Wyoming AR-15 Fans Say It’s A Great Hunting Rifle 

The ArmaLite, or AR-15 rifle remains popular among Wyoming hunters and sport shooters, Wyoming hunters and gun shop owners say.

Mark Heinz

September 02, 20224 min read

AR Hunting 9 2 22 scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The AR rifle’s adaptability and reliability make it a good choice for hunting and sport shooting in Wyoming, a hunter and a gun shop manager said. 

The AR-15 and similar firearms, such as the AR-10, are the most popular rifles in America. Roughly 20 million are thought to be in circulation, according to the National Shootings Sports Foundation (NSSF). 

There’s a reason for that, Nina Webber of Cody, a hunter and sports shooter, told Cowboy State Daily. 

“We use AR-15s every day on our place up the North Fork,” she said. “We have one in all of our three ATVs and in all four trucks. Their calibers are 9 mm or 5.56 mm.” 

The AR-15 in particular has frequently been at the center of heated debates over gun control in the wake of numerous massacres across the country. 

However, ARs remain immensely popular among hunters, a recent study by Winchester Ammunition shows, according to a press release about the study posted online by the NSSF. 

That study indicates that nationwide, ARs and similar rifles were used by roughly 60 % of hunters using center-fire rifles, according to the NSSF. And those rifles also made up about 75 % of the centerfire rifles used for sport or target shooting.  

The AR’s appeal to hunters can be summed up in one word, a gun shop manager told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. 

“Versatility,” said Leo Perez, manager of Dave’s Guns in Laramie. 

He had just sold an AR-10 rifle chambered in .308 Winchester, a quintessential Western big game hunting cartridge. The customer plans to use it for deer and antelope hunting, as well as target shooting, he said.   

 AR Doesn’t Mean ‘Assault Rifle’   

The AR stands for “ArmaLite Rifle,” because ArmaLite was the firearms company that first developed the design in the 1950s. The NSSA describes such rifles as “Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR).” 

The term “assault rifle” is also frequently used to describe ARs and similar firearms. The origins of that term are somewhat murky, probably dating back to around World War II. 

In 1947, two years after the war ended, Soviet war veteran Mikhail Kalashnikov introduced his AK-47 design. It is widely regarded as the original “assault rifle” in the military sense. 

A distinctive feature of military weapons is a selective fire switch that allows troops to fire in either semi-automatic, or burst fire/fully automatic. Civilian rifles do not have that feature. 

A semi-automatic will cycle a firearm’s action once with each shot, meaning one shot for every pull of the trigger. 

Burst fire means a “burst” – usually three rounds or so – is released with each trigger pull. Fully-automatic fire means the weapon will continually fire and cycle rounds as long as the trigger is depressed. 

ARs are far from the first semi-automatic sporting arms. Hunters have for decades been able to use semi-automatic rifles or shotguns. These allow for quicker follow-up shots.  There’s no need to manually work a pump, bolt or lever action to eject a spent rifle cartridge casing or shotgun shell and then cycle a fresh one into the firing chamber. 

“A Wonderful Hunting Rifle” 

The AR “is a wonderful hunting rifle,” Webber said. “You can put a large scope or suppressor on it and increase its range considerably with over 10 different calibers.” 

Perez said many of his costumers like ARs because they are modular and customizable. A variety of grips, adjustable stocks and other accessories allow AR hunters and shooters to truly make their rifles their own. 

“It’s a highly ergonomic design,” he said. “You can adjust or customize the rifle to precisely fit anybody, from the smallest shooter all the way up to the biggest guy you can think of.” 

“Some customizing can be done with more traditional hunting rifles,” he added. “But it is more difficult and expensive.” 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter