You know what separates Man from the lower animals? Power tools, baby. Big, honkin' powertools. If there is one thing the 7.62x51 has, it's plenty of power and for the AR fan, the M&P-10 is just the tool to harness and deliver that power!
S&W's big AR comes in a hard plastic black case that is more durable than a cardboard box but not by much. Still, it works well transporting the rifle to and from the range. Along with the rifle was the usual paperwork, chamber flag and weapon lock.
S&W lists its weight at 7.7 lbs, the barrel at 18" barrel and length is 40.9 inches long with the stock extended and 37.6 collapsed. My PSA carbine with a 16" barrel is about 36.5 inches extended and roughly 32.75 inches collapsed. That makes the M&P-10 a good 5 inches longer than the smaller AR! (I have not weighed my 5.56 carbine, but it does feel lighter than the M&P-10.)
This version of the M&P-10 came with M4 style furniture. The buttstock has a thin, plastic buttplate and with the milder recoil of the 5.56, it’s not a problem. With the heavier recoil of the 7.62x51 however, it gouges into the flesh painfully and gets worse with each shot. The finger groove of the A2 grip is uncomfortable and I've never liked the feel of the round handguards.
I replaced it all with full Magpul regalia and the M4 furniture has been relegated to the parts bin. The MOE handguard will eventually be replace with a carbon fiber free float tube.
Some shooters wonder if the barrel of the S&W will be able to handle the heat of the 7.62x51. S&W chose 4140 steel, profiling it to be thicker under the handguards and much thinner forward of the gas block and gave it a melonite coating. This should prove to be a very durable combination. 5R rifling with a 1:10 twist is used.
Receivers are forged from 7075 aluminum alloy which is stronger and more durable than billet receivers, especially those cut from 6 series alloy. Armalite forges their 308 receivers from 7175 alloy and their new design uses PMags. However, the Armalite receivers are currently as rare as hen’s teeth and aren’t ambidextrous.
The M&P-10 comes with a standard AR fire control group. It’s smooth and predictable for it's type, but the more I shoot it, the more I wish it had a Geissele. Before replacing it, I’m going to take it out, grease it up and give it another go. If my experience with the standard trigger in my carbine is anything to go by, I’ll be springing for a G trigger when the budget allows.
S&W claims the rifle weighs 7.7 lbs. Configured as below, this one showed 8.5 lbs on the scales empty and 10 lbs with a fully loaded 20 round PMag. A single, fully loaded Pmag with 20 rounds of 308 weighs a hefty pound and a half! The rifle wasn't weighed as it came from the factory, nor was it weighed after changing the handguard
BCG is, of course larger than what’s used in a standard AR and a brief inspection showed the gas key is staked. The receiver extension is longer to accommodate the greater length and travel of the BCG which results in a longer Length of pull and there is a larger gap between the stock and the RE plate when fully collapsed. With my longer arms, I like the extra LOP and I don't have to fully extend the stock.
The rifle wasn't shot for groups. I only ran about 100 rounds of German DAG and Venezuelan CAVIM just to test it for function and get a general impression of how it shoots. An Aimpoint H1 was robbed off the same carbine as the stock. The second surprise of the day was that without making any changes to the zero of the Aimpoint, point of impact was close enough at 300 yards that I could hit the center of mass of a torso target. (Later, the H1 was moved to closer to the eye and needed to be zeroed.) My impression is that this is going to be a good shooting rifle.
Loading the factory 10 round magazine was more work than loading a 20 round mag for any of the Big 3 Battle Rifles- M14, FAL, HK91. The short length of the 10 round mag makes it difficult to give it a tug after it's inserted in the magwell to make sure it's locked in. On the plus side, the mag fed smoothly and will lock into place full with the bolt forward. I have since picked up couple PMags . They are easy to lock into place topped off and with the bolt closed and loading takes less effort. So far, feeding has been 100% reliable. Since acquiring the Pmags, the 10 rounder has gone un-used.
Controlled pairs are more difficult to control due to the increased recoil and 7.62x51 will reveal any flaws in your stance. Shooting it back to back with a Para FAL that has a BABC, the M&P-10 has greater and harsher recoil. I think the difference is the compensator and I’ll be swapping out the long flash suppressor soon for the BABC to see if I’m right.
As I handle the rifle, the ambidextrous controls are becoming more familiar and I like them. Locking the bolt back without the mag is much easier to do than with standard AR and being able to hit the release from either side is nice. I'm liking the ambidextrous mag release too. The safety works well, but when flicking to FIRE when shooting left handed, the selector lever (which is longer on the left side) is blocked by the trigger finger. All the shooter has to do is move the finger a bit, but it's annoying. A shorter and maybe thinner selector lever would minimize this problem.
There is no denying the power of the 7.62x51. I had been popping a couple of rocks off and on with the smaller 5.56, tracking hits by the small puffs from impact. When I switched to the big AR, there was no small puff. Instead, there was chunks of pulverized stone slicing through the air, like the rock had been struck by the Hammer of Thor. Shooting the 5.56, it is fun, more practical and more economical, but I didn't care. The power of 7.62x51 is more deeply satisfying. I love shooting this rifle.
S&W lists the MSRP for this rifle at $1619. I got mine out the door for just under that. With its forged receivers, features, performance and price, the S&W M&P-10, in my estimation, is the best value AR 308 on the market. As long as she proves to be reliable and accurate, she'll be a keeper