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AR-10 vs SCAR

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The AR-10 is a highly regarded AR variant known for its capability to be chambered in full-power rifle calibers such as .308/7.62 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor. Its versatility has made it a preferred choice amongst many enthusiasts who want .308 semi-auto rifles capable of long-distance shooting. 

Despite the AR-10’s popularity, it faces competition from other popular alternatives like the FN SCAR 17S by FN America. Since its inception, the SCAR platform has been a fan-favorite amongst enthusiasts, providing a similar control scheme and purpose, albeit with distinct differences in their construction.  

If you’re unfamiliar with the platforms, both the AR-10 and SCAR 17S are considered top-tier rifle platforms, leading many to debate about which is superior. Follow along as we break down both platforms, going over their similarities, differences, and how they perform.  

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AR-10 Overview: What is it?  

Originally developed by Eugene Stoner, the AR-10 was created during the United States’ search for a new standard issue service rifle after WWII. While it was passed up at the time for the M14, the AR-10 was a massive success when it was introduced to the civilian market and was later adapted by other manufacturers for various military roles. One of the prime examples of such rifles is the Knight’s Armament M110 Semi-Auto Sniper System.  

Today, these rifles are wildly popular. Essentially, you can think of the AR-10 as the AR-15’s big brother. It features many of the same controls, similar ergonomics, and a similar overall receiver design. Since it was designed to fit the 7.62 NATO cartridge, these rifles are larger than the AR-15, but still retain the same degree of customizability and versatility of the standard AR.  

AR-10 Brands and Models 

Currently, there are a lot of manufacturers producing high-quality variants of the AR-10. A few premium brands include Rise Armament, Sig Sauer, Seekins Precision, and Daniel Defense, just to name a few. These brands are a great place to start. But they don’t necessarily fit every budget.  

If you’re in the market for more of a budget friendly AR-10 model. Some solid brands are Smith and Wesson, Ruger, and Live Free Armory. Models like the Smith & Wesson M&P10 come with A2 style furniture and are priced around $1,100. Ruger has similarly priced AR-10s like their SFAR, which is priced around $1,000 to $1,200 depending on the model. They come in varying barrel lengths and full-length M-LOK handguards, as well as upgraded furniture. Live Free Armory’s LF308 AR-10 is another solid option, coming with B5 Systems furniture, full length M-LOK handguards. They’re usually priced around $999, but they often go on sale for much less.  

For higher budgets, options like the Daniel Defense DD5 V4 and SIG Sauer 716i TREAD are both solid options. Both rifles come with full length M-LOK rails, adjustable buttstocks, and are built with durable components to withstand harsh use.  

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The SIG .308 716i TREAD comes standard with a 16-inch barrel, while the DD5 V4 can come with either an 18-inch or 20-inch barrel. Each barrel length is practical for duty/defense, hunting, and competition use while still being more than capable of hitting targets at distances up to 600+ yards. Keep in mind that if you’re wanting to shoot farther than around 750+ yards, you may want to opt for a rifle with a 20-inch or longer barrel. 

Rise Armament’s 1121XR, and the Seekins Precision SP10 range anywhere from $1,500 to upwards of $3,000, depending on the model. Something to consider is that these rifles are tailored for long-range precision. Both the 1121XR from Rise Armament and the SP10 from Seekins Precision come standard with precision stocks, full length M-LOK handguards and are available with either 20-inch or 22-inch barrels. Designed for precision, they require little customization for shots up to 800+ yards. 


So what caliber is an AR-10? As we mentioned before, they primarily use 7.62NATO/.308. However, it’s versatile enough to use other calibers, with one of the most popular being 6.5 Creedmoor. These two calibers are by far the most common AR-10 chamberings. If you’re on the fence about which one you, should you use, our guide on 6.5 Creedmoor vs. .308 breaks down the characteristics head-to-head. 

It’s worth pointing out that since you can swap out the upper receivers on an AR-10, it’s possible to run some other calibers. It’s possible to run calibers like .243 Winchester, .338 Federal, and even .300 WSM. The ability to run multiple calibers makes the AR-10 a truly versatile and utilitarian rifle that can be customized for basically any purpose, much like the AR-15. It’s unlikely that you’ll find complete rifles chambered in these calibers often. So, in most cases, you’ll need to buy a specific upper receiver to use them.  

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SCAR Overview: What is it?  

Coming from FN America, the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR platform, represents a hallmark of modern firearm design. Initially crafted for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the early 2000s, two iterations of the SCAR were made, the SCAR-L and SCAR-H. They were chambered in 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO respectively, and both models were incredibly popular and eventually made their way to the civilian market, becoming the SCAR-16S and SCAR-17S. Additionally, the platform would later expand to include a Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR), known as the Mk 20 or SCAR-20s 

A distinctive feature of the SCAR platform is its short-stroke gas piston system, which differs from the Direct Impingement (DI) system used by the AR-10. Though this type of gas system slightly increases the weight of the rifle, the known reliability of piston driven platforms when in harsh conditions adds to the SCAR’s popularity, with some enthusiasts regarding the SCAR 17S and 20S to be some of the best rifles ever made. Currently, there are over 20 countries fielding these rifles in service, including select U.S. Special Forces service groups.  

