I’ve built a few AR-15s over the last few years, but never an AR-10. I wanted one for my collection, yet there was always something else that caught my eye instead. The biggest turnoff was the price point of AR-10s when compared to the other guns I wanted to add to my safe.

Then I stumbled upon a bargain deal on a gently used AR-10 lower receiver (turns out it's not uncommon) that was just begging to be turned into a functioning firearm. Since I got that receiver on the cheap and it just sat around for a few years, I figured it only made sense to try and turn it into a functioning, reliable rifle. That’s when the bargain shopping for parts started last winter. 

Here’s how it ended up going for me.


Table of Contents

Total Cost Summary
Testing Up Front: Accuracy & Reliability
Final Gun Specs
Upper: BC-10 .308 Upper
Lower: DPMS AR-10 Receiver
Stock & Furniture
Final Thoughts

Total Cost Summary


Let’s be clear up front. I really appreciate the process of building a very pocket-friendly rifle for practical uses and for fun range time. I’m not arguing this is how you should go about acquiring your go-to-war, battle-ready, shit-hits-the-fan rifle. The investment is relative to the goal, and I just wanted a low-cost, accurate, reliable AR-10 to add to my collection.
 

PPeterson,   AR-10, DPMS, DP-10, LR-308 Bear Creek Arsenal, BCA, Bear Creek, AR, Rifle, Tactical, .308, 7.62x51mm NATO, 7.62 NATO, AR Build, Build, DIY,
Quality and cost are always a balance for my choice in firearms. However, I do prefer guns that shoot well for me at the range. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


On that note, here’s a breakdown of my final costs, minus extras like the scope and bipod:

Used DMPS DP-10 LR-308 Lower: $109.95*
New Bear Creek Arsenal .308 Upper & BCG: $278.22
Lower Kit: $39.99
FAB Defense GL-Core AR Buttstock: $49.50

TOTAL COST: $477.66

*This lower was stripped from another gun, so it had no home and was therefore very affordable. To give it a fair cost here, however, I ran a quick search as I wrote this article on what you can find used DPMS DP-10 lowers for today. Minimal searching showed options for $99.95-$109.95. You can always go factory fresh and find roughly the same deal with stripped new DB10 and PSA AR-10 lowers being about $100 plus the cost of an LPK.


Related: What’s the Difference Between AR-15s and AR-10s?

 

Rifle Sling
I love a good two-point sling, and surplus options are often a value purchase. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Obviously, your end costs will increase if you add in the Magpul bipod (MSRP $114.95 but bargain bought for $69.06), Magpul grip panels (MSPR $15.95 but bought for $13.25), and surplus USMC two-point sling ($22.49). Those extras will bring you to $582.46. 

For some perspective on that end cost, the compact yet powerful and notably affordable U.S. Optics TS-12X scope I used for this testing came with an MSRP of $545. 
 

U.S. Optics Scope
I’ve had this U.S. Optics TS-12X scope for nearly two years on around a dozen guns. It’s held up for me. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Related: U.S. Optics TS-12X Scope Review – Affordable & Compact Optics Choice


That was my budget recipe. Now the real question is whether the rifle actually worked well. So, let’s roll right into the range testing. 
 

Testing Up Front: Accuracy & Reliability

 

AR-10 Rifle
My accuracy testing was done off a table with a shooting bag. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I’m sitting at 240 rounds through this AR-10 at the moment with only a handful of minor issues. There will be some more testing going forward, but that’s what I had in the ammo cabinet for .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO at the time of testing.

The gun has cycled reliably so far. I did have two failures to lock back on the final round early in my testing. That seemed to smooth out after a few mags. The gun never failed to fire when a live round was still available for feeding. I used an even split of 150-grain Aguila .308 Win FMJ and Remington UMC 150-grain .308 Win FMJ. 
 

.308 Ammo
Basic .308 Win FMJ ammo was the basis for my accuracy tests. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Mind you, neither of those are exactly precision rounds, so I didn’t expect anything incredibly precise out of the performances. They are fairly representative of your standard .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO rounds. I figured that was good enough for a budget gun’s ammo diet.


Related: The Best AR-10 Rifles Available in 2024


I ran a combination of Magpul PMags and DPMS steel mags for my testing without any cleaning so far. These performed flawlessly after a few break-in magazines. The bolt holds open just fine and consistently now, and I’ve noticed no cycling issues when shooting at various rates of fire. 

Here’s what I got when I sat down at my local gun club to shoot targets at 50 and 100 yards off my shooting bag (I did not have a bench rest):
 

AR-10 Rifle Target
These targets were shot at 100 yards, left, and 50 yards, right. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
AR-10 Rifle Target
The U.S. Optics TS-12X has easy-to-adjust and lockable turrets with parallax adjustments. This is my adjustment target at 50 yards from my bore sight. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


My 100-yard targets were just hovering around that 1-inch cone of fire. But the 50-yard target had a spread of just 0.34 inches, which is just 0.68 inches when doubled for a 100-yard target. That certainly suggests I should be able to squeeze sub-MOA at 100 yards out of this gun with some practice.
 

AR-10 Rifle Target
The gun’s performance was always at least in the realm of one MOA, and I’m not really a precision distance shooter by trade. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


While this wouldn’t be my first choice as a go-to-war gun or duty rifle, I certainly cannot get mad at the reliability and accuracy so far. At a price tag below $500, I’m just not snobby enough to be anything but pleased with the gun’s performance so far. 
 

Final Gun Specs

 

AR-10 Rifle
The total package that is this DIY rifle is hefty in weight but practical for me. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


This gun turned out to be a chunker at 10.3 pounds without the optic. Most of that came from the hefty Bear Creek Arsenal upper since I opted for the heavy-barrel stainless version with a longer 20-inch barrel and a reciprocating side-charging handle. For a similar price, you could also make that a lighter fluted barrel.

Here’s how this DPMS DP-10 LR-308 lower and Bear Creek upper build came out in the basic specs:

Weight: 10.3 pounds (minus optic and bipod)
Max Length: 42.125 inches
Minimum Length: 39 inches
Barrel Length: 20 inches
LOP: 12.25-15.25 inches
Handguard M-LOK: 9 inches
Front Picatinny Rail: 2.5 inches
Optics Rail: 9 inches
Trigger Pull: 5.8 pounds
 

AR-10 Rifle
I've been able to tote this gun out to a few different ranges, and it's a weighty but flexible companion. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The whole process of putting it all together was essentially the same as building an AR-15 with a few different things to consider. For instance, AR-10 lowers vary between two main patterns: DPMS and ArmaLite. That’s definitely something you want to research along with the proper size for your buffer tube and stock if you choose to build your own lower. 


Related: How to Build an AR-15 – 10 Easy Steps With Videos


I was not ambitious enough to build my own upper, and I very much doubt I could do it as well and for less than what a complete Bear Creek upper costs. So, let’s jump into that next.
 

Upper: BC-10 .308 Upper & BCG

 

Bear Creek AR-10 Bolt
If you are not looking to build your own bolt carrier group, make sure it’s included with your upper receiver kit. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Bear Creek Arsenal offers a host of budget-friendly firearm parts. These include AR uppers that have a reciprocating charging handle directly attached to the bolt body. Classic AR-style rifles will use that T-shaped charging handle at the rear of the upper receiver. I’ve grown to like these, but the idea of a simple right-side charging handle caught my eye.
 

AR-10 Rifle Parts
This Bear Creek upper uses a reciprocating charging handle attached to the bolt. That also requires a rear screw to retain/remove the bolt. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Since this was a hobby project, I figured I’d give that a try, and it’s worked out quite well so far. Bear Creek also offers “slick” uppers, which is to simply say they have the classic T-shaped AR charging handle.

Bear Creek’s options include complete and semi-complete uppers. This one came with an AR-10 BCG (bolt carrier group). There are parkerized, stainless steel, fluted, and heavy options for the barrel with a bunch of variety in between. I bought this one on a whim because the price point seemed too good to be true. I dig it so far, and it’s been very fun and reliable.
 

AR-10 Rifle Parts
There’s ample M-LOK and Pic rail space. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
AR-10 Rifle Parts  
Everything seems bigger with an AR-10. This flash suppressor up top is nice but not a heavy-duty compensator, and the other controls for this AR-10 are very similar to your standard AR-15. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Here’s a quick rundown of the Bear Creek upper I got with a non-fluted barrel. 

