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I’ve deployed with an M16 and an M4. When push came to shove, the AR-15 platform got it done. And yet the AR-15 never felt like a real battle rifle. It felt like the closest thing to a battle rifle that the military could get an 18-year-old girl right out of high school to shoulder and shoot. But the AR-10? The AR-10 feels like the real thing . . .

The core of the Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport Optics Ready rifle: the barrel and receiver set.

The barrel is a 16-inch 4140 steel tube with a light weight contour, finished with “all the rage at the rage” 5R rifling. More and more popular rifles are now being mass produced with the cut prefered by many competition shooters; the same land and groove configuration of the US Army M24 sniper weapons system.

The touted benefits of 5R rifling: superior accuracy and longevity, as well as more consistency between long strings. So far, I haven’t been able to identify any significant difference in these mass-produced barrels with the 5R cut, as opposed to more traditional rifling, but time will tell.

Most shooters will find the M&P10 Sport Optic-Ready rifle’s lower receiver a significant improvement on other manufacturers’ AR-10 offerings at the same price.

The Smith’s dimensions are nothing out of the ordinary, but the completely ambidextrous controls are. Magazine release, bolt catch/release and safety are all mirrored on both the right and left of the rifle. The rifle’s magazine well is textured for a more secure grip if, for some reason, using your support hand on the hand guard just doesn’t work for you.

The upper receiver provides nothing out of the ordinary, with the usual forward assist and a solid rail on top of the gun. I was disappointed with the standard charging handle. It’s small and stiffer than normal. I like a “big boy” latch on an AR-15 and it’s a necessity on an AR-10, where the bolt’s a little harder to get moving backwards.

The M&P10 Sport comes with an old school round hand guard. It’s the kind that came on my issued M16 in basic training. I like that grip now and I always have. It feels good in my hand from standing, the prone or from the kneel.

Of course, there are no rail sections on the rifle and there won’t be. If you want those, you’re going to have to swap out those hand guards — which is easy enough to do. S&W has placed a rail section on top of the gas block on the mid-length gas system. You can mount a front sight to the rifle for either back up irons or, if you want to keep it real, go without glass entirely.

These rifles come in standard black, but some finishes are better than others. This is one of the better ones. Armorite is the S&W proprietary nitride finish, and they’ve covered the receiver as well as the barrel inside and out. It looks good with the right amount of deep blackness to it with just a touch of gloss. It’s the classic scary black rifle.

I made a lot of empty brass for this review by sending a full 500 rounds down range. About 200 of those were my own reloads, launching a 150gr soft point round at 2,775 fps. That’s more than enough for any deer out past 500 yards. The rest were commercial rounds of multiple weights and varieties. The rifle never had any issues with any of the rounds, save one.

The Hornady 125 grain SST Custom Reduced Recoil failed to cycle every time. That’s not surprising; I can’t ding the direct impingement rifle for failing to reliably run such a light load. For every other rounds, including FMJs from Fiocchi, soft points from Federal, and numerous types from Hornady, everything cycled just fine.

The magazines never failed to load or drop, and the bolt never failed to run fully forward into battery when I released the catch on a new magazine. The forward assist was there, but unnecessary.

As for accuracy, the M&P10 prints tight groups across a wide range of ammunition. The best-shooting five-round group averaged right at one inch using the Federal Premium 168gr Sierra Match King round from a rest at 100 yards. I’m not surprised as the 168gr SMK has been a standard for decades, and for good reason.

Just behind that were both the Hornady 125grain SST Custom Reduced Recoil load, and the Federal Gold Medal 185 grain Juggernaut round, both printing an average of 1.1 inch for four five round groups. The Federal 150 grain Non Typical round printed the widest five round average, at 1.4 inch.

That accuracy sure isn’t courtesy of the rifle’s “mil-spec” trigger. Because it’s horrible. It’s squishy, with tons of creep. It does break, eventually, somewhere. Of course, it’s an AR, so you can replace it easily, and I’m betting over time most folks will. (This the trigger that has spawned dozens of aftermarket companies.)

Also meant to be replaced: the pistol grip and butt stock. The grip is the standard one-finger notch hollow plastic variety. The stock is the common six position collapsible stock every AR shooter knows, and has come to replace.

