My Favorite Hunting Rifles All Start with “AR”

My Favorite Hunting Rifles All Start with “AR”

Recently, I was night hog hunting in the Texas Hill Country, sitting in a blind over a watering hole. After several uneventful hours, I got bored, pulled out my cell phone and looked at what was happening in the wonderful world of social media.

The big issue that was “trending?” AR-platform rifles, and a series of news stories, opinion pieces and Facebook posts all sharing the same point of view. Namely, that AR’s were not and have never been hunting firearms but were “weapons of war” that must be banned. Immediately.

Which was news to me and the .300 Blackout AR sitting across my knees!

I’ve been using AR-15 and AR-10 rifles on my hunts for many years. Yes, I like and use bolt-actions and lever-actions for hunting too, even the occasional break-open single-shot rifle, plus slug guns and muzzleloaders.

But if I have a choice, I use an AR-platform rifle. I prefer the way ARs operate and the way they feel on my shoulder. Their ability to offer a very fast follow-up shot is a real plus. And I very much appreciate the relative ease with which I can mount an optic on an AR’s picatinny rail as opposed to the frequent hassle of finding specific rings and bases for other rifles.

At most of my personal hunting distances, which are typically up to 300 yards, I find AR’s as accurate as their bolt-action cousins.    

Over the years, I’ve taken dozens of whitetail deer, hogs and coyotes with AR-platform rifles. Yes, even using AR-15’s chambered in .223 Rem. In fact, one of my largest hogs was a 310-pound West Texas boar. I dropped him with one shot from a Smith and Wesson M&P15 VTAC loaded with Remington Hog Hammer ammunition. 

I find myself using AR-10 rifles more often, too. Today’s manufacturers are redesigning AR-10’s in lighter packages, trimming significant weight from what used to be the standard: 9.5-pound AR-10s. Last fall, for example, I used a new DPMS GII Hunter chambered in .260 Rem. that weighed right around seven pounds. I took two Texas whitetails, including a 10-point buck, and two hogs with the rifle. All were dropped with single shots at distances between 70 and 130 yards.

Yes, I know the “black rifles” are scary to some people. I figure Americans have the right to be scared of whatever they want to, and it’s certainly not my place to tell them what they should and shouldn’t fear. I am happy, however, to educate such folks on the basics of AR rifles for hunting and the fact that tens of thousands of hunters like myself go afield with AR’s every year in search of game.

When people I know or meet refer to AR-platform rifles as “assault weapons,” I point out that they have been misinformed, as an “assault weapon” refers to a fully-automatic firearm. ARs are semi-automatic rifles, and semi-auto rifles (and shotguns) have been used for decades by American hunters. 

I frequently direct such confused folk to the fact sheet “Background Information on So-Called ‘Assault Weapons,’” published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as well as to two documents produced by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA): “Ten Reasons Why States Should Reject ‘Assault Weapon’ and ‘Large’ Magazine Bans” and “Semi-Automatic Firearms and the ‘Assault Weapon’ Issue Overview.”

These documents explode the many myths, stupidities and lies surrounding AR-style rifles. The amount of foolishness being circulated about ARs is amazing. I’ve read, for example, that ARs are “fully semi-automatic” rifles and can fire “very powerful fully-automatic” ammunition. I’ve seen graphics claiming that ARs are frequently outfitted with grenade launchers, bayonets and even, yes, mini-chainsaws.

These claims would be laughable—except that millions of people apparently believe them. The culprits for this misinformation campaign? Anti-Second Amendment groups and an equally complicit mainstream media which keep repeating the distortions and outright lies.

So, I’ll continue to educate where I can and stand up for my Second Amendment rights.  I’ll also be afield plenty of times this year and beyond with an AR-15 or an AR-10 in hand, taking game ethically and legally. 

But I have learned my lesson. No more social media for me while hunting. I’ll take a book instead.