Best AR-10 Calibers: How HOP Munitions is Dominating the Market

Best AR-10 Calibers: How HOP Munitions is Dominating the Market

Choosing the right AR-10 calibers can make all the difference in your shooting experience when it comes to the AR-10 platform.

Whether hunting, target shooting, or preparing for tactical scenarios, the AR-10 calibers you select will impact your performance and results. HOP Munitions, a leader in precision ammunition, is revolutionizing AR-10 calibers with its top-of-the-line offerings.

This article explores the best AR-10 calibers available, highlighting why HOP Munitions is a go-to choice. From the reliable .308 Winchester to the formidable .338 Lapua Magnum, discover how HOP Munitions’ expertise and innovation are setting new standards in versatility and performance.

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester, introduced in 1952, has solidified its place as one of the most versatile and popular calibers for the AR-10 platform. Initially developed for military applications, it quickly transitioned to civilian use, gaining favor among hunters, sports shooters, and tactical enthusiasts. Its reputation for reliability, accuracy, and stopping power makes it a top choice for a wide range of applications.

Ballistics and Performance

The .308 Winchester is known for its impressive ballistic performance. With a typical muzzle velocity of approximately 2,820 feet per second (fps) when firing a 150-grain bullet, it delivers a muzzle energy of about 2,648 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). This combination of velocity and energy allows the .308 Win to maintain effective terminal performance at distances up to 800 yards, making it suitable for both hunting and long-range target shooting.

The cartridge’s design, featuring a relatively short case length, allows for efficient powder burn and consistent performance. This contributes to the .308 Win’s reputation for accuracy and repeatability, essential qualities for both competitive shooting and hunting scenarios. Additionally, the .308 Winchester offers a wide range of bullet weights, from 110 grains to 190 grains, providing flexibility for different shooting applications.

Best AR-10 Calibers: 308 Winchester
308 Win – 168gr HPBT

Applications and Advantages

The .308 Winchester is a favorite among hunters for its ability to take down medium to large game such as deer, elk, and black bears. Its energy and penetration capabilities ensure clean, ethical kills, even at extended ranges.

In tactical settings, the .308 Win’s stopping power and penetration make it an effective choice for self-defense and law enforcement applications. Its ability to deliver substantial kinetic energy on target enhances its effectiveness in critical situations.

One of the standout features of the .308 Winchester is its versatility. It can be loaded with a variety of bullet types and weights, including full metal jacket (FMJ) for practice, hollow points for hunting, and match-grade bullets for precision shooting. This versatility ensures that shooters can tailor their ammunition to their specific needs.

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Pros and Cons


  • Widely available and cost-effective ammunition.
  • Excellent versatility for hunting, target shooting, and tactical applications.
  • Proven performance and reliability in various conditions.


  • Recoil is more pronounced compared to lighter calibers like the 6.5 Creedmoor.
  • While highly effective, its ballistic performance can be outmatched by newer, specialized long-range calibers.

The .308 Winchester remains a top choice for the AR-10 platform, offering a blend of power, accuracy, and versatility that few other calibers can match. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its well-rounded performance and adaptability across multiple shooting disciplines.

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338 Lapua Magnum

The .338 Lapua Magnum is a high-powered, long-range caliber initially developed for military sniping applications. Introduced in the 1980s, it was designed to provide effective performance against personnel and materiel targets at distances exceeding 1,500 meters. Today, the .338 Lapua Magnum is revered for its extraordinary range, precision, and stopping power, making it a favorite among long-range shooting enthusiasts and big game hunters.

Ballistics and Performance

The .338 Lapua Magnum is renowned for its impressive ballistic capabilities. When firing a 250-grain bullet, it achieves a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,950 feet per second (fps) and a muzzle energy of around 4,768 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). These characteristics allow the .338 Lapua to maintain supersonic speeds beyond 1,500 yards, providing exceptional accuracy and energy retention at extreme distances.

The high ballistic coefficient of .338 Lapua bullets minimizes wind drift and drop, enhancing its effectiveness in varying environmental conditions. This caliber is particularly suited for precision long-range shooting, where it can deliver pinpoint accuracy and substantial terminal performance. Additionally, the .338 Lapua Magnum’s heavy bullets ensure deep penetration and significant impact, making it capable of neutralizing both soft and hard targets.

Best AR-10 Calibers: 338 Lapua Magnum
.338 Lapua Mag – 225gr TTSX

Applications and Advantages

The .338 Lapua Magnum excels in precision shooting scenarios, where its flat trajectory and minimal wind drift make it a preferred choice for marksmen and snipers. Its ability to engage targets at extreme distances with high accuracy is unmatched by many other calibers.

