Competitive Shooting

The AR Platform is More Than a Military Firearm

Ben's SBR

They are light, sleek, accurate, customizable, reliable and powerful. I will never understand why some think the AR-15 platform is only good for military applications. I will concede that it is an excellent home and personal defensive firearm, perhaps even among the best. However, the uses of the AR platform, especially in the standard .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO caliber, are beyond diverse.


I am a hunter. I’ve hunted my entire life and enjoy every aspect of my pastime. There were even some lean years in college where the meat I brought home was intended as part my grocery list and not a luxury item. The AR-15 I had at the time was not fancy, but it filled the role of hunting in southeast Texas nicely. The whitetail deer that roam the western outskirts of the Piney Woods are not huge when compared to other regions. Visitors from other parts of the state often poke fun at our “greyhound” deer. The smaller fields and dense pine brush made long-distance shots a rare challenge, and I took most shots inside 100 yards. This meant that a .223 Remington with the proper load was more than adequate for dropping a month’s worth of venison. The feral hogs get large enough, along with foxes, coyote, bobcats, rabbits, and just about anything else you could encounter in that part of the world. Bears do not inhabit this part of Texas and there are no large species of mule deer, elk, or caribou that roam the eastern forests. Those who claim the .223 is not a hunting rifle are foolish, or perhaps just misinformed. Are there better cartridges for deer hunting? Of course, but few can match the versatility of this class of weapon.


The AR-15 is like a scalpel, it successfully combines precision with utility. For shooting sports and competitions, there really is no equal. These race guns feed thousands of rounds at paper and steel in a group of sports that is growing exponentially in popularity. 3-Gun, High Power, and Military Service Rifle are just a few of the many competitions and disciplines where ARs are necessary. Like Formula 1 or NASCAR, high precision machines pair up with talented competitors to compete in a multitude of events in an exciting display of human ability. Some of these shooters are so good that you may not believe what you see on the scorecards. If you have not had the chance to witness a live shooting sports competition, I would encourage you to do so. The family-friendly environment and often-close matches make for a fun weekend activity.

Home Defense

A friend asked me once, “Why on earth do you need a machine gun to defend your home.” Shrugging off their obvious lack of knowledge on the subject and ignoring their silly machine gun descriptor, I politely explained that I always prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. I continued to explain that you can’t disinvent guns—although plenty of people have tried. My father was a police officer and I spend seven years in military service. I’ve seen the darker side of humanity first hand and grew up hearing stories about the streets of 1970’s Houston. Unfortunately, criminals already have firearms, and should I encounter an armed criminal, I want to give my family the best possible chance of surviving the encounter. I don’t want to be equally matched in a deadly encounter. I want to win, and I will cheat if necessary. This means a standard 30-round magazine in a reliable platform that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. I have no desire to shoot anyone. In fact, I would feel awful if I had to do so. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the ability if no other option presents itself. Banning modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 or their standard capacity 30-round magazines would do nothing but gives crooks a better chance. I don’t want to be the law-abiding citizen who handed in their rifle and had to defend themselves against a much better-armed intruder who didn’t feel the need to hand over their gear.

What is the purpose of your AR-15? Tell us in the comment section.

This post originally appeared on September 13, 2013.

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Comments (29)

  1. Nothing wrong with the AR Platform. You can even substitute different caliber uppers to the same lower, including handgun calipers, however, for hunting; the Fish & Game folks will be out there with their ticket books out because of the magazine capacity issues in most states, like only 5 rounds for rifles, and 3 rounds for shotguns. That is item 1.
    Item 2) If you are hunting amongst strangers; you will probably frighten those who believe that everything that looks like a Military Rifle, is a machine gun, or an assault rifle. AR stand for Armalite, NOT ASSAULT RIFLE.

  2. hey lew, not all home defense happens inside the home with only one intruder, and sometimes you just might have to shoot through a wall.

  3. Have several ARs. The one I hunt with is a Bushmaster Predator with the 20″ barrel topped with Nikon P-223. While I use the gun frequently for varmint hunting, I find it extremely effective with Whitetail at reasonable distances. I took a buck and 2 does last season with shots from 60-125 yds. For deer I use a 79 grain Frangible round. In no instance did the deer travel more than 10 yds. If I am hunting properties where my shot might exceed 125 or so yds. I rely on my Rem. 30.06 or M&P .308. While not THE ideal deer rifle, the AR-15 is awesome for moderate distance and quick follow up shots! As with all serious hunters, plenty if trigger time and well placed shots are critical and humane .

