Some of you may have to take a Valium and sit in a chair. For some reason, there seems to be a fairly large portion of the population that thinks that hunting rifles can only be blued with walnut. We are going to discuss perhaps the most uncontroversial controversy in North American hunting, which is hunting with an AR-type rifle.
I say controversial, but for many of us, it is as common as driving a car or eating venison. Still, there are those among the hunting public who feel it is erroneous or even immoral to hunt with what has become “America’s rifle.” Today, we will go over the benefits you might enjoy by embracing the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR), as the AR has become known.
A Few Pros
Certainly, I could not list them all or even remember them all. I surely can, however, go over some of the overlooked and relevant advantages of the AR platform as it relates to hunting.
The AR-type rifle is at the cutting edge of so much of firearms technology in our world. The popularity of the AR platform keeps people and gun companies innovating constantly. Nearly every new manufacturing technique, new material, or other technological advancement is proofed on the AR.
This opens the doors to a plethora of exciting options for hunters, such as lightweight designs, new and better cartridges, and increased accuracy through machining processes. All of these advancements in the AR market lower prices and increase availability.
Traditional-style hunting rifles have also seen improvements, but they haven’t enjoyed the attention of the AR market. Autoloading rifles of the past were often less accurate than their single-shot counterparts. But through technological advancements and market pressures, the modern sporting rifles available today can be as accurate as precision rifles.
2. Multi-Role Adaptability
The AR rifle is often referred to as adult Legos and for good reason. Anyone with even a modest grasp of mechanical dynamics can put together, alter, or reconfigure the average AR-15. What often takes a skilled gunsmith with traditional rifles can be done by the average shooter. And it can be done at home in his/her garage with minimal tools that they can afford.
You can set up the rifle exactly the way you want it, whether you are using it to take down a pack of coyotes or if you plan to hike deep into the Rocky Mountains after a trophy Mule Deer. There are literally thousands of options you can use to your predatory advantage.
3. This is America!
There is no better way to maintain the abundance of autoloading sport arms than to flood every corner of this country with the very rifle that anti-gunners would love to ban. Hunting is not the purpose of the Second Amendment, but they love to pretend that it’s somehow related. As far as I’m concerned, the more people who own and are proficient with these guns the better.
All the benefits of MSRs come in varying levels of price and quality, whether it’s a budget build or a custom Noveske, there is an AR for everyone.
Large Frame Or Small?
As the AR design has reached maturity, large-frame and small-frame rifles have become prevalent. This means that gun owners and hunters have many more options to choose from. Small frame AR’s run traditional cartridges like the .223/5.56, which have always been a good choice for hunting small game and varmints.
But there have been new cartridges introduced for the small-framed rifles as well. These new options are excellent choices for hunting both varmints and big game like deer and hogs. With chamberings like the 300 Blackout, 6mm ARC, and the 350 Legend, hunters can use their AR-15 to take down their annual harvest and fill their freezer.
If bigger game is on your list, then a large-frame AR chambered in something like 6.5 CM or .308 Winchester would be an excellent option. There are even a few companies out there making XL-framed AR-style rifles that are chambered in magnum cartridges, making nearly any North American animal potential prey. All this while maintaining the same modularity and manual of arms common to the AR-style rifle. This extremely adaptive nature of the AR continues to open doors for its use in hunting purposes.
Most of my hunting with an AR-15 has been varmint hunting. Countless prairie dogs were taken over many years in the desert and, to a lesser degree, many jackrabbits found themselves victim to my handloads. While I’ve switched platforms several times, I still love hunting with autoloaders, whether it be Wyoming antelope with the 6mm ARC, or Rocky Mountain elk with a 6.5 Creedmoor, or even a sneaky mule deer with a sub-sonic .450 Bushmaster.
Don’t fall for the story that they are just range toys or wanna-be military weapons. A good AR is an extremely valuable hunting tool when outfitted properly and trained with appropriately.
With modern service rifles shooting as good as they do, you can spend all day on a dog town in South Dakota popping pasture puppies with deadly accuracy.