February 13, 2014
By Brad Fitzpatrick
AR rifles have grown immensely in popularity, and with good reason. These light-recoiling, durable semiautos make sense not only for military and law enforcement applications, but also for self-defense, competition and target shooting. ARs also make excellent hunting rifles, and there are a growing number of hunters who rely on their ARs to put meat in the freezer.
Today, many companies offer ARs that are great for hunting deer. They offer adjustable stocks, different sighting options and the fastest follow-up shot in the business. If you're thinking of purchasing an AR for your next deer hunt, there are plenty from which to choose.
We've gathered 10 rifles that offer everything a hunter needs, from lightweight models that are easy to carry, to long-range guns for shots in open country. Check out our list of the best ARs for deer hunting in 2014.
450 Bushmaster Rifle
has a long history of producing high-quality AR rifles, and the 450 Bushmaster
is chambered in the powerful .450 Bushmaster cartridge, which is an excellent choice for hunting deer in thick cover out to moderate ranges. The flat-top receiver makes it easy to mount an optic, and this gun is ideal for stand hunting in thick cover.
It features a comfortable, round handguard and is available with either a 16 or 20 inch 4150 chrome-moly steel barrel with a chrome-lined bore and chamber. Loaded with Hornady's 250 grain .450 Bushmaster ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 2,200 feet per second, this is a great deer and hog gun that generates almost 2,700 pounds of muzzle energy and yet doesn't batter the shooter with heavy recoil.
1,500 (20-inch barrel)
CMMG Mk 4LE OR .300 Blackout
offers an ever-growing list of rifles in their catalog, and the Mk 4LE OR
is a great rifle for chasing whitetail bucks. Weighing in at just over 6 pounds (unloaded) and with a collapsed length of 32 inches, this is an ideal compact rifle for hunting in thick cover.
The flat-top forged 7075-T6 AL M4 style upper is perfect for mounting an optic, and the M4 type handguard prides a comfortable hold. Top this rifle with a low-power optic like a Trijicon VCOG and load it with Barnes' 110 grain VOR-TX ammo and you've got a light, accurate deer rifle that is versatile and deadly.
has been making ARs for a long time, and the LE901-16S
is one of the best hunting rifles in the field of ARs. It features a 16-inch chrome-lined heavy barrel and an adjustable stock and comes with flip-up adjustable front and rear sights.
Other features include a direct gas system with a locking bolt and a matte finish that won't scare the game. It's chambered in .308 Winchester, one of the top deer cartridges of all time, and the flat-top receiver allows you to mount an optic of your choice. The LE901-16S also features ambidextrous controls for the left-handed shooter.
DPMS Compact Hunter
The DPMS Compact Hunter
, which is also chambered in .308, is one of the lightest and smallest hunting rifles listed here. It features a 16-inch Teflon coated stainless barrel, an extruded 7029 T6 A3 flattop receiver for mounting optics, a lightweight carbon fiber handguard and a comfortable Hogue pistol grip.
The Compact Hunter is lightweight enough to carry all day, and the simple layout is perfect for the mobile hunter who plans to cover a lot of ground. It's also deadly accurate; on a hunt in Texas last year I carried this rifle and found it was perfect for long days tracking whitetail through the mesquite, and with a lightweight, durable Trijicon ACOG mounted on the receiver it was easy to take fast shots in thick cover.
Mossberg MMR Hunter
will always be associated with their ultra-durable shotgun lineup, but the company also offers a line of hunter-friendly AR rifles. The MMR Hunter
series includes such features as a 20 inch free-floated barrel, flattop receiver, round, textured handguard, and a Stark pistol grip with a battery compartment.
It is available with a black phosphate finish as well as Mossy Oak Treestand and Mossy Oak Brush camo, offering the ultimate in concealment. This direct-impingement gas rifle is chambered in 5.56, so hunters that can legally harvest deer with .22-caliber rifles should take a look at the MMR. It's sleek, lightweight, and durable.