Out on the range, I was smitten with the rifle. Then again, I’m smitten with just about every AR-10. Heck, the only battle rifle I like more than the AR-10 is the PTR 91. Sure, I’d change the Smith’s furniture and the trigger, at some point. But right now, it shoots very well. It feels good from the shoulder, with the shorter barrel and hand guard making for quick and sure target transitions.

S&W has produced a relatively inexpensive AR-10 that’s made to be modified. It’s finished well with a better than average barrel and a great receiver set. As is, it’s more than good enough to shoot, hunt or protect for about a grand. Not bad at all.


Model: M&P®10 SPORT™ Optics Ready
Caliber: .308 WIN/7.62 x 51
Stock: 6-Position Telescopic
Grip: Synthetic
Weight: 128.0 oz / 3,628.7g
Barrel Material: 4140 Steel
Barrel Twist: 1 in 10″ – 5R Rifling
Receiver: Forged 7075 Aluminum Abidextrous
MSRP: $1,049

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Finish * * * *
It’s standard black rifle, but the black is a better black than most other rifle’s blacks.

Customization * * * * *
It’s an AR-10. No, still not quite as easy to replace everything as an AR-15, but close. By already shipping with an ambi lower receiver, S&W has given the customer upgraded guts, and leaves the simple bolt-on’s to the shooter.

Reliability * * * * 1/2
It cycles almost everything. A lighter load is still in spec, but there’s no way you should expect an AR to cycle everything from 125gr to 180gr loads without an adjustable gas block. Which is exactly what would have given this five stars.

Accuracy * * * *
1MOA and just above with multiple rounds is darn good shooting, but nothing broke the 1” mark.

Overall * * * *
This is three-star furniture with a four-star barrel on a five-star receiver. A great value firearm.

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  1. An MSRP north of 1000? My PSA AR10 shoots as well and comes with significantly nicer furniture for less than 700. I guess suckers really do buy ARs instead of making them.

    • I just looked it up on Gallery of Guns – in my locale they are selling for around $850; a pretty great deal, when you consider that was the going price for AR15s just a few years ago (not counting the Post-Sandy-Hook panic).

      I think I prefer my DPMS Recon, which cost a bit more, but S&W does make a very serviceable AR platform rifle. I have the 5.56 MOE version, and it’s a great carbine.

      In theory, the 5R rifling is supposed to deform bullets less, providing for better accuracy. I can’t really confirm that, but the two Remy bolt guns I own in .308 have 5R barrels, and will shoot bugholes at 200 yards, and no issues in shooting head shots on an IPSC target at 600 yards. The 5R rifling does seem to clean very quickly and easily.

      • I’ve been reading some conflicting info that the barrels are 5R rifling. S&W doesn’t even mention it on their site. I’m also finding a mixed info on rifling of it being 1-7 to 1-9. I also don’t see them being ambidextrous.
        Asking has given me mixed answers depending on whom answers the question. If they don’t know most will just make up an answer for fear of not knowing the answer. That’s been my experience.

        • I own one of these rifles, and S&W clearly states on their website that all of their 308 rifles are 1/10 twist, 5r rifling, with fully ambidextrous controls. There are only 4 or 5 versions of this rifle available anyways, and they are all basically the same save for barrel length and contour, the magazine it ships with, and camo or not.

    • I went the opposite way. I haven’t added up the receipts, but I’m going to estimate my hand built LR308 at around $3k. Aero Precision upper, Krieger 20″ barrel, adjustable gas block, JP BCG and bolt, Geissele SSA-E trigger, MagPul LRS stock, Ergo pistol grip, Millett LRS-1 optic, handful of pmags… Heavy, and worth every penny.

    • This sells for 850….And is capable of better grouping than that, which I have done personally with my M0308 Nikon and a solid rest, and competition experience. For the money it’s hands down the shit. Does your barrel have a melonite finish in 5R made by an excellent company?? Is your receiver 7075 forged? is your control group fully ambi? Didnt think so.

  2. Is it possible to make a hand load that is optimized for the shorter barrel that even exceeds Mr. Taylor’s velocities? If the relatively tiny brass casing of .300 ACC Blackout can push a .30 caliber, 125 grain bullet out of a 9-inch barrel at 2300 fps, it seems like someone should be able to develop a handload that pushes a .30 caliber, 150 grain bullet out of a 16-inch barrel at 2,830 fps.

