AR Rifles Gain Popularity Among Modern Hunters

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 3 weeks ago

D.S. Pledger:

Traditionalists still might scratch their heads when they see a deer hunter toting an AR-style rifle, but it’s a sight that is becoming more prevalent each fall. I’ll admit to being a little put off by those black rifles initially. In fact, I believe I wrote a column a number of years ago questioning why in the world anyone would use a military-style rifle for any kind of hunting. Times have changed, though. Today they’re becoming mainstream—and for a lot of sound reasons.

Here’s are the facts.  All weapons are “military-style” weapons.  Scoped, bolt action rifles are still used by designated marksmen and military snipers today.  Revolvers were used up through World War II by officers.  1911 pistols are in use today, and in fact the U.S. Marine Corps recently issued a brand new contract for 1911s.  Shotguns were used for room clearing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on and on the list goes.

It’s stupid to object to the civilian ownership of “military-style” weapons, and it always has been stupid.  Every weapon can and has been used by the military for different functions.  Eugene Stoner – God bless him, genius and great man that he was (you guys know what I think about him) – gave us a wonderful shooting platform.  It’s his platform that has evolved and given us so much in the way of a good, reliable, well-functioning, and precise machine.  As an engineer, I admire precision machinery.

But I’m nothing if not agreeable.  I appreciate the honesty and sincerity expressed by Pledger.  This is different than a gun writer who authors articles and reviews for decades observing the subtle changes, sees the encroachment on our rights, and then pens an article that could have been written by the Brady Campaign.  I think y’all know who I’m talking about.  Pledger is moving in the right direction.



  • Daniel Smith

    Unless you’re hunting boar or coyotes, using semi automatic rifles should be banned for use of hunting in my opinion…too many rednecks with AR’s poaching game, or killing more than they legally are allowed too happens more than it doesn’t I fear.

  • Daniel Smith

    And to comment on the quote D.S. Pledger made,”there are alot of sound reasons”… No there isn’t…and to suggest that there is makes me think you haven’t been hunting in your life, or youre just ignorant.

  • GodOfSpinoza

    I know people who compete in service rifle matches with AR-15 rifles. It’s a lot like stock car racing. Those cars just look like the cars in the showroom.
    The customized AR rifles have stainless steel barrels. The barrels wear out in the throat ahead of the chamber. It would be a shame to throw out a fine barrel just because of a little wear so they don’t. The chamber is recut to eliminate the worn section. The barrel is too short by a fraction to be used in a service rifle but, it’s fine for a hunting rifle. Add a collapsible stock to adjust for clothing thickness change through fall and winter and you are good to go.
    Federal makes a 64 grain power point cartridge that is good for game as big as deer.

  • Nohj Snommis

    Poachers poach with regular rifles, shotguns and pistols, too. I am loathe to support anyone that uses the words “ban” and “gun” in the same sentence.

  • paul b

    Well, we can’t use rifles for most deer seasons here. An the AR chamber to 5.56 cannot be used for deer at all. Coyotes and other critters are OK, but not deer.

    It is interesting to see the guns the DNR sells that they have taken from Poachers. 22 mag and shotguns are pretty much the bulk of what they have. Poachers use things that don’t leave a mark so they can say “really, it just dropped dead right there”.

  • Josh

    But a hunter wanting to take more than his allotted quota can do that just as well with a bolt action rifle or shotgun. Government regulations are rarely good solutions to problems.

    We already have laws for “poaching”. Game wardens should and do enforce those laws where possible, regardless of weapon platform. And again, the AR is a platform, not a round or caliber, as you know. An AR chambered in .308 would make a fine hunting rifle for any large game, including deer.

    One sound reason for using an AR for hunting is that it fulfills a combination of functions rather than just one: Harvesting game, self defense, and small arms combat at medium range. This means that the owner can fulfill one hobby/practice and two obligations with the least amount of upfront investment in hardware and ammunition and ongoing maintenance.

    Another sound reason is that the AR in M4 style makes a fine bush rifle, being short, light, and durable. Eugene Stoner was a genius.

    Besides that, a man shouldn’t need “sound reason” to hunt as he pleases within the confines of game regulations and humane kills.

  • http://captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Daniel, you’re on the wrong side of this issue, similar to the now-panned Jim Zumbo, David Petzal and the idiotic Jerry Tsai (although Jerry for somewhat different reasons).

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2012/09/10/anti-gun-ignorance-from-recoil-and-hk/

    When I say the AR platform, I mean very specifically the design that places recoil straight along the axis of the gun rather than causing a rotating couple about the shooter’s hand like traditional guns with dropped stocks. The AR is a platform. The AR is a platform. The AR is a platform.
    Now that this issue is cleared up, your real objection seems to be that you oppose semi-automatic weapons being used for hunting. You cloud your arguement by invoking bigoted comments about “red necks,” but Yankees, Mid-Westerners and others can violate the law as well, and red necks can follow the law. So one’s heritage is irrelevant.
    But shooting platform neither causes not prevents one from obeying or disobeying the law. it is a shooting platform. It cannot affect the heart, it cannot affect the soul. Your objection may as well morph into objecting to civilian ownership of semi-automatic weapons because people might “snap” and go on shooting rampages and kill too many people. And as we all know from the anti-gunners, it’s okay to kill one or two people in a school, but not twenty. Or so their logic must go.
    The shooting platform you use is completely immaterial to whether you obey the laws. You didn’t draw a connection between the two because you can’t.
    Finally, as for the issue of sportsmanship, I’m okay with limits if the intent is to maintain viable herd size. I’m not okay with it if the hidden intent is to raise revenue for the government.

