Making Your AR Hunt

2020 Hindsight

Trapr Swonson

As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

In this case, 2020 gives me much more clarity on what I’ve learned and prefer for hunting with a MSR. It’s been a few years since I wrote up part 1 and part 2 of “Making Your AR Hunt.” Since then, I’ve discovered that comfort with any hunting rifle comes from one factor: confidence that the projectile will exit.

First, I want to spend a little time talking about the 6.5 Grendel. I’ve had some good success with that cartridge in the last few years. It also speaks to the major subject of this follow-up, my new .260 Remington that’s proven a great success.

I hope to show you my thought process when I choose to expand my hunting arsenal. Beyond that, people I’ve met have found it useful to learn how I bring a new rifle “on board.” If you’re a hunter yourself, I hope this will be useful for you, too.

Hunting the Grendel

Over the last year, I’ve used my Grendels on several hunts where success was partly due to the projectile. I’ve chosen the Nosler 125gr. Partition exclusively for this round, and it’s performed consistently in the little 6.5mm. Given the slower velocity, it hits like a heavier bullet than it is. Its nose sheds weight and peels back while the shank continues on to exit.

So far, I’ve not recovered a single bullet, either from several 200lb. pigs taken at almost 200 yards, or from some nice whitetail bucks taken at 100 yards. The bullet is also effective on our larger predators like coyotes.

For a small-frame AR-15 platform, you’d have a tough time finding a better round/bullet match for hunting. It combines of low recoil, sufficiently flat trajectory and excellent bullet selection. These make it nearly ideal for humanely taking deer and other game of that size.

Some Scandinavian friends came to visit me last year for some prime American hunting down in Texas. They shot my Grendels for a week at a wide array of game at various distances. Their results really proved my thoughts on what a good hunting gun the MSR in 6.5 Grendel really is.

Most hunters will take the vast majority of their game inside 200 yards. At those distances, it really won’t matter what the hole in the end of your barrel is. What will matter is that (a) you put an effective bullet where it will do its intended job, and (b) it performs that job.

Within these parameters, the 6.5 Grendel does very well. You could even add another 50 or so yards to that distance and still be quite effective for medium game. It’s when the game gets bigger and tougher, and the distances greater, that more is needed.

That’s more velocity, more bullet weight and more (or better) bullets. It was with these new parameters in mind that I went looking for a new hunting rifle last year.

Putting the New Guy Through His Paces

While he was here, one of my Scandinavian friends spent his time on my new large-frame MSR. This was a custom build that I had JP put together for me based on what I wanted for general purpose hunting.

I was wanting something for hunting any medium game on continental North America, including elk or caribou. I also wanted confidence in the gun at any range that I would trust myself shooting at game. For me, that’s 300-350 yards.

I much prefer to hunt game than to simply shoot at game and call it hunting.

My choice for the new JP was, of course, based on the LRP-07™ using the .260 Remington round. My friend ended up using this rifle to take the same game his friends had taken with the Grendels while having just as much fun.

One of the biggest benefits of short action rounds like the .260 is that they recoil very little, and in a gas gun, the felt recoil is even less. This allows for better accuracy because the shooter isn’t concerned with getting beat up once the trigger is pulled.

They also allow the shooter to stay on target easier, see the bullet impact on game and track the game’s reaction to the shot. The .260 Remington is ideally suited for medium game at any reasonable distance and, with proper bullets, the game at any angle.

The JP LRP-07™ side-charger itself is simply a very well-rounded platform for precision long-range, 3-Gun/Multigun, LE/military or hunting. I’ve used it in all but a LE/military capacity with great success. But my all-time favorite times with the LRP have been while hunting.

In my considerable experience with it, the LRP-07™ is weather-proof, abuse-resistant, accurate, uber-functional and easy on maintenance. It’s available in calibers suitable for all medium game in the lower 48. Since this wasn’t my first LRP, a new hunting-exclusive upper assembly was all I really needed for this project.

The specs on the LRP-07™ are as follows:

  • Stock JP upper and lower
  • 15.5” JP forend
  • 18” medium Supermatch™ barrel (.260 Remington)
  • JP VMOS™ bolt carrier (the sliding weights of this carrier both retards bolt lock and softens the feel of reciprocal movement)
  • Ergo Tactical Deluxe grip (shortened ¾”)
  • ACE skeletonized buttstock for light weight

Since the rifle is set up to be a hunter, I picked a scope that would take advantage of its attributes: a Burris XTRII 1-8x. This optic fits perfectly for close and fast shooting when used on 1x. At 8x, it also provides all the precision needed even past 400 yards on game as small as varmints.

The final weight of the gun is about nine pounds. Not exactly lightweight, but definitely handier and easier handling, given its shorter length.

I ended up taking this rifle with me when I went to Wyoming for mule deer and antelope. Sadly, I got skunked on game on that trip, but carrying the gun around was no issue. Dragging it through sagebrush and up and down hills proved I’d made a good choice.

Why an 18” barrel, you might ask? That strikes most as a bit short for a .260 Remington. Originally, I was looking for a 22” barrel but was open to trying an 18” barrel that JP happened to have in stock provided it could give me adequate velocities.

My hope with this shorter barrel was to see just how useful a large-frame MSR really can be. As you’ve seen from the other parts of this series, my hunts vary quite a bit.

From sneaking through the trees and tangles, to lying in wait from a stand or high seat, to spotting and stalking the western foothills or posting up on a ridge line and glassing slopes. I do it all. So, I wanted something that would be as natural a walk-and-stalk gun as it would be a ridge rifle.

My intended quarry for this rifle would be medium game, primarily deer and antelope. But feral pigs and coyotes would also be included as well as elk and red stag.


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