Modern Sporting Rifle, Traditional Pursuits

The AR-15 and similar rifles are more popular than ever before.

posted on November 22, 2023
Hunting with an AR-15

While modern sporting rifles are a routine sight at gun ranges and on firing lines across the nation, their popularity has steadily crept into a pursuit once the exclusive realm of bolt-action rifles and shotguns, according to a report from the Outdoor Stewards of Conservation released this month. Research conducted by Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management—combined with data compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation— “…suggests that about 2 in every 5 hunters has used an AR-platform/modern sporting rifle for hunting at some time.”

The study estimates that in 2014 twenty-seven percent of hunters carried a modern sporting rifle (MSR) afield in pursuit of game at least once. This year the figure is up to 41 percent, and for a variety of different reasons according to participant responses.

“Ease of shooting and accuracy are the top reasons that hunters use AR-platform/modern sporting rifles…,” the report states. Ease of shooting was the top advantage, cited by 36 percent of survey participants. Accuracy came in a close second with 31 percent, followed by reliability (17 percent) and lighter weight (13 percent).

The survey also breaks down the primary reason for using an MSR by demographic group. Black or African Americans were the most likely to select one for its ease of use and light weight. When it came to accuracy, white or Caucasian led the way. Hispanics or Latinos preferred the platform for its reliability.

Females noted they used an MSR for their reliability and light weight. Men pointed to the accuracy more often than their female counterparts, and only one percentage point separated sexes when it came to ease of use. Slightly more than half of the study’s participants—51 percent—said they would hunt with an MSR if using one for hunting was legal in their state.


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