  4. To Lew,
    For home defense fmj’s are not the right round. A frangible round as a v-max or ballistic tip are a much better choice.

  5. Yup, AR’s are a great home defense weapon. Nothing like a 3,240 fps FMJ round going off inside a sheetrock house to keep the family (and the neighbors) pinned to the floor while your exercising your second amendment rights.

    1. I live in a log home with 8-12 in. think walls. No worries, it would take a cannon shell to get through these walls.

      What kind of self-defense do you recommend? Hiding under the bed?

  6. I’m curious in regards to your comments about Texas deer hunting. Could you give some details about the loads, bullets, distances, etc., that you’re using for East Texas game hunting? I’m assuming you’re actually using the higher pressure 5.56 for dropping game?

  7. A lot of people like to collect things , it’s fun to do and makes us happy. All of the comments so far are correct and it sounds like everyone is enjoying their collection. One of my collecting buddies always reminds me when we are having fun with our stuff ” beware of the person who owns only one gun, he probably knows how to use it” I think that whatever you prefer , knowing what to do with it is MOST important.

  8. I am an LEO in a rural community with 8 years experience and my wife and I are both Army veterans. I carry both a Mossberg 500 and a Stag-15 in my patrol car. The Mossberg for animals, the Stag for people. My wife keeps a S&W M&P 15 by the bed for personal protection. We love the AR platform.

  9. Personally, I have yet to own one, but expect that at some point will have at least two or three in different calibers and configurations. I too have been a hunter a good part of my life. I own several nice traditional wooden stocked hunting rifles, which I frankly don’t use anymore, simply because I’m disabled, and it hurts so much to move, but I feel motivated to own one of these historic guns. I admit I don’t know as much as I’d like to about some guns, but to those who call it a machine gun, you almost take away all the glory and attention of all the ones who call it an assault weapon, belonging only in the hands of the military, without even realizing it. And as to why I would want one, my response would be because it is my right, and yours too, but you need to know what the gun is and what it isn’t, before joining the ranks of the rest of us, who enjoy hunting, shooting sports, out heritage, and our rights.

  10. Remaining in the same vein as was set by the first few commenters, I too have an extensive and ongoing career with a combined 32 years of both military and law enforcement. As a gun enthusiast and supporter of Second Amendment rights I own a well-rounded collection of weaponry which includes the AR platform.

    No self-respecting career military or lawman would be caught dead (literally) without having personally owned the famed AR platform that most cut their teeth on at the start of their careers. Suffice it for me to say most veterans in these career fields find ownership to be a sort of rite-of-passage and badge of honor.

    Sure there is the practical self-defense element for ownership, but for many of us it’s a bit more. It’s a symbol of who we are and the sacrifices we’ve made.

    Never spoken, but truly felt, those of us that have employed the AR platform in actual duty feel more deserving of the right to personal ownership than when we see the average joe-citizen with one. No offense intended, I am just being honest.

    So early on I felt owning a single well-built AR would satisfy this need and right of ownership. But when a person truly appreciates the magnificence of a particular platform, one can never be enough. Currently I am up to five. I feel each in my collection reflects the top most distinct configurations anyone could have of any given type.

    I have everything from just a classic Colt to the lightest Bushmaster ever made. I’ve built up a tact-out M&P with MOE everything, and topped it off with EOTech’s best. A couple of my ARs include custom combo Cerakoted paint jobs. I love dark earth against black combos. I have tried all the different configurations imaginable with quad rails, Magpul handguards, positional stocks, vertical pistol grips, Magpul angled grips, pop-up BUIS, lasers, scopes with risers and red dots with flip-to-side magnifiers. You name it and I’ve probably tried it.

    So just when I think I’ve done and seen it all, there is always someone else that posts another beautiful rendition of their personal build that I think I have to have. It just shows how truly versatile the AR platform really is.

    But here is the interesting part, at least for me; I never find myself reaching for this platform during home defense. And yes, I have had a few scares over the years that included bumps in the night that had me tactically clearing each room of my home. I instead find it more practical to grab the handguns that I have strategically placed in mini-vaults throughout my home.

    So while I respect one’s personal decision in choosing the AR platform for their home’s personal defense, I can’t envision the practicality and maneuverability over a more compact handgun. Albeit, should things escalate from a more post-disaster scenario, the AR is idealistic; but I would not have it be my initial defense weapon on a daily bases. Just my thoughts though.

