In 2017, Pennsylvania became the last state to restore legal hunting of game with semiautomatic rifles. Hunting with semiautomatic rifles had been outlawed in the Keystone State since 1907.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners voted to correct a strange twist of the Pennsylvania game laws. In five counties where rifles aren’t allowed for the hunting of big game, semiautomatic shotguns have been allowed for decades. But in the rest of Pennsylvania, semiautomatic shotguns were illegal for hunting big game.
Now Pennsylvania hunters will be able to use semiautomatic shotguns to hunt big game throughout the state.
Semiautomatic centerfire shotguns that propel single-projectile ammunition will be lawful sporting arms in most of Pennsylvania’s firearms deer, bear and elk seasons in 2018-19.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave unanimous approval to regulatory changes that permit these sporting arms for deer, bear and elk hunting. For elk, the shotgun needs to be 12-gauge or larger.
The Game Commission historically has permitted the use of semiautomatic shotguns for deer and bear seasons within its special regulations areas near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
With today’s vote, such authorization is extended to the remainder of the Commonwealth, as well as to the state’s elk hunters.
There are several shotguns that use rifled barrels and sabots to give an accuracy and range potential comparable to center fire rifles.
In 2016, Pennsylvania gave the Game Commission the authority to approve semiautomatic rifles for hunting. In January of 2017, the Game Commission approved hunting big game, small game and furbearers with semiautomatic rifles. In spite of the 2016 law, the decision to allow hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles was reversed in March of that year.
The first semiautomatic rifle designed for big game was patented in 1900 and introduced in 1906 by Remington. It proved a popular and successful design.
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