Building a Predator Hunting AR-15

Over the past couple of years coyotes have been stealing my chickens.  I thought losses have not been “that” bad, but the time has come to take action.  A few days ago I was looking through pictures of when I bought the chicks, that is when I realized just how many of my chickens are missing.  Looking at how many chickens I currently have, and then looking at the number of chicks I had, the losses are not sustainable.

I do not count my chickens every day, or even every week.  Living in a rural area with free range chickens it is normal to lose one here and there.  Hawks, bobcats, coyotes, foxes,,, all love chicken.  However, my flock is not a buffet bar.  Something has to give or I will never be able to develop a self-sustainable chicken flock for shtf.  In other  words, the predators are killing the chickens faster than they can reproduce.

Deer Rifle Instead of AR-15

At first glance why not use a deer rifle for predator control?  Any of the popular deer hunting calibers will make short work of a coyote or bobcat – 30-30 Winchester, 270 Winchester, 280 Remington, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 243, 6mm, 257 Roberts or even the 7.62X39 in the Ruger Mini-30, SKS and AK-47 will make short work of a coyote.


  • I did not want to use my hunting ammunition for predator control.  My hunting ammunition stockpile is to be used to put food on the table, not for predator control.
  • 223 Remington / 5.56mm is cheaper than large caliber hunting grade ammunition.  Would you rather spend .75 cents – $2.00 a round, or .36 cents a round?
  • AR-15 is dual purpose.  Take the scope off and you have a fully functional combat rifle.
  • 223 Remington / 5.56mm is accurate.  Not saying calibers like the 30-30, 308, 270 and 30-06 are not accurate.  Just the 223 Remington has a reputation of being accurate.
  • Low recoil, just about any family member can shoot it.  As compared to the 270 Winchester, 30-30 Winchester, 280 Remington,,,, that my daughter and girlfriend do not like to shoot.
  • Wide range of options – hunting rifles are usually available in one standard configuration.

Gas system

Times have changed, instead of the classic carbine and rifle length gas system we now have the mid-length system.

Take your pick:

  • Carbine:  Distance from port to receiver: 7 inches
  • Mid-length:  Distance from port to receiver: 9 inches
  • Rifle length:  Distance from port to receiver: 12 inches

The mid-length reduces the pressure on the bolt carrier group and reduces felt recoil. Reducing felt recoil improves accuracy. Not that the M4 carbine gas system has a lot of recoil. But if the amount of felt recoil can be reduced, why not. Reduced recoil also means faster follow up shots.

For my predator hunting rifle I went with a mid-length gas system, and a light weight barrel.

The Barrel

Barrel options for the modern AR-15 are staggering.

  • Chrome lined
  • Melonite
  • Stainless
  • 14.7 inch
  • 16 inch
  • 18 inch
  • 20 inch
  • 1:7 twist
  • 1:8 twist
  • 1:9 twist
  • Hammer forged
  • High pressure tested

Chrome lined was developed for military rifles to extend the barrel life.  Does the average shooter need a chrome lined barrel?  Probably not.  The typical civilian shooter will probably not fire enough rounds to wear out a non-chrome lined barrel.  For those who want a military grade, (aka mil-spec) rifle, then get chrome lined.  Some companies even offer a double chrome lined barrel.

Then there are the different grades of barrel testing – high pressure test, where the manufacturer fires a single high pressure round through the barrel. Magnetic particle inspection, where the manufacturer uses a machine to send a magnetic charge through the barrel and then applies iron powder to the barrel. If there are any cracks on the exterior of the barrel the iron powder will align itself on the crack.

Twist rate – this is how far the bullet travels down the barrel before it makes a complete 360 rotation.  1:7 means the bullet travels 7 inches and the rifling grooves will make it twist a complete 360 degrees.  1:9 means the bullet travels 9 inches down the barrel before it makes a full 360 degree rotation.    The twist rate of the 1:7, as compared to the 1:9, is supposed to stabilize heavier bullets better than the 1:9.  Some companies offer a 1:8.  1:7 is what the United States military uses.

For my build I went with a Palmetto State Armory Freedom upper receiver.  Instead of chrome lined the Freedom series barrels have a melonite finish.  Twist is 1:7.


This is where the AR-15s really shines, they are like legos for men.

  • Spikes tactical stripped lower.
  • CMMG lower parts kit, with fire control group
  • Impact weapons systems receiver end plate with quick connect
  • Bravo company receiver extension and buffer
  • PSA premium bolt carrier group
  • Standard charging handle
  • Magpul MBUS flip-up sights
  • Magpul grip (black)
  • Magpul enhanced polymer trigger guard
  • Magpul ACS-L Carbine Stock


The number of optics out there is staggering.  It all oils down to how much money are you willing to spend  Want a $50 rifle scope?  They are out there.  Want a top of the line $1,500 scope?  They are out there.  Want something close to military grade night vision?  No problem.

As with everything else in life, when it comes to optics you get what you pay for.  For my build I allotted $200 for the optics.  $200is not going to get you anywhere near top of the line, but it will keep you out of the bottom of the bucket.

