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[Review] Aero Precision M5E1 .308 Complete Rifle

Ready to upgrade to big boy .308 AR-10's? We review Aero Precision's M5E1 rifle from reliability, to fit & feel, accuracy, and bang-for-the-buck value.

    Done with AR-15’s and ready to upgrade to big boy .308 AR-10’s?

    But be ready…with great power comes great responsibility.  Or at least a smaller wallet!

    Aero M5E1 On The Grass
    Aero M5E1 On The Grass

    Aero Precision hit a homerun for me with their .223 M4E1 (review) so I had to get my hands on one of their complete .308 AR-10 style offerings.

    So follow me as I walk through their M5E1 in terms of fit, feel, upgrades, and most importantly…accuracy & reliability.

    Aero’s Take on the .308 AR-10 Platform

    The world of AR-10’s is a lot more confusing than AR-15’s since many manufacturers’ parts do not play nicely with each other.  So I heavily recommend sticking with one maker…at least for the upper, lower, and lower parts kits.

    Without further ado…

    The full rifle I got was the M5E1 18″ Stainless Barrel ($1500-1800).

    I knew from the get-go that I would change a bunch of stuff so I opted out of the complete rifle set.  But they have a pretty good setup with the Magpul PRS buttstock & grip.

    Aero M5E1 Complete Rifles
    Aero M5E1 Complete Rifles

    For me…I went with the Aero complete upper in 18″ stainless steel (M-Lok of course).  I feel 18″ is the perfect length for .308 while stainless steel gives the possible accuracy boost (plus I like the contrast).

    Aero M5 Complete Upper with Parts
    Aero M5 Complete Upper with Parts

    I paired it with the following:

    Not shown (since I was still deciding):

    Who Is It For?

    The M5E1 .308 is for someone who is familiar with the AR-15 but wants something with a bit more oomph and range.

    But be ready for the added expenses to…everything.  From ammo to scopes to rifle…you’re going to be paying a lot more than AR-15 prices.

    Fit & Feel

    I don’t know what else to say…it is dead sexy.

    Aero M5 Being Sexy
    Aero M5 Being Sexy

    I love the more aggressive lines on the upper receiver and the new rail feels very solid in the hand.

    Aero M5 Outside
    Aero M5 Outside

    I didn’t particularly like the Luth Stock ($140) since it rattled around a little bit.  But it’s a good budget choice with plenty of adjustment options instead of opting for the Magpul PRS ($240).

    The Ergo Grip was a pleasant surprise…it’s for someone who likes a thinner profile and additional grip with a rubberized texture.

    Before I forget…putting together the .308 Stripped Lower was much easier than a normal AR-15 lower assembly thanks to Aero adding in some nifty options like a threaded bolt catch and rear detent hole.  No more razor blades, flying parts, and cursing.

    How Does it Shoot?

    My other .308’s have been temperamental with ammo so I made sure to get a wide variety…from surplus to expensive match ammo…and all the bullet weights I could find.

    I quickly wiped everything down, cleaned the barrel, and lubed all the important bits.  And off to the range I went…3x in total.

    Accuracy Tests

    Aero M5 Accuracy Tests
    Aero M5 Accuracy Tests

    Again, I went with my hardcore lead sled and overkill scope to make sure I took as much human element out as possible.  I also upgraded the trigger to the ALG ACT which still maintains the reliability of mil-spec but makes it crisper and lowers the weight to 5lb.

    Several .308 Rounds for Testing
    Several .308 Rounds for Testing

    Here was the first batch of shooting…from the cheapest stuff I could find to some Gold Medal:

    I shot 100 rounds of the MEN ammo since it was the cheapest.  It was easy to hit 100/200/300 yard steel from bench and prone positions.  So it was definitely “minute of man” capable right out of the box.

    How about group shooting?  I shot each with 5 rounds at around a 10 sec/shot pace.  5 min barrel cooldown between each group.

