I’ve spent the last couple of days analyzing (and firing) both the AR-10 and AR-15 to better understand the nuances between them. Specifically, I examined and measured each individual attribute like caliber, barrel length, muzzle velocity and more.

In short, if you want to know the difference between the AR-10 and AR-15 (and which one is for you), then you’ll love this article.

Let’s get started!

What’s the difference between the AR-10 and AR-15?

The weapons are very similar. The designs are nearly identical. The mechanical work and trigger group are the same. Both have a pistol grip and an adjustable stock (on most models). Both even use similar scopes (like from my best scope for AR-10 guide).

They can easily be mistaken for each other. However, there’s one indisputable difference between them: caliber. This results in a few more differences like ballistics, barrel rifling, and magazine capacity.

Let’s break down what each of those means, starting with…

Sig Sauer 556 classic SWAT rifle: Inside look

Read Next: Sig Sauer 556 classic SWAT rifle: Inside look


To simplify this, I used the most popular calibers for each rifle. For the AR-10, I used the 7.62x51mm NATO or .308 Winchester, and for the AR-15, I used the .223 Remington or 5.65mm NATO.

What does that mean in real-world terms?

Since the AR-10 uses heavier rounds, that means it will have more stopping power than the AR-15. This makes the AR-10 a better choice for large game hunting.

Also, the AR-10 has a longer effective range than the AR-15. The presumed range for the AR-10 is between 600 and 1,000 yards, while the range for the AR-15 is a mere 300 to 500 yards.

Of course, I’m not taking into account the load specifications (barrel length, type of bullet and loading you’re using), but in terms of caliber, the AR-10 will have a longer range. That said, let’s move on to…

Barrel length

The typical AR-10 found in gun stores will usually have a barrel length of about 18 to 20 inches, while the AR-15 rocks a 16-inch barrel. Since the AR-10 has a longer barrel length, it’ll be heavier in…

What’s the difference between .308 Winchester ammo & 7.62 NATO? Not what you think

Read Next: What’s the difference between .308 Winchester ammo & 7.62 NATO? Not what you think

Weight and magazine

In general, the AR-10 roughly weighs seven pounds (without magazine and ammo) and the AR-15 is right around six pounds. Not really a big difference, but every pound counts in the field.

Also, the AR-10’s magazine capacity is 20 rounds while the AR-15’s capacity is 30 rounds. The AR-15 can also accept a 20-round magazine.

Muzzle velocity

The muzzle velocity for any rifle is dependent on:

  • Barrel length
  • Bullet weight
  • Cartridge

That said, the AR-10’s muzzle velocity is roughly 2600 to 2800 fps. On the other hand, the AR-15’s muzzle velocity is usually around 2700 to 3200 fps.

In other words, the AR-15 can put more rounds into a target faster.

Speaking of firing rounds, what about the…


Uncle Ben put it best: “With great power, comes great recoil.” Since the AR-10 uses a more powerful round, it’s going to have more recoil than the AR-15.

Now that we know the differences between the AR-10 and AR-15, let’s answer the biggest question of all…

Which AR platform should you choose?

Here’s the super simple answer: If you’re into long-range shooting or medium to big game hunting, the AR-10 is for you.

However, if you hunt small game or varmints, engage in close quarters combat or intend to use it for home defense, the AR-15 is the way to go.

With all that said…

Now it’s your turn

I’d like to hear from you. Do you use the AR-10, the AR-15, or perhaps both?

If so, what do you like about the rifles?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.


Author bio:

Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a website where he personally reviews the best scopes on the market. He’s a strong 2nd Amendment advocate and believes in science-backed gun solutions to our nation’s biggest problems.