Top 5 AR Rifles for Deer Season

Although bolt-action and lever-action rifles have been favored by countless deer hunters for generations, trends and technology have shifted to favor the AR-15 and AR-10 platforms. Both AR platforms have a lot of pros to being used for deer season. To make your search for your next deer rifle easier, we’ve gathered a list of our top five AR rifles for deer season. As always, remember to check the regulations in your area regarding caliber and capacity restrictions.

Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter

wilson combat 6mm arc - ar rifles for deer
The Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter in 6mm ARC is a beautifully made AR chambered in a solidly performing cartridge. (Photo credit: Wilson Combat)

Yes, the Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter is a higher-end gun, but it’s worth every penny. The Tactical Hunter is designed as the ideal blend of tactical applications and hunting needs. Perhaps best of all, it’s chambered in 6mm ARC, a fantastic cartridge capable of a flatter trajectory, greater reach, and overall superior performance to many other rounds currently on the market. This AR-15 platform rifle has an 18-inch barrel so you’re getting solid ballistics out of the 6mm ARC. It’s a direct impingement rifle with a fixed gas block.

Features of the Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter include a 15-inch handguard that’s M-LOK compatible for aftermarket accessories and a full-length Picatinny rail for optics. The stock is adjustable for length so it can be easily adjusted to better fit the hunter. It has an overall length of 33.5 inches depending on the adjusted length of the stock and an overall empty weight of six pounds, 14 ounces. It’s a relatively lightweight rifle chambered in an excellent deer hunting caliber, and it’s versatile enough it can also be used as a truck gun or for home defense (or simply fun at the range).

SIG Sauer 716i Tread

sig sauer tread
The SIG Sauer 716i Tread in 308 Win is a great option for whitetail. (Photo credit: SIG Sauer)

The SIG Sauer 716i Tread is a great option if you want an AR-10 chambered in the classic .308 Winchester round. The Tread has won a lot of shooters over thanks to its reliable performance and in this particular design, it’s a solid choice for hunters. It has a 16-inch barrel, which makes it easier to transport in the woods and maneuver in a blind. A hardcoat anodized finish helps protect the gun from the expected bumps and scrapes in the fields and woods and the barrel also has a salt bath nitride finish for durability. It ships with a 20-round magazine.

It’s easy to add accessories to this gun thanks to a Picatinny rail and M-LOK compatible handguard. Those are important features when you need to consider optics, a bipod, and other additions. The controls on the Tread are ambidextrous for easier operation and it has an ambidextrous QD end plate. A fantastic feature of the 716i Tread is its adjustable gas block which means it possible to fine-tune as needed. The gun comes standard with a MIL-SPEC trigger and three-prong flash hider. Overall, it’s a good option if you want to use .308 Win in an AR platform rifle this year.

Aero Precision M5E1

aero precision m5e1
Aero’s M5E1 in 6.5 Creedmoor is great for longer-distance shots on deer. (Photo credit: Aero Precision)

Yes, you can get a complete rifle from Aero Precision (or you can purchase components or complete upper or lower receivers). The M5E1 in 6.5 Creedmoor is the AR-10 you want for longer shots on deer. Keep in mind that this is a larger rifle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sling it and carry it as needed for a hunt whether it’s on whitetail or mule deer. This rifle is built on Aero’s enhanced system which is lightweight and rigid for superior overall performance.

The M5E1 from Aero in 6.5 Creedmoor has a 22-inch barrel so you’re getting all the ballistics possible out of it. That does mean you’re less likely to want to carry its bulk on lengthy hunts in the mountains, but it does make it ideal for longer shots on deer. This rifle has a fully adjustable stock as well so you can change length of pull and comb height for an improved cheek weld, which tends to translate to greater accuracy on target. Aero’s complete rifles and components are well made and reliable, making this the gun of choice for hunters in need of a 6.5 Creedmoor to handle truly long shots.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

springfield saint victor - ar rifles for deer
The Saint Victor in 350 Legend is a popular platform chambered in a proven cartridge. (Photo credit: Springfield Armory)

Lately, there have been several new cartridges hitting the market, many of which are targeting deer hunters. Of course, not all cartridges are created equally. The 350 Legend stands out as a nice, capable deer round, and the Springfield Armory Saint Victor is a solid rifle for it. The Saint Victor is a carbine-length AR-15 with a 16-inch barrel so it’s portable and easy to maneuver (also, well-balanced). In fact, its overall empty weight is barely over six pounds. This rifle is lightweight and makes a great gun for the average-distance deer hunt.

Features of the Springfield Armory Saint Victor include a stock that’s adjustable for length and a proprietary muzzle brake. There’s a Picatinny rail over the receiver, making it easy to add optics, and the 15-inch handguard is M-LOK compatible for aftermarket accessories. It comes standard with a single-stage, flat-face trigger, which improves trigger control and can mean greater accuracy on target. The gun also ships with flip-up iron sights so it’s ready to shoot right out of the box. It ships with a 5-round magazine. The 350 Legend has more than proved itself as a deer cartridge and in the Saint Victor platform it’s a reliable performer.

Bushmaster Bravo Zulu 450

bushmaster rifle - ar rifles for deer
The 450 Bushmaster can be a great do-it-all hunting round as long as you understand its limitations. (Photo credit: Bushmaster)

This one’s ideal if you need an all-purpose AR-15 that can both take down a deer and drop a feral hog like nobody’s business (it’s great for coyotes, too). Not everyone wants or needs a single-purpose firearm, and the Bushmaster Bravo Zulu in 450 Bushmaster is an awesome option for a gun that does it all (yes, this model is offered in other calibers). This rifle has a 16-inch barrel with a 1 in 24 twist rate to stabilize the 450 Bushmaster bullets — yes, this is necessary — and a carbine-length gas system. It’s well-made, reliable, and accurate on target.

The Bravo Zulu 450 has a 15-inch handguard that’s M-LOK compatible and a full-length Picatinny rail. That means you can add optics for deer season and switch it up with thermal for hog hunting, or you can add a good light or laser. The stock is adjustable for length which makes it easy to get a good fit, fast, and the angle of the uppermost surface of the stock is great for a solid cheek weld. Thanks to the way this gun is built, felt recoil is mitigated a bit as is muzzle rise. While the 450 Bushmaster is certainly deserving of its Thumper moniker, it’s also fun to shoot and the perfect fit for hunting. This rifle weighs 6.5 pounds empty and comes with a Snake Charmer muzzle brake and DM2S 2 Stage trigger. If you want a big bore, look no further.

What are your favorite AR rifles for deer season? Share yours in the comments.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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