Hunting With The AR15
The AR-15 has drawn lots of attention in recent years both positive and negative. However after our researcch we have found that this rifle is not only terrific in self defense situations, but has also proven to be a usefull tool in today’s hunting world. I personally have found that AR-15s can be had in a variety of configurations that are great for hunting different types of game, from small varmints all the way up to some very large and dangerous game. It also is a great hunting rifle for both women and young hunters alike due to its light weight and versatility. In this article, the Pure Instinct crew will take a look at the considerations involved in hunting everything from small to larger, heavier game with the AR-15. The main thing that determines what kind of game you can take with an AR is the size of the round that it’s chambered for. The standard AR-15 is chambered for .223 Remington or 5.56mm, but many AR makers offer quite a few different caliber variations, including, but not limited to: 7.62X39, 6.5 Creedmore, 6.8 SPC, .243 .300 Whisper, .50 Beowulf, .458 SOCOM, and more. Furthermore, many ARs allow you to change calibers by switching out the upper receiver and bolt carrier group. This flexibility makes the AR one of the most versatile rifles there is for hunting all manner of game. Smaller projectiles take smaller game, and larger projectiles take larger game — it sounds simple enough, but there are some modifications that must be made when outfitting your AR to hunt specific game types.
Many hunters who hunt small game use some type of bolt-action .223 rifle – and that’s fine. However, us at the PIH crew use the AR to hunt this type of game plus much larger. Many AR-15s come with a 1/9″ barrel twist, and that’s great for most ammo up to 69-grain bullets. For heavier bullets, up to 75-grains, you’ll want a 1/7″ barrel twist. I’ve also found the 1/8″ barrel twist to be a good compromise for different bullets weights, too. You must 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 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. Here at Pure Instinct Hunting we like the 1/8” twist for its versatility. I really like the Hornady Whitetail round in 60-grain or 68-grain BTHP for deer and hogs. While the Z-MAX in the 55-grain is great for Coyote, Bobcat and other smaller game. I don’t know of any major ammo maker who is producing more variety of .223/5.56mm ammo than Hornady, and I have been using their ammo for more than 20 years. I’ve never once had a bad Hornady round in any caliber. Here is the latest list of .223/5.56mm ammo that Hornady offers to the hunter:
- 223 REM 35 GR NTX SUPERFORMANCE
- 223 REM 40 GR V-MAX
- 223 REM 50 GR GMX FULL BOAR
- 223 REM 50 GR GMX SUPERFORMANCE INTERNATIONAL
- 223 REM 53 GR V-MAX SUPERFORMANCE
- 223 REM 55 GR FMJ/BT
- 223 REM 55 GR HP STEEL MATCH
- 223 REM 55 GR SP
- 223 REM 55 GR TAP FPD
- 223 REM 55 GR V-MAX
- 223 REM 55 GR Z-MAX
- 223 REM 55 GR GMX SUPERFORMANCE
- 223 REM 60 GR INTERLOCK SP AMERICAN WHITETAIL
- 223 REM 68 GR BTHP MATCH
- 223 REM 75 GR BTHP STEEL MATCH
- 223 REM 75 GR BTHP SUPERFORMANCE MATCH
- 223 REM 75 GR TAP FPD
For hunting game, many states don’t limit the magazine capacity, so you can put a magazine in your AR that will allow you as many as 100-rounds, however they aren’t very practical due to weight and bulkiness. Some states such as Texas allow hunting at night for feral hogs, coyotes and other small game. This is where a night vision scope and/or green/red rail mounted light on your AR will come in handy. You are only limited by your own imagination and funds as to what you want to mount on your AR for your particular type of hunting. I’ve seen some really cool long-barreled ARs in .223 used for hunting racoons, jack rabbits and other small game, that can take that game way out there at 400-500 yards, with the right scope and load…and of course a solid shooter. Some of those ARs weigh in at 10-12 pounds, have very heavy barrels that are fluted, a bi-pod and all other types of equipment. I recall a typical morning hunting at the PIH ranch in Texas when it was still dark (about an hour before sun up). I had my AR with the 50LR Sniper Hog Light (in red) and my Nikon P233 3X32 with BDC. I had two, hundred plus pound feral hogs coming in hot. I clicked on my 50LR (the hogs never even noticed the light), and made perfect head shots on both pigs dropping them right where they stood. One at 110 yrds. and the other at 96 yrds. We can’t say enough good things about these Sniper Hog Lights. I am confident in that particular circumstance, if there would have been more hogs that morning, the dispatch number would have been much higher. I hate hearing that “no one needs more than 10-rds in their magazines….” from all the pundits on TV. When clearing a farm field of nuisance feral hogs, its nice having a few 30-round magazines close by. Especially when you have herds of hogs in the 20-30’s like here in Texas. If you live in a state that allows certain types of hunting at night, and you can afford one, then you can really benefit from a night vision scope mounted on a flat-top AR, and ATN Night Vision makes one of the better night vision scopes out there for the price. Having one can make all the difference in the world on whether you make a hit or completely miss game in the dark. Here at PIH we prefer the Sniper Hog Lights for the price range and reliability…again, make sure this is legal in your state. Ultimately, though, you don’t have to spend top-dollar on optics and lights for a hunting AR-15 — just make sure you have a system in place. We’ve mounted many types of optics on ARs, as well as other types of low-end red dot scopes, and they all worked pretty well for us.
These days, it’s not uncommon to see someone out in the field with an AR-15 hunting deer or other game. I’ve even heard of hunters taking larger game such as black bear and moose. However, the PIH crew has yet to test the waters on that weight class, and wouldn’t risk it without a larger platform such as the .50 Beowulf or the .458 SOCOM. When the anti-gunners tell you that the AR is an “assault weapon” make sure you educate them, and explain the difference between a real, fully-automatic assault rifle and a semi-auto-only AR-15. Also, make sure you tell them that the AR is, without question, one of the most versatile hunting rifle there is — from small game all the way up to black bear and even moose with the right platform. Please share your awesome AR hunting platforms with us along with your experiences and success stories.