Choosing a hunting rifle can be a deeply personal experience, especially if you’re heading out for one of the first hunts of the season. A lot goes into picking the perfect rifle for your hunting season, from the weight and the feel of it in your hands to the caliber it fires and the scope you need to land the most accurate shot.
One option in many parts of the country is an AR-15. Before you balk at using an automatic rifle to hunt, here are a few points that you should keep in mind.
1. Embrace the Entire Platform
People often think of assault rifles when they hear the name “AR,” but there’s so much more to it than military rifles. The AR platform is incredibly modular, which makes it a popular choice for hunting. You can add accessories like grips, stocks, and scopes to nearly any rifle, but with an AR-15 or any rifle on the AR platform, you can customize every single piece of the rifle.
You even have the option of building your own rifle, ordering parts one at a time so you can fully customize the finished product. If you’re considering hunting with an AR-15, take the time to understand and embrace the entire platform.
2. Choose Your Target
What are you planning to hunt with your AR-15? This will determine the type of build you create and the caliber of ammunition you choose to work with. A standard out-of-the-box AR will fire either a 5.56 mm or a .223-caliber round, but the customization options of the platform mean that you can swap out the barrel, bolt carrier group, and magazine for a variety of different caliber rounds.
Stick with your .223 for small game like coyotes and rabbits, or upgrade to .300 Blackout rounds for things like feral hogs or deer. A .308 round is perfect for larger game like moose, elk, or black bears. Take the time to research your barrel and bolt carrier options as you’re choosing your prey for the next hunting season.
3. Check the Legality
This is often the biggest challenge when it comes to hunting with an AR-15. In some states, like California, Ohio, and most of the North East, hunting with an AR-15 is illegal, full stop. Others, like Colorado and Florida, allow hunting with AR-15s but restrict magazine and cartridge size. In the rest of the country, hunting with an AR might be legal, but there may be local regulations that outlaw it even if it’s legal at a state level.
If you’re planning on hunting with an AR-15, make sure you’re checking the legality in the area where you’re planning to hunt. Pay careful attention to caliber and magazine size restrictions, if any.
4. Enjoy Multiple Shots
Bolt-action rifles might be the most popular choice for hunters, especially those who’ve been hunting for years, but they do have their drawbacks. If you don’t land a kill shot on your first try, the crack of the rifle is going to scare away your quarry as well as any other animals that might be in the immediate vicinity. You have to pull your bolt again before you can take another shot, which may leave you struggling to reacquire your target.
Semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 don’t have that problem. The magazine size might be limited, but you still have the option to take multiple shots in quick succession before you have to reload. It’s a small benefit, but for first-time hunters, it can make it easier to achieve that clean kill.
Good Luck This Hunting Season
If you’re still considering what rifle you’ll use for an upcoming hunting season, consider giving the AR platform a try. Its customization options make it easier for you to create a rifle that you’ll actually enjoy hunting with. Good luck out there this hunting season!