Guns Best AR-10 Complete Upper Receivers Tyler Elsberry January 25, 2023 Join the Conversation COMPLETE AR-10 UPPERS ARE THE QUICKEST AND EASIEST METHOD OF BUILDING A LARGE FRAME AR. With the wide range of manufacturers now available to the large frame AR builder it can be confusing and intimidating trying to pick what exactly is best for you. Simply put, if you want to avoid all of that and still come out on top — a complete AR-10 upper paired with a Complete AR-10 Lower is a great method of building your next rifle. U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas V. O'Dell shoots a KAC SR-25 AR-10 with a fixed-stock. AR-10 Components Compatibility Part of the appeal of complete upper receivers is that there is very little assembly to be done, if any. The most someone will have to add to a complete upper is a bolt carrier group and charging handle if it doesn't already come with those components. From there, the upper receiver is functional and ready to be mounted on a lower and equipped with sights or an optic. The only real issue of compatibility you will encounter when working with a complete upper receiver is finding a lower receiver of the same pattern. Just like these AR-15 uppers, AR-10 uppers are easy to remove and replace as needed! This is something easily achieved by sourcing a lower made by the same manufacturer as the upper. There is no single standard for AR-10s and you must take extra care to ensure your parts and components are compatible. For more about compatibility and patterns, take a look at our Best AR-10 Lower Receiver article. Available and Common Calibers Large frame ARs have been chambered in a litany of exotic and ambitious rounds. Calibers such as the .358 Winchester, 300 WSM, and even the 500 Auto Max are some examples. Big Horn Armory's 500 Auto Max AR-10 — very cool! The most prolific AR-10 calibers on the market are undoubtedly the .308 Winchester and the 6.5 Creedmoor. A less popular, but viable round that sees use in AR-10s is the .243 Winchester, a long-standing and common hunting cartridge. The .308 Winchester has been around since the mid-20th Century. It's made a reputation for itself as a versatile round found in combat, hunting, and recreational shooting alike. The civilian round was based off the T65 series of cartridges the U.S. military experimented with in the late 1940s, the latter being 7.62x51mm. However, the .308 Winchester hit the market two years before the 7.62x51mm NATO was formally adopted. Because of the widespread use of the round throughout recent history, there is a wide variety of ammunition available that is tailored to specific uses such as long-range shooting and hunting. Not to mention, it's plentiful. Rifles chambered in .308 Winchester can shoot the 7.62x51mm NATO round, meaning that you could shoot any old, crusty Cold War-era surplus rounds you may encounter. The .308 Winchester is a versatile round that is suited for many AR-10 builds such as battle rifle analogs to long-range builds. The massive pool of ammunition also makes finding and shooting your rifle that much more pleasant. Left to right: .375 Lethal Magnum, .338 Edge, 7.62 Nato, 5.56 Nato. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a newer cartridge but has still been around for almost 15 years. Specifically designed by Hornady to be a long-range precision round and perform better at longer distances than other similar, contemporary calibers such as .308 Winchester. When compared to .308 Winchester, the 6.5 Creedmoor retains a greater accuracy potential and velocity at extended ranges, making it a superior long-range cartridge. Aside from being purpose-built to excel at long-range shooting, the 6.5 Creedmoor has also gained traction in the realm of hunting as well. And to fully round things out, the U.S. military has shown interest in the round and 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered M110 SASS and Mk20 SSR rifles are currently in inventory. The caliber has become quite popular with many rifles, both bolt-action and AR-style lining shelves at gun stores. However, the available supply of 6.5 Creedmoor is not nearly as plentiful and diverse as that of the .308 Winchester. That said, prices are normally about even between the two cartridges for similar types of ammo. Prices are a little strange right now but are quickly stabilizing. Dies and bullets to load 6.5 Creedmoor Match ammo Both the .