AR 10 vs AR 15 vs AR 9: Here’s How to Spot the Difference

VD November 11 2021

AR (Armalite Rifles) became popular after the ban in 2004, and many people started taking an interest in them. If you are new to firearms, you may find every black rifle similar to each other, wondering what the difference is. Fret not, as this guide will inform you about the differences between various rifles.

There are a lot of varieties in Armalite Rifle sporting rifles, but generally, there are 3 well-known versions: AR 15, AR 10, and AR9. No doubt there are other variants, but most fall under the same category. AR 10 vs AR 15 vs AR 9 all have different strengths and weaknesses and fire different cartridges. If you have a fondness for rifles, this guide will give you great insight into all three.

 AR 10 vs AR 15 vs AR 9

We will discuss the characteristics of all 3 one by one that will help you to identify them.

What is AR 15

If you are looking for one line answer to this question, then “it is the most admired civilian firearm (rifle) in America.” AR 15 is a semi-auto, powerful, and lightweight rifle manufactured for the public, imitating the M 16 rifle of the military.

The AR 15 has a very huge fan base worldwide due to its versatile construction, affordable components, and availability of its vast customization options.

Its ancestor M 16, is a fully automatic military rifle that can fire multiple rounds instantly with the click of the trigger. Its civilian equivalent AR 15 was manufactured as a semi-automatic rifle that can fire one round with each time trigger is squeezed.

There are many more features in AR 15, such as the superior reloading speed that can support any combat situation. It is equipped with a massive shock absorber to reduce the recoil and offer more stability and accuracy. It can be chambered with almost a dozen cartridges, but the primary standard for AR 15 is 5.56x45 mm.

It also provides enormous options for customization to the point that it can be made by assembling parts made by different companies, so many people buy it for hunting, as well as home and self-defense.

AR 15 Features:

  • It is a semi-automatic rifle. It can fire one round with each squeeze of the trigger.
  • It is available in a wide range of calibers.
  • It has a high rate of fire, not fully-automatic but faster than any other rifle.


  • It is lightweight.
  • It has a high accuracy level.
  • Highly customizable with a wide range of accessories and components to choose from.
  • It offers superior reloading speed.


  • It has a low stopping power than other black rifles such as the AR 10 and the AR 9.
  • It is very loud.

What is AR 10

The AR 10 is also a robust, semi-automatic rifle that can be regarded as the big brother of AR 15, but it has a few drawbacks. First of all, the number of cartridges you can chamber in the gun is not as many as AR 15. The general outline you can follow for cartridges of AR 10 is that they can have a max length of 2.85 mm.

AR 10 is more powerful and has a better range compared to AR 15. Otherwise, there won’t be a reason for AR 10 to exist.

The two major drawbacks AR 10 has are part compatibility and price. The AR 10 can be 2 or 3 times expensive than a AR 15; moreover, its ammunition is also very expensive. So check your bank balance before you think of buying one.

AR 10 Features:

It is a semi-automatic rifle. It can fire one round with each squeeze of the trigger.

It is not compatible with as many accessories as the AR 15, and its components may be more expensive than those of AR 15.


  • It is lightweight.
  • It has high stopping power.
  • Higher accuracy level than AR 15 due to better range and power.


  • It is very loud.
  • Its components and accessories are less available than those of AR 15.

What is AR 9

Even though AR 9 are almost the same size as AR 15, they are known as little rifles. They use 9mm ammo and are perfect for home defense. FBI uses these rifles; with this, you can see the effectiveness of these guns.

AR 9 uses the same ammunition as your 9mm pistol but offers more power and penetration. When compared to AR 15, it is also very cost-effective.

AR 9 Features:

  • It is a semi-automatic rifle. It can fire one round with each squeeze of the trigger.
  • It is not compatible with as many accessories as AR 15 and its components and accessories may be more expensive than those of AR 15.
  • Lower recoil than AR 15 and similar to that of your 9mm pistol.


  • Low noise level, perfect for home defense use.
  • It has less recoil compared to AR 15 due to 9mm ammo that reduces force on muzzle rise by 50%.
  • Cheaper ammunition costs compared to other black rifles such as the AR 10 or the AR 15.


  • It is limited in range due to the low-power cartridge. Sometimes it won't shoot through a semi-metal door.
  • It has a low accuracy level compared to AR 15 due to its short barrel length.
  • It is, in general, a home defense weapon and not a battle rifle. Sometimes it will struggle with close-quarter combat or during fast-paced tactical shooting situations that require long-range shots between targets at different distances.

What’s the difference between AR 10 vs AR 15 vs AR 9?

If you are deciding which one to buy, take into account what your purpose of buying this gun is because it will help you decide the best option possible. If you are looking for a rifle for home defense, AR 9 will be your best choice. If you plan to use it for hunting, AR 10 may do the job flawlessly while if you want one for tactical combat, either of them has its own pros and cons. You can choose based on your purpose.

If the range is not your priority then again AR 9 is the answer but if you are looking for something that can shoot long distances with high accuracy then there’s nothing better than the AR 15.

So other than these 3 main factors, bullet size should also be considered when buying an assault rifle since they vary depending on your purpose. For example - 223 vs 308 or 762x51mm NATO vs 300 Win Mag, etc.


All the firearms mentioned above are the top of the brass and can be used for self/home defense, sports shooting, hunting, and many more. So it would be best if you chose the firearm depending upon your budget and needs.