If you have bought and built plenty of AR15s and are looking into a larger frame LR308 in either .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor, look no further. The Aero Precision M5 rifle may just be the best bang for your buck using their Ballistic Advantage 6.5 Creedmoor barrels!
The rifle that was sent to be was a complete upper and lower sent to me by Aero Precision. After putting it through its paces doing some accuracy testing at 100 yards, and ringing steel out to 400 yards it proved to me that it is an excellent rifle and economical to boot. If you haven’t bought or built a large from AR, get on it. You will be happy you did!
High Quality on a Modest Budget
If you have been building or shooting ARs for awhile now, you have probably heard of Aero Precision. If you are an avid builder, odds are that you have used their receivers or bought a barrel from their sister company Ballistic Advantage. I know I have. I have always been pleased with the quality that comes from either of these companies, and the prices won’t give you sticker shock. The same can be said about their M5 6.5 Creedmoor that I was lucky enough to test.
When jumping into the large frame AR world, most people with experience will caution about buying parts from different manufacturers. The large frame AR has a few different specs and buying from the wrong companies will yield poor fitment, or worst-case scenario parts that are completely incompatible. The reason for this is that AR15 is generally fashioned after mil-spec designs and parts are widely compatible across different brands. Large frame ARs were never standardized like the AR15 or its military cousin the M16/M4 Carbine.
The Aero M5 receiver sets and parts are all considered to be DPMS-Patterned parts, or LR308. The distinction is that parts for the Armalite AR10 will not be compatible with the DPMS Pattern. Very little parts have interchangeability, so it’s smart to stick to one manufacturer when it comes to the receiver set and handguard. And honestly, you can’t go wrong if you choose Aero Precision parts for your whole rifle. The MSRP is over $1764.99 for the black anodized, 20” model that I reviewed, but you can probably build it for cheaper by sourcing high volume dealers of Aero Precision, such as my personal favorite Arm or Ally.
From Muzzle to Butt
The Aero M5 supplied to me came with a standard A2 “birdcage” style flash-hider. The rifle didn’t exhibit any signs of over-gassing which is common in 6.5 Creedmoor rifles, and the rifle’s felt recoil felt mild. I am guessing this had more to do with the weight of the rifle than the efficiency of the flash-hider, but in this setup it worked well. The barrel is a 20” bead-blasted 416R stainless steel with a 1:8 twist and rifle length gas. The barrel is manufactured by Ballistic Advantage, and yet again they have proved to be excellent barrels for the price. It does add a good amount of weight to the rifle because of its bull barrel profile. The gas block journal is .875” and was non-adjustable.
The handguard is thicker than most currently on the market. I am used to think profile handguards for AR15s, but this handguard is exceptionally well made and did not feel too large for my hand. It is machined from 6061 T-6 aluminum and has an inside diameter of 1.72”. There is plenty of MLOK real estate to mount any kind of accessories you may want such as bipods, or lights. The milled flats on the sides of the handguard add a great aesthetic and are functional with providing a shooter with added grip. There are QD sockets for slings at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock with MLOK attachment points down the length of the rail in the same positions. To finish it out, the handguard has integrated anti-rotation tabs to prevent the handguard from rotating under hard use.
I can’t speak highly enough on the M5 receiver set from Aero Precision. They brought affordable, and reliable quality to the table with these receivers. In my opinion, they are the best receiver sets you can buy for the price. Between the anodizing, fit, and finish the set is a great deal. Internally, the parts are all Aero Precision and I have built with them before. For a target/hunting or a fun plinking gun, Aero’s parts are great for the price. The only part that I swapped out was the standard charging handle with an ambidextrous model. The grip that came with it was the Magpul MOE and it was a nice upgrade from the standard A2 grip many companies still use. I prefer the MIAD grip from Magpul, but the MOE does a great job. The bolt carrier group was solid, and I had no issues, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t mention my lackluster impression on the BCG gas key staking. It wasn’t as aggressive as I would like with the displacement of metal into the head of the bolt.
At the butt of the gun, you will find the Magpul PRS Gen3 stock. This stock is quite possibly one of the most secure and rock-solid fixed stocks on the market today. The length of pull (LOP), and the comb of the stock are adjustable in length and height. There is zero wiggle to any of the components of the stock, but it does weigh like a brick on the back portion of the rifle. Aesthetically, I love the PRS stock, but keep in mind that it serves bench shooters much better than a hunter that will be humping the rifle in and out of the field. Altogether, the rifle comes in at about 10 lbs. unloaded with an optic. But, it does balance relatively well with the heavier profile barrel and the PRS Gen3 stock balancing the rear.
