WMD-10 Big Beast AR-10: Big Brother to the Beast .223/5.56 AR-15 / WMD-15
Updated March 2016
While it seems that everyone and their sister has an AR-15 these days, the AR-10 platform, with the larger dimensions required to fire larger cartridges, can be harder to find. The AR-10 market appears to be more fragmented, with competing standards on parts fit, as opposed to the more homogeneous “mil-spec” AR-15 market. One might forgive a prospective AR10 owner if they wade carefully into the lake of AR 10 options (not enough to call it a “sea of options” yet, IMHO), unsure what to purchase.
As a manufacturer of both varieties of ARs, our friends at WMDGuns.com built us an AR-10 to test and report back on what we find. In this Review we share the full spectrum of our experiences with the WMD10 including; unboxing, first impressions and feedback on early range trips, the specs of our WMD-10 test rifle, long term testing results, and hunting reports. Why don’t we start with the specs…
Other AR15 / AR10 articles you might like:
- Gibbz Arms Side Charge Upper Receiver review
- WMD Guns AR Ultimate Chassis – SHOT Show 2016
- Lucid P7 4x prismatic weapons sight review
- WMD Guns Beast AR Pistol – SHOT Show 2016
- AR Trigger Upgrade test
- Hiperfire Hipertouch EDT trigger review
The bigger, badder Beast, in .308/7.62×51
Here is how WMD Guns advertises their Big Beast rifle:
“The WMD Beast was the world’s first AR fully coated with our proprietary NiB-X nickel boron coating process.
Now, WMD’s new Big Beast takes all the attributes that made its 5.56 predecessor such a benchmark in the industry, and beefed ‘em up to .308:
- All exterior surfaces and key internal components permanently coated in the NiB-X process for extraordinary corrosion resistance, permanently “lubricious” feel, and ferocious wear & abrasion resistance.
- Features WMD’s renowned NiB-X bolt carrier group and NiB-X fire control group.
- 16” barrel with 1:7 twist and nitrided bore for exceptional, long-term accuracy.
- Free-floating barrel; surrounding handguard features fully adjustable rails.”
- Lower Receiver: Billet 7075-T6 Aluminum with Front Magazine Well Finger Grips and NiB-X Nickel Boron Coated for Durability
- Upper Receiver: Billet 7075-T6 Aluminum NiB-X coated for lubricity and durability.
- Barrel Extension: DPMS style NiB-X coated barrel extension for extremely smooth locking and unlocking with the bolt.
- Carbine Length Gas System: Low Profile Gas Block, CNC Machined from 4140 Steel and NiB-X finished, Nitromet QPQ Gas Tube, direct impingement
- Bolt Carrier Group: DPMS style, MPI Tested, NiB-X coated for reliability and ease of cleaning, properly staked gas key
- Fire Control Group: Hammer, trigger and disconnect coated in NiB-X for lower pull force (<6lbs) and smooth reset
- Made in the USA!
The rifle that WMD Guns sent us for review has a few key differences and additions:
- Match grade, 18”, 4150, govt profile, 1:10 twist mid length gas system. Nitrided bore, NiB-X OD
- WMD made billet 7075 Charging handle with oversized latch on left side
- Luth-AR MBA-1 rifle length adjustable stock
- Ergo Grips overmolded Suregrip
- Magpul 10 & 20 round Gen M3 PMags
- Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) FSC30 compensator
- Shipped in a Drago 42″ single gun case (Elite Ranger Collection)
The original plan was that our test rifle would ship with a more traditional hunting configuration:
.308 20″, 1:10 twist, rifle length gas system, heavy profile, target crown, barrel material: 4150
If you prefer the 20″ target setup, then you are in luck. WMD Guns will offer the 20″ hunting rifle configuration. I think that barrel would fit the stated purpose as a hunting rifle quite well. The rifle length gas tube should result in even smoother operation.
However, delays in barrel production led to our test rifle shipping with an 18″ match barrel with (PWS) FSC30 compensator, as is found on WMD guns Big Beast Billet Chassis.
A bit about the Chassis: WMD recognized that many customers would buy a stock rifle, then immediately replace the handguard, grip, and stock with aftermarket parts to suit their specific needs. To help save customers money WMD offers a bare rifle to which the customer can add their desired furniture. This also works for local gun dealers that carry all of the furniture parts, as they can customize rifles via furniture choices, or sell the furniture parts to the customer. Either way, the local dealer is moving their furniture stock, which is a good thing for cash flow and keeping up with changing trends. More on the WMD Guns AR Ultimate Chassis via this link.
