When it comes to selecting the best tactical hunting rifle for sale, it is important that we first understand exactly what the term “tactical” means. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines tactical as, 1.) of or relating to weapons or forces employed at the battlefront. 2.) of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose.
By these definitions, all AR platform rifles are “tactical” in that they are comprised of many small scale actions (or choices) that serve a larger purpose. Where the tactical hunting rifle can become intimidating is in choosing the right components where the larger purpose of the rifle is for hunting and defense and shooting sports are secondary. In this article, we will determine the best tactical hunting rifle for the type of hunting you do the most.
Purpose building the Best Tactical Hunting Rifle
Sonny Vincent, founder and President of Bay County Armory, created BCA from the ground up after a career in Federal law enforcement. I recently caught up with Sonny on the Huntin Land Podcast where we discussed “purpose-building” a tactical hunting rifle and you can listen to that podcast here.
Baya: [What is the difference between a custom AR, which is what a lot of guys are looking for these days, and a purpose built AR for hunting?
Vincent: “Well, for me, it’s all about how I view a rifle, especially an AR platform rifle, as a tool. You want to choose the right tool for the job that you’re taking on. Say I’m going to hunt elk, and I want an AR10. I want it to be this color, I want this type of fluting. I want this muzzle brake or that muzzle brake or this handguard versus another, those kind of areas are where you get more into the customization.
“The purpose built portion is where you choose components and calibers and barrel lengths specifically for the type of hunting you intend to use this rifle for. They don’t have to be single use, you can choose calibers that are going to be useful and functional across multiple types of game species.”
The Custom AR15 vs the AR10 for Hunting
One of the first questions that I had in purpose building a custom AR10 or AR15 is in which platform to choose.
“In the AR 10 platform, you’re going to get into calibers like 6.5 creedmoor, which is the darling of the long range community currently, and the 7mm08 which is a tremendous caliber. So if somebody is looking for longer range, the AR 10 platform is where they’re going to be looking,” Vincent said.
“If you’re looking strictly for tactical in home, protect your family type stuff, the AR15 is no question where you’re going to be. It’s got the size and the weight considerations that that you’re going to be looking for when you’re thinking self defense. And while 5.56/.223 does have a place in the sporting community, most of the time unless people are looking for predators, that’s not the caliber they’re looking for. So self defense tends to be that lighter caliber and hunting tends to be slightly larger, more powerful calibers.”
My first rifle was a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 270 Winchester. That rifle, slinged, scoped, and with a full magazine weighs nine pounds. I’ve carried it elk hunting in the mountains, propped it in the corner of many shooting houses, and pulled it up into countless treestands. It’s not the lightest rifle around, but the weight of the rifle has never been too much for me. Here are Sonny’s thoughts on weight in choosing the best tactical hunting rifle for sale,
“For pure hunter, weight really plays a big part of it. “The single item that is going to add the most weight in an AR10 is going to be the barrel. When you start looking at cartridges like the 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor, the chamber pressures are doubled or more than that of an AR15 chambering. That’s why you have thicker walls, chambers, and heavier barrels. I had one customer that was looking at a 308 build and he said that he couldn’t see himself doing this unless it came in at around eight pounds. I weighed every component and the rifle came in at just over 10. So when you move on to the AR 10, just accept that it is going to be a heavier total package than in the AR 15,” Vincent explained.
So if you’re strictly still hunting and not carrying your rifle long distances, the AR10 platform is most likely the best tactical hunting rifle platform for you. The caliber choices available in the AR10 are much more advantageous for hunting deer, pigs, and elk. Still, this doesn’t mean that the AR15 doesn’t have some great hunting rounds itself and the benefit is that those calibers can be carried in a much lighter platform. So, if you plan on carrying your rifle longer distances in your hunting pursuits, consider the AR15. When it comes to the weight of an AR15 in a tactical hunting rifle, Vincent offers options.
“In an AR15, you’ve got a variety of calibers starting at 300 blackout. I personally don’t care for a .223 in a hunting setup, especially for pigs and larger game and I want something that’s a little bit heavier. That includes the 7.62×39 which people know is the AK cartridge, the new 350 legend that’s out on the market, the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.8 SPC and I believe that a rifle of six pounds or less is possible. When you go with a very low pressure round like the 350 legend, a thinner walled barrel and chamber, a shorter hand guard or even a carbon handguard, you can come out with a rifle that you could carry, without exaggeration all day in your hands, not on your shoulder, but in your hands and not be fatigued,” Vicent pointed out.
The Custom Tactical Hunting Rifle Design Process
Selecting an AR15 or an AR10 as the best tactical hunting rifle for you really comes down to your personal situation. At Bay County Armory, they have tactical hunting rifles for sale that are already “purpose built” that you can buy off the shelf. The advantage of this is that there is no lead time and the expert has already hand picked components that best fit the type of hunting, defense, or shooting requirements that you have based on what is most common.
But let’s say you are a special snowflake like me. You want an AR that your spouse can use, that your child can shoot, and that will be an effective 300 yard medium game rifle that isn’t so heavy it couldn’t be carried all day or into the woods or on predator hunts. You want this gun to be just the right color, and you want to pour over every component choice and truly custom design the weapon from start to finish. What’s this process like?
Vincent describes how the Bay County Armory design process works.
“The way I start out is to sit down and do an interview with the customer and ask the following. What are we looking at doing? Are we looking at the AR10, the AR15 or something else? Once we define which platform we’re looking at, we start narrowing down a caliber, barrel lengths, barrel materials, maybe even barrel profiles, because someone that’s going to want to go hog hunting and have a heavy thermal on top of their rifle is going to want a completely different build than someone who enjoys on a weekend spending half a day out punching paper and they want a much longer barrel, much heavier barrel. In reality those are two wildly different builds and one wouldn’t be applicable to the other use.
The second thing in mind is your budget because there are components out there and the numbers can stack up very quickly. That being said, if somebody is looking for tactical hunting rifle for sale on a budget, that’s something that can be done and brought in within most people’s budgets and you can be hunting in just a week or so whereas with a higher end build you can be looking at a couple of months or more.”
Selecting the best tactical hunting rifle is all about understanding what types of hunting and shooting you are going to encounter most of the time. One of the beauties of the AR platform as a hunting rifle is it’s modularity. With one lower and multiple uppers and you can change calibers, barrel lengths, handguards, overall weight and all of the other components just by pulling two pins. No matter what you plan to do, you come out as a winner with a platform that can be infinitely modified and re-purposed for wherever your sporting pursuits take you.
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