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“For people who hunt in Pennsylvania you may soon be able to use semiautomatic shotguns for deer hunting,” reports. Why is this news? We’ve been hunting with semis (so to speak) in Texas since 1913. And not just deer . . .

The state Game Commissioners recently have preliminary approval to a law that would allow the use semiautomatic shotguns for hunting deer, bear and elk. The shotgun would have to shoot single-projectile ammunition, like rifled slugs.

Right answer.

Historically, the game commission has permitted the use of semiautomatic shotguns within special regulation areas near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This preliminary proposal would just extend this authorization for the rest of the state, as well as permit semiautomatic shotguns for elk hunting.

I don’t know if I would take my chances at an elk using one slug.  I’m happy to see the Keystone state join the 21st century.

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  1. When I saw the title of the story, I thought it was gonna be about a semi tractor-trailer rig that got shot by a hunter.

    Then snark would force me to ask how in the hell do you field-dress a Peterbuilt…

    • Hey ain’t no shotgun gonna stop a truck. It took Ernest Borgnine in an M48 Patton to stop Rubber Duck, I highly doubt your Benelli 12 gauge is gonna stop a Pete even if you are using rifled slugs.

      • There’s no upper caliber limit in PA. You could totally bust out a bolt-action .50 BMG and say it’s for deer when you’re really out for bigger “game.”

    • @ Geoff PR.. “along with sticks n your craw”. . “To go well heeled” ..comes from a term used in fighting cocks( rooster fighting) heels were the gaffs( bayonets) strapped to the roosters legs where the roosters spur was cut back, a well attached gaff, properly sharpened, “well heeled”

  2. Don’t get too happy…PA sportsmen shot themselves in the foot, so to speak.

    There were a number of bills up in PA over the last few years for MSRs and semis. One I personally had been working on with my District State Representative. That particular bill would have allowed hunting game animals with ANY semi-automatic rifle, with only caliber restrictions for different game and a 5 round magazine limit. Once the bill was passed and turned over to the PA Game Gestapo, they opened the policy period up for public comment…overwhelmingly, PA sportsmen, spoke out against hunting with MSRs on the basis of, “people jus gunna be sprayin’ bullets ereywhere” and “more accidents and shootings are going to result”, because we all know, the other 30+ states that allow semi-autos are war zones come hunting season.

    So to anyone in PA that made their voices heard in helping to nullify a right we should already have, you put the F-U in FUDD.

    • As a Pennsylvania hunter, I respectfully disagree with your “shot themselves in the foot” statement. While the latest change (semi-autos legalized for coyote/small game, with no additional magazine or caliber restrictions) didn’t get us all the way there, it was a step in the right direction. IMHO, there’s a smaller jump from there to implementing a “semi-auto for big game” policy with no caliber/magazine restrictions, than to remove those restrictions once they’re in place.

      I’d rather not go down the path of caliber restrictions for different types of game, or magazine capacity limits in order to legalize semi-autos for big game hunting. Because that very easily translates back to caliber restrictions for manually operated rifles, or magazine restrictions for lever/pump actions.

      On both the caliber and magazine capacity side, I’d rather leave that up to the individual hunter. If I were to take my AR deer hunting, I’d probably carry a 10 round magazine with 65gr Sierra softpoints. Or, get a 300 Blackout upper. Either of those would be sufficient (if not “the best”) for whitetail. And neither would be allowed under a “6mm / 5 round” policy.

      That being said, you may appreciate the irony that I did take two groundhogs this year with my AR… Both with a “quiet” handload that didn’t cycle the action. (Because that’s the only .223 I have, and I wanted to tinker!)

      • The caliber restrictions were in line with those for manual guns, i.e., no .22 calibers for medium to big game…yes it sucks not being able to use .223 for deer, but .300BLK uppers are reasonable. At the time, the five round limit was the only way to get enough votes to pass committee.

        That being said, this was a step back. The law as passed authorized semis for medium and big game. Unfortunately in PA, the Game Commission has the final say. They are the reason we are so far behind the other states in our regulations and until our Game Commission directors change, we are gonna be behind.

        These laws were a way to try to force the Commissions hand, and they failed…because of sportsman opposition.

        The minutes from the Game Commission’s meetings are available online, if you’re still confident after reading them, then you are a more optimistic person than I.

        • To clarify a point, am I incorrect in my reading of the current regulation that a .22 caliber centerfire is currently legal?

          Not that it would be my first choice, but based on anecdotal evidence (specifically, my grandfather stated he took a number of deer with a .222 / 55 grain, and I believe TTAG’s jwtaylor stated he had luck with .223 / 64 grain) they’re fine as long as you pick your shots.

          In any case, thank you for your efforts in trying to get any sort of regulation legalizing semi-autos passed. I definitely appreciate that, even if I disagree on the details!

        • There is no minimum or maximum caliber size for big game in PA.

          223 is legal.

          22 long rifle however is not as it does state it has to be center fire.

          So even a 17 center fire is legal as long as the bullet is lead and designed to expand on impact.