With the rifle length buffer tube, the stock does does not slide forward and aft on the buffer tube as it would on a carbine length gas tube. Instead, the Luth-AR MBA-1 stock allows for length of pull adjustment via sliding the recoil pad forward or aft. Cheek rest height is adjustable as well. The MBA-1 really is exceptionally adjustable and appears to be a very nice stock. More on the Luth-AR MBA-1 stock later.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I may/may not have cussed at this rifle
A feature that I had not noticed at first, and didn’t see mentioned in the WMD Guns literature, but thankfully, have figured out is the Receiver Tensioning Screw which is in the floor of the receiver above the pistol grip and below the rear takedown pin holes in the lower receiver. This allen screw with a plastic insert on top takes up the gap between the bottom of the rear takedown pin lug on the upper receiver and the bottom of the fire control well in the lower receiver. Effectively, this adjustable screw can be set to put upward pressure on the rear takedown pin lug so that the upper receiver does not rock or wiggle on top of the lower receiver. I am thankful to have found this since the rear takedown pin was too difficult to push out, requiring a punch to open up the gun for cleaning, lube, parts replacement, etc. Simply turning the Receiver tensioning screw 1/8 of a turn clockwise reduced the tension just enough to make takedown pin insertion and removal easier, while still keeping a tight fit between the receivers. The machining tolerances on the billet upper and lower receiver of the WMD-10 are pretty tight, so one might argue that this receiver tensioning screw is not needed at all. However, it is a nice touch which further refines the rifle.
I have to admit that, while I expected it to be good, I was surprised at how smooth the WMD-10 shoots. $2,359 direct from WMDGuns.com may not qualify as a “high-dollar” rifle to some, it is certainly much higher than the $600-$800 AR-15s that seem to be popping up all over lately. Heck, I have seen a couple of AR-15s from bigger brand names in the $500 range recently. AR10’s are usually a bit more, with $1000 being a common price for an “entry level” AR10. I expect a $2,300+ rifle to have a variety of upgrades to justify the price and make the rifle perform at a higher level. We see evidence of this in the billet 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers (receivers milled from billet tend to have tighter tolerances than forged receivers), as well as the thorough application of high tech coatings.
Speaking of coatings, with so many other interesting parts to talk about on the Big Beast, I can’t neglect to mention the NiB-X, Nitride and Nitromet treatments. WMD is well known in the industry for their proprietary coating processes. They provide OEM coating services for many of other brands.
According to WMD Guns, “NiB-X is the only coating that optimizes the trifecta of performance attributes needed in firearms: hardness, wear resistance and low coefficient of friction.” We have heard many claims of running NiB-X coated guns without any liquid lubrication for many, many rounds. We have not tested this, but have seen enough reports from folks we trust to believe that, at a minimum, a gun with Nickel Boron coated internals should be more reliable than an otherwise identical gun without NiB-X coating. We like reliability in our firearms.
What I found on the first two range trips is that this configuration feels more like shooting 55gr rounds from an uncompensated AR-15 than it does the much higher energy .308 Winchester round. After all, .308 Win should produce roughly 3x the recoil energy. In the hunting configuration described above, with the longer, heavier profile target barrel, I would expect the additional mass to mute some of the recoil. However, the lighter government profile 18″ barrel should pass more recoil to the shooter, right?
My best guess is that I totally underestimated the Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) FSC30 compensator’s ability to reduce felt recoil. The WMD-10 still kicks, don’t get me wrong, but with less of an abrupt recoil impulse than I expected. I put about 20 rounds down range in my first sitting and my shoulder didn’t complain at all.
Unfortunately, the first time out I got impatient and mounted the Lucid M7 red dot sight… but did not take the time to sight it at 10 or 20 yards (my normal procedure) to be sure I was at least “on paper”. I was unable to mount the 2-5x swing out mount for the magnifier. We only took the 8″ gong, as we intended to be more of a function check than a serious accuracy session. I struggled to get the M7 on target at 100 yards, even with the 2x screw in magnifier and wondered whether there was a problem with the M7 or the rifle. In retrospect, for the distances I was shooting, and knowing that I was splitting my concentration between weapons operation and targeting, the poor results are on me for skipping the critical sighting in the optic step.
On the next trip to the range I mounted a hunting scope,sighted it in, and found that accuracy was rather good.
Taming the Big Beast
- Effective recoil reduction
- Effective flash reduction (enough flash suppression to keep the flash out of your optics and line of sight)
- Excellent performance with cartridges ranging from 6.8 SPC to 7.62mm NATO
- Makes large caliber AR rifles fast and controllable
- Muzzle climb and recoil drastically reduced
- Lifetime warranty, made in USA”
Odd looking or not, the PWS FSC30 reduces recoil like a champ. We will be taking the WMD-10 out soon to test Night Vision equipment, including the Night Optics USA D-740 NV scope. While testing for muzzle flash through a standard scope might be enough for most reviewers, we will be very interested to see how well the PWS FSC30 mitigates the muzzle flash visibility through the white phosphor NV scope.
