You might have heard of the 5.56mm compatible NATO derived weapon AR 15 but have you heard of its elder brother, the AR 10? Well, the chances are that you haven’t heard of it because it has been lying dormant for decades. Those who have heard think of the AR 10 as not a match to its younger sibling, the AR-15.
Weighing only 2 pounds more than its younger sibling & with a barrel length of 528 mm, the AR 10 had an effective range of over 2500 feet. When first launched in 1956 it was a revolutionary weapon and was quick to rise to stardom. But over the years with the changes & advancements that happened and poor marketing strategies, the AR 10s eventually became outdated.
This article will look at the AR 10, its history & evolution. Let’s get going.
1954 - The legendary gun maker takes birth
The history of Armalite, the manufacturer of AR 10, dates back to 1954, October 1st when it was established as a subsidiary of Fair hold Engine and Aircraft Corporation. The founding of Armalite happened following the meeting between George Sullivan the then president of Fair hold Engine and Aircraft corporation & Eugene Stoner, a lightweight combat rifle expert.
This meeting changed the fortune of the company and Stoner was appointed as the chief engineer. Within a few years, Armalite became the cradle for a lot of unique rifle concepts and within a few years, stoner was working on the design and development of lightweight guns.
AR 10 - A Potential Replacement to the M1 Garand
With the previously used M1 Garand nearing its service period, the U.S military was looking for a rifle that could be brought in as a replacement. The US defence department formed a Rifle Steering Committee and launched the Army’s lightweight rifle program. Gunmakers were called to submit their designs and prototypes. This was during the era where Stoner was experimenting with Aircraft grade aluminium and other synthetic materials to cut down the weight of his combat grade weapon.
While many companies submitted their designs, the ones submitted by the famous gun manufacturers Springfield and Fabrique nationale had an upper hand. While the committee was in confusion, AR-10 made a late entry into the competition.
Because of its superior design and compatibility, the Rifle Steering Committee was quick to approve the AR 10 as a potential replacement to the M1 Garand. What made the AR 10 special was its recoil compensator, aluminium flash suppressor, rugged elevated sights and most importantly an adjustable gas system. Apart from this the weapon also had a straight-line dock design that was something unheard of during those days.
The Unexpected Fall of AR 10
When the deal to replace M1 Garands with the AR 10s were on cards, it took a massive turnaround. Due to some “unknown reasons," Sullivan asked his team to submit an untested prototype with an aluminium-steel composite barrel. This overconfident move turned everything upside down.
During the rigorous test, the infamous barrel burst out. Immediate measures were taken to make it even and the barrel was replaced with the original steel one. But it was too late and the damage had already been done. This made the army give a second thought about the AR 10 and they later went with T44 submitted by Springfield Armoury.
The Service Life of AR 10
Sullivan later sold the production licence of AR 10s to the Dutch Arms manufacturer Artillerie Inrichtingen (A.I) in the wake of a potential market taking shape in Europe. With all efforts to market the gun, orders though in small quantities started coming from all across the globe.
But the orders from European countries were eventually cancelled because it was out beaten by the indigenous rifles such as G3 in West Germany, FALs in Austria and Netherlands and BM-59 beretta in Italy. American nations & Asian nations too ordered the AR 10s but they were mostly for testing purposes. Guatemala bought 450 rifles and Sudan bought rifles worth $2.8 million for their elite forces in 1960.
The largest of deals was done with Portugal. In Portugal, AR-10s were extensively used in post-colonial anti-insurgency operations in Angola, Guinea and Mozambique. The Portuguese were interested in a new deal later on but it was crushed under the likes of Dutch government intervention and the arms embargo that followed.
Whatever measures were taken for the sales boost, little or no results followed. Sullivan soon got irritated with the snail pace production and sales numbers.
The successor Rifle AR 15
ArmaLite was successful in designing AR 15 in 1958 and they were quick to gain popularity. The new invention got better sales than the AR 10s and thus the fate of AR-10 was decided. But Armalite was still unable to market the new weapon or attract any major orders.
Sale of AR 15 design to Colt
Because ArmaLite was unable to market the AR 15, the company sold the design of AR 15 to Colt for a meagre price of $75000 and a 4.5% royalty on future sales. Colt soon reworked the design and came up with the M16, which later became the standard issue for U.S. troops in the Vietnam War.
Soon Colt produced a semi-automatic weapon for the civilian & law enforcement departments and the rest is history.
Fast Forward to Present
Even though only less than 10000 units of AR 10s were sold globally, its refined models are still used by many due to their flexibility and versatility. Because of its excellent long-range performance, its design elements were incorporated into M110 SASS, famous for its precision strike and fast follow up shots.
To Sum Up
Though the AR 10s failed to enter into military service in the US they still had buyers across the world. Because it failed to become profitable, once a proclaimed best lightweight weapon in the arsenal ended up being in the shadows of its sibling the AR 15.
Mysoutherntactical has been a dedicated store for rifles and its associated accessories serving marksmen for more than a decade. Our customer-centric approach and around the clock service helpline assistance has helped us broaden our customer base. We have an updated accessory list for the AR 10s on our site and we would appreciate it if you visit our store now.