Accuracy testing was done at 100 yards on paper and all groups were measured with the Range Buddy App that can be found for free on Google’s Play Store. If you haven’t already downloaded it and used it, I would highly recommend it. Ammo used for the testing was supplied to me by Spark Munitions, Remington Arms, and Barnes. All of which have proved to be great performers in my 6.5 Creedmoor, and other rifles I have tested. I shot 5 different 5 shot groups for each load to gauge mechanical accuracy of the rifle. Keep in mind, this rifle was kept stock for the fire control group. This was the basic mil-spec trigger from Aero Precision. While the trigger was good for mil-spec, a lighter smoother trigger from Geissele, or Timney should tighten up groups a hair more.
First up was the Barnes Precision Match 140 grain OTM BT. I have used these loads in my personal 6.5 CM and their offering in 5.56 at 85 grains! Just about any rifle that I feed Barnes into it shoots well. This rifle didn’t seem to like it as much as my other rifles tested, but it still did a respectable 1.26 MOA 5-shot group at its best. The average of all 5 groups came in at 1.33 MOA so the groups were very consistent. This barrel just doesn’t happen to agree with Barnes Precision Match like I originally expected it to.
Usually, even if the Barnes loads shoot amazing out of a specific rifle, the Remington Premier Match 140 grain OTM loads edge them out. This Aero M5 was no exception and the groups tightened up even more with the Remington loads. The tightest of the 5-shot groups came in at .63 MOA with 4 of the shots all touching each other. This is where a match grade trigger would do wonders and tighten up groups slightly more. The average of all the 5 round groups fired came in at .72 MOA and was also highly consistent like the Barnes loads.
The best shooting load for the day was the Spark Munitions 147 grain ELD-M. I have shot with the President of the company and he gave me a tore of the facility for Peterson Cartridge. I have shot his ammunition out of multiple rifles, and I have yet to find a rifle that won’t shoot under 1 MOA. Anthony Nuccio at Spark Munitions knows his craft and their ammo is consistent. The best group measured in at .58 MOA and the average of the 5 groups was .61 MOA. Their consistency is amazing at Sparc Munitions, and I would highly recommend looking at them.
With all the loads, hits on a steel silhouette at 400 yards were boringly regular using the ACME 6-24x50mm TR-MOA optic using a first-focal plane reticle. With a quick 200 yard zero, using a 5 MOA hold over was putting impacts just about where I wanted them on the plate.
The Aero M5 rifle in 6.5 CM is a sub-MOA shooter with the 20” Ballistic Advantage barrel and the right load. Throughout testing, it was a very soft recoiling rifle due to its weight, but it was also gassed properly with a perfect ejection pattern. Brass looked clean after sifting through the pile left over from testing, and the chamber and feed ramps did not appear to have any noticeable wear on the expended brass.
I would highly recommend the M5 6.5 Creedmoor if you wanted a relatively affordable tack driving rifle for your paper punching needs, or for a long-distance hunting rifle. While the weight is on the heavier side, this rifle would do well sitting on a bean field for whitetail hunting in states that allow semi-automatic rifles. For more information on specs, you can go to Aero Precision’s website.
Affordability – 4/5
There are some cheaper options on the market for your large framed ARs. Palmetto State Armory has some of the best prices. But the quality that you get from Aero Precision is a step up in my opinion, and worth the added cost. The MSRP is $1764.99 for the model I tested, but you can probably build or piece together something very similar using Aero parts for cheaper when on sale with certain dealers.
Reliability – 5/5
The rifle next skipped a beat while I did my testing. Altogether, only about 400 rounds of ammunition were fired through the rifle for accuracy testing and zeroing. This number is low, but it gave no problems at all. Ejection was a perfect 3 o’clock pattern, so I would have no worries with proper function for the long haul.
Quality – 4.5/5
This would have been a perfect 5/5 had the staking been more aggressive with more material displaced into the head of the gas key hardware. Staking is an important insurance policy to keep hardware from backing out, and I expected a little better from Aero Precision. I had zero issues with the BCG while testing, but I would like to see the same quality exhibited throughout the rifle on the BCG, which is the heart of the gun in my opinion.
Accuracy – 5/5
I expected a little more out of the Barnes Precision Match loads, but barrels are like snowflakes. Each one is different and they like what they like. The Remington and Spark Munition loads performed excellent though, and with a better trigger like a Timney Competition or a Geissele would likely make the rifle shine even more in the accuracy department.
Overall – 4.5/5
The Aero Precision M5 is an excellent rifle if you want to start playing with large frame ARs. The fit and finish are excellent, and accuracy was phenomenal for a gas gun. Whether you buy the rifle outright, or build with parts to suit your needs, the M5 receiver set and Ballistic Advantage barrel are fantastic choices for your next DPMS Pattern LR308!