Survey: 60 Percent of Centerfire Rifle Hunters Use AR/AK-Platform Rifles

Hunter shooting with AR-15 rifle having 1-4x scope
Hunting Mark / Flickr

Although the left has spent decades telling Americans things like “an AR-15 is not for hunting,” a Winchester Ammunition survey reported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) shows 60 percent of centerfire rifle hunters use AR/AK-platform rifles on their hunts.

A centerfire rifle shoots a round that has a primer in the center of the shell casing. Popular centerfire rounds include the .243, .30-06, 30-30, 7 mm, and .300 WSM.

Ultra-popular hunting rounds, used with AR-platform rifles, include .223. .556, .308, and 6.5 Creedmoor.

The popularity of AR-platform rifles has grown to such a degree that they can also be purchased in 6.8 SPC II (Brenton Rifles), the venerable .45-70 (Phoenix Weaponry), the .500 Auto Max (Big Horn Armory). and an untold number of other calibers by numerous manufacturers.

NSSF notes, “Winchester Ammunition conducted a survey of 1,600 hunters and recreational shooters in the first quarter of 2022 to better learn which firearm recreational shooters and hunters were using. Turns out the most popular selling centerfire rifle in America is the rifle of choice.”

That “rifle of choice,” the AR/AK-platform rifle, is wildly popular among hunters.

The Winchester survey found that a centerfire rifle is the go-to rifle for hunters, and 60 percent of those centerfire hunters are using an AR/AK-platform firearm.

On February 17, 2018, Breitbart News reported that then Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told Fox & Friends, “an AR-15 is not for hunting, it’s for killing.”

The Tampa Bay Times transcribed Nelson’s Fox & Friends appearance, where he said, in part: “I want you to know I grew up on a ranch. I have grown up with guns. I have hunted all my life. I hunt with my son still. An AR-15 is not for hunting, it’s for killing. And the question is, should this be a legal weapon in our society?”

On January 20, 2017, the Washington Post published a “White Paper” from ATF Associate Deputy Director Ronald Turk. In it, Turk suggested the ATF studies on AR-15s and similar rifles should be re-evaluated because the rifles had become so popular for hunting and sport:

Since the sunset of the Assault Weapons ban in 2004, the use of AR-15s, AK-style, and similar rifles now commonly referred to as “modern sporting rifles” has increased exponentially in sport shooting. These firearm types are now standard for hunting activities. ATF could re-examine its 20-year-old study to bring it up to date with the sport shooting landscape of today, which is vastly different that it was years ago.

The NSSF now points to Winchester Ammunition figures showing that 60 percent of centerfire rifle hunters use AR/AK-platform rifles.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. Reach him at You can sign up to get Down Range at


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