Beginners should be forgiven for not being able to tell between an AR-10 and an AR-15. After all, they share more than a few similarities. They are both semiautomatic rifles representing the pinnacle of their developer, ArmaLite, Inc. They are both designed to fire many rounds per minute, and they both make for a wide variety of configurations. No matter which one you get, you will receive a heavy-duty shooting machine capable of great power, extensive modification, and good times.

With that said, they should not be mistaken as being identical. The two ARs have different names because despite their many commonalities, they are highly distinct in many ways. Knowing these differences can really help for people who can only afford one of the two ArmaLite rifles at the moment. To help you make this decision, we will highlight the differences in this article:


  • Caliber

As AmmoToGo.com’s blog The Lodge explained, arguably the most fundamental distinction between the two ArmaLite rifles is their “caliber offerings.” The majority of AR-15 rifles are designed with two kinds of chamberings: Remington .223 and NATO 5.56mm. Meanwhile, the most common type of AR-10 chambering is known as 7.62x51 NATO.

To be clear, both types of rifles come in a wide variety of models, and many go beyond those calibers. With that said, these remain the ones you will find most often in your search. The first ones of each kind were designed for Remington .223, NATO 5.56mm, and 7.62x51 NATO, and the tradition lives on.


  • Magazine Capacity

The Lodge considers caliber so important because it can affect a few other factors. One such factor is magazine capacity, which can make or break your ability to finish off big game or hit a target. According to their research, AR-15s tend to hold 30 rounds, while AR-10s leave users at a slight disadvantage with a limit of 25.

Then again, the number of rounds that each of the two ArmaLite rifles can hold may greatly vary. AR-10s can easily overcome that perceived limit depending on the manufacturer, model, and magazine. People can easily hold 40 or more rounds before needing to reload. It all depends on the individual rifle, which you should keep in mind when looking at different samples.


  • Weight

Weight is another factor that may be affected by caliber, and a very important factor for rifle users to consider. Ammunition can be much heavier on the AR-10. A rifle of that kind may weigh as little as seven pounds on its own. However, it may be as heavy as nine pounds when fully stocked.

In contrast, AR-15s tend to weigh between six and seven-and-a-half pounds. The difference may not seem significant when you simply compare the numbers on paper like this. However, your body may feel it when you have to lug the gun while chasing big game through a forest on a hot day. It is at least worth taking into account.


  • Rate of Fire

A gun’s rate of fire refers to how many rounds you can shoot within a minute. Many rifle fans love to launch as much ammunition within as short an amount of time as possible. ArmaLite rifles both have some of the highest rates of fire among all guns — or at least, among those available to civilians.

The difference, then, is in the finer details. AR-10s are typically able of unleashing 40 rounds per minute. Meanwhile, AR-15s allow you to shoot about 45 rounds per minute. We should add that these numbers only apply to semiautomatic mode. You could fire hundreds of rounds a minute in fully automatic mode, but you would have to either join the military or commit a crime.


  • Firing Power

Muzzle velocity determines how quickly a round of ammunition exits the barrel of a gun. Rifles with a higher muzzle velocity can shoot more rounds in less time, meaning more bullets can hit a target at a faster speed. In time-sensitive situations and competitions, this factor may matter greatly.

AR-10s have a muzzle velocity of 2700 feet per second (fps). The AR-15 is even more dazzling: thanks to the presence of a direct gas impingement system, its muzzle velocity reaches a whopping 3150 fps. Of course, 2700 fps is nothing to sneeze at, and it is still impressive compared to other guns. Yet in this department, the AR-15 blows it out of the water.


  • Effective Range

Being able to fire many rounds at once is great. Being able to fire at high velocities is even better. Being able to do both and hit exactly what you want to hit is the best. While bullets could soar for thousands of yards before hitting the ground, you need to know how far you can aim and still be accurate. This is called the effective range of a weapon.

The AR-10 and the AR-15 both tend to have an effective range as high as 600 yards. When you introduce a scope to the equation, their differences stand out. The AR-15 may shine in the field of firing power, but it loses some distance in its effective range as a result. It only goes as far as 800 yards, even with a highly accurate scope. Meanwhile, the AR-10 exceeds expectations with an enhanced effective range of 1000 yards.


Choose Your Own ArmaLite Rifles

The AR-10 is superior to the AR-15 in many ways, but the latter is a formidable weapon with its own advantages over the former. No matter which of the two ArmaLite rifles you select, you will possess a truly incredible machine that is easily among the greatest on Earth. Any choice is a great one — and, for those who aspire to be professional hunters or competitive shooters, a wise investment.

Whenever you reach a decision, My Southern Tactical will be ready to supply you with top-notch supplies. Our inventory includes a wide variety of custom p-mags and dust covers for both AR-10s and AR-15s, as well as AK-47s. Check out our selection today and see what we have to offer.