ARs for Varmints--Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'Varminter & Hunting Forum' started by Forum Boss, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. Forum Boss

    Forum Boss Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    3,985
    Hey guys,

    We're working on a NEW,much-asked-for) .223 Rem Cartridge Guide.

    One sub-topic we'll cover is AR15s--for both match rifle shooting and varminting.

    I've gone squirrel shooting with my AR. I concluded that, while it is fun to use a magazine, the AR would not be my first choice for future varmint expeditions. Didn't like the stock length/height when shooting from the ground, didn't like the way the gun sat on the bags when shooting from the bench. I also hated chasing the brass.

    That said, I know a lot of guys love to use ARs for Varminting.

    Let's hear both sides of the debate.

    If you like the AR as a varmint platform, tell us why.

    If you think an AR15 is over-rated as a varminter, explain.


    Let the debate begin...

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Asa_Yam

    Asa_Yam

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    251
    If you want it to behave like a benchrest rifle, build it like one. Complaining about the "failures" of a stock AR as a bench rifle is akin to saying an Indy car is useless, since it isn't street legal, and you can't easily haul sheets of plywood with one. :D The difference is any mechanically gifted individual CAN modify an AR at home, using only off-the-shelf components and tools.

    * If the rifle rolls in the bags, modify the foreend. Add a flat plate under the round handguard,i.e., Hart's Accuracy Asset) so the rifle doesn't roll in the bags.
    * If you don't like the buttstock, install one that fits better. And/or that rides the rear bag better.
    * If the magazine extends too far below the center of the action, use a shorter magazine.

    Not so subtle hint: BRASS CATCHER. :p
    Or disable the gas system, turning the rifle into a single shot.
     
  3. Forum Boss

    Forum Boss Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    3,985
    Asa raises some very good points. Here are a few of the mods which can stabilize an AR in the bags.
    Photos are from Larry Medler's website, http://mywebpages.comcast.net/larrymedler/asset.htm

    Plate on front, bag-riding tube on the rear:

    [​IMG]

    Detail of front plate:

    [​IMG]

    Asa, I have used brass-catchers,even on pistols). Obviously that will keep the brass off the ground. But the fact remains the AR treats the brass more roughly than a bolt action.

    When shooting prone the biggest issue I had was with eye relief with the scope,which, along with mount, was a loaner--my AR is a flat-top with detachable carry handle, set up for service rifle comps). I had to crawl so far back,to get proper eye relief) I couldn't touch the buttpad with my shoulder. Again, obviously, this could be solved with A) a buttpad extension or B) an extended scope rail that could carry the scope farther forward,notice the extended rail on Larry's rifle above).

    But again this raises the basic question--Is the AR a suitable varmint platform?

    If you have to find/fabricate a bunch of stuff to outfit the AR for varminting ... why not just use a bolt action?

    Again, I'm interested in hearing both pro and con...
     
  4. milanuk

    milanuk Team Savage Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    2,342
    I've shot my fair share of prairie dogs,aka S.E.R.T's) w/ bolt guns, almost always single-feed just because it was easy enough to keep up w/ the demand and it worked. I didn't really get into gas guns until after I was out of the area of 'convenient' 'dog shooting, so I can't speak to the pluses and minuses in the field, other than I know I managed to keep myself in the poor house w/ a single-loaded bolt gun. Lord only knows how broke I would have been w/ a magazine-fed gas gun!

    I have seen some folks,and I'm one of them) move to the gas gun as a *predator* hunting gun, specifically coyotes. Relatively short, compact, and quick handling,though maybe not especially light) the quick second,and third) shot is usually much appreciated... but to be honest the number of folks I've seen connect on shot #2 or #3, after missing #1... is pretty few and far between. I *have* watched people call in multiple dogs and engage them successfully w/ a gas gun... but usually #2 or #3 has the afterburners on full by the time you get to them.

    I sometimes wonder about an AR w/ a .204 Ruger upper... and a 100rd Beta-C mag... One of those set up on a good bench in a field full of ground squirrels would be about like Gallagher and his hammer in a watermelon field!
     
    seymour fish likes this.
  5. Asa_Yam

    Asa_Yam

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2005
    Messages:
    251
    Because ya never know when a horde of angry varmints will turn and charge instead of running? :D

    Seriously, one could make a similar arguement with many a bolt action rifle as well. The rounded foreends on many varmint rifles also tend to roll in the bags. Why buy a factory varmint rifle, only to toss the stock?

    Again, a similar issue exists with bolt action rifles. Too many shooters optimize their rifles for shooting from the bench - only to get "bitten" when firing the rifle from field positions. Amazing how many cases of "scope eye" appear just before hunting season....

    As for a stock to address the issues you raised, take a gander at http://www.magpul.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=70_88_90&products_id=193

    Ejection force is controlled by both bolt velocity and ejector spring strength. Removing 1-2 coils from the ejector spring reduces the tendency for brass to get thrown as hard.