    1. On the occasion that I had an intruder in my home they were subdued at the barrel of my AR pistol. It has a 7 inch barrel and is very concealable. I’ve used it on the job too. A lot smaller then the 20″ M16a1 I carried around Benning, 2nd ID and Campbell. I suppose it depends on availability and comfort level. I do have a Glock 21 in the headboard.

  11. I can purchace an AR for hunting animals to man in many a configuration, caliber and colors from .22 to 50 cal and Gold to pink,; But it will always be recognized as the Black man killer it was designed to be.
    It is sitting unused but ready and there it emains other than seldom range days just to keep familiarity with it from 25 to 600 yards on man sized targets.
    Not for home defense from evildoers of common stripe, my 14 rnd 12 ga
    will take care of in house or yard varmits.
    Black gun and its proper ammo, is for time Black Dog and I know SHTF.
    NOTHING PERSONAL and not of any politicly driven agenda , and if that
    time never comes , ll be very glad.
    I a m old line , I will only fight for personal peace and security, not for bragging and ego tripping, and in same vein I hunt for food or to balance out animal populations iwith traditional bolt or lever hunting weapons that fit the hunt.3
    I care not one whit how one uses or dresses their own black gun.
    A pig with gold earings and ring in nose with a skirt on is sill a pig
    none the less.

    1. what is wrong with you? the ar platform or any other weapon is not for killing a certain color man if you really feel this way about your fellow man perhaps gun ownership should not be for you

    2. When he said “black man killer,” he was referring to the color of the gun, not to the color of the person being shot.

    3. I never knew those 5.56mm rounds only worked on black people. I learned something today.

      @ tom: You’re about as sharp as a bowling ball.

  12. After 23 years in the Army, and seeing the worst in people form many countries. my go to weapon is a M-4 style weapon (mine is a Windham Weaponry MPC) I’ve learned long ago Never play fair in a “gun fight”. The protection and security of my loved ones is paramount to me. If pushed into a corner where I’m forced to use deadly force, I want the most fire power available. The M-4 does that and more.

    1. Joseph (Joe?), first…..thank you for your service to our country. God bless you & your family for your sacrifice! I am somewhat of a novice to ARs & own one today. I mainly see the 20″ rifle and the 16″ carbine. I have read and watched shows that show special forces using a smaller version and have been told it’s with a 14.5″ barrel and commonly referred to as an M4 – which I understand is basically a Colt designation. (?) Can you share any insight with your experience since you referenced it in your comments? I did look up the Windham Weaponry MPC, but saw mainly 16″ barrels which is what I have today. Thank you! Brian

    2. If you want a 14″ barrel AR as a civilian the flash hider will have to be permanently attached. Pinned or soldered. You can buy a short barrel rifle, without pinning or soldering but you’ll have to wait for a tax stamp. The current wait on approval is about 7 months. The shortest barrel length available without a stamp is 16″ unless you go with a pistol.

  13. I own 22 guns right now but have yet to buy anything in an AR platform. I have not purchased one yet because there are so many variables and I do my back ground before buying. Ruger has now made my decision fore me in introducing the SR762 (guess what I’m a Ruger guy). I understand the the 5.56 /223 has done its job well but in considering overall versatility it is hard to beat a 308. As far as those that call the AR a military platform. DAHHHH, so is every other firearm ever made. Firearms evolve just like every other tool ever made.. even a hammer is different than it was 50 years ago and guess what… you can buy a hammer now as a single shot or one that is air operated and has a magazine of 50 – 100 shots.
    Remember we are fighting an agenda. There is a reason the Left wants to eliminate AK platforms and AR platforms and mags larger than 8 and it isn’t public safety.

  14. Eight years as an Army Intell Officer, seven years CIA I always believe it best to be polite and cordial. And have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Soon the barbarians WILL BE AT THE GATE!!

  15. My AR is for home defense and work. I’ve been an LEO for 24 years and am coming towards the end of my time on the job. I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion on the AR for home defense. I’ve seen the lower end of the gene pool and what they are willing to do. One has got to be prepared and the AR platform gets you on your way. The Hollywood robbery and how it played our on TV went a long way to change the basic tools in police work too. Many departments don’t even throw a 12 gauge in the patrol cats anymore. An AR tends to occupy that space these days. Even if there is an 870 or 500 in the rack, most cops will have an AR immediately available.

    The way I see it the AR is essential to my safety and the safety of the public when I do my job. Tat being said a civilian with the mindset to not be a victim should be armed with the same weapons as me.

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