Well, here it is. After nearly two months, three thousand rounds, and countless man-hours from multiple departments, we have concluded this project. We learned a ton throughout this process. To follow through on our overall mission to inspire, educate, and equip the average citizen, we’ll discuss some of these learning points in further detail below.
AR-10 Parts Compatibility
Unlike its smaller 5.56 counterpart, the AR-15, the AR-10 platform was never adopted by the military until quite a while after its initial design. Why does this matter, you may ask? The AR-10 and its variants never got standardized like the AR-15 and have only recently started this long process. This means there are multiple “standards” for this platform that involve proprietary parts, receivers, internals, handguards, and more. This makes building and sourcing replacement parts for these guns tricky, with a lot of research needed to ensure parts compatibility, function, and overall safety. We learned this lesson when our firing pin broke, leaving us with no sure option other than buying an entire new bolt carrier group or waiting 4-6 weeks for a warranty part, but more on that later.
The .308 cartridge is not easy to tame, but some platforms do it better than others. Our Aero M5 was very violent from the start of the test, which ultimately ended in multiple parts breakages. The 3.8 ounce .308 buffer and standard .308 carbine spring were not enough to control bolt velocity, which was only exaggerated by the addition of a suppressor, leading to a much shorter parts life than expected, even on a larger caliber rifle. Increased parts wear is not the only negative effect of having an overgassed rifle. The recoil impulse on this M5 was much more aggressive than our Remington RSASS, Scar-17, and HK417 rifles, all of which have adjustable gas systems. This would likely be a significant benefit to the M5, but at this time, there aren’t many adjustable gas options for direct impingement AR-15/AR-10 rifles that we would recommend or trust for duty/defense use. This technology has advanced over the past few years with the popularization of suppressors so that sentiment may be subject to change in the future.
We shot 5-round groups with our various ammo types throughout the test. The above charts are a representation of that data. While we aren’t precision shooters by any means, we put a lot of effort into taking as much human error out of the equation as possible. Even with our most expensive ammunition, you can see that we barely met the MOA guarantee that comes with Ballistic Advantage (Aero) barrels, and the performance with standard M80 leaves a lot to be desired. That said, our upper has a cheaper 4150 CMV barrel instead of the 416 stainless barrels Aero offers, so it would be reasonable to expect more accuracy from those barrels. With the cheaper, longer-lasting 4150 CMV barrel, this upper is better suited in a “Battle Rifle” role instead of a precision setup, which is acceptable if that is what you are pursuing.
Customer service is something we take seriously. While the best warranty is the one you never need, if you use your gear, something will inevitably break. That’s just the name of the game. What matters is not only a quality product but also a company’s dedication to their customer and the ability to stand behind said products in a timely manner. With this in mind, the level of service we received when we reached out to Aero about our broken firing pin anonymously was not adequate. If we were a standard customer without the means to overnight a new bolt carrier group, we would have been left with a non-functional rifle for 4-6 weeks. If you want to read more about that experience, you can jump back to the end of our fourth loadout here.
All in all, we had higher expectations for our Aero M5. We have and will probably continue to use Aero parts on our AR-15 builds, but we cannot recommend Aero’s M5 rifles or parts in their current state for any serious use. It is worth noting that this is merely a sample size of one, and to get genuinely objective data, we’d need to conduct this same test much more consistently across a larger number of subjects. Still, the info we gathered and our experiences can be used as a single data point to educate further and inform prospective buyers of AR-10-type rifles and hopefully push some improvements to Aero’s product offerings and services.
We hope you enjoyed this write-up and were able to obtain valuable information from it. If you have any questions, you can email us at [email protected].