If your favorite way to spend a fall weekend involves thermoses of coffee, early mornings, and quietly stalking game, the very few tools you take with you to go hunting are all vital. After all, you don’t want to be so weighted down you can’t move without clanking, but you also want to ensure you have everything necessary for the day. After all, you wouldn’t want to have to swing back by your truck to grab your gun after finding a great buck. And, if you’re new to the hunting community, you may have noticed that two of the most popular topics that come up time and again are: the best/biggest/most challenging prey and what your firearm of choice is. One of the more popular questions lately has been whether the AR 15 is appropriate to hunt with, or if it’s either not enough or too much power. So, that begs the question: is the AR 15 actually good for hunting?
Pros and Cons
One of the primary arguments simultaneously used both for and against using the AR 15 for hunting is the caliber of the standard sized rounds (.223). At the same time, the AR is a semi-automatic rifle; it was designed to fire a round, expel the spent cartridge, reload the chamber, and fire again in rapid succession. This is distinctly different from a shotgun that you have to reload every time you fire. One of the primary arguments against using the AR to hunt is that the combination of standard ammunition size and the semi-automatic nature can encourage hunters to “spray and pray,” by which we mean that the tendency can develop to fire several rounds quickly and just hope they’re close enough. On the flip side, if you have to stop and reload in between rounds, you’re likely going to be a bit more cautious and take the time to aim more carefully. In that regard, depending on what you’re hunting, the .223 rounds that fit a standard AR 15 can be too much or far too little fire power. The answer to whether the AR 15 is great for hunting depends more on what you’re hunting—and if you’re using the standard .223 caliber rounds.
Let’s Talk Firepower
As we’ve discussed time and time again, the AR is great because you can customize it down to the nth detail. With the right modifications, this can even include what size rounds you can shoot. The .223 caliber round is really only useful and appropriate for smaller game, definitely not for use on bigger animals like deer or elk. The use on larger game is likely where a lot of the “spray and pray” stereotyping comes from. With .223 rounds, it would take a lot of effort to slow down an elk, let alone stop it. At which point, animal cruelty is a serious concern and a lot of the meat may be largely unusable because of the spread. However, the AR 15 was designed to be a lighter long-range firearm, so it sounds, theoretically, like a great option for hunting. With the appropriate modifications, the AR can shoot a .277 caliber round, which will pack enough of a punch to kill a deer on the first shot, rather than just causing injury and a slower death. Or, if you prefer to stick with the standard sized rounds, try for smaller game like feral pigs and goats.
Many hunters prefer to use the AR 15 for hunting because there are a number of advantages. The primary among these is the combination of weight and ease. The AR was designed specifically to be lighter than other options at the time, so if you’ll be hiking for a while, that weight difference can mean a great deal. In addition, the AR can be disassembled and reassembled pretty quickly. For hunters who will be in hilly, mountainous, or rough terrain, the AR allows you to disassemble and stow in a pack until you reach the point you’re actively stalking game. It also offers the accuracy to take the kill shot the first time, assuming you have the right caliber rounds.
With the best AR accessories and modifications, your AR can be an appropriate and useful hunting tool. Whether you’re looking for a KMR handguard or a new carrier group, Bootleg, Inc. has the best custom AR parts; shop our online store today!