rail making the rifle very flexible in terms of mounting a wide variety of sights. As set up, the rifle is considered a hunting rifle, but it is not far at all from a military grade combat effective shooting platform either.
The trigger on this rifle is two-stage, and is a Geissete brand by name. The hand guard on this rifle is designed with keymod slots on three sides, allowing the addition of red dots, lasers, or whatever the shooter wants attached to the hand guard by this method.
7. Smith & Wesson M&P 10
First of all I shoot Smith weapons across the board. I carry Smith every day in a wheel gun and I pack the 45 1911 mid-length police when I want heavy firepower. I own 29s in 44 Mag in several variants. My primary weapon has been the M&P 10 in 308 up to now, but of late the new 6.5 Creedmoor is becoming very hot among buyers.
This rifle is the same as my 308 Win, but obviously in a different chambering, and has the touch of the custom people in the Smith & Wesson Performance Center.
This rifle is a full-size long action AR-10 and carries a nicely designed free floated Troy hand guard with M-Lok. The barrel length is 20 inches, and I have shot competitive matches and tactical sniper school events with this rifle to 1000 yards very successfully.
On one event, nine of these rifles were being used for two full days of sniper long-range training, and at that time no functional failures were observed.
The rifle makes use of a Magpul stock, two-stage match trigger, cartridge assist, and standard controls both right and left side of the receiver. Materials used on this rifle are all American, and of the best possible quality across the board.
Rifle length is 39.5 inches (a handful of full-size rifle), barrel twist 1-8 in, and total carry weight less sights 9.1 pounds, This rifle is built with a full-length Picatinny/Weaver rail for easily applied sight attachments.
I have covered a wide range of AR-10s in this review. Depending on your needs, the price can float around greatly so care should be taken to match what you actually need in an AR with your bank account.