    Benchrest rifles often reduce/eliminate the brass damage issue by either weakening/eliminating the ejector mechanism entirely.

    YES
    - An AR is less affected by changes in humidity or temperature. This is because there usually is no wooden stock shifting around with changes in the weather.
    - The bedding job on an AR rarely fails. This is because there usually isn't any bedding in an AR - or if it exists, it is exceedingly minimal.
    - Zeroes rarely shift if the rifle get wet. This is a secondary effect of having little or no bedding.
    - ARs with 16" long barrels exist - good for lightweight or close range applications. Pull 2 pins, and you can install an upper with a 24" long,or longer) barrel. Or change calibers entirely. On how many other rifles can you do this in less than 30 seconds? And on how many rifles can you go from shooting .223 Remington to .50 BMG in that amount of time?
    - When upper and lower receivers are seperated, an AR can be packed into a shorter rifle case. Transporting one lower receiver and multiple uppers is far easier than moving multiple rifles.
     
  6. Forum Boss

    Forum Boss Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    3,985
    Asa--nice find on that adjustable buttstock:

    [​IMG]

    That would have been great on my squirrel hunting expedition. A while back I found a company that made something similar, but in wood. It didn't have the adjustments, but it had the straight lower section and a longer length of pull. I'm surprised more folks don't use something like this. The standard AR buttstock,with sling swivel) is not-so-hot in a rear bag.

    Good point.

    Asa makes a very good point here. Plus I'd add that, when a barrel gets real hot,often the case on all-day varmint hunts), you can just pop on a different upper. That probably will represent less of an investment than a second gun. I have a 16" A1,non-forward-assist) ultra-light upper for my AR that is a delight to shoot off-hand. I didn't use that upper in my latest trip, but we did take some shots off-hand,standing) when the critters were close but you needed to shoot over tall grass or a fence, rock-pile etc.

    PS: I found a photo of that wood AR stock. They were,at one time) made by Mike Turner for JP Enterprises, but I don't see them for sale any more,I guess they're not TactiCOOL enough):

    [​IMG]
     
  7. milanuk

    milanuk Team Savage Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    2,342
    The Magpul PRS stock is kind of heavy... at least compared to a standard A2. Not a huge amount, but it is noticeable. Of course, w/ a 20"+ HBAR tube up front... it comes closer to balancing out. I've seen people use one w/ 16-18" uppers, and I guess that just falls into 'different strokes for different folks' ;)

    Another plus for the AR is the pistol grip... with an allen wrench you can change it out to whatever you want with relative ease. From the factory A2 grip, to contoured slimline grips, to the large Sierra Precision grip, and even some wood ones that come over-sized so you can carve them to fit your hand. Add in some things like the Rite-Pull Slip-Grip,available from Sinclair Int'l, among others) and you can extend the 'length of pull' for the trigger finger 3/4" and more,the standard dimensions are kind of cramped for those of us w/ big hands).

    The two big downsides to the AR, IMO, are where it's gas system dumps at,inside the receiver, messy to clean up) and the glacial slowness of the trigger systems. Eve the Geisselle triggers that are supposed to be the cat's meow are incredibly slow compared to a Remington 700. Still, people seem to be able to shoot w/ them pretty well regardless, but it is a weak area.
     
  8. bmx

    bmx

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Messages:
    45
    I use a Bushmaster Varminter with a custom 24 inch heavy barrel and a really sweet 1 pound trigger. The gun has been tweaked and tuned by a retired Marine Corps armour. The current scope is a Weaver 20X Grandslam variable with a 1/8 inch dot.

    The hand loads are 60 grain match bullets, 24.5 grains of Benchmark, adjusted for daily temperature, and Lapua brass.
    the load chronos at 2950 fps.

    I use a brass catcher bag when ever I'm shooting my good Lapua brass. When I don't care about the brass I don't use the bag.

    I have made a "sissy plate" for shooting off the bench using a noraml front rest and rear bag. This plate keeps the rifle aligned and guides the recoil straight back. I also use a 3 pound weight in the stock cavity when shooting off of the bench.

    For field shooting I take the sissy plate off and remove the stock weight.

    This gun has shot many "witnessed" 3 shot groups in the .061 to .088 range and numerious groups in the ".100's" shooting off of the bench.

    This rifle is sudden death as a varmint rifle for p-dogs, groudhogs and coyotes. I like the quick second shot available with the gas gun. Although I have killed deer with it I feel that a .22 cal is too light for reliable deer hunting.

    The AR can be made into a great varmint rifle or left alone and used for a great truck gun and/or home defense weapon. As an earlier poster mentioned just pull the pins and change the upper and you can have whatever you want in about 2 minutes.

    I have switched my Varminter top end with my 16 inch top end several times and both "new" rifles will maintain point of impact and can be returned to original configuration without issues.
     
  9. JER

    JER

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Messages:
    178
    Larue Tactical is the only game in town when it comes to mouting optics on ARs.
     
