The AR-15 is a common symbol of tactical shooting. However, the often misunderstood modern sporting rifle (MSR) has a place beyond military and law enforcement applications. The word “sporting” is right in the name, so it should come as no surprise that 27 percent of outdoor sportsmen report using an AR platform for hunting. (That statistic comes from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.)
There are plenty of reasons to hunt with your AR-15. Here just a few.
The AR-15 is Compact and Lightweight.
Every hunter who has ever hiked through thick woods or over rough terrain understands how hard it is to hunt with a hefty firearm. The compact lightweight design of the MSR make it perfect for hunting in remote locations. However, those qualities are also useful once you get to your favorite hunting spot.
AR-15s are easy to maneuver in the tight quarters of a hunting blind or treestand. Their compact size, relatively short barrel, and ergonomic design also make them a favorite of younger and smaller-framed shooters.
The AR-15 Produces Minimal Recoil.
The gas operating system of the AR-15 offers smooth shooting with relatively nominal recoil. The weapon’s low recoil is one of the main perks of the platform, making it especially popular among recoil sensitive shooters (including some younger, elderly, and female shooters). The limited recoil not only makes the AR fun to shoot, it also allows for faster, more accurate follow-up shots (especially when you consider the AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon). This makes the AR particularly useful for hunting fast-moving game.
The AR-15 is Accurate.
Well-known for dependable accuracy, an AR-15 with a properly zeroed scope will help you hit the “kill zone” of the smallest game, even at extended ranges. If ethical hunting and humane kills are part of your objective (and they should be), you need an MSR in your hunting arsenal.
The AR-15 is easy to Customize.
The flexibility of the AR platform has contributed to its growing popularity among tactical shooters. It is also one of the qualities that make the MSR perfect for hunting. You can truly customize the weapon to suit your individual needs, changing out everything from the stock to the muzzle brake (and pretty much everything in between).
The AR-15 is Built for Rugged Reliable Function.
Although the MSR may have origins as a military weapon, the qualities that make it useful on the battlefield also make it useful for hunting. The synthetic and corrosion-resistant alloy construction of the modern AR make it built for the extreme conditions experienced by many backcountry hunters. There are no wood or other organic components to warp or crack, even when Mother Nature throws harsh weather conditions your way.
The AR-15 is Perfect for Hunting a Variety of Game.
The most common chambering for AR-15 rifles is .223/5.56. A great all-around cartridge, .223/5.56 works well on small game, varmints, wild hogs, predators, and even small whitetails. However, an increase in popular cartridges like .300 Blackout and 6.5 Creedmoor have pushed companies that produce parts for the MSR to offer more uppers and barrels outside the realm of .223/5.56.
If you want to hunt whitetails, an MSR chambered in .300 Blackout will definitely get the job done. However, you can still kill deer effectively with your 5.56 NATO AR-15 (at least in areas where it isn’t prohibited). Modern ammo manufacturers have responded to the weapon’s growing popularity by developing innovative bonded bullets that deliver deeper penetration and hard-hitting energy transfer when compared to the average .223/5.56 projectile. These rounds are tailor made for hunting whitetails and turn the modern sporting rifle into an effective deer hunting weapon.
The MSR can even be used for harvesting larger game, including mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk. Just choose an AR chambered for a hefty cartridge like 6.5 Creedmoor. (Or you can just pick up an AR-10 in .308 Winchester.)
The AR-15 is Versatile.
If you want one weapon that can do it all, the AR-15 is up to the task. One of the most practical platforms in the shooting world, the AR-15 performs well for recreational range shooting, tactical applications, home defense, competition shooting, and hunting. If you’re on a budget and can only afford to invest in one rifle, the AR-15 won’t let you down.
Practical, versatile, and easy to shoot, the AR-15 is perfectly suited for an array of shooting applications, and hunting is one of its most practical uses.
When hunting with your AR-15, be sure to choose ammunition appropriate for whatever game you are pursuing. Also, check your state and local hunting regulations. There may be limitations on the weapons that can be legally used to hunt specific game.