    I ask because I seriously want one of these AR-10s and I do not want to give up any muzzle velocity if possible.

    Note: I am thinking of full-house .44 Magnum handgun loads with 240 grain bullets that launch from a 16-inch barrel at something like 1,700 fps — it seems like a substantially lighter bullet coming out of a brass casing with substantially more powder capacity should be able to achieve MUCH higher velocities.

    Full disclosure: I am not a reloader and my comments are all based on intuition. I openly admit that my intuition could be WAY off base.

  3. If only Smith and Wesson had made this with an 18 or 20 inch barrel!

    And I really wish they would offer it in .243 Winchester!!!!!

    • They make an 18″ version and have for years. It’s also quite a bit more money. About $250 more with the current pricing I found online. It appears to be the same rifle aside from the barrel length and flash hider (by the specs/features).

      The shorter 16″ model JWT reviewed is the new one.

      Note there are some odd quirks with the M&P10. The charging handle is a non-standard size. You’re better off just replacing the latch with an extended one. A AR-15 grip with a “beaver tail” will have a gap above the “beaver tail” when installed on the M&P10 because the lower receiver has a different shape. You have to buy one without a “beaver tail” or one with a special, high “tail” / backstrap like the Magpul MIAD 1.1 Type 2.

      It uses an AR-15 trigger, but you have to remove the right side bolt catch to install the hammer.

      • You can replace the charging handle with any dpms style 308, just have to lightly sand and bore the gas key hole. Works perfect in mine

        • And sand off the bump on the top of the new charging handle if it comes with one. Look it up, easily done, took me about 10 minutes

    • Sure, if you like what those rifles come with. This rifle is $850 at most shops like buds. then you get to customize the way you want.

  4. I’d forgotten about the people with PSA guns who are like, X-nuumber of dollars for THAT? Are you kidding me? I got a PSA for this much less! It has these specs! It has these pieces of furniture on it! It costs this much after I put a decent scope on it! etc.

    • Haha, I agree, fucking hilarious, all these range fags wanting a rifle with all their expensive full 360 780 rail systems and crap they dont need to make the rifle weigh as much as a Cummins diesel, and they probably cant shoot worth a damn in the first place. This thing will shoot a knat’s ass off over and over if you know how to shot, and is very high quality for not a lot of money, and light to boot. I built mine to weigh about 7.5 lbs unloaded no scope and i wouldnt trade it for another. THANK YOU SMITH & WESSON for making a reasonably priced, fully ambi lightweight 308!!!!! If you want a heavy overpriced POS that wont shoot any better than this then by all means do it! Just dont smash talk the efforts by manufacturers to build weapons for the masses that are quality.

  5. If I have to hike a dozen miles or more with a thousand rounds or more, I will take an AR-15 in 5.56mm above an AR-10; otherwise, I would take an AR-10 over an AR-15 easily. Even in my younger, physically fit days of having to lug around an M-60, weight on a long hike was important.

    With that being said, and the fact that I can now use a cart to move my ammo from the car to the range, I am okay with carrying a thousand rounds of 7.62mm and an AR-10. I can even carry the brass off the range too. 🙂

    • I have thought about exactly what you described.

      Here is the problem as I see it:
      5.56 x 45 mm is far easier to carry than 7.62 x 51 mm when you are carrying a LOT of ammunition a long distance on your person. Unfortunately, that light load traditionally means 55 grain full metal jacket bullets which can often be poor man stoppers even at close range and downright awful at 300+ yards.

      This has me wondering if the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge loaded with 73 grain soft-point bullets would be enough of an improvement in man stopping ability (at all ranges) such that the added weight of 7.62 x 51 mm would not be worth it.

      Along the same lines, I wonder if .243 Winchester (with 100 grain soft-point bullets) is the answer to vastly improved man stopping ability at all ranges without increasing weight too much. Those .243 Winchester brass casings would weigh ever so slightly less than 7.62 x 51 casings and the bullets would of course be 2/3 the weight of 150 grain 7.62 mm bullets.

    • The 18″ S&W M&P10 is one of the lighter out of the box .308 AR platform rifles out there in the lower end of the market at 123.2oz. Oddly enough, the 16″ S&W M&P10 is heavier at 128.0oz.

