VISUAL AND TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ARMALITE M15, AR-10B, AND AR-10A RIFLES
ARMALITE AR-10A vs AR-10B
The AR-10A and AR-10B are two completely different models of the Armalite AR-10 Battle Rifle. This page explains the differences technically as well as graphically. The models are also compared to the M15 which is the Armalite version of the AR-15 MSR
Note: The M15 is the Armalite version of the AR-15
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January 9, 2012 Rev 1
TECHNICAL NOTE 101: VISUAL DIFFERENCES AMONG
M15, AR-10A, AND AR-10B COMPONENTS
Armalite AR-10A versus AR-10B
The AR-10A family of ArmaLite® firearms is functionally identical to our AR-10B family. Operation, controls, and maintenance are the same. However, the AR-10A family is designed to accept early ArmaLite AR-10 “Waffle” magazines and good quality magazines copied from them, instead of ArmaLite’s proprietary aluminum magazines that are used in our AR-10B family. Neither family of firearms will function correctly with the other family’s magazines.
The AR-10B magazine is based on the magazine of the famed M-14 rifle. This magazine was adopted during the period of the “Assault Weapons Ban”, during which new Waffle magazines couldn’t be legally produced. The AR-10B magazine has proven to be as supremely successful in the AR-10B as its predecessor was in the M-14, and ArmaLite will continue to offer it.
We have tested, we recommend, and we ship polymer Magpul PMAG® 20LR magazines with our AR-10As. Other similar derivative magazines such as the KAC, M110, and DPMS / Remington 19 round magazines may fit and may function, but we have not tested them so we can’t assess their reliability. You can purchase extra PMAG®s from our website.
Physical differences between the “Waffle magazine and the M-14 style magazine necessitate differences in some components used in AR-10As as compared to similar components in the AR-10Bs. Some components of our AR-10A firearms are unique to that family. For example, the AR-10A Bolt Stop, Magazine Catch, Upper Receiver, and Lower Receiver are not the same as those in our AR-10Bs. This Tech Note will explain the physical differences among those components.
If you need parts for your AR-10A, you may want to contact us to assure that you are purchasing the correct parts.
ARMALITE BOLT STOPS
M15 AR-10B AR-10A
As you can see, the M15 and AR-10A Bolt Stops are similar in shape. However, the AR-10A Bolt Stops are clearly marked AR-10A. And, if you look closely at the upper left portion of those two parts, you’ll see significant visual differences between the two.
The AR-10B Bolt Stop is very different in shape than the other two. Note the relatively large flat angled surface near the top of the AR-10B Bolt Stop.
ARMALITE MAGAZINE CATCHES
M15 AR-10B AR-10A
Differences among the three Magazine Catches can be seen in the shape of the boss on the right end of each catch. (This is the boss that engages the cutout in the magazine body in order to retain the magazine in the lower receiver.)
The M15 and AR-10B Magazine Catches are similar in design. However, the magazine catch boss on the M15 Magazine Catch has a chamfer on its lower side (shown in red above), whereas the AR-10B boss lacks that chamfer.
The AR-10A Magazine Catch is easy to differentiate from the other two. Note that the boss on the right end of the AR-10A Magazine Catch is rounded on its outer end.
ARMALITE UPPER RECEIVERS
AR-10B (TOP) AR-10A (BOTTOM)
The M15 Upper Receiver is obviously smaller than the two AR-10 Upper Receivers, so there should be no confusion with them.
The AR-10B and AR-10A Upper Receivers are easy to tell apart if you look at them from the bottom. From the bottom, the two flats near the front of the AR-10B Upper Receiver are very obvious. The AR-10A does not have those flats. The two divot cuts in the AR-10A Upper Receiver are less obvious, but clearly visible.
ARMALITE AR-10 LOWER RECEIVERS
AR-10B (TOP) AR-10A (BOTTOM)
The M15 Lower Receiver is obviously smaller than the two AR-10 Lower Receivers, so there should be no confusion with them.
The AR-10A Lower Receiver has several obvious features that are not present on the AR-10B Lower Receiver (in addition to the “AR-10A” logo on the side of the AR-10A receiver). Note the elevated surface on the AR-10A that comes downward from the front of the magazine catch cutout. Also note the increased upward angle of the bottom of the mazazine well on the AR-10A. In addition, the shape of the boss around the takedown pin hole is changed on the AR-10A.
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