For hunters pursuing large game such as moose, elk, and even bears, the .338 Lapua Magnum offers unparalleled stopping power. Its heavy bullets and high energy ensure clean, ethical kills, even at long ranges. This caliber is ideal for situations where maximum penetration and energy transfer are required.

Originally designed for military sniping, the .338 Lapua Magnum remains a standard in many armed forces around the world. Its ability to disable enemy combatants and equipment at long distances makes it a valuable asset in tactical and counter-sniper operations.

Pros and Cons


  • Exceptional long-range accuracy and energy retention.
  • Ideal for big game hunting and long-range precision shooting.
  • Proven performance in military and tactical applications.


  • Ammunition and rifle setups are expensive.
  • Significant recoil requires proper training and equipment to manage effectively.
  • Limited availability of AR-10 rifles chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum.

The .338 Lapua Magnum is a specialized caliber that excels in specific applications where long-range accuracy and stopping power are paramount. Its impressive ballistics and performance make it a top choice for precision shooters and hunters who demand the best from their equipment. While it requires a significant investment, the capabilities it offers are unparalleled in the world of long-range shooting.

6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor has quickly risen to prominence since its introduction by Hornady in 2007. Originally designed for precision rifle shooting, this caliber has garnered widespread acclaim for its exceptional long-range accuracy, manageable recoil, and versatility. Its well-balanced performance and adaptability make it a favorite among competitive shooters, hunters, and tactical marksmen.

Ballistics and Performance

The 6.5 Creedmoor is known for its impressive ballistic efficiency. When firing a 140-grain bullet, it achieves a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,700 feet per second (fps) and a muzzle energy of around 2,283 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). Its high ballistic coefficient ensures a flat trajectory and minimal wind drift, making it highly effective at long ranges.

One of the standout features of the 6.5 Creedmoor is its ability to remain supersonic beyond 1,000 yards, which is crucial for maintaining accuracy at extreme distances. This caliber’s design allows for consistent performance and precision, making it a top choice for competitive shooting events like the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). Additionally, the 6.5 Creedmoor’s recoil is notably lower than that of the .308 Winchester, which enhances shooter comfort and follow-up shot accuracy.

Best AR-10 Calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor 147gr – ELD

Applications and Advantages

The 6.5 Creedmoor was developed with precision shooting in mind. Its consistent accuracy and high ballistic coefficient make it a preferred choice for competitive shooters. It excels in PRS competitions and other long-range shooting disciplines, where precision and consistency are paramount.

For hunters, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers a versatile solution for medium-sized game such as deer and pronghorn. Its flat trajectory and minimal recoil make it suitable for accurate shots at longer distances, ensuring ethical kills. The caliber’s high sectional density allows for deep penetration, enhancing its effectiveness in hunting scenarios.

Although less common in military applications compared to other calibers, the 6.5 Creedmoor is gaining traction in tactical circles due to its long-range capabilities and manageable recoil. Its precision and accuracy make it suitable for designated marksman roles and other tactical shooting needs.

Pros and Cons


  • Excellent long-range accuracy and minimal wind drift.
  • Manageable recoil enhances shooter comfort and follow-up shot accuracy.
  • Versatile for both hunting and competitive shooting.


  • Slightly less kinetic energy compared to larger calibers like the .308 Winchester.
  • While growing in popularity, it may not be as widely available as more established calibers.

The 6.5 Creedmoor stands out as a highly capable and versatile caliber for the AR-10 platform. Its blend of long-range accuracy, manageable recoil, and consistent performance make it a top choice for precision shooters, hunters, and tactical marksmen. Whether you’re competing in a shooting match or pursuing game in the field, the 6.5 Creedmoor delivers the precision and reliability needed to excel in various scenarios.

.243 Winchester

The .243 Winchester, introduced in 1955, is a versatile and popular caliber derived from the .308 Winchester case. Known for its mild recoil and high velocity, the .243 Win is favored by hunters and sport shooters alike. It is particularly effective for varmint hunting and medium-sized game, making it a reliable choice for those who require accuracy and manageable recoil in their shooting activities.

Ballistics and Performance

The .243 Winchester is renowned for its impressive speed and flat trajectory. When firing a 100-grain bullet, it achieves a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,960 feet per second (fps) and a muzzle energy of around 1,945 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). These characteristics make the .243 Win effective at distances up to 600 yards, although it excels in the 300-400 yard range where its performance is most consistent.

