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Is it Legal to Hunt with an AR-15?


The AR-15 rifle is one of the most popular rifles in the United States, and has been for more than half a century. The AR-15 platform is popular among gun owners and widely available for purchase in gun stores. Despite anti-gun politicians attempting to ban the rifle within the U.S., the AR-15 continues to rise in popularity.

According to recent surveys, the AR platform is favored by modern day hunters for hunting game. With its versatility, reliability and familiarity, who wouldn’t favor a rife like this?

I have friends that hunt several times a year and use ARs. They all love it. I also go hunting a few times a year, myself, also using an AR. At family get togethers, I literally have made it a ritual to hunt with ARs. All my family, from my sisters to my brothers, nieces and even my sons have all hunted with AR platforms in different states.

If you are an AR-15 owner and planning to go hunting, or if you are just now getting into the hunting game, I’ll give you a few pointers on what to look for in your state. Now, keep in mind, every state is different, and every state has different laws, all constantly changing, so it’s important to know what’s going on in your backyard, so do your research and know your laws.

Let’s get started.

A Closer Look At: Model, Caliber, and Capacity

Thinking about taking your AR into the field? Before you head out, there are usually three standard areas you’ll need to consider:

For the most part, the majority of States permit big game hunting by hunters with semi-auto rifles like ARs. In the States that actually do allow semi-auto hunting, there’s typically no restriction on models, only capacity. Some will limit use to 2rd, 4rd or 5rd mags only.

The single most important thing to pay attention to is what caliber restriction you’re working with. In some States, restrictions on caliber size or weight can also have an impact. Other states that feature shotgun zones also allow ARs chambered in straight walled cartridges, such as the 450 BM, which is popular among shotgun zone users.

And, for those of you reading this who want to hunt big game in Colorado, you’ll use a .240 caliber or higher. What that means for you is that the common AR caliber .223/5.56 is actually not legal for big game hunting, while a 6.5 Grendel or 243 WSSM would be a completely legal caliber.

You’ll find similar restrictions in other states, such as Connecticut, Iowa, Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, and West Virginia, etc.

ARs In Pennsylvania: Legal For Certain Hunting

The newest arrival to the AR hunting rifle community, Pennsylvania had prohibited semi-auto firearms for hunting until as recently as last year. The Pennsylvania Game Commission now officially allows the use of semi-autos, but only for hunting non-big game within the state. In the case of this state, big game is expected to be added within the next few seasons.

And California?
Despite what you might think, you can actually hunt in California with an AR. The only thing is, you have to follow restrictive State regulations specific to these rifles but, if you can work within these guidelines, you’re golden.

What are the regulations? That would be too long a list to write out here, but they do allow you to hunt with an AR in the State of California if you follow them.

What About Internationally?

Going hunting with an AR platform, internationally, is a whole other animal from doing it within the United States. Every country is different and, like America, sometimes states within those countries have their own rules, as well.

I’d recommend a lot of research ahead of your hunting trip so you know whether your AR rifle is even an option. I’ve watched heartbreaking videos of hunters making crazy modifications before big trips overseas, only to arrive and realize they misunderstood the local laws.

Countries may require a fixed stock. They might need you to restrict magazine capacity, or even only use single shots. For this reason, research is king before getting on a plane to another country.

A Versatile Firearm For Any Occasion

The AR-15 is an extremely versatile firearm, with options to use multiple uppers in various calibers depending on what your purpose is. Simply pop the pins, swap out your upper, and you’re ready for action.

Collectors and enthusiasts will typically keep multiple uppers for hunting trips and various other excursions. Scopes can be mounted and zeroed, accessories added or removed, and bolt carrier groups and charging handles can be left attached to their uppers. Pop out the part you’re done using, slide in the next, and you’ve got the right upper to match the lower you’re using.

And there’s more than enough information out there to help you make decisions when it comes to calibers, barrels and ammunition. Use the right firearm, every time, regardless of which game you’re hunting. With the right AR rifle at your side, there isn’t an animal out there you won’t be ready for. Make sure to check with your local Wildlife Agency for any restrictions or requirements on model caliber or magazine capacity. Plan your hunt, customize your firearm, and get ready for a great time!


New member
I saw your other article in regards of "Why you should hunt with AR 15" It was a great read. You make some pretty knowledgeable articles on this forum. Thanks for sharing!


New member
I mean different states have different laws + hunting with AR is not really that practical unless you hunting some small game.