AR10 vs AR15: Which is Better for You? 🔥 The BIG Comparison 2023

ar10 vs ar15

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Do you like collecting guns, or are you a recreational shooter looking for a rifle? Are you interested in AR rifles? Or you are just an enthusiast who is curious about the difference between AR10 vs AR15? Whatever your reason for looking into these two rifles, this article will give you an in-depth look at them. Find out their similarities and differences and how these can influence your decision on which rifle is more superior than the other.

Both AR10s and AR15s are popular rifles that are accurate, reliable, compact, and lightweight. You can customize them too to make them one of a kind gun. There is an ongoing debate about which one is better with the advocates of each gun proclaiming its benefits.

AR10 and AR15: Historical Background

The history of the AR rifles dates back to the 1950s when the Armalite Division of the Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Company under George Sullivan was tasked to develop a lightweight rifle for paratroopers. The result was AR-1 or the Parasniper rifle.

ar-1 riffle

After the AR1, another version, the AR5, followed. This survival rifle is made for pilots and aircrew of the US Air Force.

During its testing has met another designer, Eugene Stoner. Together, they developed the prototype for the AR10. After the AR10 failed to take off, they made a scaled version, that is the AR15.

ar10 vintage

If you are wondering what does the AR stands for in AR10 & AR15, the letters A & R stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed the weapon. Because the military turned down the AR15 many times, ArmaLite sold its rights and patents to a more prominent company, Colt. It renamed the rifle to Colt Armalite AR-15. After a lot of convincing and minor changes, the military has begun using the AR15, eventually dropping the word ArmaLite.

Many people nowadays are defining AR as assault rifles or automatic rifles, but that is a misnomer.

The AR10

armalite ar-10

The AR10 weighs lighter at 3.29 to 4.05 kilogram (without magazine and ammunition) than its predecessor Armalite rifle. It is air-cooled, gas-operated and fires a NATO standard 7.62X51mm cartridge with 20-round detachable magazine.

The lightness is attributed to the extensive use of alloy on the metal parts. Only its barrel, bolt and the bolt carrier are made from steel. The buttstock, pistol grip, and handguard are all made from glass-reinforced plastic.

Like the majority of gas-operated rifles, it bleeds the propellant gas into the port in the barrel. Then to the piston located inside the cylinder that runs parallel to the barrel of the gun. This gas creates a force driving the piston to allow the bolt to re-cock, release the spent cartridge, and load the new round to the chamber.

In Stoner’s design, the AR10 has the propellant gas bleed into the cylinder that runs in parallel with the gun barrel to impact the bolt carrier apparatus. The result of this ‘direct gas impingement’ is a high cyclic rate for the AR10 allowing to fire 700 rounds per minute. Here the muzzle velocity is 845m per second.

The AR15

armalite ar-15

Because the AR15 is a modification of the AR10, it uses similar “direct gas impingement” on its operation. The AR15 is an upgrade, achieved by downsizing its rifle and caliber to 5.56mm. Hence, it is often called the downsize version of AR10. It used a smaller cartridge in a 20 to the 30-round magazine. It is made mostly from the lightweight material called ‘mylonite.’

Its direct gas impingement mechanism, through the rotating bolt operation, allowed the rifle to fire 800 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 975M per second at an effective range of 550 meters.

The Look: AR10 vs. AR15

For an unfamiliar eye, the AR10 and the AR15 may look the same. The reason is that the AR15 is a smaller version of the A10. When you compare the two rifles, their first difference is their size. The AR10 has an overall length of 1.029 meters with a barrel that is 0.508 meters. The AR15 is about 1.006 meters long with almost the same barrel size as AR10.

The difference in length is one of the advantages of the AR15 because it preferred over the AR10 for use in tactical operations and close combat. In terms of design, the AR15 has retained most of the AR10’S best features. 

AR10 vs. AR15: The Pros and Cons

Both the AR10 and the AR15 has its share of strengths and weaknesses.