    Aero M5E1 First Groups
    Aero M5E1 First Groups

    I was a little saddened…here’s what showed up:

    • MEN 147 gr: 2.45 MOA
    • PMC 147 gr: 5.42 MOA
    • PPU 165 gr: 2.60 MOA
    • Gold Medal 168 gr: 1.76 MOA (best of the day)
    • 190 gr: 4.12 MOA

    I emailed Aero and got a response back in about a day…that my groups were correct for the ammo that I was shooting.  Which was probably a nice way to say stop shooting crappy ammo.

    They further recommended some of their brands that shoot 1.5 MOA or less…all with a bullet weight around 168 gr.  So online shopping I went again:

    Hornady .308 Match Ammo
    Hornady .308 Match Ammo

    I opted with Hornady since that was their best recommendation…in both the Boat Tail Hollow Point and Ballistic Tip (ELD) varieties.

    .308 168 gr Hornady Match BTHP vs ELD
    .308 168 gr Hornady Match BTHP vs ELD

    So how did they fair?

    Aero M5E1, Hornady Match Groups
    Aero M5E1, Hornady Match Groups

    Turns out…much better.  ELD performed better than the BTHP so I did a few more groups with those:

    • Hornady 168 gr BTHP: 2.21 MOA
    • Hornady 168 gr ELD: 1.51, 1.57, 1.73 MOA

    So a little over 1.5 MOA which is what I would expect at this price point.

    Mrgunsngear also sees about the same accuracy with some other ammo.

    Aero M5E1 Accuracy, Mrgunsngear
    Aero M5E1 Accuracy, Mrgunsngear

    I have no doubt that if you were to start handloading you can bring it down to maybe even sub-MOA regions.  I’ll be working on that in the coming months so stay tuned.


    You’re going to feel it a lot more than the AR-15.

    You’ve got to get good placement in your shoulder and make sure your ear protection would bite against your buttstock.  But with the VG6 Gamma brake it’s not too bad.

    Once I took it off the lead sled and put on my final optic, my Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x ($1700), it was fun lying prone and ringing steel out to 600 yards (max for my range).

    Finalized Aero M5 .308 with Nightforce 2.5-10x
    Finalized Aero M5 .308 with Nightforce 2.5-10x

    Standing offhand is still a chore since the rifle is pretty heavy (estimate of over 10 lbs)…but the brake does its job.

    Need more convinving?  Check out Mrgunsngear’s full review!

    By the Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    No failures in the ~300 rounds I’ve fired.  I’ve been using Magpul 10 rounders ($17).

    Accuracy: 4/5

    You’ll see up to 2.5 MOA with cheap ammo but once you start going Match…you’ll see it drop to 1.5 MOA.  If you start reloading…you’ll likely see much better results.  And you probably want to reload unless you’re a true baller and $2 match rounds don’t phase you.

    Ergonomics: 4.5/5

    The handguard feels great and so does the new grip…I would have opted out of the Luth buttstock and go with the Magpul PRS that Aero installs on the complete rifle.  They knew what they were doing.

    Looks: 5/5

    It’s just so sexy!

    Aero M5 .308 AR-10
    Aero M5 .308 AR-10

    Customization: 5/5

    It’s basically a bigger AR-15 with M-Lok and Picatinny rails so the sky’s the limit.  Check out my list of the best AR-15 upgrades if you need help.

    Bang for the Buck: 4.5/5

    I loved the Aero M4E1 and all their stripped uppers/lowers…the .308 M5E1 is no different.  

    You get something that is great to look at, feels great in hand, shoots accurately, and is 100% reliable.

    If you’re looking to save…you can go down to a 16″ barrel which has always shot fine for me beforehand too.

    Overall Rating: 5/5


    If you’ve made the jump from AR-15 to it’s big boy .308 brother…the Aero M5E1 ($1500-1800) is a great choice.  Or if you’re like me and like to spec your other parts, the lower and complete upper are my top choices as well.

