Skip to comments.Why hunters are trading in traditional hunting rifles for the AR-15
Posted on 11/18/2017 6:57:29 AM PST by Simon Green
AR-15s have long been a symbol of the tactical world, but black rifles are slowly creeping their way past military and law enforcement applications and into the world of hunting. Touting more caliber options, efficiency and modularity, the versatile platform is transforming the way hunters down prey, but whats causing hunters to ditch traditional rifle set-ups in favor of modern sporting rifles?
The biggest benefit to the AR, or modern sporting rifle, platform has always been its modularity. Unlike traditional bolt-action setups, gun owners can easily swap between an almost endless sea of uppers and lowers. This ability to trade in and out parts allows hunters to fine-tune their hunting platform to desired specifications.
This modularity is especially useful for hunters who routinely stalk various kinds of prey, utilizing an array of calibers to do it. While the most common chambering on the MSR lineup is undoubtedly .223/5.56, an increase in popular cartridges like .300 Blackout and 6.5 Creedmoor have pushed parts manufacturers to offer more uppers and barrels outside the 5.56 realm. This caliber modularity advantage elevated the AR-15s popularity in the hunting world, making it a viable contender against bolt-action.
Mark Grimsley, a hunter out of Kansas and owner of the Fitn Fire YouTube channel told Guns.com in an interview that the AR-15s vast array of caliber options is one of many reasons he chose an AR setup for hunts.
One rifle can be easily converted in to several different variants that will allow you to choose the right caliber for your hunt, Grimsley said. Going coyote hunting on Monday, use your .223/5.56 upper. Going whitetail hunting Tuesday, switch to the .300 Blackout. Going Elk hunting on Wednesday, change your upper again to a 6.5 Grendel. All of those upper receivers can be used with the same type of lower which gives greater flexibility for the hunter and the AR platform.
Grimsley, an 11-year U.S. Army veteran, also pointed to the AR-15s widespread familiarity as a reason some hunters, especially those coming from military and law enforcement backgrounds, are choosing modular sporting rifles.
One of the main reasons that I started using an AR style rifle to hunt with was because it was so familiar to me, Grimsley said. I have been around the AR platform for about two decades now, between my fathers influence and my military time, and I have become extremely comfortable with its feedback, loading/unloading, placement of the safety, and remedial actions to clear malfunctions should there ever be any.
Aside from modularity, hunters say the AR-15 offers a level of versatility unparalleled in the bolt-action universe. MSRs easy disassembly and reassembly procedure in addition to the advent of the collapsible stock grants hunters the ability to hike in several miles on foot with the gun carried stealthily and safely in a backpack. Hunters traipsing through fields in unrestricted states are also afforded the luxury of 30 round magazines which increase the number of shots a hunter can fire in a given time period while decreasing follow-up shot time. This can often mean the difference between taking a trophy and going home empty handed.
I believe in one well-placed shot, coyote hunter Greg Sodergren told Time Magazine of the AR-15. (But) if youve got multiple animals or you miss, youve got a quick follow-up shot.
In addition, the speed in which the AR cycles its bolt as compared to the manual cycling of a bolt-action means more potential shots on target or multiple shots effortlessly carried out on multiple targets.
A semi-auto changed my life, Eric Mayer, who runs AR15hunter.com, told Time Magazine. Im able to make the (shot) because I dont have to run the bolt (and) lose the target in my scope.
Despite its advantages, the AR-15 has had its swath of bad press, earning it a bad boy reputation among its fellow rifle peers.
I feel that the AR has previously received a bad rap as far as it being used as a hunting rifle, Grimsley said. Because of its military inception, it has been seen as an under powered, military application rifle only. Not until recently, with the popularity of the newer rounds have people started to consider it as a viable option for hunting applications.
Regardless of its reputation, loyalists to the MSR point to its efficiency as the number one reason ARs are enjoying such success on the shoulders of hunters.
Its the most capable tool for the job at this time, Mayer said. Bar none. Period. It is.
As soon as we finish building a 5.56 AR for Mrs. L Im going to start playing with uppers in different calibers.
Because the deer are now carrying AK-47’s?
With my Remington 700 Short-Action .243, I can cycle the bolt and never lose my sight picture.
