Shooting and Disassembling A.I. AR-10 rifles (Video)

I had a gun-shop-owning friend offer me a chance to do a video on a Portuguese contract AR-10 made by Artillerie Inrichtingen in the Netherlands a little while back. Unfortunately, it had just sold, and so we didn’t have an opportunity to doing any shooting with it. I put off the editing of that video for a while, and then happened to have a chance a week ago to do some shooting with a registered full-auto Sudanese contract AI AR-10. They aren’t the same gun exactly, but very close. So when I put this video together, I added in that shooting footage, so we could have the complete package. Enjoy!

For the record, I would compare a full-auto magazine dump in an early (ie, lightweight) AR-10 to these other probably-similar experiences:

  • Snorting Tabasco sauce
  • Using your shoulder to support a working jackhammer
  • Getting Tased

The design’s straight-line stock does a great job of preventing the gun from climbing, but it does nothing to mitigate the significant amount of energy being dumped into your shoulder when you unleash the full-auto switch. While I was able to keep the rifle pretty much on target, it was entirely a result of taking a sight picture before firing. Once the gun is going off, I found it impossible to do anything but hang on. I would very much like to try out some other select-fire .308 shoulder rifles (FAL, G3, M14, etc) now to get an idea of how they compare…

Also, should you find yourself visiting Tombstone Arizona, make sure to drop by Tombstone Territorial Firearms – it is a great little shop with an excellent assortment of interesting guns despite being in a small town! James (the owner) is a good guy and has been very supportive in working with us.


  1. As one who has used both an AR-10 Combat and a early Sniper versions, after using both an M-1, M-14, M-14a1, M40 Remington and others, my opinion is that this is the best combat rifle developed up until that time. Yes it kicks like a Missouri Mule and is heavier than the lesser M-16 in weight, but it never failed me, was extremely accurate and in a situation requiring more firepower was very controllable in full-auto … no ‘muzzle climb” at all! It had an extended kill-range over the M-16 and like-chambered weapons. To this day it would be my first choice in combat, all else being equal.

  2. An addition: the M-14 comes in second. It is a joy to shoot but with FAR less recoil due to the weight. With a by-pod it is very controllable in full-auto due to the weight, design and the hinged butt-plate that flips up and rests in the top of your shoulder helps … especially if you exert downward pressure on it with your head/neck assembly. With a Star barrel and scope it made a fantastic sniper/sharp-shooter weapon in semi-auto and two-to-three-round bursts. And like the AR-10, when the 7.62/.308 rounds hit they did what was expected of them.

  3. Nice posting! I love old AR10’s. There were many “recreated or repro” lowers built in the 70’s as the parts kits came into the US. The one in the Tombstone shop appears to be a reweld.

  4. OK- That was awesome. If the current owner were open to it, I would love to see some detailed shots of that lower. I have a Telko made semiauto one and it would be really cool to compare the two.

  5. How difficult is that charging handle in the center of the upper to operate? Always read that it heats up fast after a mag dump!

  6. Think the ArmaLite AR-10 bolt and bolt carrier were originally hard chrome plated AISI/SAE E8620H. Bolt and barrel collar were changed to chrome plated AISI/SAE E4320H, then Carpenter 158 (AISI Type P6 tool steel) after bolt lug shearing occurred during durability firing.

    Think M4’s still use Carpenter 158 bolts and AISI/SAE E8620H carriers.

  7. Thanks for this very informative video. This shows that; recoiling masses joined in line with barrel axis are as effective as straight in line stock to reduce muzzle climb as claimed in Stoners’s related patent. It also shows that, this kind of moving parts layout is not for larger calibers like 7.62 Nato; Muzzle climb department works well but firing rate reducer side, by cause of big mass of huge buffer, works as a kicking army mule during auto discharging, heavier calibers need heavier breechblock and carrier members to stand against to the heavy recoil just at closing section of barrel’s back. This also shows that; how necessary the changes made to reshape the AR10 into AR15 afterwards; The should be “One Way Working” charging handle works nearly as a reciprocing member through inertia during full auto fire.

  8. Hey guys, great segment, love that high speed video.
    Jim Sullivan once told me that Gene Stoner was inspired to invent his gas system when he read about a Ross straight pull rifle suffering a pierced primer and the bolt unlocking when the gas flowed back into the bolt assembly. This of course is totally different from the dissasterous situation where the Ross can be fired unlocked if the bolt is assembled incorrectly.
    That’s the difference between a Stoner or Sullivan and the rest of us. We read about a malfunction and think about some way to prevent it, they see an opportunity to create something new and useful.
    Keep up the good work, can’t wait to see the next post.

  9. Excellent video as always. Interesting to see an actual AR10 in full auto.

    How would you compare this to the the 7.62 EM2 you shot a few years ago in terms of full auto controllability?

  10. On YouTube there is a video of Jerry Miculek shooting an early AR-10. He is a big guy and shoots rapid fire for a living. There is also footage (different video) of him rapid-firing a Barett 50, so his ability to control a 308 is not typical of ordinary people. He shoots so much he uses a cement mixer to tumble his brass. But it might be worth a look if anyone is interested.

    There is a book long out of print, The Fighting Rifle, by Chuck Taylor (mid 1980’s). He really liked the FN-FAL, and even liked the M1 for its balance and handling. He was less than enthusiastic about the AR-10, if I recall correctly he thought that they tended to have reliability issues. Maybe that had to do with those available in the 1980’s being badly abused 30 year old rifles? Or maybe the design was never refined like the AR-15?

    He also did not care for the Stoner 63 or the Mini-14 (which he called a toy). Personally, I like my Mini, but to each his own.

