By Luis Valdes
I remember growing up and seeing commercially designed and produced semiautomatics made specifically for hunting. Winchester, Remington, HK, Browning/FN, Benelli, Ruger, and others made them. There were semiautos replicating the styling lines of pump and bolt action hunting rifles.
All but Browning/FN and Benelli have dropped out of the market. The AR-15 and AR-10 have taken over and replaced them all. I recall seeing guns like those posted lining the racks of gun shops and big box retailers. I remember seeing them at ranges being sighted in for hunts. Hell, I remember seeing them being brought out for protection during the Miami Superbowl Riot and later for Hurricane Andrew.
It is interesting how the hunting rifle market after WWII went more and more towards the semiautomatic and then as the new millennial approached. The market shifted towards bolt actions. Of course, the rise in popularity of the AR pattern rifle immensely helped kill other designs. Even Remington jumped in on it with the R-25 (AR-10 pattern) rifle.
And went a step further to develop the .30 AR for a AR-15 pattern rifle.
But that was pushed to the wayside with better cartridges like the .300 Blackout and improvements to the .223 as a hunting load. But the AR pattern is gaining immense ground and I even built a AR for hunting.
It is so handy, even my wife loves it.
It is just interesting seeing how the traditional hunting rifle manufacturers are either cranking out low cost production bolt actions with superb capabilities. Guns like the Savage Axis, Ruger American, Thompson Center Compass/Venture, Weatherby Vanguard 2/Howa 1500, and others are kicking butt and taking names in market shares at the moment. These are usually sub $400 easily found rifles that are chambered in a wide variety of cartridges and with very little to no work are Sub MOA capable.
The manufacturing sector right now is pumping out extremely capable and low cost bolt guns for the average buyer. For under $1,000. Anyone can have a rifle capable of being Sub MOA and able to hit targets 1,000 yards away if they want to. Rifles today doing what $5,000 build did twenty years ago.
Or they’re just flat out making AR pattern rifles like what Remington, Savage, Ruger, and others have done. Only Browning/FN and Benelli are still in the traditional Non-AR pattern rifle market. And only Browning/FN has actually updated their design with the new BAR Mk 3 DBM model.
Ruger did revamp the Mini-14 too and it is still a capable brush gun for hog hunting. But it isn’t as big of a change as what Browning/FN with the BAR.
I believe Benelli and Browning/FN are still in the market due to the overall view of ARs by the gun hating community and they keep them in production as a way to hedge their bets on future legislation and as a way to tap closed markets like NY, CA, and others.