If you’re looking for a versatile and dependable rifle for the woods, then you should consider setting up an AR-15 for hunting. The AR platform is becoming more and more common among hunters across the country. With the AR being so adaptable, it can be had in a variety of configurations that are incredible for hunting different types of game, from small varmints all the way up to some big game.
The main thing that determines what kind of game you can take with an AR platform is the size of the round that it’s chambered for. The standard AR-15 is usually chambered in .223 or 5.56mm. However you can get different caliber variations, including, but not limited to: 7.62X39, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8mm rem SPC, .243 .300 AAC BlackOut, .50 Beowulf, .458 SOCOM and more. So, there are many options when it comes to caliber for a wide variety of hunting purposes. Furthermore, many ARs allow you to simply change calibers by switching out the upper receiver and bolt carrier group. This flexibiblity makes the AR platform the most versatile rifle there is for hunting
The ease of customizing an AR is its greatest compliment. Not only can you easily add a bunch of accessories, you can also switch upper receivers to change the caliber. Actually, you can change and customize just about every part of an AR, including the handguard, trigger, grip, sights, magazine, stock and more. Once you have customized the necessary parts, you can start accessorizing with lights, optics, slings and more.
For a predator/varmint hunting rifle let’s take a look a the .223 Remington/5.56mm, as most ARs are chambered in these calibers. The first thing to know about these two calibers is that they are not the same. You can shoot .223 in an AR chambered in 5.56mm, however, you should not shoot a 5.56mm round in a .223 — you are only looking for problems, as the 5.56mm is more powerful and can create very dangerous chamber pressures. You have to take into consideration what kind of game you are planning to hunt, and then what type of ammo you’re going to use – if you have a too heavy of a bullet, and your AR only has a 1/9″ barrel twist, the round won’t stabilize and you won’t have very good accuracy, and the same is true of a too light bullet weight. The .223 will work on big game with the right bullet (and where legal), but it’s really too underpowered for all around big-game use. If you are planning to hunt big game – deer, hogs, elk — with an AR platform rifle, then you should seriously consider a larger caliber upper receiver assembly or, even better, an AR-10 type rifle. That platform is usually chambered in 7.62×51mm or.308, adequate for hunting large game.
The lower receiver is the foundation of an AR. It houses the trigger, hammer and magazine catch. It also attaches to the grip and stock. The lower is the part of the AR our government considers a firearm. It has a serial number and must be registered like purchasing any firearm. You can purchase uppers, barrels, stocks, magazines and all the other parts of an AR right off the shelf.
Lowers can be bought fully assembled or stripped. A fully assembled lower comes with trigger, hammer, disconnector, safety selector lever, bolt catch, magazine catch, magazine button, pistol grip, all necessary pins, detents and springs already installed. It is ready to be attached to an upper receiver. A stripped lower comes bare and you install the components of your choice.
Most of the components of your AR are for look, function and feel. The two pieces that truly define your AR, however, are its upper receiver and barrel. These determine the ammunition you will use, and at what distance the rifle will be most accurate.
Upper receivers can also be purchased “stripped” or “barreled.” A stripped upper is essentially a shell to which you add a barrel, bolt and bolt carrier, and forend of your choice. If you are building your own AR, you will likely go this route.
A barreled upper is a complete upper that comes assembled with the components listed above and is ready to be attached to the lower receiver. You can switch calibers by simply switching uppers. You just take off the barreled .223 upper and attach a barreled 22LR, 5.56, 6.5, 6.8 or 300BO upper. It’s that easy.
Upper receivers also determine what sort of sight system you’ll be using. There are differences in uppers like A2 has a fixed carry handle with open sights, The A3 is a Flattop receiver with a mounting rail for scopes or red dot sights.
Accessories and Options
I advise to mount whatever accessory you need for your particular type of hunting while trying to keep it light enough to hunt comfortably with. There are tons of options from handguards like magpul MOE and quad rails to mount lights, lasers and bipods. Rifle scopes, tactical scopes and open sights are availible. Stocks can be fixed or adjustable. Magazines ranging from 5 to 100 rounds. Be sure to check your states law on hunting magazine capacity. Some states allow hunting at night for varmints and hogs, and here is where a night vision scope and/or laser mounted on your AR will come in handy. ATN Night Vision makes some of the best night vision scopes out there. This can make all the difference in the world, if you make a hit or completely miss game in the dark. A mounted flashlight is a cheaper solution. There are also lasers that you can mount on a rail of your AR. A bipod can come in handy if your stalking game. Slings are another option that come in variety, choose one that fits your style of hunting.
The AR platform, without question is the most versatile hunting rifle there is. What is your AR setup for hunting particular animals?