S&W M&P 10 Camo: An AR for Hunters

By author of JJ’s Gun Blog

Attempting to tap the hunting market, S&W's M&P 10 .308 Goes Camo.

I wish I had stock in Smith and Wesson. Publically traded, its Military and Police (M&P) line of handguns and rifles are bullish. Law Enforcement agencies are signing contracts for more guns, and competitive shooters have fully embraced them for their handling, accuracy and no-BS features. Now the company is tapping the hunting market with its M&P 10 rifle. 

In sum, the M&P 10 is a Realtree-cloaked AR-10 that’s chambered in the big-game killing .308 Winchester cartridge. Patterned after Eugene Stoner's original 1955 design that later spawned the anemic AR-15/M16, its action utilizes a direct gas impingement system that functions much like your Remington 1100; it sends excess gas from the cartridge into a metal tube above the barrel that forces the bolt open. 

I fully realize that deer can be killed with a properly placed .223, but just because you’ve seen your uncle hammer a nail with a monkey wrench doesn’t mean it’s ideal. The .308 Win., on the other hand, is. It’s my all-time favorite caliber for deer, and, in a semi-auto capable of unleashing 20-rounds as fast you can can pull the trigger, it’s simply perfect for pigs.

I fully realize that deer can be killed with a properly placed .223, but just because you’ve seen your uncle hammer a nail with a monkey wrench doesn’t mean it’s ideal. The .308 Win., on the other hand, is.

Uniquely, Smith’s version is totally ambidextrous; use a thumb on the receiver's left side or your trigger finger to manipulate the safety, magazine release and/or bolt-release buttons. Those already familiar with ARs (or right-handers), however, may view the added controls as clutter. But for most hunters, who may be skeptical of buying an wimpy AR-15 and therefore are unfamiliar with its controls, the ambidextrous buttons are legitimate additions. I find the safety on the right side is much easier to return to safe with my trigger finger than with my thumb. I’m sure James Yeager will wave me upside down over a dumpster for writing that, but options, in my view, are seldom bad.

This rifle’s plain A2 hand guard makes me feel like it’s 1979 again. It’s disappointing. Smith and Wesson did add a small rail—probably for backup iron sights—on the gas block and this is noble, but just about anything I want to mount as a hunter—a flashlight or laser—will be in the way of my scope. 

Smith redeemed itself on its stock choice, however, when it ponied up for the top-end Magpul MOE buttstock. This thing is as ridged as a rule and facilitates a proper cheek weld, two traits important for long-range accuracy. 

Like most ARs its trigger is a two-stage job that should be understood before bad-mouthed. After taking up 1/8-inch of slack in the first stage, the all-important one breaks satisfyingly at about 5 pounds. 

If you haven’t handled an AR-10 before, most feel like a 10-pound protractor what with their angles and 8-plus pounds before mounting a scope, sling and magazine full of ammo. The M&P weighs 8.1 and comes with a 5-round mag. While 20-rounders are available, the 5-rounder is best for hunting because it enables the gun to be rested normally on sandbags without making the rifle a teeter totter. It’s only if you find yourself facing 20 wild boars that the 20-rounder will be missed.

The rifle is finished in Realtree AP, so it will confuse all of your anti-gun co-workers who can't argue against hunting, as if they weren’t confused enough. Seriously, the finish adds another level of metal protection.

Most importantly, the M&P 10 produced some outstanding groups. In a heavy wind I shot an .078-incher with Winchester's 168-grain Match ammunition. 

Ten-rings or elk, the Smith's Realtree M&P 10 is bullish if you ask me. $1,729