Big Modern Sporting Rifles

The AR-15 and AR-10 may be ubiquitous but this platform can be made to handle much larger cartridges.

by Dean Meier

“Well, they weren’t going for curb appeal with these.” That was my initial thought when first handling a truly big AR-type rifle. Having handled AR-15 and AR-10 rifles in military configurations and for competitive shooting, my first exposure to truly big ARs made them seem ungainly long. However, compared to large-to-Magnum cartridges, .223/5.56mm is downright diminutive.

Due to the AR-15’s popularity, it seems everyone with a combo tool, torque wrench, vise blocks and a bench vise is offering an AR-15 for sale. There are a small number of actual AR-15 “chip makers” (manufacturers making parts from scratch) and most of these AR-15 companies are assembling components sourced elsewhere. Eugene Stoner’s masterpiece – which is the longest serving service rifle in US military history and the dominating platform for accuracy-intense Service Rifle and speed-oriented 3 Gun Rifle – is relatively straight forward to build. As gunsmiths building High Power rifles have put it, building a competitive National Match M14 is an exercise in the gunsmith’s art and building a competitive National Match AR-15 is Erector Set assembly.

Since filing the original patent in 1956, Eugene Stoner’s design has been copied in a near endless array of varieties and options, however, given that most sellers aren’t actually making their own parts, most AR-15 companies are limited to assembling other company’s components. Like Ford’s Model T, you can have any option you want as long as it’s .223/5.56mm; .308 if they offer an AR-10 variant. Most deviations from these chamberings are cartridges using .223 or .308 as the parent case. This keeps the bolt and action nearly identical with the only major change being the particular reamer used to cut chambers in the rifled blanks.

Here are some options if you’re interested in something unique – and bigger – than what is commonly available in the AR-15 and AR-10 world.

Read more in the July 2018 issue.

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