  6. I have a DPMS LR308 and I’m very happy with it. I paid 1000 for it 9 years ago. I agree with replacing the furniture and trigger although the DPMS trigger us livable.
    If you haven’t tried a .30 AR yet you are missing a lot. This is what Stoner had in mind when he designed it.

    I might try those reduced recoil .308 rounds in my bolt gun, no concerns about cycling.

    • FINALLY!!! Someone brings up the LR-308… The M&P-10 rifle is an LR-308 pattern rifle and not an AR-10 pattern rifle. The differences can be minor but you cannot swap individual bolt components, gas tubes and barrels, reciever halves, or mags between the two and expect it to function reliably. Do your homework and, if you own a “.308 version” of an AR, know what you have and know what it isn’t…. trust me, it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

    • Not necessarily. First, the upper is 1″ longer than a standard AR-15 upper. Second, the eye-relief of the scope and the position of the collapsible stock determines where the optic should sit.

      • Absolutely. Unless the mount is angled for long range shooting, flat is flat. But some mounts like quick release ones can interfere with rifle controls or case ejection.


    It’s been a pleasure to hear from every single one of you, everyone. Thank you!

    This was great: smart people who ask intelligent questions politely and get answers from the same kind of people. The comments and replies were helpful and made everybody smarter. Yeah, me too….
    The posters bothered to speak English, and to spell. I even believe they have real jobs.

    Hey TTAG staff…When anyone asks you what a Comments section should be, show ’em this one.

  8. I should have complimented Mr. Taylor as well. I apologize. Excellent writing, Mr. Taylor, absolutely excellent, not just technically, but with several nice flourishes which made the article interesting and fun.

    • There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to a quality optic. The smart thing to do is buy the best glass you can afford, even if it means scrimping on the rifle. Upgrade the rifle later and move the glass over to it.

  9. Have recently embarked on .308 mission. Three bbls., 2 16″ and an 18″.
    Going DPMS low profile.
    May go 6.5 Creedmore on one of the lowers.
    All billet. Bionic bolts 50k round rated, MOE ACS-L stock on 16’s, A-2 Duty for the 18’s.
    Have yet to buy the Creedmore bbl.
    Black Hole has polyrifling, rounded lands, no 90 degree angled cuts, better bullet seal, less bullet deformation, a superior bbl. imo, but pricey compared to current CNC production bbls., that still shoot sub MOA.
    Most low end bbls can outshoot most shooters.
    I have one ADK skeletonized heavy hammer springed single stage @ 3.1 pounds on the glass rod break.
    Bolts QPQ, carriers NiB, all 9310 bolts.
    I can build eye candy straight fluted 416R @ $99.99, mlok or keymod free floating, 4150 steel with steel gas blocks if not s.s.
    Hoag over molded’s grips, on backorder.
    QPQ LPK.
    My only non-necessary consideration, that charging handle that’s lazered PULL TO START.
    Normally, I eschew mousekateer club engravings, but, what the heck.

  10. I finally got to the .308’s to fulfill my SHTF home defense arsenal. A Troy PAR .308 in pump action, and a Browning AB3 Stalker .308 in bolt action. I had a furious quandary for semi auto. It took me three months to decide. First M1A was off my list. Too expensive. DSA FNL vs. PTR 91 vs. Smith & Wesson M&P 10. I really like the first two as far a cool factor, but here in the future the magazines are expensive. They’re not cheap anymore like in 2016-17. Then I read your article days after I put M&P 10 on layaway. Why do you like the PTR 91 as you stated in your review? As far as target shooting? Would you prefer to have deployed with it in hand?

  11. Gear up as your favorite Delsin Rowe Vest. Slim Fit Leather Jackets brings this iconic jacket from animation to reality, especially for all the fans of this video game. Delsin Rowe is the main protagonist and playable character, a young Native-American man who later realizes he’s a Conduit with special powers.

  12. If you want to complain about the rifle, don’t buy it. The “you can build it for less money” is an argument for those that want to build their own rifle from the beginning. (Hint: Everyone knows this, and the people that are reading this don’t care).

    I just ordered one and am not looking to cobble up a “frankenrifle”. All I want to do is put a flip-up peep sight on the darned thing, sight it in and shoot the daylights out of it.


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