Comparing AR10 vs AR15 – Which is the Better Rifle for You?

Are you in the market for a new rifle and contemplating whether to choose between ar10 vs ar15? The decision can be quite challenging, especially when you’re unaware of the differences and similarities between these two popular rifles. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the origins, key differences, and various applications of both rifles, helping you make a more informed decision on which one suits your needs best.

Key Takeaways

  • AR-10 and AR-15 were designed by ArmaLite, with differences in caliber, size, weight, performance and recoil.

  • The choice of rifle should be based on the intended purpose. AR-10 for long distance shooting & big game hunting whereas AR-15 is best suited for small game hunting & self defense/home protection.

  • Customization options are available along with ammo availability & cost varying between both rifles. Popular manufacturers offer a range of models while maintenance determines reliability.

AR-10 and AR-15 Origins

Two rifles of AR-10 and AR-15 series

Both the AR-10 and AR-15 were designed by ArmaLite, a renowned firearms manufacturer. The AR-10, developed first, served as the predecessor to the AR-15. Designed by ArmaLite’s chief designer Eugene Stoner, the two rifles share some similarities, such as several interchangeable parts, and differences, like their overall weight.

The AR-10 and AR-15 have been used extensively for various military and civilian applications, with the AR-15 being more widely recognized and often preferred for high volume shooting due to its lighter recoil. General Curtis LeMay ordered a number of AR-15’s to provide pilots with a fighting chance should they be shot down, in line with the AR-1’s initial purpose. Colt acquired the designs of both rifles from ArmaLite and made modifications, making the AR-15 a popular choice for home defense.

Key Differences Between AR-10 and AR-15

A comparison image showing the key differences between AR-10 and AR-15 rifles - ar10 vs ar15.

Grasping the key differences between the AR-10 and AR-15 will help you determine which rifle fits your needs best.

We will delve into the differences in caliber and ballistics, size and weight, and performance and recoil between the two rifles in the upcoming sections.

Caliber and Ballistics

The AR-10 and AR-15 have some key differences in terms of caliber and ballistic performance:

  • The AR-10 utilizes larger caliber rounds (7.62x51mm) compared to the AR-15 (5.56x45mm).

  • The AR-15 has a higher velocity and longer range due to its smaller and lighter frame.

  • The AR-10 has a higher one-shot stopping power, making it slightly more reliable.

  • The 7.62 caliber ammunition used by the AR-10 is effective up to approximately 800 yards.

Comparing the trajectory, ballistic coefficient, and energy between 7.62 and 5.56, the 5.56 offers a flatter trajectory up until about 300 yards. However, it begins to drop at a faster rate due to its lower ballistic coefficient. The 7.62x51mm round delivers nearly double the energy to its target as the 5.56x45mm round.

These differences make each rifle suitable for specific applications, such as hunting and self-defense, with some even accommodating two cartridges.

Size and Weight

The AR-10 is generally larger and heavier than the AR-15, with an overall length of 1.029 meters and a barrel length of 0.508 meters, while the AR-15 measures 1.006 meters in length with a barrel length of 0.508 meters. This difference in size and weight impacts the performance and ease of use of each rifle.

Both rifles are constructed with a lightweight alloy of metal and glass reinforced plastic to minimize weight. However, the AR-15’s smaller size offers an advantage for tactical purposes or close combat situations. The compact size and lighter weight of the AR-15 make it more maneuverable, especially when agility is a key factor in the field.

Performance and Recoil

In terms of performance, the AR-10 provides greater power and enhanced long-range performance, while the AR-15 has decreased recoil and is more manageable. The AR-10’s larger caliber and increased power make it suitable for extended-range shooting and big game hunting, whereas the AR-15’s lower recoil enhances its manageability, making it ideal for self-defense and home protection.

Despite their differences, both rifles can be dependable with appropriate maintenance and attention. Choosing between the two ultimately boils down to your specific needs and intended use, as each rifle excels in different situations.

Choosing the Right Rifle for Your Needs

Long distance shooting with AR-15 rifle

When deciding between the AR-10 and AR-15, your specific needs and intended use are the primary considerations.

We will explore how each rifle performs in diverse scenarios, including long-distance shooting, small game hunting, and self-defense and home protection in the subsequent sections.

Long Distance Shooting

The AR-10 excels in long-distance shooting due to its larger caliber and better accuracy at longer ranges. Its powerful 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester cartridge provides an effective hunting range of approximately 600 yards. The author has also employed the AR-10 to successfully stop a charging 250lb boar with a single shot on two occasions, showcasing its effectiveness in hunting situations.

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Ethical hunting of whitetails requires at least 1,000 ft lbs of force. This will ensure successful and humane harvesting. The AR-10’s superior accuracy and power at extended ranges make it an ideal choice for long-distance shooting and big game hunting, particularly when every shot matters.

Small Game Hunting

The AR-15 is ideal for small game hunting due to its lighter weight, compact size, and less recoil. These features allow for greater portability and agility in the field, making it easier to shoot precisely and effectively.

Conversely, the AR-10 is better suited for big game hunting, as it has a larger caliber and more powerful ballistics.

