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Range Report: Smith & Wesson M&P10 .308 Rifle

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For some of us the watchword is ‘sometimes you need a .308.’ The .223/5.56mm platform is a wonderful close-quarters combat system and may be accurate at extended range. However, the punch needed for some chores just isn’t there. There are shooters that hunt medium game, use a rifle for defense, or like long-range shooting and are limited by the .223 Remington cartridge. Most of us feel that jumping over the 6.8 or the .300 Blackout straight to the .308 makes sense.

The—6.8 as an example—replaces the 5.56mm, while those of us that use the .308 also have on hand a good .223 Remington. However, we like AR-15 handling and sometimes we like the commonality of handling between the .223 and .308. (And even a good .22!) A good quality AR-15-type rifle chambered for the hard-hitting .308 Winchester cartridge makes sense. The M&P10 is a great all around rifle chambered for the potent .308 Winchester cartridge.

Smith & Wesson M&P10 with handloads
The rifle was fired with a variety of handloads and factory ammunition with excellent results.

Handling was excellent as may be expected from an AR-15-type rifle. The flat top receiver accepts any practical optic. The rifle is an AR-15-type with forward assist, standard firing handle and the same magazine and slide lock release we have come to know and love with the AR-15. I replaced the stock with a Mission First Tacticalstock. This is simply personal custom fitting to the shooter. The handguard is all AR-15.

The receiver, buffer tube, and telescoping stock are familiar to AR-15 shooters around the world. You may modify the rifle as you see fit. I like it as issued, but if long-range shooting is in the cards, you may wish to add good optics and a custom grade forend. Interestingly, this isn’t really a copy of the original AR-10 at all, but rather a modified AR-15. The rear of the bolt is AR-15 size as an example, while the front of the carrier is .308 size. It works out well. There is an improved firing pin spring that may counter slam fires with the floating firing pin. I cannot confirm, but it looks good.

Slam fires are most common with poorly-sized handloads or protruding primers. Never place a cartridge in the chamber and then allow the bolt to slam shut. Always load from the magazine. The Smith & Wesson Military and Police 10 has a couple of other advantages over most any other AR-type rifle. The Smith & Wesson features an ambidextrous safety. When training, I do not consider one hand the right hand and the other the left. Rather, I shoot with the rear hand on the handle and the forward hand controlling the rifle. Right- or left-hand operation depends upon the obstacle and the firing position.

Smith & Wesson M&P10 being fired from bench
Firing from a solid bench rest, the Smith & Wesson .308 gave good results.

The barrel isn’t a heavy barrel but is adequate for the task. The barrel twist rate is 1:10 inches, which proved capable of stabilizing the loads fired with good accuracy. These loads included not only the Winchester USA 147-grain .308 but also the Winchester 150-grain JSP and the Winchester 180-grain JSP. Accuracy was good to excellent, with 2-2.5-inch groups at 100 yards with iron sights. Of course, the rifle will do better once there are proper optics mounted. There have been no failures to feed, chamber fire or eject with a variety of loads including handloads. The rifle has proven reliable with bullet weights of 147 to 180 grains including handloads using the Sierra MatchKing (SMK) in both 168- and 175-grain weight.

When firing and handling the rifle, there are several advantages over other short .308 rifles that come to mind. First, the rifle kicks less than most bolt-action rifles. This is because of the gas operated action. The action soaks up and uses recoil energy. Second, the ergonomics of the rifle are excellent for all around recoil control. The rifle is reliable. If you need the extra punch of the .308 in the AR-15 platform, this is a great rifle. If you are hunting with a .308 bolt gun and wish to try the AR-15, this is a good place to start. The Smith & Wesson rifle is a good show, with quality, accuracy and reliability.

*Article by Bob Campbell

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