Searching for Seven Six Two
Bradley Arms Armalite AR10 (Single shot) Mini-Review
By Farhat Jah
As a competitive and recreational shooter, I had been looking for a reliable and accurate 7.62mm magazine loading rifle for some time. Something that allowed me to shoot out to 1000 yards without issue, but also light enough to be able to tote around in a dynamic competition setting.
In Great Britain, the laws do not permit civilians to own semi automatic rifles in any calibre larger than .22 Rimfire. Therefore all of oursporting versions of these rifles are single shot- straight pull manual loading rifles. There are still a few options available; Southern Gun Company make a heavy barrel 7.62mm straight pull, and LMT offer their LMT in 16 and 18 inch versions. There is also the heavier barrelled Revolt. All of these retail at around £3000-4000. Annoyingly, none of the rifles were what I wanted. They were either too heavy or too short. The LMT was the closest, but the 18 inch barrel was just a touch short for my needs.
Instead, I placed an accuracy international AICS stock on my 20 inch barrel R700. This was supremely accurate but still a bit too heavy. I resigned myself to my lot and wrote off any ideas of having a 7.62mm AR style rifle. Everything changed when I dropped in on Bradley Arms to buy ammunition. Mark Bradley had an old Ar10 in 6mm in his gun safe. At the time it just looked like a barrel and action. I asked what it was and was told “nothing”. After some time and some grumbling and looking, Mark rang me and asked if I was serious about an AR10. When I said yes, he suggested building one for a reasonable price. I readily agreed and put in for the relevant variation (permission) from the Police. Mark started his build. He asked me what I wanted, I chose a 20 inch barrel 1;11 twist, an A2 stock and a standard picatinny handguard. Mark was dubious but he got on with it. Within 3 weeks he had finished and I collected the rifle. Now, was the time to test it.
A short History of the AR10
The Armalite AR10 was designed by Eugene Stoner in the 1950s as a replacement for the M1 Garand; the US military, however, in their wisdom opted for the M14 and despite some sales to the Dutch and Portuguese the AR10 idea fell to the wayside. When the M14 was replaced it was replaced by the M16 or full automatic version of the AR15. After some initial difficulties this rifle became a global standard.
A form of the AR10 was resurrected when the need for a designated marksman’s rifle was created by the gulf war. Using various names and built by various countries, the rifles were in effect AR10s.
It was the 2nd Afghan war which led to the British Army's need for a rifle with a longer reach than the 5.56mm SA80 (there were many who argued that the need never went away). The British purchased the L129a1 from Lewis Machine and Tool. This was the 16-18 inch barrel AR style rifle in 7.62 NATO mentioned in the first paragraph.
Every NATO country, except Turkey, chose to adopt the 5.56mm cartridge. The Turks steadfastly stuck to their Locally produced G3 Automatic rifles. They have chosen to continue the 7.62 calibre when replacing said G3s.with the MPT- (Milli Piyade Tufegi- National Infantry rifle) . The MPT bears more than a passing resemblance to the AR10 platform.
There are many older former British Soldiers and Marines, who wonder why the 7.62mm L1a1 SLR was dropped in favour of the SA80 (5.56mm) just to go back to 7.62mm twenty years later. The question has to be asked if Eugene Stoner was 50 years ahead of his time when he designed the AR10.
Before the AR10 I had to make do with a Remington 700 with a 20 inch Barrel.
Bradley Arms AR10 Build Quality and Handling
The first thing I noticed about the AR10 was its weight. It came in at about 4kg. I had selected an A2 butt stock and a Sampson 4 way picatinny hand guard. The receiver was a standard Armalite "single shot" version and the barrel was a 1:11 twist Border-Archer.
All in all the rifle seemed solid. I took the rifle straight out and used it in a CSR competition. The first issue was the fact that the buffer spring was not strong enough. Mark replaced this immediately.
The next issue, which appeared, was that the bottom rail of the Sampson hand guard was detachable. This and the entire hand guard kept detaching. Less than impressed with Sampson, Mark solved the first problem, and Fultons of Bisley engineered a solution to the second with a simple allen bolt. I was singularly unimpressed with the Sampson product, but finding AR10 parts in the UK is not easy, I was stuck with it.
Mark was quite sanguine about the teething issues "perhaps you should have tested it before using it in a national competition” he questioned wisely.
But my enthusiasm was too great and I carried on using it and using it and using it and that extensive use led to this review.
As soon as the hand guard issue was solved, the rifle became a solid lump. Nothing shook or rattled on it, and this was despite my often less than kind treatment of it.
Accessories and initial modifications
I asked for a muzzle brake which Mark Bradley made and fitted. This mitigated the recoil on the 20 inch barrel.
The Armalite AR10 uses only unique magazines for the AR10. They seem to be a modified M14 magazine. I was supplied with one 20 round magazine and a couple of 10 round mags. I immediately bought two more 15 round magazines off brownells website.
Finally, I changed out the A2 stock for a magpul UBR stock. This was a massive improvement, the UBR stock allowed me to shoot standing and prone very easily.
Ammunition feed and accuracy
The main issue with 7.62 straight pull rifles is cycling. The rifle is designed for blowback gas recycling of the bolt. With the straight pull variants the firer hauls on the handle and the 7.62 case is extracted and ejected. The higher pressure of 7.62 as opposed to 5.56 means that some cases can be an absolute pig to eject after firing. The AR10 uses the same rotating bolt which assists in the extraction and ejection of round.
Every rifle tends to like a specific ammunition. So I tested the BA-AR10 with multiple types of ammunition. Sadly FN was one of the pigs, and stuck on a regular basis. But I found that all forms of GGG ammunition cycled perfectly. This included 147grain military surplus and 155 NRA match and 175 Match. In addition Sellier and Bellot 147 grain .308 ammunition worked well.
In terms of accuracy, the BA-AR10 shoots one MOA at 100 yards with GGG Sierra match King 175grain ammunition. The 20 inch barrel was excellent at close ranges, but I wanted to see how it performed. At Bisley with a vortex scope, it was accurate enough at 1000 yards on the stickledown range. At WMS firearms training I stretched the BA-AR10’s legs out as far as it would go. It held its accuracy to shoot a metal Figure 11 target out to 1100 yards. (1000m). Beyond that the spread was less than ideal. It was only at Richard Utting’s range in the North of England, that I was able to take a scientific look at the rifle. Here, using a chronograph on the 175 grain ammunition I trued the rifle exactly to its Schmidt and Bender PM1 (2.5-10) scope, using Strelok pro. The results and the consistency were impressive.
The BA-AR10 is not merely a competitive rifle, it is an all rounder. You can attach it to a bi-pod and shoot accurately to 1100 yards with it, or you can be running through the mud, lying in a puddle and shooting at tiny targets that appear for seconds.
The rifle is extremely accurate, well balanced and robust. The only downfall being that ammunition selection has to be done carefully.
The AR15 platform is tried and tested, but the 5.56 cartridge is sometimes found lacking.