I decided to go with the Nikon P-233 3-9×40 BDC.  To mount the Nikon P-233 I went with a Leupold Mark 2 integral mounting system.

Nikon P-233 rifle scope

The Nikon P-233 is designed for the 223 Remington / 5.56mm, 55 grain polymer tip bullet. The scope has “open 
circle aiming points” that are factory set for bullet drop. Sight the crosshairs in at 100 yards, then use the preset “open circle aiming points” for shooting out to 600 yards. The scope did not come with flip-up lens covers so I will have to order some aftermarket covers. I am probably going to go with Butler Creek flip-up lens covers.

Nikon P-233 rifle scope on AR-15

Something I am concerned about with the Nikon P-233 is the adjust knobs are what some people may call military style turrets. What has me concerned is carrying the rifles through the woods the knobs may get bumped. Something nice about the knobs, after the scope is sighted in, you pull up on the knob, turn the numbers on the knob so that 0 aligns up with the setting mark on the scope. Pulling up on the knob does not change the zero. Now that the alignment mark is matched up with 0 on the turret, I do not have to remember what number the mark was set to. If the turret is bumped, just move 0 on the turret back to the alignment mark.

In the piney woods of southeast Texas around 100 yards is going to be your average shot.  A power line right of way (aka highline), pipeline, railroad tracks, and areas of timber that have been clear cut are about the only places someone might shoot past 150 yards.

When the Nikon P-233 was sighted in I started off at around 25 yards, fired a few rounds, adjusted the scope, backed up to around 50 yards, fired a few rounds, adjusted the scope, then backed up to around 100 yards.  At the end of the day I was shooting 2 inch groups with American Eagle 55 grain FMJ.


Even though this rifle will be outfitted with an optic, I wanted a set of back-up sights. A guy I work with has a set of Midwest industries flip-up sights for sale. I can not justify spending over $100 on flip-up sights when there are so many options at a much lower price point.  The rifle is a flattop so the front sight is folding just like the rear sight.

I ended up going with Magpul back-up sights, MBUS generation 2.

To use the rear sight the scope has to be removed, which requires a 13 mm wrench.  I wonder if I can cut a 13mm wrench down and store it in the butt stock storage compartment or in the pistol grip?

Butt Stock

My other AR-15s use the standard MOE carbine stock.  For this build I wanted to use something different so I went with the Magpul ACS-L.  The ACS uses a locking lever to prevent the stock from moving on the receiver extension.  The stock also has a larger surface bearing area for an improved cheek weld over the carbine stock.

Magpul ACS light stock

The standard Magpul ACS has a battery storage compartment on the right and left side of the stock where 2 AA Batteries or 2 CR123 can be stored.

Magpul ACS light storage compartment

The Magpul ACS-L does not have the battery storage compartments. However, the light model does have a storage compartment at the rear of the stock that is large enough to fit a couple of batteries in.  I am not using an optic that requires batteries, so I have my front sight adjustment tool wrapped in tissue to prevent rattle stored in the compartment.

Bolt Carrier Group

One of the most important parts of an AR-15 is the bolt and bolt carrier group, this is the heart and soul of the rifle.  For this build I went with the Palmetto State Armory premium bolt carrier group.

Specs from Palmetto State Armory:

  • Milspec Carpenter No. 158® steel bolt
  • Shot Peened Bolt
  • High pressure tested
  • Mag particle inspected
  • Chrome Lined Carrier (AUTO)
  • Chrome Lined Gas Key
  • Gas Key Hardened to USGI Specifications
  • Gas Key Grade 8 Hardened Fasteners
  • Gas Key Staked Per Mil-Spec
  • Tool Steel Extractor


Just like with everything else on the market grip options for an AR-15 are staggering.  A lot of it boils down to how much money you want to spend.  Do you want to spend $20 on a grip, $75, or just use the factory military style pistol grip?

For my build I went with the Magpul MOE pistol grip in black.  Nothing special, nice textured feel, and it gets the job done.

I will probably replace the Magpul grip with an Ergo grip at a later date.  To me, Ergo is a lot more comfortable than the Magpul grip.


The Magpul MS3 gen 2 has been my go to sling for just about everything.  For this predator hunting rifle I am thinking about going with a classic style padded deer hunting rifle sling.  This is a practical application sling and not something for the range.

Tactical slings usually do not have a shoulder pad.  When I carry my AR-15 through the woods the webbing starts wearing on my shoulder.  After awhile the sling gets uncomfortable and I start shifting the rifle sling from one shoulder to the other.

Chances are I am going to go with some kind of nylon sling with a nice thick shoulder pad.  Or, go with my typical Magpul MS3 gen 2 and get a slip-on shoulder pad.  Take the scope and shoulder pad off and the rifle goes from hunting to tactical in just a few seconds.


I am still undecided on the bipod.  Probably going to go with a Harris bipod.

Palmetto State Armory Freedom predator hunting rifle

What do you think of this build

What would you change on this predator hunting AR-15 build?

I was really leaning towards a 20 inch barrel with a rifle length gas system, but decided to go with the 16 inch barrel.