Photo from Brian McCombie. The AR-15 may well be the hog rifle. Here is McCombie with a Texas hog taken using a Bushmaster Carbine in .450 Bushmaster and a Trijicon thermal rifle scope.
According to our un-reliable mainstream media, there is no such firearm as the semi-automatic rifle. The media prefers the terms “assault weapon” or “assault rifle”—even though an assault rifle is a fully automatic firearm, generally unavailable to civilians.
Sometimes, the media refers to these rifles as AR-15’s, which is accurate—as far as it goes. Still, the media likes to imply that the “AR” stands for assault rifles. You know, the kind used in mass shootings, the evil black rifles only a disturbed person would have and use, usually against innocent people?
In reality, AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles are used daily by Americans from all walks of life, legally and safely, for everything from hunting to home defense, to competitive shooting and just plinking.
According to Mark Oliva, Director, Public Affairs, for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), various reports from firearms manufacturers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), suggest that Americans own some 16 million AR pattern rifles. The actual number is likely higher.
“That estimate, of 16 million was from 2017,” Oliva noted. “However, the reports and reporting mechanisms do have some lag time in them. The manufacturers submit their production numbers to the ATF, which in turn publishes them, often one to two years later. So, it’s safe to say there are at least 16 million of these rifles owned and used by Americans.”
According to information provided by NSSF, AR-pattern rifles are chambered in .22 LR, .223 (5.56 x 45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster and in many other calibers. The new resurgence of pistol caliber carbines has resulted in a number of new designs in popular pistol calibers like 9 mm, .40, and .45 ACP.
Accurate and dependable, the semi-automatic rifle can provide very fast follow up shots. Which is why a growing number of hunters use semi-automatic rifles (including this writer) for everything from varmints and predators like coyotes, to big game including deer and elk, the latter with the AR-10 platforms, the big brother’s caliber-wise to the AR-15’s.
In Texas, AR pattern rifles are arguably the favorite rifles for Lone Star hog hunters. Hunt private lands in Texas, and the landowners will likely tell you, “Take as many of the hogs as you can!” Extremely destructive to ranching and agricultural lands, the hogs create millions of dollars in damage across Texas annually, and there’s no better rifle to take on a group or “sounder” of wild pigs!
As has been noted on this website and other news sources, the AR-15 is also a very handy rifle for home-defense purposes. AR-15s tend to be shorter and more nimble than full-sized, bolt-action rifles and shotguns, and can be easier to use in the tighter confines of a home—especially when the homeowner is under attack by armed intruders, as was the case recently in Florida when a homeowner used an AR-15 to fend off four alleged home invaders this August.
Semi-automatic rifles are regularly featured in shooting competitions, too. The most popular of such venues are the 3 gun competitions held around the nation. As the name implies, a 3 gun competitor is tested on a trio of firearms: a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle, engaging a variety of targets in several different shooting scenarios.
AR-15s are also a staple at the National Matches held by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Additionally, the NRA developed America’s Rifle Challenge (ARC), a venue for shooters—from first timers to veteran shooters—to test and grow their shooting skills. The ARC program consists of two categories:
Level 1 Match designed for those new to competitive shooting; and,
Level 2 Match, intended for more experienced competitive shooters.