Weight: 8.25 pounds
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Profile: Heavy barrel
Twist Rate: 1:10
Barrel Threading: 5/8x24 TPI
Barrel Finish: Stainless steel
Material: 416R stainless steel
Gas System: Rifle length
Bolt Material: E9310
 

AR-10 Rifle Parts
That charging handle has never been an issue for me, and I really like how intuitive it is to rack. However, it does recoil with the bolt, so never get behind it while shooting. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The flat-top upper receiver is ready for a scope with 9 inches of grooved Picatinny rail over the receiver and 2.5 inches of grooved Pic rail up front at the end of the handguard. It’s a hefty part, especially with the heavy-profile 20-inch barrel. You can trim that down with a shorter and/or fluted barrel. 
 

AR-10 Rifle Target
Again, for the money, I think the accuracy of this upper speaks for itself. It more than satisfies what I need out of a budget AR-10 build. These groups represent the potential for 1-MOA or better accuracy, and they were shot with budget-friendly 150-grain Aguila 7.62x51mm FMJ. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


While aggressive in looks, the front flash hider is mostly just that: a flash hider. If you want anything to compensate for the recoil, which proved to be quite manageable given this AR-10’s weight, you’ll need to snag a different comp for your barrel.
 

Lower: Used DPMS AR-10 Receiver


This DP-10 lower is an LR-308 pattern and was an orphan from an older DPMS rifle. It’s been sitting in my safe for several years, and I finally got an urge to give it a new life as an AR lower for a gun that would actually get some time at the range. 
 

DPMS AR-10 Lower
DPMS lower receivers for AR-10 rifles are very common. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


It’s one of the two common AR-10 receiver types that are normally patterned on either DPMS or ArmaLite standards. That’s a whole other bag of worms, but part of the fun of building an AR-10 is working your way through the various patterns and parts that fit them. Well, fun is probably the wrong word. 

Ensuring your parts fit your lower and your lower fits your upper and your buffer tube fits your stock are all things to consider as you buy your parts for an AR-10 build. It can be aggravating, but it does motivate you to get more intimate with your gun and how it works.

This lower came in at just over 2 pounds and is one of the most common patterns you’ll find on the used market. Just make sure you’re matching your parts around your lower. That’s a topic that has filled many Reddit threads if you’re looking for help. 
 

Stock & Furniture

 

AR-10 Rifle Parts
I chose functional but affordable furniture for this budget build. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I was excited about the rather unique Bear Creek Arsenal upper receiver, but I think I was even more curious about the FAB Defense GL-Core AR Buttstock. At just $49.50, this adjustable stock offers an adjustable length of pull and an angled rubber pad that levers nicely into your shoulder.

It’s rugged and budget friendly. Just as importantly, it can fit various buffer tube sizes thanks to its adjustable spacers. That saved me a few headaches after trying to place an older spare stock on this rifle and finding it wasn’t quite right.
 

The hammer, left, and other internals of this AR-10 are not that different from your standard AR-15. But one area that gets confusing is the size of the buffer tubes. This FAB Defense stock has triangle-shaped inserts, right, that fit two different tube sizes. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
AR-10 Rifle Parts
These Magpul additions are some of my favorites. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Magpul’s textured rail covers have become one of my favorite budget additions to any rifle that has M-LOK. I had a few on hand from a previous build project and snapped them at the points I found I handled the rifle the most while moving.
 

Final Thoughts

 

PPeterson,   AR-10, DPMS, DP-10, LR-308 Bear Creek Arsenal, BCA, Bear Creek, AR, Rifle, Tactical, .308, 7.62x51mm NATO, 7.62 NATO, AR Build, Build, DIY,
This semi-tactical but mostly practical gun has been a fun project for the cost. I’d build it again. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I normally agree with the idea that “you get what pay for” when it comes to quality. That being said, I suspect a lot of the pricing around AR-10 rifles is also a reflection of the fact they were just less popular than the quintessential AR-15. 

I think that’s changing because I see more and more AR-10 platforms rolling out from manufacturers at increasingly competitive prices.


Related: The .308 That Handles Like a .223 – Ruger SFAR Review


Regardless, I’m quite happy with a sub-$500 AR-10 that shoots well and has become a fun project during a long winter. It’s worth looking into building your own if you feel the itch. That makes the answer to the question that started this article a clear, “yes, within reason.”

revolver barrel loading graphic

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