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People who know I hunt sometimes mistake me for a Fudd. “No one needs an AR-15 to kill a deer, right?” they say, expecting me to agree. I’m tempted to use the comic T-shirt reply: “Nobody needs a whiny little bitch either but here you are.” Or maybe I should point out that our gun choices are protected by the Bill of Rights, not The Bill of Needs. I don’t, but it’s true . . .

You don’t need 30 rounds to take out a deer. Or even ten (for our readers living in states that restrict ammunition magazine capacity). If you do, you definitely shouldn’t be hunting. But that doesn’t mean ARs aren’t suitable hunting guns. They are.

If you’re comfortable and accurate with your AR-15, if you know your rifle and ammo combo’s distance/lethality limitations, an AR makes a great field gun. It’s light, durable and reliable. You can easily fit it with an appropriate hunting scope. And the extra ammo in your magazine has its advantages — especially when chasing after a large group of pigs.

That isn’t a small hunting niche, either. The U.S. is home to some 2.6 million feral hogs — and the population is growing. Texas is infested, with an estimated 1.5 million pigs wreaking devastation on crops and wildlife. A standard capacity AR-15 is an ideal firearm for hog eradication.

During a recent hog hunt with Tek Outdoors, I shot F1 Firearms’ Old Glory (above). Chambered in 7.62×39, the OG AR was the perfect rifle for Texas Hill Country porcine perforation, where most of your shots are under 100 yards. Outfitted with a Leupold Carbine Optic 1x red dot sight (for quick target acquisition), it was a great system for rapid repeat fire.

I noticed that Tek owner Matt Telveke was carrying an AR in his truck with a Palmetto lower and custom upper chambered in .223. I asked him how that worked for him as a land manager and guide. Matt told me he preferred using his AR for convenience with predators and hogs for rapid fire.

As an ethical hunter, I’m dedicated to harvesting game as efficiently as possible to minimize animal suffering. The AR-15 is available in a wide variety of calibers — from .223 deer hunting rounds to 6.5 Grendel cartridges — suitable for just about any type hunting. As you can see, I shot a doe with an AR-15.

That said, wild hogs are a fast-moving pest species that gather in groups. “Spraying” a group of wild pigs with an AR-15 and letting them bleed out somewhere nearby may play to anti-AR and anti-hunting prejudice, but it can be the best way to eliminate these animals. And the AR-15 is the best gun with which to do it.

The next time someone tells you you don’t need an AR for hunting, try my reply: I don’t need to listen to people who don’t know what they’re talking about, but I’d love to hear how you came to that conclusion.

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  1. Good point, but my standard reply is far simpler.

    The 2nd amendment is not about shooting deer, it’s about shooting tyrants and their lackeys.

  2. Cartridge selection, not what the gun looks like, is important.

    side note, a rifle named old glory, in 7.63×39?

  3. AR’s are for hunting. Hunting PEOPLE. And that’s ok too. We’ve all agreed to hunt each other and destroy any FING THING OF VALUE OR PURPOSE of each others should we need to execute on Paragraph 2 of the Declaration of Independence (it took the framing of the Constitution, and the production of Amendments and we still have a sh_t-ton of ignorant mf’s out there that’ll tell you ‘no’ but that won’t make a dry FV<K to you, should you so decide to execute on your end of our promise).

    "SPORTING PURPOSES" O N L Y means you get to use a "light-for-caliber / light-for-quarry" cartridge if you think you can do the minimal requisite damage on your neighbor to suit your purposes.

    It is so stipulated. You don't have to like it.

    • Calm down. You can get AR-style rifles in .308, or even .30-06/.300WM if you really want (or think you need) more power. Especially for a person with other firearms in 7.62x39mm, an AR in that caliber makes great sense.

      • I have one in .308 and another in .300 blk. Sharing the suppressor is just the first advantage you trip to.

  4. The whole argument about magazine capacity in an AR belies the knowledge the person making the statement has on the subject. Mags are interchangeable. I have a five round AR mag, some 10’s (somewhere I think) and some 20’s but mostly 30’s. You can simply swap to a lesser capacity mag if the law requires it for hunting.

    The statement is akin to saying “You don’t need five rounds to hunt [insert small bird here].” Well no, and generally the law doesn’t allow that, which is why my shotgun has a plug in it that limits the mag to three. Also, shotgun mag extenders are a thing that can take your capacity above five but anti’s never talk about this now do they? (I doubt they’re aware of this.)

