- October 12, 2016
- Fur and Fangs STAFF
From the first rocks used by cavemen to bash in an animal’s skull to today’s long-range precision shooting rifles, it’s only a natural evolution of man to devise better ways to succeed against nature and its creatures. After all, our minds are the one aspect that gives us the edge to triumph over beasts, most of which possess physical abilities—speed, strength, hearing, smelling and seeing—and innate instincts that would trump man’s otherwise feeble efforts at every step. Few men who have ever lived would be able to run down a whitetail, sneak up on a turkey or overpower a bear or lion. It takes cunning, and ultimately, tools.
(Excerpted from The Shooter’s Bible Guide to AR-15s)
So we use our brains. And with them we devise better ways to find game, track it down, get close enough to it and kill it. It could certainly be argued that today’s battle-tested AR is the culmination of so many eons of evolutionary development in weaponry. It is certainly no surprise that it is finding its way into more and more hunters’ hands.
With what is now a generation of American soldiers who experienced combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and are as comfortable on the end of a tactical rifle, if not more so, than many traditional sporting arms, it should be no surprise that the popularity of ARs has migrated beyond an audience of target shooters and home safety practitioners and into hunting camps around the country.
With their ability to deliver tack driving performance, cycle rapid follow-up shots, cool quickly and shoot heavier bullets in a .223-sized caliber thanks to the higher barrel twist rates most ARs have over more traditional arms of the same caliber, it is no surprise that ARs first found a home in the hunting world among predator and varmint hunters. The fact that much of that type of shooting and hunting revolves so keenly around ballistic performance and fine tuning of a particular firearm to work in concert with optics, rests and the shooter’s own abilities also played a significant role in the varminters embracing of tactical rifles.
Whether a shooter is perched in the bed of a pick-up truck and settled on a bench overlooking a troublesome prairie dog town or hidden among the brush working coyotes to the gun, the end game for the predator shooter is to be able to fire a lot of shots. Predators and varmints are not bound within bag limits like much larger and even some smaller game. That means a guy also has to be able to afford to shoot.
Before ARs became all the rage and demand soared for the guns, .223 ammo was relatively inexpensive when compared to some of the more specialized cartridges. This also enhanced the rifle’s popularity. However, when AR demand soared, ammo costs for the rifle rose with it as the rounds became scarce. Don’t forget that our military was also embroiled in battles on two fronts at this same time, requiring a significant demand for much of the same materials and production facilities that produced ammunition for the civilian market. Fortunately, for today’s tactical hunter, ammo makers have been able to secure raw materials and ramp up production so that .223 ammunition is once again easily obtainable and available at a reasonable cost.