SCAR 17S/20S Overview 

The focus is going to be on the SCAR 17S and SCAR 20S models, since they correspond closer to the AR-10. Both models are short-stroke gas piston operated and they come standard with adjustable folding stocks, but the 20S comes with a more specialized stock for long range shooting. The SCAR 17S features a 16.25-inch cold hammer-forged barrel and a non-reciprocating charging handle, while the SCAR 20S has a 20-inch barrel and shares the non-reciprocating charging handle feature. Being that these are both piston-operated, they are slightly heavier than most AR-10s, with the SCAR 17S’ weight being 8 pounds, and the 20S weighing in at 11.6 pounds. 

If you’re considering getting a SCAR, you should consider your specific needs. The SCAR 17S is ideal for duty, defense, hunting, and competition as a battle rifle. In contrast, the SCAR 20S excels in long-range shooting, capable of engaging targets beyond 800 yards. 


The SCAR 17S typically uses 7.62 NATO, with some variants available in 6.5 Creedmoor. Unlike the AR-10, the SCAR’s monolithic upper receiver design prevents easy caliber swaps. While this provides a solid connection from receiver to handguard, it makes caliber swapping difficult.  

The upper receiver, which is the serialized part of the SCAR, contrasts with the AR-10’s serialized lower receiver, complicating ownership of multiple calibers without owning multiple rifles. That said, FN offers barrel assemblies in both calibers, but keep in mind that swapping out the barrel assembly on a SCAR is not as simple as swapping the uppers on an AR platform rifle. Barrel replacement is recommended to be performed by a certified gunsmith to ensure proper installation. 

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AR-10 vs. SCAR: Similarities 

The AR-10 and SCAR, despite their differences, share some key features. Both the AR-10 and SCAR’s standard calibers are the same. As we mentioned before, they can come chambered in either 7.62 NATO or 6.5 Creedmoor. Although the AR-10 offers a wider variety of calibers thanks to its receiver design, both platforms primarily use these common calibers.  

They also have similar control layouts, with the SCAR’s polymer lower receiver mirroring the AR’s aluminum one in terms of manual operation and control placement. For instance, if you’re familiar with the AR-10, you’ll find that controls like the safety selector, mag release, and bolt catch are in the same locations on the SCAR. Additionally, the SCAR takes similar AR-style pistol grips. They aren’t identical though, as they require some slight modification to fit. Still, it’s easy to find already modified grips for the SCAR from companies like Parker Mountain Machine, making it customizable to fit your personal needs. 

Something else to note is that while the AR-10 can have fully ambidextrous controls when using select lower receivers, the SCAR only has some ambidextrous controls. Components like the safety selector and magazine release are ambidextrous on the SCAR, but the bolt catch isn’t. While this shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for most enthusiasts, it’s worth mentioning since ambidexterity is becoming more and more popular. There are aftermarket components that work similarly to Magpul’s B.A.D. Lever, but they don’t come standard with the SCAR-17.  

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AR-10 vs. SCAR: Differences 

The primary distinctions between the AR-10 and SCAR lie in their construction, gas systems, accessory mounting options, and furniture. 

To start, these rifles differ greatly in their construction. The AR-10 uses forged aluminum for its receivers, while the SCAR features a polymer lower and aluminum upper, aiming to reduce weight without sacrificing durability. That said, there are some piston-driven AR-10s, like select options from Patriot Ordnance Factory (P.O.F.), but there aren’t as many options compared to DI rifles.  

Whereas the AR-10 uses a DI gas system, the SCAR utilizes a short-stroke gas piston system. Both gas systems are incredibly reliable and work very well, but they still have their pros and cons. For instance, DI gas systems tend to weigh less than piston ones. They work by siphoning gas from the barrel through the gas block and tube. This gas is redirected back to the AR-10’s BCG, cycling the action of the rifle.  

Short-stroke gas piston systems achieve the same goal, just in a different way. Instead of using gas to directly push directly on the bolt carrier, the gas is used to interact with a piston, which, in turn, operates the action of the bolt carrier group. Since DI systems don’t rely on a piston, the amount of felt recoil is reduced as there’s less mass traveling towards the rear of the rifle. In contrast, short-stroke piston systems tend to have slightly more felt recoil due to the added weight of the piston actuating the bolt carrier.  

Compared to piston setups, DI rifles run much dirtier. Since gas directly interacts with BCG, carbon can build up on and around your BCG, creating a surface that can potentially impede your rifle’s cyclic abilities, requiring you to clean your rifle more often. Pistons, in contrast, tend to run cleaner. Instead of using gas to directly operate the cyclic action of the rifle, the operating rod does most of the work. You’ll still need to keep up with routine maintenance on your rifle, but you’ll find less carbon buildup on your bolt after a day of shooting at the range.  