In summary, the AR-15 is more suitable for small game hunting, given its lighter weight, smaller size, and reduced recoil. Conversely, the AR-10 is more apt for big game hunting, owing to its larger caliber and more powerful ballistics.

Self Defense and Home Protection

The AR-15 is a popular choice for self-defense and home protection due to its ease of use, lower recoil, and higher magazine capacity. It offers low recoil, excellent ballistic performance from 0 to 300 yards, and considerable power. Potentially threatening situations typically occur within a range of 300 yards, making the AR-15 well-suited for such scenarios.

SF personnel often opt for 7.62mm battle rifles in close-range situations, as every shot is of utmost importance. However, for the average person, the AR-15’s decreased recoil and manageability make it an ideal choice for self-defense and home protection.

Customization and Aftermarket Support

Customization of AR-15 rifle with aftermarket parts

The AR-10 and AR-15 both come with a broad range of customization options and aftermarket support, enabling users to adapt their rifles to meet their unique needs and preferences. Customization options for these rifles include:

  • Stocks

  • Handguards

  • Barrels

  • Triggers

  • Optics

  • Grips

  • Muzzle devices

  • Magazine releases

  • Charging handles

  • Various accessories

Note that the available customization options may differ depending on the specific make and model of the rifle, so it’s important to consider this when placing your initial order.

There is an extensive selection of aftermarket support available for the AR-10 and AR-15, including:

  • Parts and accessories

  • Gunsmithing services

  • Custom builds

  • Repairs

This ensures that gun enthusiasts can continue to modify and maintain their rifles throughout their ownership.

Ammo Availability and Cost

Ammo availability and cost for AR-10 and AR-15 rifles

The availability and cost of ammo fluctuate between the AR-10 and AR-15. Generally, AR-15 ammo is more budget-friendly and commonly available, thanks to its smaller size and widespread use. The smaller size and widespread use of the AR-15 ammunition are the primary factors contributing to its affordability and availability, making it easier for users to acquire more ammo.

On the other hand, the AR-10 utilizes larger caliber rounds (7.62x51mm), which may be more expensive and less readily available compared to AR-15 ammunition (5.56x45mm). When considering the ongoing costs of owning and shooting a rifle, the AR-15 may be the more economical option due to its more affordable and available ammunition.

DD5 SBR, Black, Right

Both AR-10 and AR-15 rifles have a variety of manufacturers and models, providing buyers with several options. The quality and features vary based on the manufacturer. Some of the popular manufacturers and models of the AR-10 include:

  • Aero Precision M5E1

  • Daniel Defense DD5

  • Palmetto State Armory AR-10

  • Wilson Combat Ranger

For the AR-15, popular manufacturers and models include:

  • Aero Precision


  • Palmetto State Armory PA-10

  • Sig Sauer

It’s essential to research and compare various manufacturers and models to find the best rifle that suits your needs and preferences.

Maintenance and Reliability

Maintenance and reliability of AR-10 and AR-15 rifles

When deciding the AR10 vs AR15, the maintenance and reliability of both rifles is a vital consideration. The AR-15 is typically more straightforward to maintain and boasts greater dependability due to its widespread use and the availability of parts. With appropriate maintenance and attention, both rifles can be dependable.

While the AR-10 offers more power and better long-range performance, it may require more maintenance and upkeep compared to the AR-15. Ultimately, the choice between the two rifles will depend on your specific needs, intended use, and willingness to invest time and effort in maintaining your firearm.


In conclusion, the choice between the AR-10 and AR-15 depends on your specific needs and intended use. The AR-10 excels in long-distance shooting and big game hunting, while the AR-15 is more suitable for small game hunting and self-defense. Both rifles offer extensive customization options and aftermarket support, allowing you to tailor your firearm to your preferences. When considering factors such as ammo availability and cost, maintenance, and reliability, the AR-15 may be a more economical and user-friendly option for many shooters. Ultimately, the decision lies in your hands – choose the rifle that best aligns with your needs, and you won’t be disappointed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best Aero Precision lower?

The best Aero Precision lower is the M4E1, a billet style receiver machined from 7075-T6 forged aluminum and available in both black anodized and cerakote FDE. It’s compatible with standard AR-15 components and magazines, making it a popular choice for custom builds.

Is Aero Precision used by military?

Yes, Aero Precision is widely used in the military and police communities due to their superior quality and performance.

Is Aero Precision better than PSA?

Aero Precision is positioned as a mid-range option with a reputation for higher quality than PSA Palmetto State Armory, which offers budget-friendly options. However, Aero still remains competitive in pricing compared to more high-end brands like BCM.

What are the key differences between the AR-10 and AR-15?

The AR-10 uses larger caliber rounds (7.62x51mm) than the AR-15 (5.56x45mm), is larger and heavier, has more power and better long-range performance, and less recoil. The AR-15, on the other hand, is easier to handle and has less recoil.

Which rifle is more suitable for long-distance shooting?

The AR-10 is more suitable for long-distance shooting, due to its larger caliber and better accuracy at longer ranges compared to the AR-15.

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