THE HUNTING RIFLE OF TODAY'S GENERATION
By Smith & Wesson
Take notice the next time you enter a hunting camp or venture to your local shooting range; the odds are there might be something new in the hands of your fellow sportsmen. Where once the classic wood stocked bolt-action reigned supreme, a modern suitor has made its presence known. While its looks might be misleading, little separates this rifle’s core from its more traditional counterpart.
THE MODERN SPORTING RIFLE (MSR)
Commonly known by many as the AR or by others as the modern sporting rifle, this widely known firearm is quickly becoming the rifle of choice for today’s hunter. Available in calibers ranging from the conventional 5.56mm/.223 to the sub-sonic .300 Whisper or higher velocity .308 Winchester, the modern sporting rifle is a viable option for small, medium and large game. The rifle’s modularity and ability to be easily customized to meet virtually any application has made its acceptance in the field all put a certainty. With its performance easily comparing to that of the bolt-action or the lever-action rifles that came before it, the modern sporting rifle offers an innovative feature set that few can rival.
Throughout history, hunting rifle designs have long been adapted from their military brethren. From the Springfield rifle musket of the Civil War to the semi-automatic M-1 Garand of World War II, each firearm has played a role not only in the development of or nation but in the foundation of our hunting heritage. Today’s modern sporting rifle is merely an extension of this lineage. Safe and dependable, the modern sporting rifle represents a truly versatile firearm that can be used for hunting, self-defense, recreational shooting or competition.
A common misconception regarding the modern sporting rifle is that the “AR” designation stands for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” This is clearly not the case. The AR in “AR-15” actually stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that first developed it in the 1950’s. Rifles that are fully automatic, more properly called a machine gun, have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. While the AR-15 may look like other military rifles, the semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms fire only one round with each pull of the trigger. Versions of modern sporting rifles are legal to own in all 50 states, provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check required for all retail firearm purchasers.
Another common belief is that the AR-15 rifle is more powerful than other hunting rifles. Again, this is simply not true. In many cases, modern sporting rifles are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag. Also, when broken down and compared by its individual components, today’s owners will find very few differences between it and more traditional bolt-action rifles.
Most importantly, take note of the fun factor of the MSR. It’s lightweight, gas powered, spring-operated recoil stem allows for hours of fun without fatigue. It’s perfect for first timers because the recoil is minimal, and plinking easily grows into hours of shooting – basically until the bullets run out.
INTERESTING MSR DATA
In 2010, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) conducted a comprehensive consumer report regarding the ownership, usage and attitudes towards the modern sporting rifle:
- 60 percent of MSR owners that responded to the study own multiple MSRs, with the average owned being 2.6.
- 51 percent of MSR owners have a shooting-range membership.
- MSR owners consider accuracy and reliability to be the 2 most important things to consider when buying a MSR.
- 95 percent of owners said they have used their MSRs in the last 12 months, and 29 percent of owners shoot their MSRs more than once per month.
- Varmint hunting was the fourth most cited reason for owing a MSR.
- The most popular distance to hunt/target shoot with an MSR is 100-300 yards with 63% of owners shooting at those distances.
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