    Want more choices?  Check out our Best AR-10s Guide.

    Aero M5E1 with DPMS LR-308
    Aero M5E1 with DPMS LR-308

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    35 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      Any comments regarding M5 Atlas vs M5E1 handguards? Pro's and con's?

      April 26, 2023 4:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      James Gwilliam

      I can tell the Author Erik Young is a Youtube guy. Since when is 1.5 inch moa score a 4/5 when spending $2,000 on a AR10 with a $3,500 scope. That is garbage. And who has the gull to write this article and use non-match ammo/cheap ammo? This tells you a lot about the credibility of the article. The manufacture was right; however, that is shooting 101 basics.

      September 30, 2021 6:17 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jacki Billings, Editor

        Thanks for the feedback, James. We tend to use basic ammo in our reviews because we want to see how guns will run with the bare-bones stuff. Not to mention, we also want to provide info to those that can't always afford match-grade ammo. That said, I will definitely pass your thoughts on to the author of this article, Eric Hung. Thanks so much.

        October 1, 2021 10:33 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Bill Martin

        I tend to agree. Aero owns Ballistic Advantage and I have had very good luck with BAs barrels. Even a 10.5 inch 300 BO that shoots 110 Barnes Black tips under moa at 100.

        April 2, 2022 8:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Curious witn your accuracy issues because I believe Aero uses Ballistic Advantage barrells and BA guarantees sub moa with match grade ammo.

      ballisticadvantage com sub-moa

      Did you try all the BA troubleshooting steps?
      Group your rifle with multiple ammunition loads.
      Test fire with the muzzle device removed.
      Confirm barrel nut is properly torqued.
      Confirm Scope and rings are tight and properly installed.
      Confirm consistent body position and trigger pull.
      Confirm stability of rifle rest.

      August 20, 2021 5:09 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ronald Kast

      Thank you for the great video, I am currently in the process of building a LR308 with DPMS components and was wondering if I should go with a fixed stock or adjustable. Basically this is going to be my big game rifle and I am going to add a bipod to it as well. I am not particularly concerned about weight since I am a very large male at 6' 6" tall and North of 300lbs. I am looking for performance, accuracy and durability and willing to have a little more weight to meet those targets. Thank you.

      August 16, 2021 7:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      don williams

      how do you ring steel at 600yds with a gun and ammo that has 2 moa at only 100 yds.
      all that "error" just gets amplified

      September 9, 2020 2:23 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        Eric's M5E1 settled at 1.5ish MOA with Hornady ELD Match. 1.5 MOA at 600 yards is a 9" circle. It's very easy to hit a 12"x12" steel plate at that range.

        September 9, 2020 3:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Partly because I can spread 'the payments"out, and partly because I I can get the parts that I ultimately want, I have always built my ARs (I have 4 15s and 1 .308). When I started my .308 I did some research and decided that I would build it on a PSA receiver set, but that I would buy first the lower, build it, and then the upper and build it.
      I was quite happy with the lower (I tested it with a friend's upper, though I don't remember which brand it was): 0 fsilure to feeds or to fire. The accuracy was just the same as he had experienced. So in short, I was satisfied.
      The problem was that whenever they had the uppers in stock (far between) I was not able to order for a couple of days. by then, they were out of stock. They were often out of stock even later the same day that I received the notification. While waiting for their upper to appear, I bought everything else for the upper.
      In short, I am not really happy with my experience with PSA.
      The barrel came with a free-float hand guard, marked with the Aero "A". After about 2 1/2 years (yes, years), I decided that the Aero hand guard had been an omen, so I bought an Aero upper. I haven't looked back, except that I am strongly considering getting an Aero lower and getting rid of the PSA lower.

