The history of hunting rifles tends to mirror weapons of war. After the Civil War, hunters snapped up the newfangled lever-action
rifle (Chuck Connors, “The Rifleman”) for the convenience of carrying more than one round in the gun. After World
War I, the bolt-action rifle, another repeater, became popular.
Now, some hunters are adopting “black” rifles—guns that look jarringly similar to the assault rifles carried by soldiers in Afghanistan.
The main difference between combat and hunting versions is that the hunting models are semi-automatics. In other words, they fire only once each time the trigger is pulled, the same as other semi-autos long considered legal for hunting. Combat models are capable of ratta-tat-tatting more than one round with a single pull of the trigger.
Traditionalists are sticking with their favorite arms and showing little interest in the black rifles, says Doug Houshour, who manages the gun department at The Outdoorsman Shop in Greenwood. However, he says some deer hunters will buy them now that they’re being chambered for the stubby rounds legal in Indiana.
“It will be a very small segment of the hunting crowd that will ever carry them in the woods,” Houshour says, adding that they’re expensive compared to conventional rifles.
Phil Bloom, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, says some of his coworkers prefer “modern sporting rifles” for their extreme durability. Otherwise, Bloom says, there’s nothing to be scared of. “It’s purely a cosmetic thing.”
What do you think? If during a hike you came across a hunter carrying a black rifle, would you feel differently than if he or she were carrying a traditional gun?