    All these things are tools. Tools have applications for which they are best suited. If I just need to change a tire (hunt deer) I only need a lug wrench, like I only need a few rounds. If I’m going to change a lot of tires for, say a business (hunt a lot of pigs), or generally work on a lot of cars I might want to have a pneumatic “assault-type” impact gun. The job has changed so now the tool has changed to one that’s better suited for the volume/type of work I’m doing.

  5. Next time someone claims that the AR is not a hunting rifle, have them go to Google images and search for “AR-15 hunting.” Watch their precious little jaws drop.

  6. A well placed 223 can take most small deer and hogs. That said I give myself more room for error and use what I consider the right tool for the job.

    • For many years I said that the .223 and 5.56 were too small. And then, in the last 2 years alone, I’ve at least 30 white tailed deer with a 64 grain soft point. Probably at least a dozen a year for the last 5 years. At 100 yards and under, there’s no need for more.

  7. Just to go against the unstoppable tide of AR fanboyism: I’m sure ARs are fine for big and medium game hunting under somewhat controlled situations (tree stands or blinds over food sources at fairly close range). But the cold hard fact of the matter is that all AR rounds are anemic on the grand scale of extant centerfire cartridges.

    The way I look at it, I don’t get to hunt all that often and I would hate to have to pass on a shot because the only available angle was through heavy bone. Also, what if the only legal animal I see all season is 250 to 300 yards away. I can’t think of an AR-15 round I’d rely on to kill a large animal at such ranges.

    Granted, it seems the author is based in Texas where I’ve heard deer breed like rats and don’t grow much bigger, so the idea of only seeing one or fewer legal to take animals in a season may be a non-issue.

    • I’m guessing you’ve never seen or heard of a Noreen BN36 in .30-06, or a Nemo Arms AR in .300 WinMag? Even a common .308 AR using premium bullets would do the job, assuming the shooter can place the shot.

    • In the Hill Country of Texas, most deer are under 100lbs and the vast majority of shots are 100 yards and under. Plus, it seems like every time I did a spot and stalk hunt with a .30-06 or a 7mm Magnum I ended up taking a 40 yard shot on what had to be mentally deficient white tail while it stared at me.

      • LOL, ain’t that the truth?

        That’s why all my hunting rifles have variable scopes with no more than a 3x low end (most are between 1.5 and 2.5x actual magnification).

        • Can walk the dog in the back yard and see 6+ sitting in the field, they don’t run, even if you yell at them.

      • Most of my deer hunting experience came from growing up in Northern Vermont not far from the Canadian border. Up there, the best weapon for deer hunting may as well be whatever rock fits most comfortably in your pocket because you’re probably not going to see any deer, let alone one that’s legal to shoot (3 point bucks or better during the general firearms season).

        I always kinda hated deer hunting there. The ruffed grouse (partridge) and snowshoe hare hunting on the other hand . . .

    • “what if the only legal animal I see all season is 250 to 300 yards away. I can’t think of an AR-15 round I’d rely on to kill a large animal at such ranges.”

      So just what do you use for deer at 300 yrds, 7mm Mag/.338 Lapua/.50 BMG? My .308 has been doing just fine for 40 years and way too many deer and hogs to count.

      • “So just what do you use for deer at 300 yrds”

        In my case, probably something weird. It’s just who I am. It’s part of the reason my eyes glaze over when discussion of ARs begins. I have an unusual neurological condition where anything that becomes ultra popular fills me with contempt and irritation. To me, throngs of people getting exited to the point of foaming at the mouth about ARs makes about as much sense as people getting excited about unseasoned meatloaf or vanilla ice cream. To each their own and all, but I’m bored with it.

        Re the .308: My comment was directed at rounds most commonly chambered for the AR-15, not the AR-10. Though an argument could be made that there are lighter, sleeker platforms chambered in .308. Though again, to each their own. If someone can shoot with it and wants to carry it all day, have at it.

    • I use an AR-15 chambered in 6×45 (.243 for legal WA state) and it does fine taking whitetail and coyotes out to 350-400 yds. I also hunt with an AR in 6.5 Gredel and have taken game out to 600 yds with it. At 1000 yards, the drop on a 6.5 Grendel round is 2/3 that of .308, is still supersonic and hits with 100 ft-lbs more energy than said .308. There’s nothing in N. America, assuming I do my part, that I can’t bring down with that round.