With the muzzle brake effectively reducing felt recoil, the stock transmits much of what is left to the shooter. The Luth-AR MBA-1 buttstock has been a very welcome surprise. The rather stiff feeling rubber pad at the aft end of the stock seems to do a pretty good job of cushioning the .308 Win recoil. MBA means “MODULAR BUTTSTOCK ASSEMBLY”, which is a good reflection of how the MBA-1 stock is made. It is also sold in a stripped form, with the adjustable pull length and cheek rest height added modularly. Although the stock looks rather large, it is relatively light weight at a reported 1.26 lbs. And in terms of value, the $139.95 MSRP make it a pretty good value.
AR Pistol Grip
The other main control contact point on the rifle is the pistol grip, which is a standard Ergo Grips overmolded Suregrip. I have the non-overmolded version of this grip on another lower and liked the feel… until I tried the overmolded version. Now the non-overmolded one on the other lower doesn’t feel as good.
All dressed up and no game to shoot (yet)
I have been a bit of a keymod handguard fan for a while, although I don’t entirely trust the strength of the Midwest Industries keymod handguard on one of our AR-15 uppers since it has already had one keymod slot failure. The handguard on the WMD-10 appears thicker, which should avoid the same type of failure as on the MI handguard. The WMD keymod handguard is both really big and not so big, at the same time… which doesn’t make sense at all… so, I will explain. Prior to shooting the WMD-10 I felt that the handguard was almost cartoonishly large in diameter. It felt like it would be in the way of everything while hunting. However, once I started shooting the WMD-10 from a standing position the handguard felt fine in my hand. Also, while the handguard looks big, it actually feels pretty light weight. So again, just as with the stock, WMD chose parts that appear heavier than they are, resulting in a deceptively light total package. Since I plan on doing a lot of hunting with this rifle, some of which will be on foot, the lighter parts selection is definitely appreciated.
This review is being published fairly early in the review process simply because we have so many plans for this rifle over the coming months. As we do new things we will post new articles about them. Check back to see the new articles as we post them, and subscribe to our safe updates to be notified when new content drops. Updates will be added below…
Edit: Finally took the Big Beast hunting!
Sometimes a gun looks good on paper, but doesn’t feel right in your hands. Or shoots fine at the range, but just doesn’t cut it when actually hunting.
Well… not so with the Big Beast! I took the WMD-10 hunting for the first time yesterday after a bit of struggle getting a new Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 sight dialed in. I was not “feeling the love” on the firing range and shot through all of my range ammo while trying to figure out why the impact point seemed to be all over the place. In hindsight, I think the questionable milsurp ammo had a lot to do with it. Probably didn’t help that I also left my Hyskore shooting rest at home and instead was shooting using the window frame of my van as a shooting rest.
This young buck, however, was not happy at all.
My very first shot hunting with the WMD-10 Big Beast rifle dropped this whitetail buck in his tracks.
I admit the WMD-10 feels a bit bulky and heavy when we have it at the range with our lightweight AR-15 builds. I had wondered how the larger WMD Guns AR10 would feel in the deer stand? Bulky, clunky, heavy?
None of the above. It surprised me how natural it felt in my hands… 22 feet up in a tree sitting on a little lock-on deer stand seat. The is a joy to shoot. Unlike most .308 Win hunting rifles, the WMD-10 has very little felt recoil, allowing the shooter to stay on target through the scope to see where you hit and deliver follow-up shots, if needed. I didn’t need a follow-up shot though, as the deer hit the ground right where it was shot 120 yards from my stand.
Upgrading the Big Beast
Yeah. We test and review lots of gear at Gear-Report.com. Even though I was impressed with the recoil mitigation of the stock buffer in the WMD-10, KynSHOT was kind enough to send two hydraulic recoil dampers/buffers for testing… one is their standard RB5006 and the other is a prototype of the RB5006L for lower powered rounds. I have shot the AR-15 versions of the KynSHOT recoil dampers find that they really reduce the felt recoil and help keep the muzzle from climbing.
We will also test the Big Beast AR10 with the just announced Hiperfire TH24 Tarheel 3-gun trigger (click for our preview). As noted in our Big AR Trigger Upgrade review, the WMD Guns NiB-X triggers (click here for review) are unusually good for something that starts life as a mil-spec trigger. However, Hiperfire released the TH24 right as we are starting to use the Big Beast as one of our main test platforms for Night Vision, lasers, scopes, and other optics. Why not kill two birds with one stone and put the TH24 in the Big Beast?
