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Difference Between AR 15 and AR 10

Difference Between AR 15 and AR 10: Exploring the Distinctions and Similarities

The AR-15 and AR-10 rifles are one of the most popular pieces of weaponry among the firearms community, it’s not uncommon to see ‘AR-10 vs AR-15’ debates in the shooting ranges.

With a plethora of customization options to choose from, the Armalite platforms enjoy countless customization options that boost ergonomics, flexibility, and shootability.

Certainly, both designs bear a striking resemblance, but they each carry unique characteristics and functionalities that most rookie enthusiasts have trouble distinguishing from each other.

This comprehensive guide aims to explore the similarity and differences between AR-10 and AR-15 rifles, and it will help you better compare them and understand how to customize these two iconic rifles.

AR-10 and AR-15: A Brief History

The AR-10 was designed by Eugene Stoner of ArmaLite in 1956, and it’s often considered a revolutionary piece in military rifles. It’s an iconic precursor to a wider range of assault rifles that are still one of the most cost-efficient and highly functional rifles for self-defense and hunting.

The AR-10 was developed as a battle rifle for military applications and initially struggled to secure large-scale military contracts, partly due to its late entry into military rifle testing.

The AR-15 is a scaled-down, lightweight derivative of Eugene Stoner’s ArmaLite AR-10 design that was developed in the late 1950s. The design was eventually sold to Colt, who marketed the redesigned weapon to various military services around the world.

Eventually, the AR-15 was adopted by the U.S. military as the fully automatic M16 and has been a standard-issue rifle for U.S. forces. Its semi-automatic civilian counterpart, the Colt AR-15, remains a popular firearm for hunting, sport shooting, and personal protection today.

It’s no wonder firearms elitists, collectors, and customization enthusiasts greatly appreciate it.

AR10 vs. AR15: Differentiating the Two

Though the AR-10 and AR-15 share a common heritage, they diverge significantly in several aspects like caliber, recoil, weight and magazine distribution, internal mechanisms, and more.

Primarily, they differ in caliber; the AR-15 fires .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO rounds, while the AR-10 uses the larger .308 Winchester or 7.62 NATO rounds. This results in a significantly stronger recoil in the AR-10, which may affect comfort and precision for some users.

The AR-10’s larger caliber also uses larger and heavier magazines which make it much heavier than the AR-15, and this is the main functional point when talking about the difference between AR 10 and AR 15 rifles.

Internal Mechanisms, Muzzle Velocity, and Recoil

The bolt catch mechanism differs, too; the AR-15’s bolt catch is directly under the bolt carrier, while the AR-10’s bolt catch is on the side of the receiver.

In terms of bullets, the AR-10’s larger, heavier bullet can deliver more energy on target at longer distances, but the AR-15 typically has a higher rate of fire due to lower recoil. The AR-15’s lighter rounds result in a slightly lower muzzle velocity and effective range than the AR-10.

Though the AR-15 offers easier handling and shooting due to its lighter weight and lower recoil, the AR-10 has better long-range accuracy and stopping power.

Most importantly, the biggest difference between AR10 and AR15 rifles is that the AR-15 is almost always cheaper than the AR-10, and that’s why it’s a more popular firearm.

Modularity: Interchangeable Parts for the AR15 and AR10 Rifles

The modularity of both the AR-15 and AR-10 is another important factor that most buyers should consider when they’re struggling to decide which one to buy.

Certain parts of these ArmaLite platforms are interchangeable. For example, the high-standard AR-15s and AR-10s share common elements like triggers, buttstock, and pistol grips, and these parts are usually the most popular ones that sell like hotcakes.

This interchangeability opens up all kinds of customization options, as many users modify their rifles to suit their specific requirements or preferences.

However, it is crucial to note that the upper receivers and lower receivers, bolt carrier group, and magazines are not interchangeable due to the different calibers these rifles are chambered for.

Carefully considering these factors ensures that you maximize the potential of your firearm while maintaining its safety and functionality.

Comprehensive Comparison Table: AR10 vs. AR15

Bolt CatchArmalite Style only(Non-compatible)Armalite Style only(Non-compatible)
Caliber.308/7.62×51.223/5.56 x 45
Effective Range600 yards(can go up to 1000 yards with a decent scope and bullet)525 and 600 yards(up to 800 yards)
Fire Rate40 rounds in less than a minute20 to 30 shots
Magazines20-round capacity
30-round capacity
Muzzle Velocity2,700 fps (average)3,150 fps (average)
PriceAverages between $800 and $8000Averages between $500 and $4000
Shooting ApplicationLong-distance and huntingSelf-defense
Weight7 – 8 pounds (unloaded)6 – 7 pounds (unloaded)

Evaluating AR10 and AR15 Based on Intended Use

When choosing between the AR-10 and AR-15, the intended use of the rifle plays a crucial role in the decision-making process.

AR10 vs AR15: Hunting

For hunting larger games, the AR-10’s superior long-range accuracy, greater stopping power due to the larger caliber, and higher muzzle velocity make it a better option.

The heavier rounds provide more energy on target at greater distances.

Still, the heavier weight of the rifle and its recoil may limit its usefulness for smaller games or prolonged carry. 

AR 10 vs AR 15: Self-Defense

Alternatively, the AR-15’s lighter weight and lower recoil make it an excellent choice for home defense and self-defense

AR 15 vs AR 10: Plinking

The user-friendly handling, higher rate of fire, and economic advantage of the AR-15 make it a favorite among sports shooters, plinking, and those looking for personal protection.

However, its lighter rounds could compromise long-range accuracy and effect at the target. 

AR-15 vs AR-10: Long-Range Shooting

The AR-10 is preferable for longer-range and bigger games, but the choice between these two rifles hinges on the user’s specific needs.

The AR-15 excels in short-range applications, all thanks to its versatility, ease of handling, and cost-effectiveness.


When it comes to the popular ‘AR-10 vs. AR-15’ discussion, there’s always a lot to talk about, and a lot to unpack, especially when customizing your platform is in question.

Here, at Mid State Firearms, we understand the difference between AR 15 and AR 10 rifles in terms of usability and how it fits the shooter.

With a plethora of high-quality customization parts for your rifles, splitting hairs doesn’t matter. What matters is how you truly want to customize your platform, whether it’s an AR-15 rifle or an AR-10.

Stay safe, and shoot straight!

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