I’ve always loved shotguns and likely always will. I like to turn everything into a shotgun, and I’ve finally found a means to turn my everyday AR 15 into a shotgun. I’ve always wanted the ability to throw an upper on a standard rifle lower and call it a day. Obviously, that limits my caliber to a relatively small shotshell, and in the United States, that means 410 bore. My AR 410 dreams came true due to firearms importer Charles Daly.
Charles Daly imports firearms from all around the globe, and often some are quite interesting. Their shotguns and shotgun parts tend to come from Turkey, and I don’t doubt my AR 410 came from the same place. Let’s be clear, this is an upper only, and it’s designed for Mil-Spec AR 15 lower receivers.
My AR 410 upper has been tossed on a BCM lower setup I’ve had sitting around. It squeezed on without issue and locked right in place. The Charles Daly AR 410 comes with a buffer you are supposed to use with the upper. They advise that if you don’t, you can damage your gun, and in no uncertain terms, they will not cover any damage caused by using the wrong buffer.
Well, you might be asking why the heck do I need a 410 upper for my AR 15? Well, you likely don’t; I wanted it because I think it’s neat. AR 15 lowers are like bows, and the wide variety of uppers you can use are like different arrows.
My collection of uppers is much like a quiver of arrows. I have one for everything and every potential task. I didn’t have a specific need for a AR 410, but I sure wanted one. It seemed like it would be a fun pest eliminator that could decimate squirrels, rabbits, and other pests that plague my country-living lifestyle.
It’s also a semi-auto option for a 410, and I didn’t have one of those. All of it was dirt cheap. The upper cost me a cool $230 at my local gun store. That’s cheaper than a dedicated semi-auto 410.
The AR 410 gives me a 410 shotgun with AR-like controls and, of course, AR modularity. I can strap on any number of stocks, pistol grips, triggers, sights, and more. AR ergonomics are already pretty freakin’ sweet, and keeping those ergonomics will be a plus for some. If you know how to shoot a AR 15, you’ll now know how to handle an AR scattergun.
A 5.56 upper and a 410 upper gives you options for killing most game around the southeast United States. From small pests to deer and hogs, I’m covered with one gun.
Breaking Down the AR 410 Upper
To comply with NFA laws, the barrel is 19 inches long, so it’s a little longer than your standard carbine. The AR 410 upper comes equipped with a short quad rail for mounting lights, lasers, cup holders, and beyond. Along the top, we get an optics rail, and Charles Daly even included iron sights with the gun.
Predictably the AR 410 utilizes gas operation. You can’t exactly fit an inertia system into this thing. The manual also states the gun is equipped with a choke, but it most certainly isn’t. It’s not threaded for chokes by any means.
The AR 410 also features this weird barrel shroud thing. It’s slotted and capped at the end. This shroud is completely removable and reveals a skinny little barrel that looks a little silly. The barrel end is threaded, but I’m not sure of any shotgun compatible muzzle devices.
Other than that, it’s all AR 15. You get a stock standard upper receiver with a forward assist and dust cover. The charging handle is massive and beyond mil-spec for sure. It’s nice and chunky and easy to work with.
Weight-wise this thing comes in at 4.9 pounds total. It’s a little chunky when compared to more modern upper receivers. The quad rail, 19-inch barrel, and barrel shroud certainly add a little heft to this big beast. However, it never feels tough to manage.
Semi-auto shotguns are notoriously ammo picky. As the gauge shrinks, they tend to get pickier. Most 12 gauge shotguns offer plenty of reliability, a good deal of 20 gauges do well, but 410 guns require a good deal of knowledge about your chosen load and shotgun.
As you’d expect, the semi-auto AR 410 will do better with hotter loads. We’ll talk a little more on that later, but first, we need to address actual ammo compatibility. First and foremost, as a mag-fed gun, you are reliant on both the magazine and magwell to accommodate your chosen caliber. As such, you are stuck with 2.5-inch shells with the AR 410. No 3-inchers for you magnum boys.
The thing about shotgun shells is that no two are ever the same. When we say 2.5 inches, we are talking about the pre-crimped measurement. When crimped, the shells are actually a good deal smaller. The 2.5-inch shells need to measure 2.29 inches or smaller to fit in the AR 410 magazine.
Oh Yeah — Let’s Talk Magazines
The Charles Daly AR 410 comes with a simple polymer 5 round magazine. Five rounds is for the birds and J-frame revolvers. The good news is you can find magazines that go into the 10 and 15 round capacities. This extends your capabilities a good deal, and who doesn’t want that?
The included magazine is a polymer PMAG wanna-be. We get nice texturing, a robust follower, and a compact design. It also feeds quite well, and the five-round capacity does make it legal to hunt within my state. Although for birds, I’ll need to plug it to three rounds.
Scatter Lead Downrange
Let’s hit the range with our AR 410! I loaded up a small smattering of buckshot and slugs mixed with various birdshot types. Sadly the market is somewhat flooded, and most of my 410 buckshot is the 3-inch variety. I would’ve loved to try a wider variety of 410 buckshot and slugs, but right now, that’s tough to do.
Before I went to the range, I tossed an HS509T on the AR 410 and did a quick zero with buckshot loads. I love these little optics on shotguns and use the circle and dot reticle. The circle is for buckshot, and the dot is for slugs.
I did have a ton of birdshot to dispense, and as the cheapest type of ammunition, I figured most people would be shooting this more than anything else. I loaded up a pile of birdshot in the 1150 to 1250 FPS varieties.
Imagine my surprise when it all cycled relatively fine in the AR 410. The lighter 1150 didn’t present any more issues than the 1250 stuff. That being said, the gun is only about 95 percent reliable. I did get a fair amount of failure to ejects that slowly declined the more I shot. Most of the time, the gun ran perfectly fine with the occasional hiccup here and there.
With the 19-inch barrel, it’s a rifle-length upper but still feels compact. I’d normally find this unacceptable. However, I have a soft spot for the AR 410. I’m not using it for anything serious, so I don’t mind a few issues here or there. There aren’t enough jams or failures to be frustrating, and for how cheap the upper is I can’t hate it.
What About Buckshot and Slugs?
The higher quality Federal and Winchester buckshot ran without issue. The Federal slugs also ran flawlessly. As mentioned, the mixture of slugs and buckshot only totaled 20 rounds, but all 20 ran perfectly.
Patterning showed no surprise for a cylinder bore 410 at 15 yards. It’s good enough to take a moderate-sized game. If I was hunting anything larger than a coyote, I might prefer a big caliber just for the fact that I only get three 00 pellets in a 410 load.
I’d also not choose a 410 for home defense. If recoil sensitivity is a big issue, then the 20 gauge shotgun is a better choice for defensive use.
Recoil and Muzzle Rise
The recoil is roughly the same as a 5.56 round. It hardly moved, and my petite, recoil-sensitive wife found the gun pleasant to shoot. Muzzle rise was also minimal and easy to control when firing rapidly. My Holosun 509T’s red dot barely moved, even when I was firing rapidly. It stayed on target, and I could swap between targets quickly and efficiently with every load type.
I like the little thing! It’s my pest obliterating beast that offers rapid follow-up shots for animals that tend to group together. When I hunt for rabbits or squirrels, I’m often getting several at a time, and being able to rapidly transition from target to target is nice and handy. Being able to hunt with a familiar platform makes it quite easy to transition controls, mount accessories, and customize the gun.
I wouldn’t use the AR 410 beyond small game hunting, pest killing, snake eliminating, and plinking. 410 doesn’t offer me the pellets or power I want from a shotgun, but it provides me with a compact and lightweight platform.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.