AR-15 rifle for hunting? Yes! Read on.
The AR-15 is also called the “American Sporting Rifle.” It’s the most popular rifle in America. Millions of them are in the hands of law-abiding citizens who used them for target shooting, hunting and personal protection in their homes.
The AR-15 is popular with law enforcement. Cops call it a “Patrol Rifle” or “Urban Rifle.” (Swat guys use M16s, which can be fired in full auto, semi-auto or 3-round burst mode.)
These are all legitimate terms to describe the AR-15 rifle. Mostly in the past, some have called it the “Stoner Rifle” referring to Eugene Stoner (1922-1997). Eugene Stoner was the American firearms designer who is most associated with the development of the AR-15 rifle that was adopted by the US military as the M16. He is regarded by some historians as one of the most consequential firearms designers of the 20th century. Although, I would remind everyone that John Browning also lived in the 20th Century. Both men are much admired as legends of their time.
It is wrong to call an AR-15 an “assault rifle.” “AR” most assuredly does not and never has been an abbreviation for “Assault Rifle.” It stands for “Armalite Rifle” because that is the name of the company that first began making it. Much as “.45acp” stands for “Automatic Colt Pistol”, in .45 caliber (which is actually a semi-automatic pistol designed by Browning in 1906 and adopted by the Military in 1911). The “1911” remains one of the most popular handguns in America today and is manufactured by dozens of different manufacturers.
It might be acceptable to call a fully-automatic M16 an assault rifle because it might sometimes be used that way by the military and, less so, by police. An M16 is a submachine gun capable of emptying its 30-round magazine is just a few seconds. In full auto mode one press of the trigger will send a stream of bullets through the muzzle until the rifle magazine is empty. An empty magazine can be replaced by a full one in 2 seconds or less by a skilled operator.
Unlike the M16 military rifle, an AR-15 is not a machine gun. It is not capable of firing in full auto mode. It fires one bullet for one press of the trigger. The next bullet will not fire until the trigger is released, allowed to reset, and depressed again. It is a semi-automatic rifle, much as many others types of rifles used by citizens for hunting and target shooting. In the hands of a highly-skilled and practiced operator an AR-15 can be rapid fired almost but not quite as fast as an M16. Because of the Las Vegas shooting we’ve all heard of bump stocks that simulate full auto firing. Suffice it say that bump stocks are considered junk by respectable people. No one I know owns one.
The term “assault rifle” comes from the fanatical gun-ban advocate Josh Sugarmann, founder of the so-called Violence Policy Center In 1988. Sugarmann coined the term “assault rifle” with malice aforethought. He wanted it to stick so as (he said at time) to make the public think it’s a machine gun and therefore make it easier to get a government ban enacted. I’m not sure if he knew or cared that true machine guns had already been banned by Federal law in 1986. Only full auto rifles already registered in 1986 with the ATF remain legal to own by citizens. All transfers must be re-registered with the ATF, a $200 tax paid, and approval by local law enforcement is required. The supply is limited to that in existence in 1986, making them extremely expensive to buy. A pre-1986 M16 can cost $30,000, or more.
The AR-15 is different from more traditional semi-automatic rifles not in how it fires, but in how its design makes it easy to carry and easy to shoot. Very few people who have shot one at an outdoor gun range have failed to be thrilled with it. It is the best selling rifle in America because it is versatile allowing customization into several different configurations, and it is extremely accurate. It has low recoil. It just a whole lot of fun to shoot. Those are the reasons this rifle is so popular.
It’s an excellent home defense gun because it is accurate, easy to shoot, and with the proper ammunition it will not send bullets thought walls into other rooms of a house or into a neighbor’s home. This is a crucial factor since as we all know, we are responsible for everything our bullet does until it stops moving.
The military likes the 5.56 mm (also .223 inch) bullet used by both AR-15 and M16 rifles for two reasons. The bullets fired by these rifle are small caliber in the weight range of 55-75 grains. The 30-06 bullet from an M1 Garand is a .30 caliber bullet weighing from 150-180 grains. The .308 bullet fired by the M-14 is usually of the same weight range. A soldier in the battle field can carry many more rounds of .5.56 ammo than he can of much heavier .30 caliber ammo. This gives the soldier more firepower for a longer period of time.
Another benefit of the smaller bullet and cartridge is that it is less lethal. Why would a military unit want less lethal weaponry, you might ask. Because the goal is not so much to kill as many of the enemy as possible, although that is a goal. The ultimate goal if to stop the war by winning it. Leaving dead soldiers on the ground may be one way to win the war or even one particular skirmish. But if there is a quicker way to victory, that’s also a desirable outcome. The smaller bullets are less like to kill. But they are very likely to incapacitate without causing death, at least not immediately.
In battle, the dead are left where they fall until the battle ends. The wounded are tended to first. By leaving more wounded for the enemy to have to deal with, the opposite force gains an advantage. Of course, both sides are trying to do the same thing. But it was the United States who first saw the benefits of the smaller, easier to carry, less lethal battle rifle that is the AR-15 or M16. (the M16 can be fired in semi-auto mode like an AR-15, or it can be fired in a 3-round burst mode which turns out to be the one most used by the U.S. Military).
AR-15 rifles are increasingly used for hunting. Some states don’t allow the AR-15 for large game such as deer or elk because they haven’t been powerful enough to make a one-shot kill, resulting in needless animal suffering. The AR-15 was considered to be only a varmint gun, suitable for coyotes and rabbits.
Nowadays, cartridges and bullets are being developed that are suitable for shooting larger game animals. The AR-15 is now used for hunting on a large scale. (Deer seem to be getting smaller) Also, the AR platform can be chambered in .308 caliber, which is the traditional round used for deer and elk in America.
Florida Senator Ben Nelson recently claimed an AR-15 is not meant for hunting, but is meant for killing. The ATF disagrees with that, and recognizes that the AR-15 is used for hunting more and more in America. Senator Nelson is also wrong to say the AR-15 is meant for killing. When used for self defense, killing is not the goal. Stopping is the only goal. Death may occur, but it cannot be the desired result. If so, it’s murder not self defense. So it’s wrong for Nelson to say the AR-15 is meant for killing.