  10. chuckw2

    chuckw2

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,229
    Guys,

    I think the AR is THE perfect varmnint gun. Hell if I were liminted to only one gun and one gun forever it would be the AR.

    I shoot a lot of PD's, while my friends with fancy single shots are trying to load another round, I will have four or five dogs down.


    Fast second shots count when you are shooting small dogs in the wind.

    Plus I can buy ok .223 ammo to shoot dogs, no reloading. Try that with a tight neck BRX..


    The AR is one of the greatest works of art of our century!!!
     
  11. JER

    JER

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Messages:
    178
    I'm not a verminter, but it is hard to overlook the overwhelming advantages an accurate AR has over a bolt gun when lots of targets need to be shot in a small amount of time.

    Agree completely that if I was limited to one rifle it would be an AR, and that it is truly a rifle that is ahead of its time still today.
     
  12. chuckw2

    chuckw2

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,229
    JER is obviously a man of very discriminating taste when it comes to weapons.


    I like to walk around the area while shooting the vicious ground squirrels... The AR with a bi pod and a sling = number one dog killer...



    The best thing about an AR is the fast follow up shot.. You can see where your first shot hit make corrections for the second shot and let the little beast have it.


    By the time you have reloaded a bolt rig for the second shot the dog is long gone.

    Most of my shooting is between 25 yards and 400 yards...I am there to put the lead in the air, to heck with the 1000 yard kill that takes you 25 shots..
     
  13. I shoot a Colt Accurized Rifle with a JP single-stage trigger/lightweight hammer. Best varmint rifle I have ever owned for shooting heavily populated 'dog towns and moving 'yotes. I use either a Harris bipod or a ruck, never bother with benchrest style equipment for shooting varmints.

    This rifle is superbly accurate and yields groups in the one tenth range with a selected handload when shooting from a bench with a mechanical rest and rear bag.

    Is the AR a great varmint platform? You betcha!
     
  14. shcal

    shcal

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    200
    I have never shot an AR15 rifle but I am interested in all of your comments about this platform for varmints. Have any of you tried the 6.5mm Grendel from Alexander Arms for shooting varmints?
    Thanks, shcal.
     
  15. chuckw2

    chuckw2

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,229
    Shcal,


    The 6.5 grendal might have too much recoil, you want to be able to see your bullet hit... It might wear you out to shoot 600 or 700 rounds of any 6.5.... Get a .223 with a bbl twist that will the 80 grain bullets, I still shoot mostly 40 to 55 grain bullets, the big long, high BC bullets will not fit into a AR mag.

    You need a BIG 30 round mag....


    Chuck
     
  16. rcw3

    rcw3 Site $$ Sponsor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,061
    For Varminting out of an AR, the 6mmAR,a 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm) is a great varminting cartridge. I recently did some chronograph work shooting the 6mm Hornday 75 gr VMax bullets out of a 24" barreled AR-15 chambered in 6mmAR. The results are as follows:

    29 gr H4895, BR-4 Primer, Horn 75 gr. VMax 2943 Mean Velocity, ES 25, SD 10
    29.5 gr H4895, BR-4 Primer, Horn 75 gr. VMax 3014 Mean Velocity, ES 17, SD 8

    Attached is a target with a 10 shot group with the Hornady 75 gr. VMax bullets, shot prone with a sling,no rifle support so body movement and pulse is included in the group size). These things will shoot bug holes from a rest. Little recoil and lots of fun.

    Robert Whitley
    www.6mmAR.com
     
  17. shcal

    shcal

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    200
    Well, it sure would be fun to put one of these together but my local FFL won't work with me on this because of California assault weapons laws. In fact, he says that anyone in CA who has a pistol grip, semi-automatic with a detachable magazine is breaking the law and subject to arrest on felony charges.

    Does anyone living in CA have any input on this?
    Thanks, shcal.
     
  18. Forum Boss

    Forum Boss Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    3,985
    ShCal,

    Yes, unless you owned an AR15 prior to the CA state ban, and registered it as an "assault weapon", you can't buy one or import it. You can purchase a pump-action AR, or one which has had the magazine well permanently blocked. With the latter you have to raise the upper and load with stripper clips, or single load. Given those restrictions, a bolt action is probably a better option.

    With the current state of the CA legislature,Democrats controlling both houses), it's unlikely you'll be able to buy an AR-style rifle with detachable magazines any time soon.
     
  19. shcal

    shcal

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    200
    Thanks Moderator, that pretty much puts an end to my AR varmint dreams. Oh well, back to the bolt-gun drawer.
    shcal.
     
  20. JimmyO

    JimmyO

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    49
    Can he purchase a used pre-ban or post-ban gun?

    I don't know how many bans they've had but I bought the "post-ban" lower that was legal without the bayonet 5 years ago or so. I quess it doesn't really matter since I live in AZ now. I wonder if I can bring it back to cali when I head out there for bid'nes trips?

    There are some great things about California, I'm trying to remember what they were now.... Oh, yeah it's not 120 deg. in the Summer, that's about it ;)
     

Share This Page