Some very bad people have done some very despicable things over the last several years. And many of those people have done those horrible things with AR-15 rifles. But it’s not the rifles that should be blamed.
And I am ashamed to admit I have had thoughts that have been influenced by the misconceptions surrounding this type of rifle. I love shooting AR-15s, and I take them to the range every chance I get. But I haven’t hunted with one, because I’ve thought that if a non-hunter saw me out in the field with one, it may cause that person to develop even more negative feelings toward hunting.
But an AR-15 is just a rifle. The biggest differences between it and a traditional hunting rifle are cosmetic. Yes, many people hunt with bolt-action rifles, which tend to be more accurate, but the accuracy advantage of a bolt versus an AR-15 are negated by practice. It doesn’t matter how many rounds you can put through the same hole with a rifle if you don’t practice with that rifle, and an AR-platform rifle is easier to practice with.
There’s also a familiarity aspect. Not all of us grew up in Wyoming, where we were shooting guns shortly after we learned to walk. Many of today’s hunters first fired a gun in the military, and they did so with AR-platform rifles. Similarly, after World War II, the M-1 Garand was a very popular hunting rifle, because many of the young men who had served in the war bought one when they came home. Again, you’ll shoot better with a gun you’re familiar with, and if you shoot better, you will be a more responsible hunter.
Shoot what you are comfortable with, and what you practice with. The most important thing isn’t the type of rifle you hunt with – it’s that you hunt responsibly.