Smith & Wesson M&P-10 308/7.62x51mm Semi-Automatic Carbine

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 19th, 2013

 

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 

M&P-10 (right) compared to 18-inch AR-15 (left).

 

 

Ambidextrous selector / safety.

 

 

Ambidextrous bolt latch and magazine catch.

 

 

 

 

Ejection port dust cover (top), empty case deflector (center), forward assist (bottom).

 

 

 

 

Charging handle.

 

 

Six-position telescoping buttstock.

 

 

Flash suppressor.

 

 

18-inch slim-profile barrel.

 

 

 

 

Right off the bat, Iím going to jump in with both feet and state that this Smith & Wesson M&P-10 is quite likely the best semi-automatic 308 AR style rifle that I have ever handled. I own a few 308 AR-10 style rifles, and each of them is an excellent weapon. My DPMS-SASS is the most-accurate rifle that I have ever fired, of any caliber. I also have a couple of other 308 ARs that handle really well. However, that SASS is a heavy beast, and the others, while lighter than the SASS, are still a bit heavy. This S&W is a full pound lighter than any of my other AR-10 style rifles, yet it wears an eighteen-inch barrel, and possesses all the features needed and expected on a quality AR.

Another thing that endears the S&W M&P-10 to me, and should to every other left-handed shooter, is that S&W went to the trouble and expense to make this rifle as ambidextrous as possible to operate. The bolt latch, magazine catch, and selector switch (safety) are all ambidextrous.  The rifle comes with one ten-round steel magazine, but is compatible with many other mags, such as the DPMS and the Magpul P-Mag. The buttstock is of the six-position telescoping type, with the overall length adjustable from 37.5 inches to 40.875 inches. The barrel has a slim profile, measuring just six-tenths of an inch (0.60") for most of its length forward of the gas block. The rifle weighs in at seven pounds, ten ounces on my scale, without magazine.

The M&P-10 has a mid-length gas system, with a section of Picatinny rail atop the gas block, for the mounting of a front sight, if desired. The forged lower and upper receiver halves are mated tightly, with no discernable play between the parts, The upper wears an integral Picatinny rail. The trigger pull on this M&P-10 is better than on most ARs, releasing crisply with just a bit over five pounds of resistance, measured using an RCBS mechanical scale, as well as a Lyman digital scale. The hand guard is a standard A2 style, and is very comfortable to hold, even when the barrel gets hot. The pistol grip is also standard A2 style. The entire rifle is finished in an even matte black, with the steel parts matching the anodized aluminum very well.

Velocity and accuracy results are listed in the chart below. Velocity readings were recorded at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level with an air temperature of seventy-four degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of sixty-one percent. Velocity readings are the average of several shots fired, measured at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, so actual muzzle velocities will be slightly higher. Accuracy results were obtained by shooting three-shot groups, fired on paper at a distance of one hundred yards. For testing of varmint rifles, I like to use five-shot groups when possible, but on a hunting/fighting rifle such as this M&P-10, three-shot groups are indicative of the weaponís capabilities within the likely use of such a rifle. Accuracy was tested with the rifle rested securely in a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest. Group pictures shown are indicative of that particular loadís average accuracy. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Group sizes are listed in inches. XLC is a coated Barnes X bullet. SST and BST are polymer-tipped hunting bullets. SMK is the Sierra Match King bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity Accuracy
Set Point Custom  SMK 175 2521 0.79"
Buffalo Bore Sniper  SMK 175 2457 0.50"
Handload Barnes XLC 168 2439 0.83"
Winchester BST 168 2465 1.12"
Federal Gold Medal 168 2564 0.75"
Hornady SST 165 2706 0.50"
Federal Soft Point 150 2748 1.20"
Stryker FMJ 150 2759 0.88"

The accuracy of both the Buffalo Bore and the Hornady SST loads was very consistent, with every group fired measuring within one-sixteenth of an inch either way from the half inch mark. This was after the barrel had been seasoned a bit by shooting several Stryker bulk ammunition loads through the bore. Reliability was excellent with every load tested, with the exception of the factory-supplied ten-round magazine. With that mag, and that mag only, sometimes the bolt would fail to pick up a cartridge from the magazine. Measuring the distance between the feed lips, that ten-round magazine was tighter than any other 308 AR mag that I own. With the DPMS and P-Mag magazines, feeding was perfect with every type of ammunition tested in the M&P-10 rifle. The trigger pull, as stated above, was very good for an AR, and contributed to the rifle turning in some excellent groups from the bench. The 5R rifling is touted to give excellent accuracy, and I certainly canít argue with that, as again, accuracy was superb. Recoil was about as-expected from a 7.7 pound 308; very comfortable, making it easy to get back on target quickly.

For most of my shooting with this S&W M&P-10, I used a Leupold HAMR optical sight. This is a rugged and reliable etched-reticle battle sight with the Leupold DeltaPoint mounted atop. It works well at close quarters using the DeltaPoint, with the magnified HAMR for longer distances.  For accuracy testing at 100 yards from the bench, I mounted my Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power scope, set to its highest magnification.  As listed above, accuracy varied from very good to superb, with this M&P-10 shooting much better than I had anticipated. The M&P-10 can shoot any 308 Winchester or 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition, and it functioned perfectly with everything I fed it, excepting the faulty magazine listed above.

Smith & Wesson got into the AR-15 market a few years ago, and they did it well. I am glad to see that with their new AR-10 style M&P-10, they got it right again. They were successful in holding the weight down to where a fighting or hunting rifle should be, without sacrificing quality, features, or accuracy.  The original AR-10 rifle designed by Eugene Stoner was meant to be lightweight and handy. Chambered for the 308, the original weighed in at around seven and one-half pounds. Over the past couple of decades, the execution of that design has resulted in heavier rifles, but this M&P-10 is getting this almost six-decades-old design back to where it should be; a lightweight, handy, and powerful fighting rifle, but it is much better than the original, and is one of the best executions of the AR-10 design ever brought to market. The M&P-10 is accurate, reliable, easy to operate, ambidextrous, and made in the USA. I like it, and highly recommend it.

MSRP on the S&W M&P-10 shown here is, as of the date of this review, $1619 US, but doing some shopping, it can probably be bought for less.

Check out the extensive line of Smith & Wesson firearms and accessories online at www.smith-wesson.com.

For the location of a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.

To order the M&P-10 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

For a closer look at quality Leupold optics and accessories, go to www.leupold.com.

To order quality 308 ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.doubletapammo.com, www.luckygunner.com, and www.midsouthshooters.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 

M&P-10 is supplied with one ten-round magazine.

 

 

DPMS (center) and Magpul P-Mag (right) magazines work perfectly in the M&P-10.

 

 

 

 

Leupold HAMR with DeltaPoint.

 

 

Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition proved to be superbly accurate in the M&P-10.

 

 

M&P-10 exhibited excellent accuracy at 100 yards.

 

 

3Bucc Brass Catcher.