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Road warriors: tomorrow's tradition today: ARs make inroads in hunting camps all across the country.

One of the surprises surfacing from the new "Modern Rifle Adventures TV" show is the reactions were getting from booking agents, outfitters, guides, other hunters in camp and even the locals who come to realize those guys toting around all that camera equipment are filming the show for The Sportsman Channel.

To be perfectly honest, we didn't know what to expect. But it became gin-clear early on that, in effect, our cohosts for the knocking-down-barriers series--and their AR-platform firearms--were going to be welcomed with, well, open arms.

Dick Metcalf, an Airborne/U.S. Army veteran and 30-plus-year contributor to our firearms and hunting publications, and J. Guthrie, a relative newcomer with about 10 years under his belt as a gunwriter, offer opposite perspectives (in terms of age and experience), and we wanted that mix of talent when whipping up the recipe for this groundbreaking television show.


Metcalf and Guthrie have crisscrossed the country hunting everything from varmints and predators to big game, and the welcome mat has been rolled out. There's also been a good dose of appreciation and gratitude in recognition of the underlying message "Modern Rifle Adventures" and this column are delivering to millions of viewers and readers.

It's safe to say no one scampers to his tent and buries himself in his sleeping bag or packs up and leaves camp when Metcalf and Guthrie arrive with those so-called "black guns." In fact, when they uncase those Leupold-scoped Remington R-15s or R-25s, DPMS Panthers or Bushmaster Varmint Specials, the provoke just the opposite reaction. The folks in camp--even the cook--want them to hand over the hardware so they can take a closer look. The result is that Metcalf and Guthrie end up holding court and fielding questions: "How accurate are these guns?" "What chamberings are they available in?" "Do they hold up during inclement weather?" Many times Dick and Guthrie have seen the campfire flame's last flicker as they answer questions well into the night.

Both men are proud of their respective roles on the show and of the fact that the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has supported and promoted the modern sporting rifle campaign.

"Since beginning Modern Rifle Adventures," says Metcalf, "Guthrie and I have hunted with ARs across the entire nation, from South Carolina all the way to Alaska, and I've been overwhelmed by the universally positive response we've encountered from other hunters. Everybody has been interested in [the ARs], and even those who might raise their eyebrows at first are soon asking us if they can try them once they see what they're capable of. I've been hunting with AR-platform rifles for over 30 years, beginning back in the days when anyone going into the field with an AR-15 Sporter was treated like a paramilitary whacko. Many outfitters and guides back then wouldn't even have you in their camps. Things are sure different now."

And Guthrie echoes Dick's sentiments. "I don't have an ax to grind when it comes to rifles. Preconceived notions, idle talk and opinions really don't matter to me. What I want is a rifle that is accurate, dependable and reliable.

While there's no water cooler out in the hunting fields, the camp conversation has been convincing. "It's been really cool to see the hunting camp skeptics come around after seeing these AR rifles in action," Guthrie notes after returning from a recent hunt.

Way back when, Metcalf taught history in the classroom. It's not lost on him that he's now frequently called upon to offer a historical perspective on the AR and how it has evolved into a legitimate hunting firearm in the 21st century.

"Once any traditionally minded hunter actually tries an AR in the field, he instantly recognizes that its extreme durability and reliability under any and all conditions, plus its superb accuracy, ease of handling and adaptability to a wide variety of accessories and sights, make it a better hunting tool than nearly any other 'conventional' hunting rifle made."

And Guthrie's comments mirror his cohost's: "Dick and I learn something new on every trip. We're trying to push the boundaries with these rifles, seeing just how far the AR can go."

So far, it appears there's no stopping the new wave of hunters taking ARs afield.

We're proud to announce that it's good news on all fronts, and the welcoming reception has been warm. Dick and Guthrie, along with our sponsors and friends in the shooting sports industry, are successfully harvesting game with these modern sporting rifles, and maybe even more important, the message they're bringing to camp--that these firearms are legitimate hunting guns--is hitting home loud and clear with our friends in the hunting fields.


By Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice-president and general counsel

Understanding that modern sporting rifles are not so-called "assault weapons" is an important and necessary step in helping to ensure that these basic sporting firearms continue to gain acceptance by shooters and non-shooters alike. Through the National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) Modern Sporting Rifle Campaign, we've already made great strides in educating the public and, in particular, hunters, shooters and gun owners. The NSSF, as the trade association for the firearms industry, now wants to make sure that you are armed with the facts that will enable you to educate others on what modern sporting rifles are (and are not).

* What has erroneously been termed an assault weapon is a semiautomatic firearm that fires just one round with each pull of the trigger (vs. a fully automatic firearm-a machine gun-which continues to shoot until the trigger is released). These firearms do not "spray fire."

* Legislation has incorrectly defined an assault weapon as a semiautomatic firearm that can accept a detachable magazine and has two or more cosmetic features, such as a folding stock or bayonet lug. It is these cosmetic features that distinguish the firearm from other non-assault weapons. It's like banning a car based on its hood ornament.

* Fully automatic firearms or machine guns are already highly regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act. To purchase a fully automatic firearm, one must first get special permission from the ATF.

* Modern sporting rifles are no more powerful than any other hunting rifle--and in many cases, MSRs fire rounds less powerful (as in the case of the .223) than could be used for deer hunting in many states.

* Modern sporting rifles use the same type of ammunition as any other rifle chambered for its respective round.

* Functionally, there is no difference between a modern sporting rifle and any other semiautomatic rifle. While designed cosmetically to look like a military-type firearm, MSRs operate as all civilian firearms do-with only one shot per trigger pull.

* The gun-ban lobby purposefully confuses the public over what is and what is not an assault weapon in order to make it easier to ban MSRs. Consider this statement from Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center: "The public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns vs. semiautomatic assault weapons-anything that looks like a machine gun is presumed to be a machine gun-can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."

* A comprehensive study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-hardly a pro-gun entity-looked at the full panoply of gun-control measures, including the assault weapons ban, and concluded that none could be proven to reduce crime.

* Homicide statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics demonstrate that the miniscule use of so-called assault weapons in crime (less than 1 percent) continued to decrease after the 10-year ban expired in 2004 and its manufacturing and sales resumed.

* Since late 2008 more MSRs have been sold to law abiding Americans after a background check than ever before in history. During that same time period, crime in America has continued to fall. The bottom line is this: Like all firearms, MSRs in the hands of law-abiding Americans do not cause crime.

Crime-control legislation should be based upon solid facts, not emotions, cosmetics or appearance. Modern sporting rifles are used for a wide variety of legitimate sporting purposes, including hunting, target shooting, personal protection, home defense and collecting.

Knowing the facts about modern sporting rifles is only half the battle. It's up to all of us to educate the public on these popular firearms. Whether you're setting the record straight by writing a letter to the editor or talking to your neighbor, I hope you find these bullet points helpful.

Modern Rifle Adventures

Sportsman Channel 2nd & 3rd Quarters 2010

Monday 1:30 pm EST

Saturday 12 Noon EST

Sunday 10:30 pm EST
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Author:Bequette, Jim
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:May 18, 2010
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