    • AR’s come in every caliber under the sun, including magnum calibers. Go look at the DPMS GII hunter. It comes in .308
      .260, and 6.5 creedmore. As far as the AR15 is concerned. A well placed 110 grain accubond from a 6.8 SPC will dispatch a white tail inside 200 yards. Then there are the heavy hitters like the 50 beowulf, the 450 bushmaster, and the 458 socom that can launch a 300 grain bullet as fast as a 45-70 can. If you have the money to spend you can have an AR in 338 Lapua, 300 winchester magnum and any of the short magnums as well. Hell The folks that make the bad news 338 have AR’s in good ole 30-06 and 270 winchester.

  8. The reality is that the internet sniper is a liar. Any day during hunting season out here, I hear at least one rifle magazine being unloaded at an animal. Long shots, wounding, or just poor shooting are reality. When faced with that reality, plus the possibility of a run in with a predator, an AR is a very good hunting tool.

    Any “fudds” left out there don’t have a leg to stand on if they don’t carry single shot rifles. I can carry a box of ammo in the magazine if I desire. Not jingling around in my pockets, not five on the stock, not spilling out into the snow every time I load and unload the rifle. And about that: In states like mine where a loaded rifle in the vehicle is illegal, anyone can get an AR into action many times faster than someone with an unloaded bolt gun can get even one round into the chamber.

    I’d like to know how many of the fudds can change their barrel, stock, and sights, let alone with tools costing less than $100? Can they put their sling swivel exactly where they want it? Does their gun have backup iron sights for when the scope fails? Is their length of pull adjustable? If they even have a magazine, does it cost $15?

    Lastly, there are LOTS of people out there who are familiar with the rifle and it’s operation from time in the services. There is something to be said for that familiarity.

    Not that bolt guns don’t have their place, or don’t have some advantages over the AR-style guns. But to discount them because of negative perception is ignorant. I’m not going to attack bow hunters, bear baiters, hound hunters, or trappers for being “cruel”, I would hope that my own people don’t stab me in the back either. Gun owners, and even more so hunters, are a minority. Without a unified approach to guns, we are going to lose our rights, even more than we already have.

  9. It is with joy in my heart that I note that on Feb 1 the Pennsylvania Game Commission approved hunting with a semi-automatic rifle, max mag capacity five rounds, bear and deer included in the approval. Their approval was required to implement the statute changing the prior restriction.

    I like the limitation to 5-rounders in the field. Hunters still get the quick second shot, but some restraint encourages a careful first shot.

    • YES!

      If I had to give up anything, at least all I need is to buy one 5 round mag. I can handle that.
      But I don’t totally agree with the restriction.

    • Awesome! Last I’d heard, it was approved, but the Game Commission hadn’t written the regulations. Thanks for the update. Do you know if the new regulation will be in effect for the 2017-2018 season? I can’t tell from what I’m seeing online.

      Frankly, I’m more interested in using the AR for groundhogs, as it’s my only .223 and my .22-250 is overkill at the ranges I shoot at. I’d have been happier with a 10-round limit, but I can deal with 5.

      For deer, I have a Garand clip of 8 rounds of .243 that I’ve carried for years as a spare, and I’ve never had to break into that.

      I was going to ask for recommendations on a 5-round mag, but then I saw these:

      The last time I was looking, I *thought* they only had ones that brought a 20-round down to 5 rounds. It will be nice to keep the 10-round size plugged to 5 rounds.

      • I don’t have the details of the implementation date, but I assume it will be in effect as soon as the ruling is printed/published. I myself will await publication of an advisory for hunters from the Commission. I expect it will have more detail than the announcement offered.

        The approval a few years ago of semi-auto slug guns, and now rifles, will bring more hunters into the field, which is good.

        Groundhogs? I live on about an acre three miles or so west of the Philadelphia line. Suburbia. Three years ago a groundhog dug a set of tunnels and a home in our backyard among the rhodos. They just look ridiculous scuttling across the yard. laugh.

        • Pennsylvania groundhogs are good eating .After I get two I clean and skin them,soak them in a pot of cold salt water overnight ,then in skim milk for a few hours.quartered and BBQed slow over charcoal with my favorite BBQ sauce. and a side of roasted sweet corn and Jersey tomatoes sliced thick.A COLD Yuengling tops it off. MMmmm good.
          I’m looking forward to using my AR this year if the law passes.One shot at a time.

    • Technically it’s not a done deal until the final vote at the end of March, but it is likely going to happen. I’m pleasantly surprised they didn’t start out by limiting it to whistlepigs and yotes. I don’t have much desire to hunt in PA with an AR platform for now because I have better options, but it’s nice to see the Game Commission slowly entering the 2nd half of the 20th century. Honestly, I would’ve much preferred it if they lifted the Sunday hunting ban first.

