AR15 sitting on top of an American flag, three bullets sit next to the weapon

AR-10 vs AR-15: What’s the Difference?

We’re proud to offer the AR parts and accessories you need to customize your weapon. The AR weapons platform is a fine piece of equipment that has been around for more than fifty years, driving the firearms industry forward and inspiring an ever-increasing number of manufacturers to offer their own fresh take on this history-making gun. Becoming the most popular weapon, however, doesn’t come without its share of controversy and misinformation. We’re going to look at the history of the Ar-10 vs. Ar-15 and choosing the right weapons customizations for your needs.

Creating A Legend

If you know anything about these guns, you know the “AR” actually stands for the original manufacturer’s name for the firearm: ArmaLite Rifle. The AR-10 was engineered to provide the military with a powerful front-line rifle to replace aging WWII and Korean War armaments. While the innovative gas-operated bolt and carrier group and advanced design elements put it ahead of its competition, with AR parts and designs being licensed to other manufacturers internationally. 

AR15 with aftermarket upgrades on a white background

A scaled-down and refined version, the .223/5.56x41mm Ar-15 (vs. the AR-10’s 7.62x51mm) manufactured by the make’s new manufacturer, Colt, soon overtook its predecessor. The military M-16 gained a reputation among American troops serving in the Vietnam War who, on returning home, wanted a weapon that offered similar functionality and reliability in a civilian version. Make no mistake, the M-16 and AR platform share a history, but not all AR parts are interchangeable and characterizing civilian models as “military weapons” is inaccurate.

While Colt made waves after purchasing the patents, earning US government contracts for its military version, and successfully bringing the civilian AR models to market, those patents eventually expired. Now it’s almost impossible to list all the firearms makers offering the AR-10 and AR-15 type weapons, and the list of aftermarket AR parts and accessories manufacturers is even larger. Far from diluting the market, it’s done nothing but strengthen the public’s desire for quality ARs and the parts to customize them. 

Differences in the AR-10 vs. Ar-15

Both of these rifles share a few key AR parts and work with many of the same AR accessories that are available for customization. They are not the same weapon, however, and the key differences give you the options you need in choosing the right weapon for you.

  • Caliber – The .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO round is significantly more powerful than the .223/5.56x45mm NATO round. That means the considerably more powerful AR-10 vs. the AR-15 comes with more down-range power but also more kick that can interfere with accuracy on repeat shots.
  • Weight – In order to manage the higher pressures of more powerful rounds, AR-10 parts are usually larger and heavier. This corresponds to a heavier carrying weight, especially when carried fully loaded. This extra weight is more than some gun owners want to carry around in the field.
  • Ballistics – Rounds fired from the AR-10 have a flatter trajectory and longer effective range than the AR-15. That means that AR accessories tend to be more specialized to support these longer ranges on the AR-10 vs. the AR-15’s mid-and short range focused AR parts upgrades. That’s not to say they can’t both excel in either role.
  • Capacity – Larger cartridges also take up more room. While both of these platforms have extended magazines and even drum magazines available from aftermarket suppliers, AR-15 magazines tend to carry more rounds than their AR-10 counterparts, especially on a size vs. size basis.

Choosing the Gun For You

The most important consideration when choosing your AR is how you intend to use your weapon. If you’re looking for a hunting weapon, ranch rifle, or another primarily long-range application with plenty of lethal stopping power, the AR-10 might be right for you. It’s still a serviceable weapon for short and mid-range shooting, although the bullet can be too powerful and over-penetrate if you’re not careful. Precision AR parts can help you reach out and touch the target with tight MOAs.

modern AR15 rifle on top of a black weapons bag

If you want a tactical weapon that offers a lot of flexibility for range or self-defense use, the AR-15 has proven itself time and again. There is a wealth of AR accessories to tailor it to fit almost any role, and there are more created almost daily. Precision optics, extended magazines, performance trigger groups, and custom free-floating rails let you build out a gun that’s perfect for you. The smaller round penetrates then fragments on impact, making it far more effective up close.

Build Out Your AR

With the right AR parts, you can build either of these platforms into a weapon you can both be proud of and count on when every shot counts. When it comes to the AR-10 vs. the AR-15, the right gun is the one that you can customize to be the best weapon for your shooting lifestyle. We work with some of the top innovative brands in firearms parts to give you the options you need to shoot better. 

We have the parts, accessories, and tools you need in stock and ready to ship. Subscribe to our email list to get notified of the top deals, and follow our blog for the top tips, tricks, and legislative news about your Second Amendment rights. Order your custom AR parts from JSD Supply today.