The light recoil of the .243 Winchester allows for quick follow-up shots and enhances shooter comfort, making it an excellent choice for smaller-framed shooters or those who prefer a less punishing experience. Its high velocity ensures minimal bullet drop and wind drift, which is crucial for maintaining accuracy at longer ranges. Additionally, the availability of various bullet weights, typically ranging from 55 to 105 grains, provides flexibility for different shooting applications.

Best AR-10 Calibers: 243 Winchester
243 Winchester – 100gr SP

Applications and Advantages

The .243 Winchester is highly effective for varmint hunting due to its high velocity and flat trajectory. It is commonly used for hunting small to medium-sized pests like coyotes, groundhogs, and prairie dogs. The caliber’s accuracy ensures precise shots, which are essential for targeting smaller animals.

For hunters targeting deer, hogs, and other medium-sized game, the .243 Win offers sufficient stopping power and deep penetration. Its mild recoil allows for better shot placement, which is critical for ethical kills. The caliber’s versatility also makes it suitable for a variety of hunting environments, from dense woods to open fields.

The .243 Winchester is a popular choice for sport shooting and target practice. Its light recoil and high accuracy make it enjoyable for extended shooting sessions, whether for practice or competition. The availability of affordable ammunition further enhances its appeal for recreational shooters.

Pros and Cons


  • Light recoil makes it suitable for smaller-framed shooters and beginners.
  • High velocity and flat trajectory ideal for varmint hunting and medium-sized game.
  • Versatile and widely available ammunition options.


  • Limited range and stopping power compared to larger calibers like the .308 Winchester.
  • More affected by wind drift due to lighter bullet weights, which can impact accuracy at extreme distances.

The .243 Winchester is a well-rounded caliber that excels in varmint hunting, medium-sized game hunting, and sport shooting. Its combination of high velocity, mild recoil, and versatility makes it a favorite among shooters who value accuracy and comfort. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a recreational shooter, the .243 Win provides reliable performance across various applications, ensuring a satisfying shooting experience.

Why Use an AR-10?

The benefits of using an AR-10 for long-distance shooting become clear when comparing its performance to that of an AR-15, particularly regarding retained bullet energy at 500 yards. HOP Munitions’ offerings provide a clear comparison.

At 500 yards, the .223 Rem. cartridge, commonly used in AR-15s, retains roughly 384 ft.-lbs. of energy. While this might seem substantial, it pales in comparison to the energy retained by cartridges that AR-10s can chamber.

For instance, HOP Munitions’ .308 Win. (168-grain HPBT) retains an impressive 1,102 ft.-lbs. of energy at the same distance. The .338 Lapua Magnum load (225-grain TTSX) hits with 2,278 ft.-lbs., and even the lighter .243 Win. (100-grain SP) maintains 763 ft.-lbs. at 500 yards. This significant difference in retained energy makes the AR-10 a superior choice for big game hunting and long-range performance.

The effectiveness of the .308 Win. was also proven during the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan. The 5.56 NATO M4s struggled with the country’s long-range, ridgeline engagements. To address this, the U.S. military brought back the .308 Win. M14s from storage, retrofitted them, and issued them to designated marksmen. These older rifles made a considerable impact, highlighting the .308 Win.’s capability in long-distance engagements.

Best AR-10 Calibers and how the M14 made a comeback
Spc. Jared Higgins, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, scans his sector with an M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle during Operation Southern Strike III in the district of Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2012.

Final Thoughts

Having spent years with each of these calibers, I can personally attest to their unique strengths and applications. From my early days in the Marine Corps with the .308 Winchester to more recent experiences with the 6.5 Creedmoor, every caliber has its place and purpose. However, if I were to choose just one, it would undoubtedly be the .308 Winchester.

Marine Corps 308 Sniper Rifle
Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, conduct unknown distance shooting during the Pre-Scout Sniper Course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 17, 2015. The six-week long course is designed to prepare and screen students for the follow-on training at Scout Sniper Basic School. (Photo by LCpl. Danielle Rodrigues/Released)

The .308 Winchester has been a reliable companion since the 1990s, and its evolution over the years has only solidified its position as my go-to caliber. Improvements in modern manufacturing and better components have enhanced its already impressive performance. This round has proven its worth repeatedly, holding its ground against newer, specialized calibers.

The versatility, reliability, and consistent performance of the .308 Winchester make it an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, from hunting and tactical scenarios to long-range target shooting. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its well-rounded capabilities and adaptability. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or just starting, the .308 Winchester is a caliber that delivers dependable results, time and time again.

In conclusion, while each of the calibers discussed offers distinct advantages, the .308 Winchester is the most versatile and reliable option for the AR-10 platform—in my opinion. Happy shooting!