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What Can an AR-15 Kill? Bear, Hog, Lion?

The AR-15 has become one of the most popular firearms in the US today and probably will hold that title for a while. But has the platform become popular with hunters, or for another reason?

The AR-15 is an excellent choice for hunting prairie dogs, field rabbits, and other varmint size game but can also be used to hunt deer, hog, fox, and other similarly sized game as well. The caliber of AR-15 you choose will determine which game is best to hunt.

Let’s take a look at which animals an AR-15 can take down and which calibers would be ideal for each type of game.

Can an AR-15 Kill a Bear?

Yes, an AR-15 can kill a bear. A proper load in a 5.56/.223 will kill a bear with proper shot placement, however it is not advised. A better caliber on the AR platform to kill a bear would be .350 legend, .450 bushmaster, or .50 beowulf.

Although the more popular 5.56/.223 caliber will kill a bear, the question is whether it will be done humanely. I mean we’re talking 1200ft/lbs of energy, give or take. That can penetrate over a foot deep into flesh. It can kill a bear.

The 5.56/.223 is so small however, getting a humane kill shot can be a lot more difficult and therefore the heavier, larger calibers, are usually recommended. Of course keeping it under 150 yards is preferable either way.

Will an AR-15 Take Down a Black Bear?

Yes, an AR-15 will take down a black bear. The best calibers to use for a black bear with the AR platform is the .50 beowulf or the .458 SOCOM. The more popular 5.56/.223 will kill a black bear but is not recommended for hunting them with.

It will be best to use a round above 70 grain if you want to carry a 5.56 to fend off a bear. Anything around 55 grain and you’d better load a whole 30 round mag. Probably best to just use a larger caliber honestly.

Can an AR-15 Kill a Deer?

Yes, an AR-15 can be used to hunt and kill a deer. The more popular 5.56/.223 caliber is good for deer hunting under 200 yards. However, a more preferable caliber for deer hunting with the AR platform is 300 Blackout or .458 SOCOM.

The main issue with hunting with an AR in 5.56/.223 is whether it’s legal or not in your area. Every state is different and each state will have restrictions on caliber size and magazine capacity.

Some manufacturers make .223 rounds specifically for hunting white tail deer with. Something like a 60 grain or larger that is designed to fragment and do the most internal damage is preferred.

Can an AR-15 Kill an Alligator

Yes, an AR-15 can kill an alligator. Almost any caliber will kill an alligator if the shot is placed just behind the rectangular hard plate on the top the alligator head. Correct shot placement in an area the size of a golf ball will kill an alligator.

Although many alligators are hunted with .22 magnum rifles, it is possible to use almost any caliber. In fact, some hunters even use just a 9mm handgun and are able to make clean, humane, alligator kill shots. It’s all about shot placement with alligators.

Usually an alligator is on a line left by the trapper or hunter. The line is pulled tight and alligator held relatively still while the shot is made.

Can an Ar-15 Kill a Lion

Yes, an AR-15 can kill a lion. However, it would be preferable to have a larger caliber rather than the more popular 5.56/.223 if hunting lion. In an emergency situation though, a 5.56/.223 will definitely kill a lion with proper shot placement or enough rounds.

Lion hunters don’t typically use 5.56/.223 because the caliber is best under 200 yards. When a lion is charging you, you’d feel a lot better having a heavier, larger, caliber. That being said, with proper shot placement, a 5.56 will most certainly take down a lion.

Can an AR-15 Kill a Hog?

Yes, an AR-15 can kill a hog. The most popular 5.56/.223 caliber is a great options for wild hog hunting. Other great calibers for hog hunting are 7.62 and 300 Blackout. The magazine capacity and calibers available for the AR-15 make it one of the most effective platforms for hog hunting.

Most wild hog hunters are people just trying to limit the nuisance wild hogs are causing on their property. The AR-15 is one of the go-to solutions for such a problem. I would suggest trying out a 300 Blackout suppressed AR-15.

Can an AR-15 Kill an Elephant?

Yes, an AR-15 can kill an elephant. In fact, most modern day poachers are using 7.62×39 to take down elephants illegally. So an AR-15 in that caliber should work just fine. However, most hunters do not use the AR platform to hunt elephant.

Although you can use the most popular 5.56/.223 AR-15 caliber to kill an elephant, it is not recommended. If it’s in a defensive scenario with a charging elephant, you’ll want something that packs a bigger punch.