The AR-10 .308 barrel is easily the most determining factor in the accuracy of a weapon. Its profile identifies the type of barrel and determines the type of handguard you will need and the purpose for which it will be used. Two important variations of the AR-10 platform are determining factors for which barrel you need: the regular AR-10 and the DPMS .308.
AR-10 Barrels: .308 Barrels for the AR Platform
Because of the military's reluctance to adopt it, during the decades following its creation, the AR-10 somewhat fell by the wayside. Many variations of the AR-10 platform were manufactured during its lifetime. Essentially, there are two versions: the AR-10 version and the DPMS version.
While both look the same from afar, they are far from the same; that includes the barrel, which is not interchangeable. A professional must tell them apart when mounted on the weapon. However, side by side, the DPMS LR .308 barrel is easily distinguished from any AR-10 barrel. If you own the DPMS type of this weapon, you will need to purchase an LR .308 barrel. There are also external differences between the two platforms; if you’re not certain which one you have, find a professional and find out for sure.
There is a barrel for every rifle. If you’re lucky enough to be a shooting club member, see what barrel others are running. Ask questions, and think about what the typical requirements you will have for your AR-10. Go ahead and get one, and try it on for a minute. You can always post your AR-10 barrel for sale if it doesn't fit your style. Keep it pristine; good used barrels don’t stick around long. Check out the great barrels that Wing Tactical has to offer. If you have any questions, please contact the good folks at Wing Tactical for all your shooting needs.
Government Profile Barrel
Government profile AR-10 barrels are popular among most shooters for several reasons. Shorter range competition, general shooting, and self-defense are among the uses where a government profile .308 barrel would be most at home. It can be identified by its diameter, which remains mostly the same from breech to muzzle. While being large enough to dissipate heat, it remains light enough not to be cumbersome. A government profile AR-10 .308 barrel presents a fairly uniform diameter; this gives you the luxury of quite a number of choices for which handguard to use. If your needs involve longer-range shots, government profile AR-10 barrels are available in match-grade quality, allowing the weapon a higher degree of accuracy. While once considered a luxury, only to be used by serious competitors, now many shooters run match-grade barrels.
Heavy Profile Barrel
Long-range hunting and long-range competition shooting are two situations where you might require a heavy barrel. These AR-10 barrels are not uniform in thickness but begin heavier at the breech, tapering to a more normal diameter at the muzzle. Normally shooters choose the fluted version of the heavy barrel to reduce the overall weight, add strength, and better dissipate heat. The added weight of a heavy barrel means that carrying distance quickly comes into the equation. Most long-range shooting is done over a bipod or shooting bench; therefore, the additional weight helps to hold the weapon steady as well as reduce the felt recoil.
416R Stainless Steel
AR-10 barrels presented in bead-blasted 416R Stainless Steel are truly a thing of beauty. The matte finish achieved on a stainless .308 barrel that has been bead-blasted is durable, functional, and quite attractive. This finish is applied only to the outside of the barrel, of course, and appears silver-gray.
Furthermore, the bead-blasted finish gives the added benefit of reducing glare. This is certainly a desired attribute if one is hunting; the sunlight glinting off a barrel could alert game to your presence. If, at some later time, a different appearance is desired, the matte surface lends itself nicely to applying many different coatings.
Stainless steel is usually the choice of high-level competition shooters for several reasons. It is considered to be a superior performer in long-range shooting competition, yielding superior accuracy. Stainless Steel has a greater resistance to heat erosion. Therefore, one can reasonably expect less barrel throat wear over time due to the improved corrosion resistance of 416R steel. When you combine the properties of 416R Stainless Steel with a heavy profile fluted barrel, the odds of long-range accuracy are increased.
Quality AR-10 barrels are machined out of 416R Stainless Steel for a reason. One of the properties of this grade of steel is its machinability, resulting in a very fine finish.
