It has been cemented that the AR15 is the bestselling firearm in the USA. It’s the new “Rifleman’s Rifle” and it has real use in the woods as a walking around gun or a hunting arm. The AR15 and AR10 have long been available in several different calibers making it them viable options for hunting squirrels all the way up to moose and large dangerous game.
With the right planning and practice you can take game successfully in every free state that allows you to own an AR. The greatest thing about the situation is that manufacturers have taken the hint and brought about new specialized AR15 and AR10 models for hunting.
Considerations & Decisions
If you’re interested in hunting with your AR, then you need to think about a few things before you lock and load and head for the deer stand :
The Right Cartridge
AR rifles come in two action lengths. They come in the intimidate case length; the AR15 or 5.56 pattern, and the standard action length; AR10 or .308 pattern. Neither rifle has interchangeable parts except for a few components like but stocks, and some handguards.
The larger action length is much more expensive but a much more applicable gun for hunting. Even with big bore cartridges like the .458 socom and the .50 Beowulf available you get far more range and reliable killing power not to mention cheaper ammo and more abundant options with a cartridge like . 308 or .243.
The Right Range
Whenever you hunt you’ll have an effective range. That range is a combination of your weapon, your skill, the exact hunting situation and how you feel about the ethics of long range hunting. AR15’s are not well suited at all for long range hunting medium sized game. The 5.56 cartridge is great for predator hunting and in a pinch, can be used for medium game but isn’t a good idea in the long run.
Find a sweet spot with the ranges you’d like to hunt and buy a cartridge that is appropriate for that range.
The Use of Optics
The AR pattern rifle traditionally comes with iron sights straight from the factory. Those aperture sights, left over from the cold war are great in the correct situations. For under 50 yards, most shooters can reliably take game. However, it is not recommended that new hunters or shooters experienced with iron sights hunt with them.
Iron sights have many disadvantages ranging from poor low light performance to complicated and high skill curve to shoot moving targets. Most people can’t shoot nearly well enough with iron sights to reliably hit a walking speed target at 100 yards with aperture sight, so either practice or use optics.
Here are some great resources for choosing the right optics:
BEST AR10 FOR BIG GAME HUNTING
Daniel Defense DD5V1
If you’re going to hunt big game, or medium game at long range, you’re going to need a serious caliber. The standard rifle caliber of choice is .308 at a minimum and the AR10 is an excellent start for hunting large game.
Daniel Defense is known as one of the finest AR manufacturers in the world and finally make a .308 pattern rifle. They’ve supplied Military Special Operations units, and thousands of armed citizens and are trusted by countless gun owners. This is a great rifle for your hunting needs.
BEST AR15 FOR DEER HUNTING & HOG HUNTING
S&W M&P .300blk
This is one of the bestselling brands in America as far as AR15’s are concerned and S&W has recently introduced this rifle in .300 and in camouflage. This is an excellent hunting AR15 because of the quality, caliber and hunting specific features.
Mainly this is a slim, trim gun made for looking for critters. It weighs in at a scant 6.3 lbs and uses a traditional plastic forend. It has a flattop receiver for mounting an optic and includes a telescopic stock for adjusting the length of pull.
The reliability of these rifles are without question. S&W supplies many, many rifles to police departments domestic and overseas. The same line of craftsmen who make those guns make these guns.
The final great feature of this rifle is the caliber. The .300blk cartridg e is a .30 caliber bullet stuffed into a 5.56 case that has been shortened and expanded. This allows you to use all the available accessories for 5.56 caliber rifles, except the barrel. Magazines, forends, stocks and pistols grips are interchangeable.
The .300blk cartridge with 125gr bullets gives you essentially .30-30 ballistics and you can always switch to 220gr bullets for small game and predator hunting at close range. This is a very versatile rifle and great option for a youth hunter’s first gun.
BEST AR FOR SMALL GAME
If you want a .22lr AR pattern rifle, the S&W 15/22 is the one to get. This is a great rifle for people who want a trainer for a centerfire gun or for a youth hunter to practice shooting and small game hunting.
The lower receiver of this rifle is made of polymer similar to the M&P pistols and feels like a real steel AR15. However, the action of this receiver is only made to withstand pressure from .22lr and is made to thinner dimensions than a full sized rifle to keep people from installing a centerfire upper on the gun.
The rifle is available with or without a quad rail and in the new Kryptek highlander pattern to help you lie and wait for an unsuspecting squirrel or rabbit.
The price is also very reasonable and it’s probably the best AR for the money spent.
BEST AR15 FOR COYOTE HUNTING
Mossberg MMR Hunter 5.56
The AR15 is favored for predator hunting because it makes fast follow up shots available in a stellar caliber. The 5.56 caliber is great for hunting predators out to 300 yards and further in the hands of an experienced caller .
Mossberg (a company traditionally known for pump action shotguns ) has made several forays into the rifle market with a few bolt actions guns and some budget minded AR15 rifles. This is one of their mid-range priced AR15 rifles made specifically for hunting predators.
It is available in two excellent camouflage patterns including Mossy Oak Brush, a favorite among predator hunters. It has all the features of a war ready AR15, a forward assist, flat top receiver and is made to mil=spec dimensions. The non-adjustable stock is perfect for precision optics use and the free floating, slim handguard has no attachment point but is very comfortable and lightweight.
This was a rifle designed for sportsmen and is a great option for a mid-range price predator hunting rifle.
Having the right ammunition is one of the most important parts of hunting. Modern Ammunition has made it possible to hunt with smaller calibers and easier to shoot cartridges. There are now several different types of bullets atop factory ammo these days.
Premium bullets started with Nosler’s Partition that ensured a bullet will stay together when shot at high speed and if the bullet contacts a heavy bone. These bullets are often called controlled expansion bullets because if a bullet expands too quickly and blows up, varmint bullets, then it won’t penetrate far enough to put the animal down.
Many of these bullets are overkill for deer hunting but are a very good idea for hogs, bears and heavy bodied game like elk, moose and African game. These bullets are expensive but can do many things such as allowing you to use a caliber smaller than you would’ve in the past. For example, all copper or gilding metal bullets that retain 99% of their weight make the 5.56 bullet suitable for light bodied deer, and make smaller bore cartridges like .243 even more reliable.
Premium bullets also include the newer breed of specialized varmint bullets. These bullets are made specifically for predator hunting on coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. They blow up on impact and dump all their energy very quickly and don’t leave an exit wound. This is perfect for hide hunters but terrible for medium sized game and should never be used.
Conventional bullets still have awesome practicality on the market though. They’re perfect for plinking, and training and are the best bullets for deer in standard calibers. A soft point .308 has probably taken more game in North America in the past decade than anything else. Remington Core-Lokts and Winchester Power Point are traditional cup and core bullets that are fine bullets for deer and small hog hunting.
Final Word on the Best AR’s for Hunting
If you’re joining the new breed of hunters using an Ar-15 for their choice sporting arm you may notice a level of pushback that you wouldn’t have noticed before but you’ll gain practicality and enjoyment that is lost of the majority of hunters who’ve never tried it.
The answer to making the anti-gunner and anti-hunters accept the fact that there are many uses for the AR pattern rifle is to use it. By using the Aramalite rifle for hunting you’ll be doing your patriotic duty to advance the 2nd amendment, right to hunt, while enjoying the field and superb rifles and equipment.