Based on how similar upgrade parts performed in our testing on AR15 rifles, if I had to identify one opportunity for WMD to make their AR-10 better right out of the box, I would say that these two upgrades should get consideration. Hmmm. That is two things… so picking just one, I think that the trigger is more important for the hunting role this rifle was designed for, since the goal is an ethical kill on the first shot. If expecting to need multiple follow-up shots, like maybe if hunting a herd of feral hogs or coyotes, then maybe the KynSHOT is the suggestion, as it would help get back on target quicker for follow-up shots. I am very interested to find out whether these assumptions about the upgrades prove true or false.
As of this update, both the the Kynshot and Hiperfire parts have been installed, but not yet field tested.
We will also mount a Night Optics USA D-740 NV scope, DBAL-i2 visible & IR laser, and LaserMax Uni-max IR rifle laser kit for testing and hunting soon. Once those are removed we have a Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 scope on the way for this rifle.
July, 2015 update: We have shot the WMD-10 with all 3 of the items above. It did well with the Night Optics USA D-740 NV scope, although the NiB-X coating seems to have increased the rail dimensions slightly, meaning the QD mount on the scope had to be loosened a bit for it to fit. The Hiperfire TH24 trigger (same as the new Hiperfire ECLipse trigger, but without the Tarheel 3 gun branding) feels just as fantastic as we expected. However, in the 20 rounds we shot in initial testing we had 2 rounds with primer strikes that did not fire. Not sure if they are dud rounds, if we installed the trigger wrong, or if there is an issue with the trigger. The KynSHOT precision recoil damper fit perfectly and worked as advertised.
WMD Guns, LLC
It seems to me that most “gun companies” were borne of a passion for guns and a desire to figure out how to make a living pursuing that passion. WMD Gun took a different path, in that they started with science and technology and a desire to apply them to “enhance the shooting experience”.
Prior to WMD Guns, Wynn Atterbury, the WMD Guns President and a mechanical engineer, worked at the DoD evaluating new technologies. When PFC Jessica Lynch was captured in Iraq, PFC Lynch reported that several weapons failed to operate in the attempts to fend off the attack. As a result DoD was pursuing new solutions to lubricate weapons in harsh environments via high tech coatings. Wynn was so intrigued by the technology that he left the DoD to work with it. That led to founding WMD Guns in 2011, bringing together plating engineers, metalurgists, trades experts and others to offer NiB-X and other coating tech to the firearms industry.
The pride in Wynn’s voice was evident when he described The Beast – the world’s first “All NiB-X AR-15”. Although he quickly clarified that WMD Guns is not a one trick pony. They focus on using the right coatings on the right parts. For example, their research showed that NiB-X is not the best choice for the inside of the barrel, so they use Salt Bath Nitriding inside the barrel. The Big Beast is an evolution of the original Beast.
WMD Guns is a diverse business with 3 areas of focus:
- Solutions for OEMs: For example, WMD Guns applies NiB-X and other coatings to parts for high-end trigger companies, other brand’s bolt carrier groups, etc.
- Consumer retail: This is where the WMD Guns NiB-X Fire Control Group that was submitted for this review fits in their businesses. They also sell chassis and complete rifles in 5.56 .308, and (if my notes are correct) .300 AAC Blackout, 1911 pistols, fully coated shotguns for protection in corrosive environments, and a variety of billet and coated parts.
- Consumer parts coating: Offering consumers the types of high tech coatings that were previously only available to big corporations due to cost and complexity.
I won’t pretend to understand the details of the wide range of technologies that WMD Guns brings to the market, but they include Nitromet Salt Bath Nitrocarburizing (Melonite, Tennifer, Black Nitride), Electroless Nickel (EN), Electroless Nickel with Teflon, Black Nickel with Boron Nitride, etc.. Rather than butcher the details (as I am sure I have already done), I’ll refer to their site for the correct information: https://www.wmdguns.com/get-your-firearm-coated/production-coating-services
Overall, the more I learn about WMD Guns, the more impressed I am with them.
Where’d you get that ammo, bro?
We are fortunate to have an arrangement with Ammunition Supply Company where they provide ammunition for all of our reviews. In return, we share our videos and reviews with ASC for them to use on their website. For these reviews ASC sent some bulk 7.62×51 military rounds, as well as 2 boxes of Hornady TAP 168gr .308 Win and 2 boxes of Federal Premium .308 with 168gr Sierra Match King projectiles.
Huge thanks to Ammunition Supply Company, who kicked in nearly 200 rounds of ammo for these tests.