    The book would make for an interesting book for Ian to review. There are better books available today, but at the time it was about all that was out there, and is interesting as to what the state-of-the-art was thirty years ago.

  11. Given the very low production of AR-10s (single to low double-digits at Hollywood, perhaps 6,500 max at Artillerie Inrichtingen) it’s amazing how many of them survive, both registered and conversions. Especially the Portuguese ones, where total production was only 1,664-1,668 and every surviving rifle is a survivor of a decade of African combat.

    The easiest way to tell Porto from Sudanese at a glance is the length of the handguard, the Sudanese is full length and the Portuguese half length with metal shrouds for the other half — however because the Portuguese rode theirs so hard, many of the survivors have replacement wood stocks. Most of the wood stocks were made of walnut by a Canadian firm — they’re good stocks but clunky and awkward.

    Some Portuguese guns had different-shaped handguards to accept a folded bipod. The bipod is a very rare accessory today.

    There is a very different charging handle. The one in the Sudanese guns resembles the Nodak Spud version for making a retro-prototype AR. The portuguese one is fiendishly clever.

    The Cuban contract was never paid for, but at least some of them were delivered to Cuba and well into the 90s they turned up wherever Cuba sponsored terrorists or guerrillas. In addition, an Italian maritime SOF unit had some of them, possibly leftovers from the Cuba or Somalia deals.

    The AR-10 is one of the reasons Artillerie Inrichtingen, which had been the Dutch State Arsenals, went bankrupt. As a gun it’s seminal (and not at all bad), but as a business deal it was a nuclear disaster in the megaton range.

    An excellent book on the AR-10 by Maj. Sam Pikula is long out of print and very costly when it surfaces.

    In the US, the most common conversions are the H&H, which uses a billet aluminum lower receiver, and another one (name escapes me now) made from a steel casting. The H&H has a slight tendency to bow over time and is frighteningly thin in the magwell. The Telko Inc. billet alloy LR seems about the same.

    • Er, Sudan not Somalia.

      Also, I just took a look at the Wikipedia page on the AR-10. It’s a dog’s breakfast. For one thing, it claims that the current Armalite AR-10 is a descendant of the original. Actually, the current Armalite bought the trademarks and cobbled together a gun with AR-15 parts.

      The actual descendant of the AR-10 is the Knight’s SR-25 which was reverse engineered from Dutch AR-10s by Gene Freaking Stoner and a team at Knight’s Armament Corporation. So a modern SR-25, Mk. 11, M110 is closer to the original, FWIW, than the modern Armalite. The gun is a much better fit in the designated marksman or sniper-gas-gun role than as a service rifle.

      In fact, the first SR-25s came with modified AR-10 waffle mags, and suddenly they went from $100/thousand to freakin’ $70 each. Ah well, supply and demand.

      I’ve shot a G3 on full auto a good bit, and it rises a lot with the A1 stock and goes for moon shots with the A3 stock. No way you’re hitting anything with it that way. The FAL also rises a lot. Everybody who issued them trained semi-auto, aimed fire. (The Brits took the auto capability out, as we did in most M14s).

  12. AR-10 was offered at one moment to Yugoslavia, version in 7.62x51mm and 7.62x39mm (same one offered to Finland). Nothing came out of it, but there is (or at least was) one im 7.62x51mm surviving in Military Technical Institute in Belgrade.

  13. I had the opportunity to put several mags through an acquaintance’s full-auto M14. “Jackhammer” came to mind. Even the happy switch was unable to compensate for the thing being utterly miserable to shoot.

    I’m not recoil-shy, but I found the gun uncontrollable unless accuracy was limited to something like “generally eastward.”

  14. Hi, great article and exposition of the AR10. Things come around in a timely manner. I asked previously if Ian would do an article on the AR10, and whaddya know a little while latter this appears. Thank you. I was recently in Phoenix, Arizona, and spent time with C2 Tactical, great bunch of people, (unfortunately did not get down to Tombstone). I can vouch your findings re. a 308 on auto. I hired an FN SCAR 17 in 308 and 223, not the same weapon but the comparison is interesting. The 308 had such violence. Although the range officer complemented me on my stance and control, beyond shot 2 or 3 the rounds were not aimed. The 223 was much much easier to deal with and fire was controlled. Anyway, love the web site and the work you do.

  15. Hi,
    Very good video! Just a couple of corrections:
    *There is no “off” position to allow the launching of rifle grenades. The three position valve has setting for small, medium, and full gas flow.
    *Second, this easiest wat to adjust the gas settings is to place the cartridge point in the adjustment hole in front of the valve lock-you don’t have to push it down with hour finger.
    *The buttstocks on the Portuguese version were not fiberglass-but plastic.

    Good video-many people don’t know the Portuguese model had a forward assist.

      • I interviewed Art Miller of AR-17 and AR-18 fame several times. He was in Holland as a engineering liaison between AI and ArmaLite on the AR-10. What surprised them was that you could load a full magazine with grenade blanks and just chunk Energa rifle grenades down range as fast as you could slide them down the barrel. The excess gas just flowed out the system and even ejected and loaded a fresh round. AR-10 stocks were pretty brittle and I suspect the recoil of a few rifle grenades with stock placed on hard ground would really smash them up. When I was in the AZ Nasty Guard in 1981 I once fired a parachute rifle flare off an m-16 and the Newtonian physics were very impressive………..

  16. As a small update. The link for Tombstone Firearms now goes to a Gmail map saying ‘Tombstone Territorial Firearms Permanently Closed’. If it has simply moved then can someone post a new link?

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