Can You Shoot 1,000 Yards with an AR-10? Well, can you? Conventional wisdom says no. After all, AR’s are semi-automatic designs, with hot burning gas of doom smothering all the important parts like gravy over Cracker Barrel’s Chicken Fried Chicken. Heck, the upper and lower receivers are stuck together with simple push pins. AR-type rifles can’t be all that accurate, can they?
To find out, the folks from Smith & Wesson, NRA Outdoors, Sub-MOA Firearms, Hornady, Huskemaw Optics, Magpul, Blackhawk!, Battenfeld, Champion, SportEar, and Brownells put together a long range shooting school. The rifle of choice? Smith & Wesson’s M&P 10 LE .308. The baker’s dozen of identical guns present were off-the-rack models with no customization other than the addition of a Magpul PRS Precision Adjustable Stock. These were added just so each shooter could customize the length of pull and comb height. For optics, all rifles were equipped with Huskemaw Optics 3-12×42 with RFBC Custom Turrets. If you send specific data on the load, rifle, actual velocity and average atmospheric conditions for your area, they’ll print a custom turret with yardages and wind holds marked.
Even the Smith & Wesson folks didn’t quite know what to expect from this outing. Sure, they’ve tested the M&P 10 at ranges appropriate for the intended use. It would be hard to imagine the LE model being used in the field for shots over 200 yards. Of course, these rifles have been tested for accuracy at 100, 200 and 300-yard ranges. They were fairly confident we’d be able to reach out to 800 yards with some success, considering the design of the rifle and ballistic profile of the 168 grain .308 round, but even that wasn’t a sure thing.
Over two days, our instructors taught theory, technique, position and lots of math, which enabled us to nail consistently targets at long distance. On day one, we started shooting in a structured environment – the SubMOA Firearms range. It’s got a beautiful shoot house on a mountain peak, equipped with benches, Caldwell Flite Control Front Rests and a passel of Swarovski spotting scopes.
The SubMOA range stretches 1,000 yards towards 9,000-foot high natural backstops. None the less, some insurance genius made them install 12-foot high berms at each target area. Based on the volume of continuous gunfire, the neighbors have taken to calling this area Little Beirut. Once the shooting started, I completely understood that.
On day one, we used the stable shooting positions and predictable ranges to develop dope books for our individual rifles and the Hornady .308 168 grain A-Max load. Starting at 400 yards, which was easy, we quickly stretched out to 500, 600, 700 and then 800 yards to capture exact elevation adjustments required to get on target given the current atmospheric conditions.