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor are excellent calibers for an AR-10. The sheer amount of versatility that can be achieved with an AR-10 build allows one to truly tap into the potential uses of either caliber. The important thing is to figure out the specific purpose of your potential build and factor the caliber into the decision-making process. Both calibers are here to stay and aren’t going anywhere. The .308 Winchester was not phased out by the newer 6.5 Creedmoor. And the “newfangled” 6.5 Creedmoor isn't a passing fad either. You will be served well with either cartridge for your AR-10 build. And, maybe best of all, since 6.5 Creedmoor's parent case, the .30 Thompson Center, was based on the .308 Winchester – bolts, bolt carrier groups, and magazines are interchangeable. Best AR-10 Upper Receivers: Aero Precision M5E1 Enhanced 16” .308 CMV Complete Upper Receiver Aero Precision’s M5E1 upper receivers feature a unique approach to barrel nut and handguard attachment. Rather than having a traditional set of threads on the receiver, there is a one-piece handguard mounting system attached directly to the upper. Aero Precision M5E1 Enhanced 16” .308 CMV Complete Upper Receivers Aero Precision claims this design allows for a stronger handguard mounting system and allows for fast and easy handguard attachment. We’ve used rifles using Aero’s handguards for a long time and have been impressed with their durability and ease of installation. Sadly, this upper is lacking a bolt carrier group and a charging handle, two major components that can be purchased directly from Aero Precision. It also uses a 4150 CMV barrel, not a bad barrel by any means – but not as corrosion resistant or long-lasting as a 416R stainless steel barrel. The good news is that Aero Precision runs frequent sales on their site and this upper and other major components can be purchased for less than the full retail price. MSRP: $634.99 Barrel Length: 16-inches Barrel Material: 4150 Chrome-Moly Vanadium Steel Caliber: .308 Winchester Gas System Length: Mid-length Twist Rate: 1 in 10 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: A2 Style Flash Hider Includes BCG/CH: No AR-10 Pattern: DPMS Alexandria Pro-Fab Co., Inc. .243 AR-10 Upper 18” 416SS This 18-inch upper receiver is chambered in .243 Winchester, one of the most popular hunting calibers in the U.S. Alexandria Pro-Fab Co., Inc. .243 AR-10 Upper 18” 416SS This chambering will allow you to tap into a common cartridge with a wide variety of loads. A nice feature is the adjustable gas block that also comes in handy for tuning the rifle to function smoothly with whatever load you end up shooting. While this upper’s chambering is not nearly as popular as the .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor when it comes to AR-10s, it is certainly a viable choice in today’s market. It should also be noted that a bolt carrier group and charging handle are included from the factory to make life easier on you and keep more money in your pocket. MSRP: $665.00 Barrel Length: 18-inches Barrel Material: 416 Stainless-Steel Caliber: .243 Winchester Gas System Length: Mid-length Twist Rate: 1 in 10 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: A2 Style Flash Hider Includes BCG/CH: Yes AR-10 Pattern: DPMS Ballistic Advantage 22” 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle Length w/15” BA10 Atlas R-One M-LOK Handguard Complete Upper While this upper can be purchased in a base form without a muzzle device, charging handle, or bolt carrier group, any combination of these components can also be acquired with this upper in a single purchase. Ballistic Advantage 22” 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle Length w/15” BA10 Atlas R-One M-LOK Handguard Complete Upper Only standard charging handles are available as add-ons, Ballistic Advantage has a decent number of options for muzzle devices and bolt carrier groups. Ballistic Advantage is a well-known manufacturer of high-quality barrels and the 22-inch 6.5 Creedmoor barrel on this upper is no exception. This upper would be a great fit for a precision-oriented build as the long, stainless-steel barrel has great accuracy potential. If you are after a long-range setup that adheres to the DPMS-pattern, this upper is a solid option that won’t break the bank. MSRP: $754.00 (Price can be higher if you add a muzzle device, charging handle, and/or a bolt carrier group). Barrel Length: 22-inches Barrel Material: 416R Stainless-Steel Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor Gas System Length: Rifle Length Twist Rate: 1 in 8 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: None Includes BCG/CH: No AR-10 Pattern: DPMS Stag 10 Marksman 22” Complete Upper with Stainless Barrel In 6.5 CM This Stag 10 upper adheres to the Armalite-pattern and should be paired with a compatible lower, like the Stag 10 lower. You have been warned! Stag 10 Marksman 22” Complete Upper with Stainless Barrel In 6.5 CM The 22-inch barrel is a bit longer than many other options and will help take advantage of 6.5 Creedmoor’s superior long-range ballistics by giving you a small boost in muzzle velocity. If you’re looking to hit 1,000 yards, this is a strong