  10. As long as the appropriate round comes out of the end and does its job, who cares how it gets there?!

    I cant stand the people who say, “but what about tradition?”
    well, in that case, why aren’t we all hunting with bows, or just muzzle loaders? because as the technology changed, so did the weapon. The end.

    People who are afraid of something or don’t understand are always the ones at the front of not doing something.

  11. “No one needs” is a trap. It deserves to be called out as such as often, and even more, than it is now.

    • “No one needs” is a trap.

      I TOTALLY agree. It needs to be responded to EVERY TIME. And the response to such nonsense needs to be “Why are you afraid of and against Liberty?”

  12. Wait, wasn’t the .223 REM cartridge originally developed for hunting? I’m not a hunter, but it seems to me that the round is the most important variable in the equation. Maybe the AR looks a little silly in a hunting context, but that’s only because people are used to thinking of a hunting rifle as being Grandpa’s old 42″ long, wooden stock, bolt action rifle.

    I don’t have any problem with people using an AR for hunting, chambered in .223 or other cartridge appropriate for their quarry.

    As for magazine capacity, just mind your own business. Maybe you don’t need that many rounds for hunting, but you might if a pack of wolves or coyotes shows up. The right to keep and bear arms isn’t about hunting, anyway.

    • Not to get way, way too far into this but the short version is this:

      .223 Remington’s parent case is the .222 Remington which was meant for varmint hunting and benchrest shooting.

      .223 and then 5.56 came from Armalite’s Small Caliber/High Velocity rifle experiments which were looking for military contracts. .222 Remington came up short so Armalite contacted Remington who made a stretched case .222 Remington with a larger powder load which they called .222 Special. That still came up short for what the military wanted in terms of performance, but it was close, so the cartridge was tweaked to make 5.56 (which was acceptable to the military) with the same external dimensions as .222 Special.

      At the time there were a bunch of .222 cartridges on the market such as .224 Springfield which was commercially sold as .222 Remington Magnum. To prevent confusion .222 Special was renamed to .223 Remington.

  13. “A standard capacity AR-15 is an ideal firearm for hog eradication.”

    Provided it’s configured in .300 BLK with a can.

    (And that makes it near ideal for home defense as well, or for tyrants and their lackeys…:) )

  14. I hunt with an AR pistol in 7.62×39 7.5 inch barrel using 154gr.SP. Tru glo triton 1x RBG dot.(hey so far so good, when it dies I’ll get the TRS-25) Using the PIG brake on the end. Hogs and deer both end up in my freezer. It’s always fun to watch the good old boys get that odd look when I take it out of the small case. I love the fact it’s a defense firearm AND a Hunting firearm. Win/Win.

  15. Couldn’t help but notice that your awesome rifle has one of those skeletal receivers. Ever faced any problems with dirt or debri in the field?

  16. “A standard capacity AR-15 is an ideal firearm for hog eradication.”

    Any rural Americans w/ bubba’d SKS’s or AK’s who care to disagree?

  17. Seems like most of the time they want to argue that the 2nd isn’t an individual right. The Bill of Rights contains the first ten amendments and they are all individual rights. How can people think they are all individual rights except one? The country was founded on individual liberty not group anything.

  18. If the anti-guns nuts want to know why we want/needs 30 rounds mags, just point them to the 1986 Miami FBI shootout. William Matix took 6 shots from the FBI before dying, Michael Platt took 12 before he expired. In the meantime, the pair managed to kill 2 FBI agents and wound 5 others. Only 1 agent was not wounded. Police files are full of stories like the cop in Illinois who went through 42 rounds in a gun fight with an armed robbery suspect, hitting him 14 times; six of those hits were fatal, but the suspect didn’t go down until he was hit in the head, on shot numbers 41 and 42. More importantly, I’ll reserve the right to use as many rounds as it takes if I ever need to defend myself and/or my family from an intruder intent on killing or raping my loved ones. And I’m willing to bet, that if that god awful scenario ever happened in real life to one of these whiners, they would want as many guns and as many rounds as they could get their hands on. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn about their families

  19. Are Fudds self-aware enough to realize that many of their beloved deer rifles are based upon late 19th/early 20th century military models? I don’t think so. Also, it’s nice to see an insightful and attractive woman writing for TTAG.

