M1A vs AR-10 Historic vs Present

The Beginnings

The M1A was designed by Elmer C. Ballance of the Springfield Armory Inc. in 1974.  The AR-10 rifle was developed by Eugene Stoner in 1955 and was manufactured by ArmaLite.

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That’s right, the AR-10 is older than the M1A, you read it right. Confused yet? The M1A is the civilianized version of the M14. The M14 was designed in 1954 and was meant to be a replacement for the M1 Garand. Eugene Stoner tried everything he could at the time to prevent this from happening with the AR-10 as the M14 competitor. The AR-10 could not pass military trials with the barrel rupturing during testing. Therefore history is created with the M14 being the replacement for the M1 Garand. This makes the AR-10 the father to the AR-15, and older than the M1A.

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There are many differences and similarities between these rifles which I will cover in another article. In short, you can think of the AR-10 as capable of being highly customized while the M1A is very limited. Mounting a scope on an AR-10 took all of 5 minutes with the right tools. On the other hand the M1A took well over 20 minutes and needed a rubber mallet according to instructions to mount properly.

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The barrel twist rate on the M1A is 1/11 which I have found is not suitable for heavier bullets above 168gr. The AR-10 has many different barrel options but most have a 1/10 twist rate which seems to do really well at distance with 178gr bullets.

Having just mounted the scope on the M1A I grabbed some 155gr rounds loaded with IMR4895 and headed to the range. IMR4895 is the proper powder with the right burn rate for the M1A and duplicates what the military used. The proper burn rate of powder is critical for safety and care to the op rod and action of the M1A. I have also found that the AR-10 performs well with the same powder which makes it easy to reload 308 for both rifles.

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After getting the M1A on paper and zeroed, it was only right to test accuracy from both.

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MOA Average To Center 0.406
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MOA Average To Center 0.644

If You Had To Chose

Which Semi Auto Platform would you chose today for your use?
The M1A and the AR-10 use the same caliber and their platforms were both designed for battle. Both these rifles are widely used and it’s quite hard to make a fair choice. The M1A is just so much fun, especially when shooting from the standing or prone position with a leather sling. Though it does jump around and recoil a bit more from the bench. The AR-10 on the other hand is softer recoiling and much more customizable.


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