AR Platform Hunting Rifle on a Budget

In last week’s blog, we talked about the options available to you for hunting big game animals in North America. Calibers, bullets, and platforms were last week’s topics. This week let’s look at what it takes to make yourself a hunting AR platform rifle and not bust your wallet.

Your standard .223/5.56 range plinker is not a great option for big game hunting. They make great
varmint rifles but are slightly underpowered for big game like deer or bigger. Don’t get me wrong, they can and have harvested plenty of deer with proper shot placement and round configuration. Personally, I feel we should be using bigger calibers and proper bullet configurations for quick, clean, ethical harvests.

Once you have decided what you will be hunting and researched the best LEGAL calibers available for the job, it’s time to buy or build a rifle. Hunting rifles tend to be more expensive due to the quality of parts used. This helps to ensure that you have the most accurate and lethal setup for where and what you will hunt. But maybe you don’t have $1,500+ to put into a hunting rifle. Don’t worry, there are options.

Conversion Options and Pricing

We all likely have several 5.56/.223 plinkers laying around, right? Well, you can convert one of them to a hunting rifle for a few hundred dollars. I went to Palmetto State and bought a barrel/bolt carrier combo in 6.5 Grendel for $250 on sale. Along with two 6.5 magazines, a rifle-length gas tube, a muzzle device, and a gas block. My total purchase came to about $300. This saved me over $250 on the cost of a pre-built upper, and upwards of $750 on a full rifle.

On the T350 show, I disassembled and reassembled the rifle in about 10 minutes and had a hunting rifle ready to go to the range to be sighted in. (watch the video here)

Now the 6.5 Grendel is not legal here in Ohio for big game hunting but I already have a .350 Legend and a .450 Bushmaster for deer hunting here and just have always wanted a 6.5 Grendel. Plus I want to take up Coyote hunting and the 6.5 is a great coyote round. And I have dreams of Texas deer hunting and Wyoming Antelope hunting that will put the Grendel to work as well.

In a nutshell

  • Know your intended use and application for the rifle. (let the purpose drive the build)
  • Know your state laws where you intend to hunt. (caliber restrictions, bullet restrictions, rifle configuration restrictions.)
  • Know your budget and decide on your options. ( new rifle $$$, pre-built upper $$, swap a few parts for a new caliber $.)
  • Be safe, shoot straight and have fun!
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