Recently I was sitting in the coffee shop hiding from the rest of the world and at a nearby table there were some seasoned hunters debating the timeless subject of the best deer hunting rifle. I could not find fault with any of their arguments until someone blurted out that his fool son was going to hunt with his plastic piece of junk known as an AR-15, which was unanimously identified as useless except for possibly feral hogs and wasting ammunition.
I finished my coffee and left the coffee shop to take care some errands and the comments about the ARs weighed on my mind. I am convinced that the modern sporting rifles may look different from my 1963 Model 98, FN Mauser, but is just as much a hunting rifle as any other design, and the usability all boils down to shooting distance, bullet weight and design, bullet placement, and not the looks of a rifle!
Any of you folks who own modern (not military issue) AR-15s and are wondering if they are adequate for hunting whitetail deer the answer is “yes” as long as you take the same care and planning as any hunter preparing for hunting season.
For openers I would like to see anyone try to prove that an ArmaLite AR-10 in any of their factory-offered calibers does not shoot as well or better than any comparably-priced factory bolt-action rifle on the market!
After that you can start down the line in lesser-priced AR-15 rifles and compare ARs and bolt or lever guns and see what you get. The answer to that is they will all do the job well!
The key is how they are equipped by making sure the rate of twist of the rifling is suited for hunting cartridges, and the bullets used are hunting rounds, and not some ball ammo picked up cheaply. Ball ammunition is fun and generally inexpensive to play with, but is just about as sorry a hunting bullet as you can put your hands on.
The next thing that is important on any hunting rifle is the sight. Don’t try to use so called tactical or defense-designed sights to hunt, use the correct sight made for hunting, such as a hunting scope.
After your rifle, no matter the action, is setup for hunting then go to the range and practice at the distances you believe you will encounter in the field and use the ammunition you plan to use hunting.
Rapid fire, just because you have a semi-automatic rifle, is a waste in a whitetail deer hunting situation. A hunter should be confident that he is going to down his game before he pulls the trigger with the first shot or not take the shot.
One of the biggest points to consider is the caliber of the rifle you intend to use. If you are looking at a .223 Remington (5.56mm) caliber you need to experiment with different bullet weights and loads to see what gives you the best results. Also don’t expect more from a .223 Remington than it is capable of giving.
A .223 Remington can give you good results on whitetail deer at up to about 200 yards, which will cover most of the distances that deer are taken every year in this country. The fact is most are harvested at around 100 yards or less. However, if you get a shot at over 200 yards with a .223 Remington I would suggest you consider passing on the shot.
There are over 4 million whitetail deer in Texas alone and the prospect of only getting one shot opportunity in the entire season is not likely.
Good luck out there with your AR!
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