*Editor’s Note: June 13th, 2016. I know a lot of visitors are reading this article to better understand Canadian gun laws and what firearms we can legally own in the wake of the Florida shooting that happened on Sunday morning. I’d argue that you’re looking at the wrong cause but if I can convince you to spend 5 minutes reading more information, I’d highly encourage you to check out my article on Canadian Gun Stats and my article on twisting gun stats.
The much maligned AR-15 doesn’t get much love from traditional minded hunters, but it should because as a tool, it’s the best at many things. So, why would a hunter benefit from owning a mean, black, restricted firearm?
When I ask other hunters how many shots they take per year, it’s often very low. Many pride themselves on using as few rounds as possible per year; making a 20 round box last 5 years or more. That speaks well to typical hunting rifle accuracy and the hunter’s respect for game. My question for all the low round counters out there: how would you rate your marksmanship against someone who fires 1000+ rounds per year from a variety of positions? Poorly? No doubt! Forget the truck side mirror, how good are you at shooting from standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone when those shooting opportunities present themselves in the field? It takes lots of trigger time and practice to stay at a decent level where you’re shooting well from these positions. You could use your hunting rifle to practice, but cost of rounds and the speed of firing will be greatly reduced with a typical hunting rifle. An AR provides a platform for copious amounts of trigger time, good enough accuracy to make it matter, and ammo that’s as kind on your shoulder as it is on your wallet.
Practical Competition Platform
Many people, including myself, need competition as motivation to improve. Rifle marksmanship is no different. When it comes to practical stance or action rifle competition, there are AR-15’s and everything else.
An AR15 is ideal for practical competition, because it’s:
- Light. The direct impingement action of the AR15 is very light, and simple in parts count.
- Accurate. Most piston driven systems lack the accuracy that a good AR15 provides.
- Flexible. No other rifle in existence today offers the flexibility that the AR15 has. Change your barrel length, forend, lower, trigger, grip, upper, stock. . .anything of meaning has tons of aftermarket parts available.
- Low recoil. Most AR15s are available in 5.56×45 or .223, a light recoiling, inexpensive round.
- Inexpensive: A Norinco AR15 will come in at $500-$600, an intermediate cost AR15 will be $1000-$1500, and a great AR15 will be $1500+. Comparatively, most NR semi auto 5.56 rifles in Canada are $2000+.
- Magazines are inexpensive: $15-$20 per mag? Way better than most platforms and those extra mags are necessary in competition.
- The standard. It’s fast to reload, accurate, cheap, flexible, and low recoil. What more could you ask from the standard in competition action shooting?
The downsides of the AR platform are almost negligible from a competitive point of view:
- DI action is dirty and comparatively difficult to clean.
- Not an issue with a competition gun that gets cleaned every 1000 rounds. Or every time you take it home if you’re like me.
- Not as mission flexible for different calibers and barrel lengths
- Maybe this is an issue in the military, but where I’m at, the AR15 offers plenty of flexibility through inter change-able uppers.
- Not as potentially accurate due to the upper & lower 2 pin system
- Tolerances can make for a bit of wiggle between some lowers and uppers, but there are solutions for that, and most other military battle rifles have much more egregious accuracy faults. For a standing/kneeling/sitting/action rifle, it’s well accurate enough. Most of us don’t need more practice shooting prone off a bipod.
The biggest downside to the AR15 in Canada isn’t competition related: the entire platform is restricted, no matter what. The disadvantage: no hunting, transporting without ATT, or firing off-range. The advantage to that: we don’t have to worry about barrel lengths like they do in the US. There is no difference in licensing and use between a 7″ barrel and a 20″ other than the concussive blast and fireball on the shorter barrel.
So owning and competing with an AR15 opens hunters up to marksmanship practice that’s simply out of reach for a typical hunting bolt action rifle.
Adding to the AR15 Membership
This one seems kind of silly until you think how a politician thinks. In our last few elections, the Liberal party has presented complete handgun bans and complete semi-auto bans as reasons for people to vote for them. The NDP is similarly very anti gun. As a hunter, that shit is scary. How long after they ban all semi auto’s, including hunting rifles like the Browning BAR, will they start to ban bolt action rifles? “Sniper Rifles!” they’ll cry as they ban our Remington 700’s and Savage 110’s. Adding to the AR15 brotherhood prevents or at least delays the time until they come for our deer rifles. It’s also a clear indicator to politicians that their ridership includes engaged rifle shooters that care about their sport and use the best available, restrictions be damned. If you start to worry about the rifle being too dangerous, remember that thousands have owned this rifle style, and in the past, many even owned fully automatic or burst-fire versions. We need to bump up those numbers big time! Our government likes to pretend that restricting full auto weapons and riveting 30 round mags makes a real difference, compared with spending more on mental health issues that often are the cause of mass shootings. Remember that what the government is concerned about is frequently NOT the real issues, and that we had thousands of Swiss Arms rifles in the country that committed no crime until they were determined to be “illegal” by the RCMP. Similar thing with the CZ 858. In the end, rulings are made by people who judge the law as well as what will fly in the current political climate. Make “what will fly” different!
You’re 1 more friend who has an AR15
All you “in the closet” AR15 owners who aren’t taking all their acquaintances out to the range; take more people out! We lose public opinion only out of public ignorance. I personally aim to take 20-50 people to the range each year. Some years I don’t hit that number, but for the ones I do, I protect my sport and share in the experience. In a literal way, we need tons of voters out there who think “Hey, leave those shooters alone! They’re not bothering anyone.” The only way we get there is by providing lots of fun to lots of people so that they back us up when push comes to shove. AR15’s are lots of fun to shoot at the range. Make sure that your kids get that opportunity by owning one and taking new shooters out to try the sport.