New military-style hunting rifles are gaining in hunting popularity, led by the St. Cloud company that manufactures them.
By Chris Niskanen
Updated: 10/25/2009 04:03:13 PM CDT
I have always judged a good deer rifle based on its accuracy, weight and ability to humanely bring down a 200-pound whitetail.
Last week, I shot such a rifle — in fact, I probably shot 80 rounds through it — but nothing about it bore any resemblance to the walnut-stocked, bolt-action rifle I'll use when the Minnesota deer season opens Nov. 7.
It was an AR-style rifle that looks and shoots like the rifles carried by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan or Iraq. The rifle I shot, of course, was a legal semi-automatic. It was built by the St. Cloud, Minn., company DPMS Firearms, whose rifles are gaining fast acceptance among some big-game hunters.
The AR rifle I shot was the same gun available on the rack at Joe's Sporting Goods in Little Canada. My guide through the world of AR-style rifles was the store's gunsmith, Bob Everson, who custom makes high-end bolt-action rifles (but not AR rifles).
Everson and I shot the DPMS rifle in the store's basement gun range. Joe's carries an ever-increasing selection of AR-style rifles, also called "black guns," and it was my curiosity that led Everson and me to test fire one in the store's shooting range.
"Last fall, we couldn't keep these rifles in stock," said Everson, handing me the DPMS A-15 rifle in a .223 caliber with a nonmagnifying, Red Dot-type scope.
"It's actually a simple, simple gun," Everson said, showing me how the rifle is put together with modular parts that are easily interchangeable
with other similarly styled rifles.
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