Armalite-pattern contender. Sporting a 6.5 Creedmoor specific VG6 Gamma 65 muzzle brake, it'll certainly be loud and concussive but will also help tame recoil and assist in quick follow-up shots. The 16.5-inch M-LOK handguard provides ample space for gripping the rifle and attaching accessories such as textured rail covers or a bipod. If you are looking to build an Armalite-pattern 6.5 Creedmoor precision gas gun, this upper is certainly worth considering. MSRP: $774.99 Barrel Length: 22-inches Barrel Material: 416R Stainless-Steel Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor Gas System Length: Rifle Length Twist Rate: 1 in 8 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: VG6 Gamma 65 Includes BCG/CH: No AR-10 Pattern: Armalite Stag 10 Marksman 18” Upper with Nitride Barrel in .308 – Left-Handed The left-handed shooting community often has difficulty finding options that accommodate their needs and preferences. Stag 10 Marksman 18” Upper with Nitride Barrel in .308 – Left-Handed Rest assured lefties, Stag Arms has you covered with their left-handed Stag 10 upper receivers. The unique nature of this upper makes it a bit more proprietary than the average Armalite-pattern. This left-handed upper must be paired with a left-handed lower from Stag Arms to work properly. The included VG6 Gamma muzzle brake is going to help manage the recoil impulse of the .308 Winchester, allowing for fast, follow-up shots. If you happen to be left-handed and want to build a solid AR-10, this upper will certainly serve you well. MSRP: $799.99 Barrel Length: 18-inches Barrel Material: 416R Stainless-Steel Caliber: .308 Winchester Gas System Length: Rifle Length Twist Rate: 1 in 10 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: VG6 Gamma 762 Includes BCG/CH: No AR-10 Pattern: Armalite Palmetto State Armory Gen 3 PA10 18” Mid-Length .308 1/10 Nitride 15” M-LOK Upper – With BCG & CH Palmetto State Armory is well-known for its budget-friendly AR-15 options, so it is only natural they are in the AR-10 game as well. Palmetto State Armory Gen 3 PA10 18” Mid-Length .308 1/10 Nitride 15” M-LOK Upper – With BCG & CH This upper receiver is truly complete due to the inclusion of a bolt carrier group and charging handle. The upper is essentially ready to go out of the box and just needs an optic or some sights. It is easy to spend more than the cost of this complete upper when you are sourcing a bolt carrier group and charging handle for another less-complete upper. But one of the downsides of this lower-cost upper is that it uses a 4150 CMV barrel. That said, we’ve shot a PSA PA-65 out to a mile before, so the barrels can be very accurate. It should also be noted that PSA runs frequent sales and this upper can be acquired for much less than the full retail price. This is a one-shot, great-value option for those who want to get a fully complete AR-10 upper that won’t eat your savings up. MSRP: $879.99 Barrel Length: 18-inches Barrel Material: 4150V Chrome-Moly Steel Caliber: .308 Winchester Gas System Length: Mid-length Twist Rate: 1 in 10 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: A2 Style Flash Hider Includes BCG/CH: Yes AR-10 Pattern: DPMS Armalite AR-10 A-Series Competition 18” Complete Upper Maybe competition is your calling, and you want to run an AR-10. This complete upper from Armalite was purpose-built for competitive use! Armalite AR-10 A-Series Competition 18” Complete Upper Armalite’s tunable muzzle brake and adjustable gas block will allow you to both tame recoil impulse and tune your rifle to run a variety of loadings. The omission of a continuous 1913 rail from the top of the handguard is a weight-saving measure that is appreciable when on the clock. A great feature is the included bolt carrier group and Radian Weapons Raptor charging handle that makes this upper receiver truly complete as you won’t have to source these parts yourself. This upper comes ready to go sans an optic or sights and will be a great fit for those who want to run a large frame AR in a competition setting. MSRP: $1,365.00 Barrel Length: 18-inches Barrel Material: Stainless-Steel (nothing more is specified) Caliber: .308 Winchester Gas System Length: Rifle Length Twist Rate: 1 in 10 Thread Pitch: 5/8-24 RH Muzzle Device: Armalite Tunable Competition Muzzle Brake Includes BCG/CH: Yes AR-10 Pattern: Armalite For More AR-10 Action, Take A Look At These! Best AR-10 Lower Receivers Best AR-10 Pistols BuildsheetsL Softening Up The AR-10 Study Of A Short(Er) 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle Explore RECOILweb:Russian 44 Replica: What's Old Is New AgainThree New Stevens Shotties from Savage ArmsThe Firearms Industry Choice AwardsBrainScope - Assessing Traumatic Brain Injury in the Field NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.You want this. Trust Us.