Full Auto Armalite AR-10

Jerry Miculek gets to play with all the cool toys. He goes to  the Institute of Military Technology in Florida. Reed Knight brings out a rare Armalite AR-10 made in 1957. It only weighs about 6 lbs and the rate of fire is really impressive.

FA AR10 b

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • Julio

    A really interesting piece, and a great video – especially the slow-motion section. Thanks for sending that our way.

  • Alex

    Just as a curiosity, this guns actually saw service in the hands of portuguese paratrooper units during the early stages of the colonial wars in the 60’s, before being replaced by the H&K G3 with retractable stocks. They were acquired in Holland by the portuguese government.

    Greetings from Portugal

  • iksnilol

    Looks interesting. Made me check up on the Armalie guns… Now I am curious about the AR-16, essentially an AR-18 chambered in .308.

    • Joshua

      It never really went anywhere(except the L85). Eugene Stoner designed the AR-16 after his patents for his AR-10 were sold to Colt by the then ARMALITE(Fairchild, not the Armalite of today).

      It was really disgned for countries who didn’t have the modern CNC machines used on the AR-10, and he had to design a new operating system as well. he basically moved the inter piston on the AR-10 to the gas block, the AR-16 uses a stationary piston with a gas cylinder that moves rearward and pushes the op rod into the carrier, nearly identical to how the AR-10 had a stationary piston(bolt) and a movable gas cylinder(carrier), the gas cylinder on the AR-16 also has 2 exhaust ports(identical to the AR-10 carrier) and gas rings on the stationary piston.

      The AR-18, like the AR-15 was a scaled down version of its .308 brother done by James Sullivan.

      • The AR-18 was Art Miller’s baby, not Jim Sullivan.

        • iksnilol

          Why does gunmaking/inventing remind me of soap operas?

      • Esh325

        I think the AR-18 actually went on to influence many rifle designs. Howa rifles,G36,ACR,etc. I think the only reason why the AR-18 didn’t succeed was because of circumstance rather than any technical failures of its own.

      • n0truscotsman

        So basically the AR16 has a similar gas system as its AR18 cousin? short stroke?

        I haven’t even held or seen one of them rare ducks, so im curious

        • Joshua

          Same system, it’s just a scaled down version.

  • Esh325

    I remember I use to have one of the rare lines of “reproductions” Armalite made of the original AR-10. It had the charging handle under the sight like the original, but I was disappointed because it didn’t have anywhere near the 6 lb weight of the original AR-10, but closer to 9 or 10 lbs. I imagine the full auto performance of the 6 lb AR-10 was better than the M14, but it probably still was uncontrollable in fully automatic, considering the fact that the military wasn’t even fully satisfied with the performance of the M16 in full auto. But I imagine had the military adopted the AR-10 over the M14, it’s very possible we would have never seen the M16 or the .223 caliber.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      It doesn’t look to have much recoil when Miculek is firing it. You can only imagine what Vietnam would look like with these instead of the M16.

      • guest

        Pretty much anything in Jerry Miculek’s hands looks like it has light recoil! 🙂

        • Rusty Shackleford

          True, Jerry could probably put all 10 rounds on target in 1.8 seconds from a M107A1.

  • Lance

    Have fun controlling one on full auto. Like the M-14 and FAL shooting a .308 rifle on full auto is not fun or controllable.

    • st4

      Didn’t watch the video.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        It looks about as “uncontrollable in FA” as a 10/22.

    • Sean

      Of course it is fun.Just not easy or practical. Like all fun things should be.

    • Bob

      “Not fun or controllable,” describes your typical posts even more so…

  • Sean

    You only need jerry’s level of skill to control it. Which limits it to about 2 people on Earth.

    • big daddy

      I have seen many .308/7.62 NATO rifles fired on full auto being controllable. It does take skill and experience. It was said that being able to fire full auto takes about 1000 rounds to learn. I can tell you it does take some skill to fire a M60. Full auto is good for one thing really, putting a lot of lead into one area quickly. The tactical need for that is necessary in infantry/mech combat. Plus it’s a lot of fun!!! In small infantry units like a squad having a pair of guys shooting full auto if you do not have a GPMG/SAW comes in handy, each shooting small bursts as not to overheat the guns. Full auto is used for a tactical situation and a rifle like that should be supported by the shooter not fired standing.

