Choosing the perfect black rifle for hunting ain’t no walk in the park, folks. There’s more to it than meets the eye. For most good ol’ boys and gals, there are multiple moving parts involved. But if you wanna use an AR-15 for your hunting escapades, you gotta weigh up a few factors to settle on the cream of the crop.
Now, singling out a specific make and model from some hotshot brand can be tougher than wrestling a pig in July. What’s prime rib for one hunter may be pork rinds for another. But here’s the thing – the AR-15 can surely serve as a dandy tool for bagging your fair share of medium to large critters throughout North America. It’s got the skills to pay the bills for all manner of beasts roaming their woods. So what’ll it take to get your paws on the best black rifle for hunting? Read on and I’ll walk you through it.
Rather than harping on particular guns that might cut the mustard, think about the key points and how you can find one that ticks your boxes. It helps to break it down into a few categories and compile a wish list of must-haves. That way, you can envision what your dream black hunting rifle would look like once the basics are covered.
The cartridge you pick is critical, but it ain’t so cut and dry as just selecting one and calling it a day.
It’s tricky to declare a .17 Hornet or .30-06 as the better choice when they have similar capabilities but specialized designs. You’ll need a different approach for small games like prairie dogs versus big games. Different purposes, and different tools for the job. There are generally plenty of AR-compatible cartridges to go around.
One thing to keep in mind is the difference between bullet diameter (caliber) and a fully-formed cartridge. This’ll help you identify the many AR options out there for hunting.
There’s a whole range of performance between cartridges, and several factors can influence how any one cartridge performs. Plus, even if two share the same caliber, they may not sling lead in the same way.
Some cartridges may seem like square pegs in round holes. You could argue a .300 BLK would struggle hunting big game at the ranges it’s best suited for, particularly when subsonic – it really shines inside 175 yards. In some cases, certain choices are being made for you based on conditions.
Someone could say a 55-grain bullet may lack the stopping power for Whitetails, depending on your hunting grounds. Or you may be prohibited from using a certain caliber for hunting in some areas.
A big driver behind developing the .350 Legend, besides its stellar performance, was that some states banned hunting certain animals without straight-walled ammo.
It’s important to think about the environment you’ll be hunting in. As mentioned before, brush cartridges like .350 Legend are designed for short-range shots and larger-diameter bullets. But some cartridges can be jacks-of-all-trades.
Don’t pigeonhole the .350 Legend as only good for close encounters with small elk in heavy cover. It’s capable of a lot more than that.
Obviously, these cartridges have particular strengths, but keep the big picture in mind.
Consider the various elevations in your area. You’ll likely get some vertical stringing trying to shoot over two canyons with different updrafts versus an open prairie with a distant rocky backdrop.
When choosing a black rifle for hunting, matching the ammo to the game is key. You’ll want the ability to connect with targets at varying ranges. To peg a goat maneuvering the cliffs, you’ll need a bullet with enough power and extended-range accuracy to reliably hit within 650 yards or more.
For an elk, typically 45% bigger than a goat, the situation would differ. But the 6.5 Creedmoor used periodically for home defense may not be ideal. Could it humanely take two animals? Maybe in theory.
Designing a purpose-built hunting rifle is a lot more straightforward with the flexible AR platform and wealth of resources out there. Once you’ve got the basics covered and a strategy based on power, variety and performance, it becomes easier to envision your ideal black hunting rifle.
So weigh all the options and variables, from your hunting environment to caliber selection. With some wise choices, you’ll be ready to bag your trophy with the perfect AR-15. Now grab your camo and orange vest and happy hunting!
Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website CaptainHunter.com. When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.