March 05, 2014
By Brad Fitzpatrick
As deer hunters, there's a special kind of passion that goes into predator hunting. Not only is predator hunting a ton of fun, it's also a fundamental part of managing healthy deer numbers.
And when it comes to getting the job done against wolves, coyotes and other predators, an AR can often be a hunter's best friend. Many models and calibers make for great deer rifles, too.
Likewise, varmint and predator hunters were among the earliest to adopt the AR platform for field use, and there are a lot of good reasons to choose an AR rifle for a predator hunt. AR rifles have always been highly adaptable and customizable, and with the modern crop of hunting ARs in a variety of calibers, it's easy to choose the perfect one to meet your needs.
You can outfit them with lights, optics, and lasers, and the AR's short overall length and maneuverability make it a natural choice for the hard-core predator hunter. In addition, AR rifles offer fast follow-up shots.
The large and growing AR market offers a wide selection of rifles that will work well in the field, but these are 10 of the best ARs for today's predator hunter.
Alexander Arms R-17 .17 HMR
offers a number of innovative AR rifles, but if you're looking for an easy-shooting rifle for hunting small predators the R-17 chambered in .17 HMR
is ideal. Rather than manipulating an existing rifle to handle the .17 HMR cartridge, the R-17 is a purpose-built rifle with an oversized extractor, chromed interior parts, and a monolithic magazine block.
It comes with a fluted 18-inch barrel and is available in camo. If you spend your time chasing small predators at moderate ranges, this rifle is ideal. It's cheap to shoot and offers very light recoil and fast follow-up shots.
Bushmaster A -TACS Predator
The Bushmaster A-TACS Predator
has a 20-inch fluted chrome-moly steel
barrel, a round, comfortable handguard and comes covered in A-TACS camo for optimum concealment.
The flat-top receiver is ready to have optics mounted, and the magazine release is ambidextrous. The pistol grip is soft and comfortable, and at 8 pounds the Predator is stable enough for long-range shooting on coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. It's chambered in 5.56/.223, perhaps the most versatile of all predator cartridges, and it is accurate enough to knock dog dogs that won't come in close.
DPMS Prairie Panther
The Prairie Panther
is one of
the lightest, most accurate 5.56 predator rifles on
the market, weighing just 7.15 pounds. It comes with a 20-inch fluted barrel that is Teflon coated, 416 stainless and has a 1 in 8 twist rate and a carbon fiber free-floated handguard that helps further reduce weight.
It has a two-stage trigger, and despite its light weight, it's one of the most accurate ARs you'll come across. It's also available in three camo patterns, including King Snow Shadow for those who like to hunt
predators in the depth of winter.
Rock River Arms LAR-15 Fred Eichler Series Predator
If there was any doubt what the LAR-15 Fred Eichler
series rifle was designed to do, then just check out the paw prints cut into the handguard tube.This is a predator gun through and through, and it was designed as such, from its full-length top rail to its RRA Operator A2 or CAR tan stock and its non-reflective 2-stage trigger.
The LAR-15 has a low-profile gas block and majorly oversized trigger guard to accommodate gloved fingers. It comes with a cryogenically treated, bead-blasted 16-inch barrel with Rock River's directionally tuned and ported muzzle brake. This gun was designed from the ground up to make dogs howl.
Mossberg MMR Hunter
Mossberg's MMR Hunter AR
has a direct-impingement gas operating system, a 20-inch barrel, and a round, textured, handguard tube, dual sling studs up front, and a variety of other features that make it one of the best predator ARs you can buy.
It comes with a flat top receiver for mounting optic, a comfortable Stark pistol grip with an additional battery compartment and an A2 style fixed stock. The MMR Hunter weighs only 7 pounds, so it is light enough to carry while making multiple setups, and it is available in a black finish as well as Mossy Oak Brush and Mossy Oak Treestand for the ultimate in concealment.
Smith and Wesson M&P15 PC
Smith and Wesson's M&P15 PC
rifles are built in Smith and Wesson's Perfomance Center, which means these guns are fine-tuned and extremely accurate.
Blue Heron Communication's Jeff Puckett says that he enjoys 'watching it shoot a ragged hole, ' which is the kind of accuracy that is possible from a gun like the M&P15 PC. It has a 20-inch stainless barrel, a 4.5 pound two-stage trigger with a large enough trigger guard to accommodate gloved fingers, 10-round magazine, an A2 buttstock, long, smooth handguard tube and a chromed bolt carrier and gas key. It's available in black or RealTree Advantage Max-1
camo and is chambered in 5.56/.223.
Nosler Varmageddon Rifle
Don't let the name fool you, the Varmageddon
rifle is not just for varmints. It's one of the best predator and competition ARs on the market. The Varmageddon rifle is built by Noveske Rifle Works
in Oregon, and it features a lightweight NSR handguard as well as a match grade Noveske barrel and Magpul
The long top rail is perfect for mounting high-powdered scopes, and the Varmageddon rifle is available with a Leupold VX3 4.5-14x50 Varmageddon Edition scope
with CDS turrets. If you're serious about knocking down dogs
at extreme range and you don't mind forking over the cash then this is your gun.
2,695 (rifle); $
3,595 (combo package)
was one of the first companies to buy into the AR platform for hunters, and the R-15
has been a big hit for Big Green. Remington also offers one of the most extensive lineups of field-ready predator ARs, and you should be able to find exactly what you're looking for in the R-15 line.
The VTR Predator Carbine
is available with or without a collapsible stock, and both versions come with a fluted gas block and machined aluminum handguard tube. The Predator VTR line is available in either .223 or .204 Ruger, two excellent predator hunting cartridges.
Ruger SR-556 VT
The 'VT ' may stand for 'Varmint Target
, ' but this is an excellent predator gun as well. While most of the SR-556
line has a decidedly tactical slant, the VT has a cold hammer-410 stainless 20-inch barrel, a smooth, flat top handguard that is capable of accepting additional rail at the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock position, and a very nice, clean, two-stage target trigger.
Like other SR-556 rifles, the VT employs Ruger's two-stage piston, a hardy and reliable operating system that can stand up to lots of abuse.
SIG Sauer M400 Predator
The SIG Sauer M400 Predator
rifle comes with an 18-inch fluted stainless barrel that is threaded and capped, a long, Hogue
aluminum handguard, and a soft, comfortable Hogue pistol grip. It's short overall length (36.25 inches) and light weight (6.1 pounds) make this gun a great choice for the predator hunter who likes to spend time walking.
The long, tubular handguard is easy to grip and comfortable, and the flat top receiver gives plenty of space for mounting optics. If you plan to spend a lot of time walking from one setup to the next or hunt in rough, mountainous country the M400 Predator is a good bet.