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  • Daniel smith

    … I am stating that there is no reason for hunters to have semi automatic rifles that carry more than 4 rounds hunting… Interestingly, individuals have disagreed with me but have yet to state a valid point other than you don’t like being told what to do… I fully support the DNR. And as far as the laws are concerned, I do not suspect that someone who “really wants to ” will stop just because there is a law that says so. What I hope for is when a dnr official catches these people, I hope he takes away there house, there car, everything… I hope the dnr official uses his full authority. And finally in regards to people who think redneck only relates to a certain race or whatever it is you assumed, I meant redneck not by a geographical location, but acting like a dumb, uneducated redneck…I feel that that can sum up all different walks of life. None of which is responsible, nor capable of handling a firearm. I look forward to hearing a valid response on a situation where a hunter needs thirty rounds (25ish if your mags suck) hunting.

  • Daniel smith

    And to josh, the reason DNR does not allow certain rifles (and even shotguns with more than 3 shells) is they want to control what you can literally kill in a short amount of time…. And as an avid hunter, I would like to continue hunting for years to come and not have to deal with some idiot who just shot 13 deer in one sitting (which I have witnessed) …so in a nutshell, it is a good thing if they were to ban them on public hunting land (game management)

  • Daniel Smith

    . I could really care less if you decided to use a 22. Or a 50. Caliber to hunt…i don’t think its sportsmanlike to use anything that cam shoot 30 rounds downrange in the time it takes most people to fire off two shots with a bolt action…its not fair, its not hunting, pure and simple…

  • daniel smitb

    Where does the “AR platform” come up in the quote? I’ve read over it a few times and found no mention of an “AR” platform. If you are referring to “an AR style rifle” or “military style” rifle, then I would say I have not ever seen single shot military style weapons in my entire life…im sure they are out there, somewhere in some guys safe for aesthetic reasons. After saying this, I would hope you can understand why I would being up this conversation starter in the first place…

  • http://captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    So let’s try to deal with all of your objections in a single posted reply. I may or may not succeed.
    The AR is a platform, or if you will, a pattern. Eugene Stoner’s design places the recoil along the axis of the gun, preventing a rotational couple about the shooter’s hand present in guns with dropped stocks. It also has a high degree of modularization, and can be “gunsmithed” by novices rather easily compared to many other guns. Finally, Stoner placed the sights up 1.5 – 2 inches from the axis of the gun, preventing the need to bury your cheek in the stock. Finally, it’s a semi-automatic.
    Now. Many hunters use AR pattern designs with .308 (AR-10), limited capacity magazines for hunting not only deer, but larger game out West. It’s very commonplace. Daniel, listen to me. It’s very commonplace. State laws allow it, and responsible hunters don’t take more than their limit. Furthermore, semi-automatic rifles have been used for decades to hunt, as have semi-automatic shotguns. State laws in most places allow that, and there are a number of nice hunting rifles chambered for .243, 6.5, .308, etc., that are semi-automatic.
    I am not advocating high capacity magazines for hunting. I advocate the pattern rifle that you feel comfortable shooting. There is nothing wrong or illegal about that. The problem you point to – one man who shot 13 deer in one sitting – is a problem of the heart. It’s a moral problem, and crafting a law that affects everyone equally who obeys the laws won’t affect the law-breaker. That’s the failure of the gun control advocates, i.e., the belief that more laws will control criminal behavior.

  • smmtheory

    It could be more humane using a semi-automatic to hunt than the bolt action if the hunter doesn’t actually make a clean kill on the first shot.

  • Dana King

    Could you strawman any more? Give it a break. I have a Hayabusa motorcycle and it can go 190mph. Do I drive it that fast in a 25mph zone? No. Why? Because I’m not an asshole and I don’t need assholes like you who rationalize the most ridiculous absurdities to ever be uttered, demanding statism. Just because YOU are irrational doesn’t make the rest of us irrational.

    And who exactly are YOU that you believe YOUR way is the only way? How in heavens name did you arrive at this conclusion? GTFOOH you statist troll.

    So, in a nutshell, you’re a statist idiot who wouldn’t know what liberty was if it kicked you in your nuts.

  • Dana King

    I don’t think it’s sportsman like for you to use a gun to hunt. In fact I think you should be forced to hunt brown bear with your bare hands. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to the bear if you used a gun, any gun, even a .22.

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This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Guns and was published April 28th, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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