      August 3, 2020 11:58 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Interesting that I ended up building mine around 90% the same as your build. Main difference was I stuck with the CMV barrel and upgraded to the NB BCG. I did stay with a Carbine stock for now as I was aiming for a big bore AR15 at this time, as opposed to a "reach out and touch someone" build. Just finished it so I have not had it to the range yet, but if its as good as my ar15 build I'll be happy. Mounted a PA 1-8 w/ACSS. I figure that should make for a good 1st/general purpose build to get some experience behind the AR10 platform.

      August 22, 2019 4:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      The MAIN reason the gun shoots so crappy is the barrel to upper fit. Mine has a .007 gap sloppy fit. The barrel will move back and forth near 1/3rd inch at front with no barrel nut. Aero flippin argued with me that it doesnt matter. YES IT DOES! Oh and the use ballistic advantage barrel (sub moa guarantee) so send it back and have them make it right. Also pull the barrel and either install a BAT oversized barrel extension or shim with stainless shim stock after taking a barrel/upper caliper measurement. Welcome to Aero-non-precision.

      June 23, 2019 7:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Drew D

      Eric, what adapter did you use to mount the Atlas bipod to the MLOK system? I have the same setup coming and was curious. Thank you!

      March 5, 2019 12:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Where did you find the magazines with the design you have? I’m pretty much mimicking your build and I would love to get my hands on a few of those mags.

      January 26, 2019 10:45 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Hey Taylon! They are regular Magpul 25 LR/SR magazines (blocked to 10 for CA) but painted using a sponge and Krylon camo colors.

        January 27, 2019 12:53 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          Ah! I see it now. Thank you for the quick response. Loved your article

          January 28, 2019 10:38 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rudy F.

      After I read some comments here I do recall reading everything that I could about putting together an AR-10 and problems with the AR-10 functioning. My AR-10 build about ninety percent AP parts other than the pistol grip and trigger; the trigger is Trigger Tech adjustable, the pistol grip I can't remember the company made by but the grip lower your grip where the trigger finger straight horizontal to the trigger guard the cost $ 35, I have two pistol grips two different ARs both having Trigger Tech triggers. AR-10 6.5 CM.

      January 23, 2019 11:04 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rudy F.

      If you build your own AR-10 and go with a barrel combination where the barrel and the BCG are made by the same maker if decide to change to a different barrel, you going to need to change the BCG. I wanted a lighter AR-10 the present weight 14 pounds; the AERO Precision barrel very accurate but just too heavy for me. I went with a barrel from BSF carbon fiber that removed 3 pounds, total weight 11 pounds but with a 24” barrel over a 20” barrel. I have done some shooting but not enough to my liking, I can't wait for spring, we have 6/7 months of winter our summers are short, so make the most of the summer in Alaska. All parts are from AERO PRECISION and they are the best!

      January 23, 2019 10:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for the rundown Eric!

      My experiences with Aero Precision have been mixed. Note I have only purchased different part of various rifles and assembled them, and not all of those parts were bought From AP. I am not a gunsmith, and thus my issues require/d a trip to a gunsmith to get fixed.

      All but one of my AP lowers and uppers and completed uppers work flawlessly from top to bottom. I even picked up the “I’m your huckleberry, and the Texas Star lowers among others.

      The one exception I had was while assembling an AP upper. I had a problem installing the forward assist roll pin. When I pulled out the hammer in frustration I knew I was going too far ;-)

      The two M5E1 I own, well they both gave me problems. Again the parts where bought over time.

      The first one had a BCG issue with ejecting spent brass, I was unable to fix – hello gunsmith, though it might have been cheaper to just buy a new one and keep working on the borken one.

      The second one: my GF bought me a complete upper for Christmas and again I had ejecting issues. This time I am unable to eject an chambered (unfired) round without detaching the lower. It seems to get stuck in the barrel itself. Hopefully the barrel will not have to be re-bored. Thus when I have the time and desire, it is off to the gunsmith I go.

