Can You Hunt with an AR-15?

Can You Hunt with an AR-15?

Posted by AR15 Site on 04-18-22

Hunting, historically one of America’s favorite hobbies, evolved with the times, from bows and arrows, to cross bows, to the first iterations of firearms, to the modern firearms era we have today. Much of hunting has been characterized by its history, and the firearms typically used are that of an older era. While they are still viable, modern hunting has taken a very sharp turn with the AR-15. And it just begs the question, can you hunt with one?

Hunting Calibers for the AR-15

America has a set of some pretty famous hunting calibers. The .308 Winchester and .223 Remington are tried and true in their respective facets of the hunting game. .308, a more robust and ballistically capable caliber designed for big game. And the .223 Remington, a historic varmint hunting round made for smaller game. Both of these rounds are usable in the AR platform, but these are not the only calibers out there that are either good for hunting, or are.

How to Make your AR-15 better for hunting?

Hunting is generally not a mobile activity. In many cases, hunting involves a great deal of patience as even the subtlest of movements can be the determining factor in whether a hunt falls short or the prize buck gets hit. Other forms of hunting, like hog hunting which has a constant season, enable the hunter to get off more shots because they generally group up, and the laws on hunting hogs are less strict than with other game animals. Firing on things as big as Oxen doesn’t happen so often, but you can still drop anything with an AR, especially if it is chambered in .308.

.308 rifle kits are nearly perfect for the occasion. The AR platform brings a host of good things to a hunting set up, like magazine capacity, a very nice gas system (if you set it up correctly), and an accurate shot. Its semi-auto capability alone makes it a much more suitable option for hunting than a conventional bolt action made for hunting. And usually, those rifles are only able to fit one attachment, being the scope, which you may hit or miss depending on if the scope came with the rifle you bought it with. In most bolt action hunting rifles, the real price factor is the scope. So don’t be surprised if you purchased a $200 gun with an $800 scope and wonder why your groupings are not optimal.

The great thing about hunting is that you don’t need to go all out with attachments on your AR. It's built for it, sure, but hunting really relies on how well you can aim with your rifle. So ensuring that in whatever situation you might be in, that you aim can be as accurate as anything is the single most important thing you should build your set up around.

Different muzzle devices can help relieve flash, as well as the addition of subsonic ammo and suppressors. The AR platform is capable of chambering the .300blk, which is optimal in set ups with a suppressor. While it doesn't have the best range, you can definitely take advantage of a quieter shot.

Legalities of Hunting with an AR-15?

The AR-15 is a semi automatic rifle with a variable magazine capacity. Hunting is not permitted with the standard ammo capacity of the AR-15: 30 rounds per magazine. However, there are smaller magazines suitable for the AR-15 out there to get past this rule. It is important to know if your AR-15 is usable during the season wherever you may be trying to hunt.

Is the .223 still legal to hunt with?

The .223 Remington, the standard round of the AR-15 used to be universally usable, especially when hunting deer. However, around the 80s use of the caliber for hunting deer became illegal in some states. .223 is still a viable round for hunting varmints, however you will need to check if it is ok before trying to hunt bigger game. The AR-15 has many more calibers to choose from, the modification of which is not too costly or difficult. In some cases, swapping out uppers, to have a two-in-one gun is the path many take because of how easy it is to swap between builds.

What kind of game can I hunt with an AR?

The thing is, the AR itself cannot be capable of efficiently hunting every type of game out there. There are just too many kinds of animals to hunt that would make any singular build obsolete in comparison to one that was specifically designed for the occasion. Therefore, it is important to know what kind of game you want to hunt with your AR-15 so you can figure out what to chamber it in.

The .223/5.56 is a great varmint round. While the .223 was originally designed for varmint hunting, the 5.56 is just as capable, and if not a little better. That is because the 5.56 has a bit more pressure into it, slightly upping its ballistics rating compared to the .223. At the end of the day, the .223/5.56 is a .22 caliber, center fire bullet, with a lot of umph in its step.

The .308 Winchester, which is the standard round of the AR-10, another variant of the AR platform, has traditionally been one of the best rounds for hunting big game. Caribou, deer, ox, bears, elk, etc. are all available to those who want to hunt with the .308 win. However, that is not the only round. As new advancements in ballistics technology are constantly being made, newer additions like the 6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor provide a little more advantage when hunting big game.

The AR-10 and Big Game Hunting

The AR-10 is based on the AR platform and has its historical roots tracing back to even before the AR-15. It was originally designed around the 7.62 NATO cartridge to go head to head with the Springfield M14. However, Armalite came to the contract rather late, producing less than 10,000 units at the time of the deadline.

When Colt took control of the patent for the AR platform, they also released the AR-10 or .308 rifle with a semi automatic action for the commercial market. Since the 7.62x51 NATO is based off of the .308 Winchester, the transition into the commercial hunting market was almost seamless. However, hunting with the AR-10 would not pick up until the 2000s because Colt spent more time marketing the popular AR-15 platform in the commercial market.

The AR-10 utilizes one of America’s most popular hunting cartridges, the .308 Winchester. It has great ballistic capabilities tied with a decent effective range making it great for hunting bigger game like elk and even moose.

Many wonder if the AR-15 was capable of shooting a .308, but the cartridge is simply too big for the design of the AR-15. However, it works perfectly in the AR-10 to deliver increased performance when dealing with bigger hunting game. Because the AR-10 works off of the same platform, the triggers are identical and the mounting systems for attachments and furniture are completely the same. While the AR-15 is great for hunting varmint to mid-sized game, the AR-10 is optimal for big game hunting.

Is the AR platform good for hunting?

The AR-15 was designed to be light, easily modifiable and durable in different environments. While there is debate on how durable it is, it was originally designed as a military weapon. Many people to this day use military implements as hunting tools through the use of sport erization. However, the AR-15 does not need this. Instead, it only needs a budget and some time to get going on the field. Accessories can be equipped and detached very easily for multiple situations, hunting definitely being one of them. The caliber of the AR-15 is fast with a decent range, and is capable of downing almost all deer with a well placed shot. However, more modifications of the upper can see it shooting even big game like elk. The AR-15 is very versatile even in the hunting game.

How to get better at hunting with an AR-15?

The first time hunting with an AR-15 can be daunting, especially for beginners. That being said, a certain level of study before getting out to the field is necessary. The best way to get helpful tips on hunting is through online gun communities, particularly ones that have a sub community of people who love to hunt. Forums like VIP gun forum, have threads tackling the more intricate aspects of firearms in general, but also cater to more niche gun communities as well, perfect for beginner level hunters!


The AR-15 brings a simple design and easy modification to the realm of hunting. Especially when it comes to hogs, which have an open season year round, it is very good to make use of the semi auto capabilities to snag more than one score. It is capable of taking many more than its standard caliber, and can be easily made legal to hunt with with minor cost and minor modification. The AR platform itself is perfect for hunting, as the .308 AR-10 opens up the big game avenue for the platform. Ballistics wise, the AR is almost all encompassing so it really all depends on if you have one, and if you want to hunt with it.