Range Report: Smith & Wesson M&P10 .308 Rifle

Smith & Wesson M&P10 right

For some of us the watchword is ‘sometimes you need a .308.’ The .223/5.56mm platform is a wonderful close-quarters combat system and may be accurate at extended range. However, the punch needed for some chores just isn’t there. There are shooters that hunt medium game, use a rifle for defense, or like long-range shooting and are limited by the .223 Remington cartridge. Most of us feel that jumping over the 6.8 or the .300 Blackout straight to the .308 makes sense.

The—6.8 as an example—replaces the 5.56mm, while those of us that use the .308 also have on hand a good .223 Remington. However, we like AR-15 handling and sometimes we like the commonality of handling between the .223 and .308. (And even a good .22!) A good quality AR-15-type rifle chambered for the hard-hitting .308 Winchester cartridge makes sense. The M&P10 is a great all-around rifle chambered for the potent .308 Winchester cartridge.

Smith & Wesson M&P10 with handloads
The rifle was fired with a variety of handloads and factory ammunition with excellent results.

Handling was excellent as may be expected from an AR-15-type rifle. The flat-top receiver accepts any practical optic. The rifle is an AR-15-type with forward assist, standard firing handle and the same magazine and slide lock release we have come to know and love with the AR-15. I replaced the stock with a Mission First Tactical stock. This is simply a personal custom fitting to the shooter. The handguard is all AR-15.

The receiver, buffer tube, and telescoping stock are familiar to AR-15 shooters around the world. You may modify the rifle as you see fit. I like it as issued, but if long-range shooting is in the cards, you may wish to add good optics and a custom grade forend. Interestingly, this isn’t really a copy of the original AR-10 at all, but rather a modified AR-15. The rear of the bolt is AR-15 size as an example, while the front of the carrier is .308 size. It works out well. There is an improved firing pin spring that may counter slam fires with the floating firing pin. I cannot confirm, but it looks good.

Slam fires are most common with poorly-sized handloads or protruding primers. Never place a cartridge in the chamber and then allow the bolt to slam shut. Always load from the magazine. The Smith & Wesson Military and Police 10 has a couple of other advantages over most any other AR-type rifle. The Smith & Wesson features an ambidextrous safety. When training, I do not consider one hand the right hand and the other the left. Rather, I shoot with the rear hand on the handle and the forward hand controlling the rifle. Right- or left-hand operation depends upon the obstacle and the firing position.

Smith & Wesson M&P10 being fired from bench
Firing from a solid bench rest the Smith & Wesson .308 gave good results.

The barrel isn’t a heavy barrel but is adequate for the task. The barrel twist rate is 1:10 inches, which proved capable of stabilizing the loads fired with good accuracy. These loads included not only the Winchester USA 147-grain .308 but also the Winchester 150-grain JSP and the Winchester 180-grain JSP. Accuracy was good to excellent, with 2-2.5-inch groups at 100 yards with iron sights. Of course, the rifle will do better once there are proper optics mounted. There have been no failures to feed, chamber fire or eject with a variety of loads including handloads. The rifle has proven reliable with bullet weights of 147 to 180 grains including handloads using the Sierra MatchKing (SMK) in both 168- and 175-grain weight.

When firing and handling the rifle, there are several advantages over other short .308 rifles that come to mind. First, the rifle kicks less than most bolt-action rifles. This is because of the gas-operated action. The action soaks up and uses recoil energy. Second, the ergonomics of the rifle are excellent for all-around recoil control. The rifle is reliable. If you need the extra punch of the .308 in the AR-15 platform, this is a great rifle. If you are hunting with a .308 bolt gun and wish to try the AR-15, this is a good place to start. The Smith & Wesson rifle is a good show, with quality, accuracy and reliability.

Short, soft recoil and extra punch — what’s not to like about the M&P .308? Share your impression, or first-hand experience, of the Smith and Wesson M&P .308 in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. Like mine. Little recoil, and consistent. Swapped the hand guard for a free floating Diamond head. Had to replace the gas block with a low profile,… might need to find another because presser reduction is causing feed failures.

  2. My M&P10 is stock except for the trigger and add-on optics and I couldn’t be happier with it. Good price, accurate, and dependable…what more does one need?

  3. My M&P 10 has been more than I could have hoped for. I bought it with expectations that it would be a reliable and fairly lightweight .308 AR…. I was not expecting it to be as accurate as it is. It’s priced lower than it performs and quite a bargain in the .308 AR/AR 10 market. With a good optic this rifle will not let you down. Shoots better than I can shoot it even with the cheaper practice ammo. It doesn’t seem to care what bullet weight it eats and I have yet to have a malfunction with it after over a thousand rounds which is my most important attribute of the gun…

  4. Love my M&P10. Shoot it with 147 to 150 grain cheap ammo in 3 gun matches without any issues. With 168 grain HPBT or Sierra Match Kings, this thing is as accurate as my Savage 111 Trophy Hunter bolt gun!

  5. I have one and stock with a Millett 1-4 power it shot under 2 inches with 12 different factory loads. With factory Hornady 168 grain A-Max, I shot a 1/2 inch group and 3/4 are common with this load. I credit the 5R rifling. Have since put Magpul furniture on it and it is a slam dunk rifle!

    1. Zack

      Thanks for the input.
      I really need to put good optics on this rifle, it deserves it!

      Bob Campbell

  6. I don’t have an M&P .308, but I’ve had my M&P 5.56 for several years now and I love it. It is my first go-to of my ARs. It is comfortable to shoot and carry around, and it has been utterly reliable. IMHO it’s the best AR out there in the price range.

    1. @ Mikial

      I own both models and they shoot very similar. The 10 is just a touch heavier and felt recoil is a bit more…high shoulder perch is not recommended with the 10.

    2. Thanks, Dan.

      Glad to hear you like it and I’m not at all surprised. As I said, I really like my M&P 5.56.

  7. I have owned mine shortly after they came out. I am very satisfied with it. It is lighter than my FNAR and much easier to carry. It is very accurate even with the light barrel.

    1. Lou,
      I do not have an M&P but I do have a FNAR and it is admittedly heavy. However, that is my only criticism, if that is a criticism. There is almost no perceptible recoil and it is superbly accurate. From the bench it will routinely group minute of angle at both 100 and 200 yards — the limit of our local range. If you are not a huge fan, I know of a son who would love to buy your FNAR.

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