There are a number of grades of stainless, however, 416R gains its popularity by adding molybdenum. This alloy improves the microstructure of the stainless, as well as improving its corrosion resistance. Some wrongly believe that stainless steel will not rust, however, that’s not true. It is actually corrosion resistant and among other properties, 416R does help in that area. Without proper care, even 416R stainless steel will degrade and corrode, it is quite durable but not indestructible.
4150 CMVS (Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel)
You will also find high-quality AR-10 barrels made out of 4150 CMVS, which is a high carbon steel. The “50” in 4150 denotes that there is approximately 50% carbon added to the steel creating a stronger alloy. 4150 CMVS also adds an alloy called vanadium, increasing both strength and corrosion resistance. This type of steel is cheaper to manufacture, therefore, you can still have a high-quality 308 barrel at a lower cost.
When properly heat treated, 4150 CMVS yields a higher tensile strength than its stainless counterparts. This property is considered a better choice for high-volume, automatic firing. If good maintenance is observed, high-carbon steel can be just as corrosion-resistant as stainless, therefore, it could be a viable option.
AR-10 barrels made out of 4150 CMVS could be “blued” like a traditional rifle; however, quite often, they receive a finish more suitable to harsh conditions, such as QPQ Nitride. The initials QPQ refer to the process in which it receives its finish, Quench, Polish, Quench. This special process creates a special type of nitrocarburizing case hardening. The resulting barrel benefits from increased corrosion resistance and improved fatigue strength. The final quench in the QPQ process creates a layer of iron nitride that is three to four microns thick, leaving a durable black finish. Therefore, the barrel is well protected from brush or stray bump that occasionally comes with use.
Wing Tactical: Your Source for AR Barrels and More
Whether you’re building your first custom rifle or replacing an aging barrel, Wing Tactical’s inventory was curated just for you. We offer the highest quality AR barrels available in today’s small arms market, and you’re sure to find the perfect match for your rifle in our collection.
Not sure which barrel is best for your build? Reach out to our team of dedicated gunsmiths and support staff for assistance. We can’t wait to see what you build.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does barrel length matter?
In the earlier days of shooting, rifle barrels ran much longer than they do today. Some shooters still believe a 20-inch barrel is a must for proper performance. That was mainly because rifle powders required that much barrel length to achieve maximum velocity. Today, ammunition has evolved, and good results are archived in a shorter barrel. However, because of increased stability, added barrel length does come into play when the range increases to the targets.
Consequently, most shooters choose to go with a 16-inch or 20-inch barrel, which will perform nicely. If your main intention for the weapon is self-defense or quick-moving competition, then a 16-inch barrel is the way to go. The increased maneuverability is a benefit in either of these situations.
However, if longer-range shooting is the goal, moving up to an 18-inch barrel may be in order—keeping in mind that you will likely add a muzzle device that will add length to the barrel. The difference in the percentage of powder burnt and the maximum velocity attained will be minimal.
What’s the story behind the AR-10?
The AR-10 is certainly not a new kid on the block. In 1955, the US Army was in the market to replace the beloved M1 Garand as their standard-issue rifle. Eugene Stoner, who was a machinist and the chief engineer for Armalite, designed and created the original version of the AR-10 for submission. The Army considered and ultimately rejected his AR-10 in favor of the M14. In 1957, Stoner re-designed the AR-10, creating what we know as the AR-15.
Is 7.62x54 the same as .308?
While the rounds are very similar, 7.62x54 and .308 have a few distinct differences. Discharging .308 produces higher gas pressure in action, so it shouldn’t be fired in weapons chambered explicitly in 7.62. However, 7.62 rounds are theoretically safe to fire in .308-stamped weapons. But, your best course is to shoot the caliber stamped on your barrel.
Can I purchase a complete upper for AR-10?
If you want to save time on your custom build (or you don’t have the specialized tools needed to build an upper from individual parts), you can purchase a complete upper for AR-10 from Wing Tactical. We offer configurations featuring a wide variety of AR-10 barrels.
What tools do I need to install a barrel?
To install a new barrel, you’ll need:
- A wrench with a barrel nut head
- A ½ inch drive torque wrench
- A ½ inch breaker bar
- Vise grips