  20. I will give you a reason. Most AR-15s are inaccurate, ballistically underpowered and generally carry junk triggers. Sorry to rain on the parade but use the right tool for the job. Shooting a bunch of pigs and then allowing them to just bleed out without harvesting the meat is unethical and just plain wasteful. At least feed the meat to your dogs rather than the coyotes. ARs are another annoying example of the latest greatest trend. Wait 5 years and you will be able to pick them up dirt cheap.

    • You had better have a whole lot of really big dogs. There are years that just the pigs I shot would have equaled over 10,000 pounds for those dogs. Most of the time I only bother with cutting the loins out.
      For many of us who actually hunt quite a bit, the AR-15 is the right tool for the job.

    • ARs come in many calibers and sizes. the 5.56 is considered by many to be underpowered for deer. We can agree to disagree. My AR-15 is a .300 blackout. Her AR-15 was a 7.62X39. AR-15s come in the 6.5 Grendel which is fantastic for hunting most big game. Also, my AR has a drop in Timney trigger. Your points about ARs proves only the ignorance of people who think every AR shoots the same round.

      As for the cost of ARs, they’re dirt cheap now. Sub $500 for off the shelf stock ARs.

      • I hunt more than a “quite a bit.” I also eat what I shoot. You can waste 10,000 pounds of meat but I guarantee you’re feeding something and it probably comes in the form of a certain type of canine native to the west.
        I also stand by my statements. If you notice Timothy I used the word “generally.” You may be one of the people that actually worked to make the base inaccurate platform better. Most AR shooters I have known or seen don’t bother to do much of anything except buy it and then believe they have a weapon that somehow escapes the law of physics. You can talk about blackouts, 7.63 x 39 all day. There is a reason why most states in the west demand 1000 foot pounds at 100 yards. Most ARs fail miserably in that regard or barely make it over the limit. I own a decently upgraded AR and it serves a limited purpose, one that I hope I never have to see. They are a fun platform but for hunting anything but small game, not so much. I don’t like to see animals taking 10 rounds to polish off because of leg shots, grazes and lack of power. They used to teach hunters that it should be one shot one kill, anything more than that was a failure of the hunter.
        If your hunting big game go get a real big game rifle. Get the right tool for the job.

  21. Great article. But I still prefer, “no one needs a whiney little bitch either, yet here you are!” Never gets old.

  22. If there was one perfect rifle for every type of hunt, there’d be just one rifle. ARs are popular because they’re flexible. Multiple calibers, different triggers, plenty of room for sights. What frustrates me is the same people who say an AR-15 is too dangerous to own because of how uber powerful they are… typically are the same people who then try to claim that an AR-15 isn’t strong enough to hunt game. Which is it? Are they too weak or too powerful?

    If you don’t want an AR to hunt with, don’t get one. If you DO want an AR to hunt with, pick one in a caliber that is effective for the game you’re hunting.

  23. Ohio only allows pistol caliber (straight-walled) cartridges in rifles for deer hunting. The state of Ohio considers .38 special adequate for whitetail deer (not that I’d ever use that). But, .357 magnum and .44 magnum do fine. If those are adequate for whitetail, then .223 definitely is. Ironically, I can hunt with .223 all day long if I’m shooting coyotes or ground hogs.

  24. Who eats the wild pigs, hope they are donated to Salvation Army or for legal use in restaurants?

  25. My first AR was a 16″ barrel carbine with a collapsible stock, which I had built from a parts kit and lower bought at a gun show in the early 1990’s. At the time, the only .223 ammo I knew about (outside milsurp ball) was soft-point varmint rounds, so I traded the AR in for a Norinco “sporter” AK which had been “neutered” under the original AWB (thumbhole stock, no barrel threads or bayonet lug), since I wanted a gun I could hunt deer with. I later sold the AK while I was in college because I needed the cash more than the gun. Fast forward a couple decades. I had been in the army, and I recently wanted to build a full-sized AR rather than a carbine since I got comfortable with using an M-16 (the M-4 wasn’t standard issue during my time in the service; the M-16A2 was still the “standard” then); the only deviation was I used a surplus M16-A1 stock (I like the length of pull and the rounded edges of the buttplate better than the A-2 configuration), and a flat-top receiver for more comfortable optics mounting (an A-2 carrying handle puts things WAY too high for my comfort). I can now buy 64 grain rounds that will work fine on white-tails at the ranges I shoot at (under 200 yards), and I have a nice 5-round stainless mag to keep the DNR happy. The longer barrel will give me more velocity than the 16″ barrel my carbine used to have, too.

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