NEMO Arms Omen Watchman
The NEMO OMEN
is a serious AR for serious big game hunters, with features that make it one of the best big game rifles on the market regardless of action type. It features a 7071 T6 solid precision machine matched billet receiver set, the company's Recoil Reduction System Bolt Carrier Group, an adjustable gas block, 20 MOA top rail and a Geissele SSAE match trigger as well as a long list of additional features that allow NEMO to guarantee sun-MOA accuracy from this rifle.
It's chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum, which is a rare level of power in an AR, and it weighs over 12 pounds. However, if you're a serious big game hunter who demands supreme performance at long ranges, this is your rifle.
was one of the original hunting ARs, and it remains one of the best. The gas block is fluted, and the barrel has a recessed hunting crown to protect the rifling. The 20 inch ChroMoly barrel sets in a one-piece machined aluminum handguard, and the flattop receiver is perfect for mounting a variable scope.
I had a chance to hunt with the R-25 and found it to be perfect for whitetail hunting, in large part because of its crisp, single-stage trigger that breaks around 5 pounds. It's also available in three of the best whitetail cartridges of all time, the .243 Winchester, the 7mm-08 Remington and the .308 Winchester, and it is covered with Mossy Oak Treestand camo.
Rock River Arms LAR-6.8 X-Series
Rock River Arms
is a big name in ARs, and they make several rifles that will work well for deer hunters. One of the very best is the LAR-6.8 X Series
, which is chambered in 6.8 SPC.
The X-Series offers a long list of features that make it a top choice for deer hunters including a forged flattop receiver, a long RRA TRO-XL extended free-floated handguard, an 18 inch fluted stainless steel bead blasted and cryo treated barrel, and the company's 'Winter ' trigger guard, which makes it much easier to fire the rifle while wearing gloves. The rifle is available with either a black or tan finish and two different stock options, and every model weighs under eight pounds. Chambered in 6.8 SPC, this rifle should be on the list for anyone looking for an accurate, durable deer rifle.
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The company that brought us the single-shot, falling block No. 1 rifle, a deer hunting classic, has gone a different direction with the SR-762
. Ruger's .308 AR-platform rifle has a long list of features that include a chrome-plated, two-stage piston, a 16.12-inch chrome-lined Mil-Spec 41V45 chrome-moly-vanadium barrel with an SR-556/Mini 14 style flash suppressor and a flattop receiver that comes standard with iron sights.
The receiver makes it easy to mount a scope if you choose not to use the irons while hunting, but there's plenty of room to mount a scope and keep the sights in place for backup. The SR-762 has a collapsible stock and a unique hanguard that is comfortable to hold and yet allows the shooter to mount a wide variety of accessories.
Smith and Wesson's
highly-successful M&P line of rifles recently saw the addition of a .308-chambered M&P10
version, a beefed-up rifle that is perfect for deer hunting. It comes with a chromed gas key, firing pin and bolt carrier for added reliability and features a flat-top 7075 T6 aluminum receiver with a hard anodized finish.
There's a camo version with a Magpul MOE riflestock and a five round capacity magazine that is the perfect choice for deer hunting, although any one of the M&P10 rifles will work well on whitetails. The camo version weighs in at about eight pounds and has a comfortable handguard and a large trigger guard that will accommodate gloved hands. Loaded with high-quality .308 ammo, this is a fantastic rifle for the serious deer hunter.
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Ambush 6.8 SPC II
Ambush Firearms, a division of Daniel Defense, offers comfort and takedown power with the Ambush 6.8 SPC II
rifle (Ambush also has offerings in 5.56mm and .300 Blackout). At 7.3 pounds, the 6.8 SPC II is a relatively lightweight, modular offering. It comes with a 18-inch hammer forged barrel, adjustable stock, and a free-floating, modular rail. Oh yeah, and it's got a lifetime guarantee.