AR-10 vs AR-15: What's the Difference and Which Is Best?

AR-10 vs AR-15: What's the Difference and Which Is Best?

Posted by STNGR USA on Apr 19th 2024

It's a good old versus video: AR-10 vs AR-15.

Hello and welcome to the STNGR Workshop. My name is Rick Barrett and I'm your host for this series of videos where we talk about everything in the gun community from gun accessories to gun maintenance.

AR-10 vs AR-15

In this video, we are comparing the AR-10 to the AR-15. The reason for this is if you are a new shooter and you go into a store looking for a rifle for whatever reason that may be, you may be confused by the fact one is an AR-10 and one is an AR-15. What is the numerical difference? Is the number significant to the difference? What's going on? Why do they look the same? Are the parts interchangeable?

With this quick video, we'll clear up some of that for you. So first let's talk about the AR-10 versus the AR-15 overall.

How are the AR-10 and the AR-15 similar and different?

How the AR-10 and AR-15 are similar: One thing that these guns do share in common is they were both created by ArmaLite, which is why they have the designation 'AR'.

ArmaLite created the AR 10 rifle to use a 7.62×51 mm ammunition. The AR-15 was made to fire the .223/5.56 round.

While the AR-15 is lighter and generally lets shooters carry more rounds of ammunition, the AR-10 is slightly larger and more potent.

The AR-10 and the AR-15 are almost exact replicas of each other. They both employ a direct impingement gas system mechanically. Both the AR-10 and the AR-15 have revolving bolts. The trigger groups in both guns are the same. Both are relatively lightweight and both produce a manageable amount of recoil.

AR-10: PSA Gen3 PA10 18" Mid-Length .308 Win 1/10 Stainless Steel 15" Lighweight M-Lok STR SSA-E Rifle. Image from Palmetto State Armory.

AR-15: PSA 16" Mid-Length 5.56 NATO 1/7 Nitride Lightweight M-Lok Classic Rifle. Image from Palmetto State Armory.

Okay, so that's a general overall view of the AR-10 vs the AR-15. So what are the differences?

The answer is the caliber that it fires. As I said, the caliber is the key distinction between these two weapons. While the AR-15 was intended to shoot the 5.56 mm round, the AR-10 was originally chambered for the 7.62×51 mm NATO round.

However, AR rifles can now be found in a wide range of chambering. Cartridges, including the well-liked 6.5 mm Creedmoor and the 6.5×47mm Lapua, among others can be used with the AR10s. However, the majority of AR-10s continue to use the 7.62×51 mm or .308 Winchester caliber.

So that's the AR-10. It is a heavier round than the AR15. The 5.56 mm or .223 Remington cartridge is still the most popular chambering for the AR-15, but they are now available for a wide variety of other cartridges such as the .224 Valkyrie or the .300 AAC Blackout.

The primary design of the AR-10 and the AR-15 are similar although there are a few minor changes due to the different calibers available. Rifling ballistics are the key areas of distinction. However, the AR-10 is naturally heavier than the conventional AR-15 due to its heavier ammo. That ammo is around a little over a pound.

Additionally, due to the heavier ammo, that reduces the magazine capacity. In contrast to the AR-15's 30-round magazine the AR10s typically hold 25 rounds.

Why would you want to buy an AR-10?

So let's ask the question, why would you want to buy an AR-10? The simple answer is that AR-10s are excellent at distance shooting. The AR-10s have a greater effective range with that heavier ammunition and a flatter trajectory. That trajectory is somewhere between 600 to 1000 yards depending on how good you are.

So you understand the AR-10 is used for distance shooting. For this reason, the AR-10 is very popular among hunters.

And why would you want to buy an AR-15?

We discussed why you'd pick an AR-10, so why would you choose an AR-15? At between 300 to 500 yards the AR-15 has a shorter effective range. In particular, if you're talking about hunting, that .223 round is much better for smaller game at closer quarters.

However the AR-15 more than makes up for any power and range deficiencies with its shootability. The AR-15 is less cumbersome, especially in smaller spaces, and delivers quicker, more accurate follow up shots thanks to its smaller weight and reduced recoil. Combined with its higher 30-round capacity magazine, the AR-15 makes it easier and faster to get your follow up shots.

This is why, in addition to hunting small game, the AR-15 is very popular for home defense setups.

Can you interchange AR-10 and AR-15 parts?

Popular question people ask since they're similar in size and they're made by the same company: Are the parts interchangeable? Yes and no. You can interchange some parts on the AR-10 and the AR-15.

I would stick to more general parts, more of the aesthetic options. I definitely wouldn't mess with the actual mechanics of the rifle but things like pistol grips, selector switches, stocks, trigger and trigger springs, things like that, you could interchange between the AR-10 and the AR-15.

Final Thoughts

And that's it for this video. Coming to you from the STNGR Workshop, my name is Rick Barrett. I hope you enjoyed this video and I'll talk to you again soon.