Finally, there are some smaller differences between the two platforms, like accessory mounting capabilities and furniture. Most AR-10s use modern mounting surfaces like M-LOK, KeyMod, and Quad-Rails. The SCAR uses picatinny rails that are built in to its monolithic upper, and comparatively, the SCAR doesn’t have as much real estate available as modern AR-10s are. Keep in mind that there are aftermarket handguards, like those from Kinetic Development Group, that both give the SCAR M-LOK mounting surfaces while extending the usable handguard length, but they don’t come standard with the SCAR.  

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Arguably, one of the most sought-after aspects of both rifles is their long-range shooting capabilities. The AR-10 and SCAR are both very capable of shooting long distances, however, certain factors distinguish their performance in this regard. 

The AR-10 is considered more precise at longer distances, often attributed to its direct impingement (DI) gas system. The piston’s rapid action in the SCAR can slightly alter barrel harmonics, potentially affecting accuracy. DI guns don’t have this issue, making them more accurate by a slight margin when shooting at great distances. This isn’t to say that the SCAR is inaccurate, though. The SCAR 17S is more than capable of punching holes in targets at upwards of 600+ yards, with the SCAR 20S having an effective range of 800+ yards.

If you’re shopping with precision and long-distance shooting in mind, an AR-10 in a PRS (Precision Rifle System) configuration or the SCAR 20S are going to be your best options. For versatility in both close and long-range engagements, the SCAR 17S and standard AR-10 configurations are excellent choices. 

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Price and Availability 

If you’re interested in purchasing either a SCAR or AR-10, we’re sure you’ll be pleased to know that they are incredibly common to find, and frequently in stock on our store page. The Standard SCAR-17S usually retails around $3,750 for both the Black and FDE versions, while the SCAR-20S is priced around $4,500. AR-10s, on the other hand, vary in price since there are many manufacturers making them, like we mentioned in previous sections. 

Something else to consider is building a rifle. We’ve noted a few times so far that the AR-10 has many of the same benefits as the AR-15, and another key benefit is being able to build instead of buying. AR-10 components are readily available, making it easy to pick and choose specific components tailored to your preferences, where it isn’t possible to the same degree with the SCAR. In fact, most enthusiasts who own AR platform rifles make upgrades to their rifles after purchase, adding new components that better suit their preferences.  

Something to consider before building an AR-10 is that the rifle comes in various patterns, with the Armalite, DPMS, and SR-25 being the main variants. The main differences between each receiver pattern are their shape and fitment. 

Among these, the DPMS and Armalite patterns stand out as the most widely used amongst most manufacturers, with there being a DPMS High and DPMS Low sub-pattern of the main DPMS pattern. It’s crucial to know what pattern you have as they determine what receivers and handguards you can use. While many components are interchangeable across the different patterns, we recommend double-checking to see if there is any specific parts fitment required before buying.  

For those interested in building a specialized AR-10, resources like our builder’s spotlight showcasing a custom 6.5 Creedmoor AR-10 offer great insights while showcasing what can be done with the platform.  

So, Which is Better? 

Both rifles are popular choices among enthusiasts, but which one is best? In all honesty, choosing one over the other depends on your needs and what you intend to use the rifle for. So, the ‘best’ rifle is the one that fits your needs.  

That said, the AR-10 is the more modular rifle of the two. More manufacturers produce aftermarket parts for the AR-10. The AR-10’s modularity and versatility make it a great choice for custom builds, since components like full length M-LOK handguards, upgraded stocks, and enhanced triggers can easily be added to the rifle. Even further, you’ll have added weight savings since it will be direct impingement. 

This isn’t to say that the SCAR isn’t worth owning. It’s been proven to be more than effective in multiple scenarios, making it a great addition to anyone’s personal collection. The reliability and durability of the SCAR alone make it a solid choice. Just keep in mind that there isn’t as vast of an aftermarket for the SCAR, and it costs considerably more than most AR-10s on the market. For the price, though, you’re getting an excellent rifle equipped for nearly all purposes. Plus, it’s always a solid option if you’re wanting a break from AR platform rifles. Variety is the spice of life after all.  


Since its debut, the SCAR has sparked an ongoing debate among firearms enthusiasts regarding its comparison to the AR-10. Both platforms offer similar capabilities, and they each possess unique advantages that complicate the decision-making process for users. 

Both rifle platforms are incredibly versatile and can be optimized to fit different roles, making either a solid choice for defense, duty, hunting, or competition. Though the AR-10 wins out in overall customizability, the SCAR, with its robust short-stroke gas piston system, stands out as a formidable choice for those seeking a reliable battle rifle or DMR to add to their arsenal.  

We recommend checking manufacturer websites and manuals to help you narrow down your choices and as well as giving you solid insights on both platforms. Lastly, if your local shooting range offers firearm rentals, chances are they already have an AR-10 and a SCAR in their lineup. If they do, testing both rifles are the best way to figure out if you prefer one over the other.