Letter Re: Switching to AR-10 Rifles

I happened to notice that in a recent posting you’d mentioned transitioning at your ranch from a FAL platform to a Stoner-designed AR-10. I imagine that a number of your readers would be interested in how this decision came about. I’ll I bet a number of other readers would be interested to hear why. – P. Z. in Arizona

JWR Replies: The decision to switch to AR-10s was based upon the following factors:

1.) Training compatibility. Since my kids all did their transitional training to high power shooting using M4geries, and some of them might end up serving in the U.S. military.

2.) Parts shortages and expense. The supply of L1A1 (and FAL) parts is definitely drying up.  So there is the question of long term sustainability for our firearms battery. A nice British L1A1 parts set (sans receiver) now sells for $500 or more. As of 2005, military rifle parts sets could no longer be imported with barrels because of a BATF dictate. Meanwhile, AR-10 parts are getting more and more common, and falling in price, since there are now more than 15 AR-10 makers in the States

3.) Magazine commonality with HK91s. Since we have a couple of HK91 clones here at the ranch, it will be nice to be able to share magazines.

4.) Weight. AR-10s weigh more than a pound less than a FAL, L1A1, BM-59, HK91, or M1A. So for the same weight as an iron-sighted L1A1, we can carry an AR-10 with an Trijicon ACOG scope.

5.) Magazine availability. I’m the sort that likes to have a dozen or more spare magazines on hand for each rifle. L1A1 magazines are now selling for more than $30 each, new in the wrapper. Metric FAL magazines cost just a bit less. But because a huge quantity of magazines was released by the German government scrap metal prices HK G3 alloy magazines now sell for less than $6 each in new or like-new condition, and can often be found for under $3 each, used. Steel ones are just a couple dollars more. The U.S. is now awash in G3 magazines, since the German government apparently sold off even their large war reserve of magazines. The folks at KeepShooting.com even have some that are still brand new in the German Ordnance 5-packs, even though they were made in the 1960s.

For anyone who is considering buying an AR-10, I strongly recommend buying one that is made by CMMG or SI Defense. Both of these companies offer AR-10 variants that use the inexpensive HK G3 magazines. (Be sure to specify the “G3 magazine compatible” lower receiver when look for a rifle) And do yourself a favor: Buy 50 spare HK magazines per rifle. That will insure a multi-generational supply of magazines for your family. I expect several other AR-10 makers to soon begin producing rifles that can accept the ubiquitous G3 magazine. Someday, you grandchildren will thank you for your foresight.