My son helped me build my first AR, a 6.5 Grendel, with a 24in barrel. I haven't hunted with it yet.
Wonder if a low tech bolt action is more reliable than a semiauto. Especially, in adverse environments. When accuracy and reliability are important, I’d choose a bolt action. Or a revolver, too. Same idea.
My favorite eye-rolling moment in any debate with an anti-gun activist in when they inevitably say something along the lines of “Besides, you czn’t hunt with an AR-15, there wouldn’t be anything left of the deer!”.
Wonder if a low tech bolt action is more reliable than a semiauto.
A Mosin Nagant is about as reliable as they come, and far more accurate than most believe.
The M16 is reliable. Yet for accuracy and reliability, simplicity is best IMO unless volume, lots of rounds,is important.
I do hate the use of acronyms presented without full use in the 1st mention within an article. Anybody care to enlighten me? I doubt if it is Main Stream Rifle, but I could be wrong.
The Test. Until lately, the Marines’ standard rifle was the 38-year-old war-tested Springfield, which was also the Army’s rifle until 1936. Since the Army adopted the Garand, the Marine Corps has been under pressure to do the same. The Army last week, had about as many Springfields as Garands in service, but was substituting Garands as fast as production (about 700 a day) permitted.
After boiling down results of all the tests for accuracy, ruggedness, general fitness for combat, the board rated the rifles: 1) Springfield; 2) Garand; 3) Johnson; 4) Winchester. Best that the board could say for the Garand was that it was “superior to the other semi-automatic rifles . . .”; “superior in the number of well-aimed shots that can be fired per minute”; could be quickly cleaned in the field. Sum & substance of the findings was that the Garand was a fair-weather rifle, excellent on the practice range but far from good enough for the Marines when the going got tough. The going in the test was very tough. Examples:
– The rifles were doused in mud “of light consistency.” Results: “The M-1903 [Springfield] rifle can be operated. However, the bolt became harder to operate as the test progressed. . . . The M-1 [Garand] rifles would not function and the longer an attempt was made to operate the bolt by hand the harder it became to open.”
– The board assumed “that troops have landed through light surf [as Marines must often do] and that rifles were dropped or dragged over wet sand in reaching cover on the beach.” The rifles were exposed to saltwater spray (but not actually soaked in water), dropped in wet sand. Results: the Springfields fired “in the normal manner.” But “the bolts on the two [Garands] could not be opened by hand after the first and second shots respectively. The firer had to stand up and use his foot against the operating handle in order to open the actions. Both [Garand] rifles . . . failed this test.”
– The board assumed “that troops have landed through heavy surf sufficient to break completely over men and equipment, and immediately engage in combat on a sandy beach.” Results: both Garands failed to operate as semi-automatic rifles (i.e., reload automatically after each round). One failed completely and the firer had to hammer the bolt with a mallet; “the other operated by hand with extreme difficulty. …” The Springfields continued to work, with slight difficulty. On these salt water tests, the Garand was rated last, the Springfield first.
Carry in a pocket a few rifle rounds. A .223, a .30-06 and maybe a .300 win Mag. Ask them to pick out the AR round.
Modularity and the ability to customize to suit personal taste seems to be a strong selling point in pretty much anything.
No, they misspelled Mrs.
They were talking about a lineup of other peoples' wives.
The ones made by a reputable company are quite as good tools for hunters as they are defensive weapons.
I am in my sixties now, with a bunch of physical issues that are common to codgers. I used to prefer manually-operated long guns, but I will now occasionally bobble a stroke on a pump-action or hang up a lever-action... no biggie when out plinking, but not real nice if I would need that round real bad. Advantage: semiautomatics.
Most semi autos are now coming equipped with relatively painless ways to mount optics and lights, two more things I didn't need when I was in my twenties but appreciate now. Another semiautomatic advantage.
For us older ones, it may be a little different.
I’m too old to go big game hunting so don’t really need a super powerful rifle. I am on blood thinners and they now leave a big bruise on my shoulder that takes weeks to go away, and the possibility of a blood clot can kill you.
AR-15 or such type rifle is perfect. No bruising, the pistol grip is perfect for arthritic hands.
And it still makes the faint hearts lose bladder control to think I have one.
They probably made up MSR to mean Multi-Shot-Rifle, but so is a bolt-action.
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