Most American “black rifle” enthusiasts became such by exposure to the AR-15 or one of its civilian or military variants. Many shooters, early in their exposure to the AR-10, assume that the AR-10 is just a beefed-up AR-15 that can handle the 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester cartridge—when, in truth, it came first. But, just recently the AR-10 has come into its own.
ArmaLite has announced a limited run of AR-10A4s with two special upgrades. The Illinois-based company switched to a match-grade barrel and a National Match trigger to produce a heavy hitter with target-grade accuracy. This AR was a cooperative effort with RSR Group, one of the top firearms distributors in the United States.
Birth of the AR-10
The ArmaLite AR-10A4 BSNF (factory designation for AR-10A4 in black, with forward assist and National Match trigger) is destined to become a rarity due to its limited run, which isn’t anything new to those familiar with early AR-10 history. Hamstrung by a poor management decision in 1957, the AR-10 failed against the T44, the predecessor to the M14, in becoming the U.S. service rifle. To make matters worse, ArmaLite Fairchild sold off Stoner’s patent for the AR-15 to Colt’s Manufacturing for $75,000 and a small royalty in 1959. Export complications in Holland kept Artillerie Inrichtigen, to whom ArmaLite Fairchild had sold manufacturing rights for the AR-10, to building and shipping fewer than 10,000 AR-10 rifles.
What few rifles were shipped found service with Italy’s version of the Navy SEALs, as well as the Portugese and Sudanese military. But the story does not begin there.