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.
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.