ARs for Hunting: Super Versatile AR Rifles that Live up to Modern Sporting Rifle Label

By Todd Burgreen

Questioning the standard approach is not always the easiest path to follow. This applies to any firearms arena: tactical, military, sporting or hunting. What comes to mind if someone mentions getting a rifle for hunting mid-size or larger game? I bet most would not consider an AR pattern rifle, especially if assuming in 5.56mm/.223Rem chambering. A light-weight, fast-handling, hard-hitting rifle is a premium when afield. The search for the “perfect” rifle and cartridge combination is the impetus of many gun designers and manufacturers; this search motivated Stoner himself back in the early 1950s. The AR’s inherent qualities have caused many manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon in recent years by offering their versions. Of late, the most attention seems to be on “improving” the AR platform via increasing chambering options. While most of this is driven by the tactical arena, hunters have benefitted greatly by this as well. We will discuss several prime AR examples that are at-home hunting.

Alexander Arms decided to up the ante with the AR by going a different route—cartridge enhancement in the form of the .50 Beowulf cartridge. Alexander Arms’ 6.5 Grendel is another example of this. Reports from Afghanistan and Iraq have re-exposed that under certain conditions the 5.56mm performs poorly in putting an adversary down quickly with minimal rounds fired. This prompted a re-evaluation of how to enhance the AR platform with different chambering. The .50 Beowulf was introduced in 2001 by Alexander Arms. The last frontier with the AR is caliber expansion that fits within a standard 5.56mm lower receiver and uses a standard bolt group—with some modification. Though the 7.62x51mm/.308Win AR10 has been around for quite some time, the .308Win AR’s increase in size and weight in terms of necessary AR receiver sizes and other accessories to accommodate the larger cartridge is a drawback to many. This is where an AR chambered in the .50 Beowulf comes into the story. Alexander Arms decided to enter the AR fray only after thoroughly exploring the topic and by...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017


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