The AR10


  • Lightweight, it allows you to carry more ammunition
  • The 7.62mm can outrange the others
  • AR10 has a larger bullet that has more considerable kinetic energy
  • It has more knockdown power
  • It is a modular system, easy and not expensive to change the caliber and cartridge
  • No significant recoil
  • Higher effective range


  • Higher price
  • The AR10 carries less round
  • Weighs more significantly due to the extra metal

The AR15


  • It is smaller and lighter than the AR10
  • Can stay on the target better
  • Carry more rounds at a faster speed
  • Higher rate of fire for more hits
  • More penetration damages
  • Lower effective range
  • High ergonomics to equip the weapon with more features
  • No significant recoil
  • Modular design allows for different modifications
  • Lower price


  • The design of the venting machine, in case you are using low-quality gunpowder, it can accumulate the soot and cause a delay.
  • Needs more careful maintenance and cleaning
  • More susceptible to mechanical damage because of its soft material

AR10 vs. AR15: What is the Difference?

These AR rifles are designed for a specific purpose, and you have to know the difference between AR10 and AR15 to know which to choose for yourself.


The AR10 calibers have 7.62 X 51mm NATO or .308 Winchester caliber (but here you can find the FULL list of all AR10 center fire calibers); these two has very similar physical dimensions. The .308 caliber though is more powerful than the 7.62 X 51mm NATO because it generates more chamber pressure at 62000 PSI and has a thicker brass casing. It means it has 12000 PSI more pressure and as such, you should not use 7.62 X 51mm NATO to shoot .308 ammunition.

The AR15 has a 5.65 x 45 mm or.223 caliber that has a different requirement. The 5.65 x 45 mm is hotter than the .223 and can accept .223 Remington round. Loading 5.65 x 45 mm is not recommended because it can cause damage to the firearm and the person holding the gun. Some of the common calibers are also: .300 Blackout, 6.5 Grendel, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, 6.8 Remington, and .22LR.

ar15 calibers


Although both AR10 and AR15 have excellent absorption of recoils, you can feel more significant recoil using AR10 as compared to AR15. This is because AR10 is designed to fire more powerful rounds than AR 15.

Of the calibers, .223 and the 5.65 x 45 mm weights 1/8 to 1/5 of an ounce while the .308 and the 7.62 X 51mm NATO rounds weigh about 1/3 to 2/5 of an ounce. That is more than double, and hence AR10s require more gunpowder to send its bullet down the barrel.


The AR10s have two kinds of platforms: the classic ArmaLite design and the modern DPMS adaptation. The classic design accepts the AR10 designed magazine while the contemporary version can accept aside from the DPMS, other aftermarket magazines designed for .308/7.62 calibers including SR-25.

The magazines of AR15s a 100% interchangeable because it is designed for military use. Most of the parts of AR15 have specifications that ensure versatility and interchangeability.


Because the AR10 can fire more powerful rounds, it has more weight than the AR15. The AR10 weighs about 9 to 10 pounds while the AR15 is about 6 pounds less. It is important to note, however, that because you can add as many accessories, you can expect the weight of the firearms to change significantly.

Bolt Catch

With the AR10 vs. AR15, the bolt can are very different in two rifles. In most cases, the AR15 bolt catch is not compatible with the lowers of most AR10.


Both AR10 and AR15 have a lightweight design, and that means it will allow the user to add more weight on the rifle’s magazine. Also, the user can fire more rounds with having to stop and reload often. However, there are specific pros and cons for the bullet of each rifle.

For the AR10 the rounds are more massive, and they can travel for a longer distance. The larger bullet can also allow the transfer of more kinetic energy to the target. As a shooter, you should be able to harness this stopping power in every round. It translates to a more powerful blow on your target.  

In AR15, the rounds can travel at a faster speed with a higher rate of fire. Because of this high rate of fire, you can put more bullets on your target faster.

Fire Rate

When you put the two rifles in a semi-automatic mode, the AR10 has a fire rate of 40 rounds under a minute while the AR15 has a fire rate of 60 rounds.

In a standard cartridge clip, the AR10 can hold 20 rounds while the AR15 can contain 20-30 rounds.

Muzzle Velocity

Both rifles are using the gas infringement mechanism to increase its muzzle velocity and fire rate. The AR10 has a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps while AR15 can reach more than 3,150 fps. The AR15 has an apparent advantage over other AR10 because it has a higher fire rate and more muzzle velocity.

Effective Range

Without the aid of a powerful scope, the AR 10 has a range of approximately 600 yards while the AR15 has between 525 and 600 effective range.

When you add a proper scope, the effective range for AR10 can reach up to 1,000 yards while the AR15 can have somewhere around 800 yards.

Shooting Situation

Because of its effective range that AR15 is better for use in long-distance shooting, especially hunting. Because it is light, you can have better reliability and accuracy. When you factor in the firing power of an AR10, you use it better in hunting large animals than the AR15, although you can use it as well but only for smaller kind.

When you want to use a weapon for defense, you have found a tactical weapon in AR15 because it is easy to maneuver due to its lighter weight. The higher rate of fire is also useful in situations of this kind.


There is a general rule in buying a weapon: the better the rifle, the higher the price. And this is very much true for AR10 vs. AR15.

The AR10 a range from a meager $900 to as much as $8000 depending on the additional accessories that you may want to add on your basic AR10 rifle.

For the AR15, the price can range from $500 to as much as $3,000.

Comparison Table of AR10 vs. AR 15

Parameters AR10 AR15
Caliber 7.62 X 51mm NATO or .308 Winchester caliber 5.65 x 45 mm or.223 caliber
Weight of Caliber 1/3 to 2/5 of an ounce 1/8 to 1/5 of an ounce
Magazine Classic Armalite & DPMS 100% Interchangeable
Weight 9-10 lbs 6 pounds
Bullets More massive Smaller 
Fire Rate (Semi-automatic) 40 rounds  60 rounds
Fire Rate (Standard)  20 rounds 20-30 rounds
Muzzle Velocity 2,170 fps 3,150 fps
Effective Range 600 yards 525 – 600 yards
Price $$$$ $$$

AR10 and AR15: What You Want to Use the Rifle For?

Home Defense and Self Defense

Both guns are popular, but each of them can have excellent uses. When it comes to home defense, it would be better to choose the AR15 than the AR10. The reason is that the AR10 can have devastating damages when fired because of its over-penetration. Also, the AR15 has lighter recoil than the AR10, giving the shooter more opportunity to fire more accurate shots quickly.

Home defense is all about close quarters, and the possibility of firing rapidly is on the loom. The AR15 can stay on target better, and it is more suitable for an urban situation where there are non-targets behind the walls like kids and other innocent people.

The best guns for home defense should have low wall penetration, breaks up quickly, and tend to lose their energy then encountering mass faster. Therefore, small, fast rounds of AR15 are highly recommended because they are likely to break up solid objects they encounter.

AR-10 Assault Rifle in Professional
Joss Beaumont with his Armalite AR-10 Assault Rifle in The Professional

Although the knockdown power is essential, and AR10 can cause more damage, but at the end of the day, it is the placement that is more important.

For self-defense, the AR15 is also ideal because it is lightweight. Weighing only 6 pounds when stripped of accessories it is not overly burdensome. It will not cause you muscle fatigue when shooting that will make your hands unsteady and thereby missing your target.

It is also compact and can fit around the corners. The AR15 also has adjustable length, which means it can pass through the regulations in some states. Because it has low recoil, even small women can use them if needed. The low recoil can also allow the shooter for quicker follow-up shots and better control of the gun.

In self-defense, once things go sideways, you need more ammunition than a single shot per target. With AR15, you get more shots than any other rifle. Therefore, in-home defense and self-defense, comparing AR15 vs. AR10, your choice should be AR15.


When it comes to small game hunting, the AR15 is the better choice. It has the capabilities of short-range fire, a faster rate of fire, lightweight and more rapid rate of fire. Don’t forget to check the best duck hunting dogs!

If you want to hunt for the big game, you need a rifle that is more massive hitting. That makes the AR10 the perfect choice. It has the necessary stopping power to bring down larger animals. It also offers a new range for longer shots, making it an ideal hunting rifle.


Plinking is a simple form of target shooting that is done for fun and makes use of non-standard targets like cans, soda bottles, logs, etc. Because the AR15 is cheaper and has cheaper ammunition, it can be useful for plinking. Another reason why is due to its low recoil.

AR10 vs AR15: Conclusion

Choosing the right rifle can be a difficult decision to make. First, you have to know where are you going to use it for. Is it for home defense? Hunting big game animals? Or you are just looking for an addition to your collection. Aside from the enormous financial commitment, you also have to maintain your investment.

It is challenging to declare who is the winner between the two guns but with the benefits explained above between AR10 vs. AR15; you can decide which will be useful for you. Your decision should be based on your needs.

If you prefer more stopping power and more excellent range, choose the AR10. On the other hand, if you want a lighter and shorter rifle with a better rate of fire, AR15 if the right choice.