        • And I may have been wrong in my understanding…I took “no .22s” as anything .22 caliber. I didn’t realize that was for rimfire only.

    • I actually talked to one of those Fuds and those were exactly the arguments he made. Guy was only like 30 years old, too.

      PA’s not my circus so it’s not my business but I hope those same guys who rally against MSRs etc don’t complain when hunting dies out. Maybe that’ll make them happy because they can get more tags.

    • Keep up the good work, I can’t wait for semis to finally be legalized. I have never hunted, but want to start and built a 6.5 Grendel ar15 for that very purpose… plenty of gun for deer. But somehow I overlooked that semis were not ultimately ok’d for BIG GAME until after I finished the build. Love my Grendel anyway though!

  3. HA! and when i lived in Indiana, you only hunt with a shotgun….silly.

    Im pretty sure a single Brenneke (old school) will take an elk..

  4. I moved to a Philadelphia suburb shortly before the semi-auto hunting law passed. I was shocked at how hunters themselves embraced and defended the restrictive laws (and there are many others for hunting in PA). I heard arguments about how positive the laws were for society, and how it would be morally wrong to hunt with semi-automatic weapons.

    They are blind to how their own attitudes are contributing to the decline of hunting.

    If you don’t like something, outlaw it. What could possibly go wrong?

    • Exactly.

      We had guys from our gun club, that own and shoot ARs come out against it.
      I believe if they had their way, we’d be using flintlocks only.

    • As a western NYer who moved to SE PA, I was also surprised at the ignorant and negative attitudes among many hunters towards legalizing semiauto rifles. I just came from a state where, like most other states, semiautos were legal and it was perfectly fine and safe! I would’ve been OK with mag and caliber restrictions on semis, too. The PA Fudds really don’t appreciate how they can hurt hunting with their hang-ups on tradition and unjustified fears. I was actually surprised when crossbows were ok’d during archery.

      IMO, the biggest threat to hunting participation in PA is the Sunday hunting ban. Far more (apparently retired/unemployed) Fudds will have to go into the cold ground before that goes away.

      • Do you know if anyone has challenged the Sunday hunting restriction on 1A grounds? I don’t see how it can be interpreted as anything other than a “you should be in church on Sunday” law.

        • The Sunday hunting ban, like most other blue laws, clearly has a religious basis and would be in violation of the 1A. However, per the USSC, the PA can use the “secular day of rest” justification to weasel out of that…

          If the PGC wardens need a day of rest, then make it a Tuesday…

        • They don’t argue it on religious grounds, although I think some of that is at the root of the problem. The biggest lobby against Sunday hunting is the PA Farm Bureau. The claim is they need a day off. There is no reason they can’t restrict Sunday hunting on their own property but they want to just ban everybody from hunting on Sunday even on public lands or on their own property. They back it up with a threat to post their land against all hunting.

          Just like with semi-autos, about half the state’s hunters seem to support the ban on Sunday hunting. They think the game need a rest. The real problem is they limit rifle hunting to two weeks in December, which results in a flood of about 700,000 people in the woods on opening day. They can’t seem to figure out having a longer rifle season would alleviate some of that pressure. Of course, because they insist on having rifle season while everything is frozen, they like that because it pushes the deer around.

        • I get the argument that taking Sunday off has nothing to do with Jesus, but that’s a lie. Plain and simple. Why not one of the other six days of the week? Because Jesus didn’t rise from the dead on any of those days. Also, haven’t they ever heard of shifts?

  5. So here is how it was explained to me by the game commission.

    I threw an awful stink the last time this fell through and only allowed semi autos for small game…..
    Awful stink……

    BUT, I got answers….

    The game commission thinks semi autos should be allowed as we all know the usefulness and modular ability etc… all the good reasons.
    BUT, this is a commonwealth, therefore its the peoples decision.
    They randomly polled PA hunters. Unfortunately most all the responses they received back were from your old timers, seasoned hunters, retired fellas…etc..
    As with any older generation the mass majority was against new fangled fancy military death machines gunning down deer in the woods…. yea…

    The commission allowed the use of semi autos for small game NOW… in hopes that the people against semi’s would see that their buddies were using them and all hell isn’t breaking out in the woods.

    The commissions plan was then to slowly introduce, as you see, next shotguns… then large game rifles..

    This way it will acclimate the ones who are afraid of it ruining the “sport”.

    They are FULLY, and I mean, FULLY aware that semi autos are just fine to hunt with.

    Trust me, I got the full speech 🙂
    But I left there feeling a lot better than we both felt the same way, the commission hopes that bringing on semi’s will also bring in new young hunters.

    So, truth about the guns is that its a huge win and step forward for us in PA, its just slow but it is positive.

    No we did not shoot ourselves in the foot, we’re just cautiously playing catch up to the rest of the country.

  6. I don’t know if I would take my chances at an elk using one slug. I’m happy to see the Keystone state join the 21st century.

    You can have 5 in a pump ……

    “Firing a single projectile “ means a slug, not buck shot , it’s not the number of slugs.


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