  • big daddy

    I want one……..guess a Bushmaster XM-10 is the next best thing.

  • n0truscotsman

    The AR10 is a sexy, space-age rifle that deserved to be the US military’s next step to replace the M1 Garand. Its deperessing that we not only dropped the AR10 and US-produced FAL (and i dont care what anyone says, the competition was rigged in favor of walnut and M1 Garand-ness), but that we adopted the M14 over both, which was a conceptual step backwards in many ways. Its poetic justice that the design would come back to haunt the military for good.

    6 lbs…that is amazing. New AR10s certainly aren’t accomplishing that feat, ill tell you that.

    Its amazing that the AR10 never became popular. It had all of the features of a 1950s battle rifle (and modern carbine ill add), was light weight, and conceptually in superior in every way. It is the epitome of good ‘ol goddamned american ingenuity and elegant engineering.

    • sauerquint

      He really needs to put that on a scale. It’s not 6 pounds, it never was.

      • n0truscotsman

        its a barely under 7 when citing the historical documents but that is without the magazine and unloaded. Its probably 7-8 lbs in its “proper” state give or take.

        Which was significant then.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I totally agree. Although, I don’t know why you contradict yourself when you replied to a similar sentiment I had on the “Army wants a new pistol” blog when you said it was much better to have a 5.56 rifle and carry more rounds than a 7.62NATO rifle with fewer rounds, and 9mm over .45 for the same reason. Are you just feeling combative or something?

      • n0truscotsman

        Where is the contradiction, rusty?

        I said the AR10 was a step above its peers, the FAL and M14.

        Nowhere did I demerit the adoption of the M16 in 5.56 in any way whatsoever. Are you deliberately misunderstanding me or something?

        • Rusty Shackleford

          So, in your mind, it makes sense to buy a new battle rifle that gets replaced in a few short years buy a smaller caliber version?

  • snmp

    Link about the Dutch AR10 http://www.ar10.nl/

  • claymore

    I bet Reed was not to pleased with the way Jerry casually dropped that empty, irreplaceable, very expensive mag on the deck after firing.

  • Fred Johnson

    Great blog post!

  • snmp
    • Steve_7

      Watching those videos you realize that Mr Miculek is rather a good shot…

  • HKGuns

    Great article. Thanks for posting it…..

  • Pat Boyle

    In 1958 when this gun was made I was issued my first M-1 in high school. I still have 30-06 rifle under my bed for home defense, so I’m sympathetic to the caliber. But this is a curiosity – a lesson in the ‘road not taken’.

    This strikes me as an alternative to a BAR not an M-1. The full automatic selection in combat would be useful for suppressive fire. But in modern small unit tactics that is implemented with one full auto weapon per squad not one in the hands of every single rifleman. Even if the rifle is light the ammo isn’t.

    This gun is very light and the BAR was very heavy but otherwise they are similar as magazine fed automatic weapons. The magazine seems to last only a few seconds in either when on full auto. It’s not clear if it is advantageous for such a weapon to be light. As a squad weapon it would normally be used prone, not standing as shown in the video. I don’t think any army in the world today uses a full size .308 or 30-06 round in a weapon intended to be fired like a sub machine gun.

    There were tests of lethality by caliber done by the US Army in the thirties. They shot pigs. The optimum caliber was found to be around .25. Revolutionary War bullets were .75 diameter balls. Civil War Minnie Balls were around .50 or .58. And by WWI the battle rifle caliber used by all the combatants was down to around .30. That was still too big.

    People don’t have to be shot with a full power .30 bullet. They can be killed or wounded with a smaller round quite effectively. By 1958 this rifle was already shooting an over large ‘old fashion’ round. The Nazis had introduced the ‘assault rifle’ using an ‘intermediate’ round.

    Some commenters take the video as proof that a .30 chambered selective fire weapon can be controlled on full auto. They must never have actually been in the Army. The Army was shopping around for a standard rifle that almost all soldiers could use. Controlling that gun looks beyond the ability of most of the guys who went through Basic with me.

    So I’m not surprised that this particular gun with this size round went nowhere. It’s an example of good technology misapplied. But just reduce the size of the round and it became a world beater.

  • Cymond

    Paging Alex C!
    There’s a per-86 dealer sample AR-10 on Gunbroker. It’s only available to a SOT holder, but no demonstration-request from law enforcement is necessary. Item #431865136.