      Given the two issues with AP M5’s, and that I will have two .308 rifles once the second is fixed, I would have to question buying another one M5 from AP.

      August 9, 2018 2:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      How well did the Aero M5 cycle milsurp ammo? Ive been told by aero precision that using military surplus 308 won't supply enough power to reliably cycle the gun.

      July 25, 2018 8:50 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Federal M80 ball rounds and MEN work fine for me.

        July 25, 2018 9:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ryan Snider

      how much does it weigh?

      February 21, 2018 9:11 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        It's listed at ~82 oz so just a tad over 5 lbs with 12" M-LOK handguards.

        February 22, 2018 11:01 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Anyone get sub moa with handloads??

      I’ve gone out to the range 3 times with hand loads and have found a consistent 1 MOA load with Varget and 168gr ELD. I contacted Ballistic Advantage for recommendations. I’m going to try some of the heavier bullets as a lot of ppl say that 175gr SMK are the best for precision and long range shooting.

      January 17, 2018 3:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have a very similar setup except I use a LaRue MBT two stage. It’s my first AR-10 build. These were my results (at ASR) all on the same day.

      PMC X-TAC Match 168 GR 0.75 MOA,
      Federal Premium 168 GR 0.75 MOA,
      PPU Match 168 GR - 0.75??? MOA,
      Freedom 168 GR A-MAX® REMAN - 1.0 MOA x3 (2" high),
      Freedom 155 GR A-MAX® REMAN - 1.1 MOA x2 (2" high),
      Freedom 150 GR SPBT REMAN - 1.5 MOA x3 (1.5" high),
      Hirtenberger 147 GR - 1.5 MOA,
      Freedom 168 GR HPBT REMAN - 1.75 to 3.0 MOA,
      Freedom 155 GR HPBT REMAN - 2.0 MOA to 3.5 MOA,
      Freedom 175 GR HPBT REMAN - 3.0 MOA,
      PMC Bronze 147 GR - 3.0 MOA,
      Freedom 147 GR FMJ - 4.0 MOA flyers,
      PPU 147 GR - 5.0 MOA

      January 9, 2018 10:03 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        William Martin

        I have had great luck with the PMC XTAC MATCH. I wish I had bought cases and cases. I think they were 18.99 per 20 when I bought them.

        April 2, 2022 8:18 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      FWIW,...if an AR-10 is out of someone's budget but you're still looking for that something extra that a 5.56 doesn't give you, move up to 6.5 Grendel. You can keep the same lower. Need new mags, BCG and upper assembly. Less than 1/2 the cost of a complete AR-10.

      November 7, 2017 7:18 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Good tip, Howard! I haven't gotten a 6.5 yet but hope to soon.

        November 19, 2017 1:58 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Nice rig. You should do a comparo with the Aero vs PWS. PWS was my AR-10 of choice in pretty close to this same price point $1800-$2000 out of the box. I need to put decent glass on top, otherwise I will run it as is. For that 600yd+ shot I will go with custom bolt guns, then we can get out to at least 10 football fields. Great article.

      June 15, 2017 11:26 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Thanks AP...would love to try out the PWS sometime in the future.

        June 21, 2017 2:42 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ben Bruinius

      Great article Eric!!! I am now tasked with the decision of do I want to build this in 308 or the 6.5 Creedmoor

      June 14, 2017 5:07 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Thanks Ben! I made a quick detour into 30-06 but 6.5 creed might be my next one!

        June 21, 2017 2:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Brian Smith

      Another home run. Great read, my friend.

      June 13, 2017 7:13 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Real nice. Also who did the great dipping job on the gun?

        June 14, 2017 4:20 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Eric Hung

          Thanks Bill! The Aero came cerakoted while the other rifle at the end of the article I did myself with some camo rattlecan colors and sponge.

          June 21, 2017 2:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Thanks again Brian!

        June 21, 2017 2:38 pm
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