What’s the Difference Between an Assault Rifle and a Hunting Rifle?

Maryland Gun LawsWhat’s the Difference Between an Assault Rifle and a Hunting Rifle?

This is a common question that doesn’t necessarily have a clear answer, but presents a very real issue. In the wake of gun violence and other crimes, many are calling for tighter gun control laws, looking to restrict firepower, rate of fire, and capacity. However, what about rifles that are used for sport, or for hunting? Is there a real difference between what is commonly accepted as a hunting rifle, and what has been labeled as an assault rifle? While the picture most people carry in their head as to what an assault rifle looks like is pretty clear, thanks to movies and media, the functional difference between assault and sport isn’t as vast as you might think.

The Remington 7400 and the DSA SA-58

Cosmetically, these two rifles seem to be a world apart. The Remington 7400 is a fairly common hunting rifle used for a variety of game, from squirrels to deer and looks just the way you’d expect a hunting rifle to look. The DSA SA-58 is a civilian legal rifle which is typically used for target shooting. The SA-58 looks more intimidating, fitting the feel of an “assault” rifle. As far as looks are concerned, these two rifles would logically be in different categories. But what about functionality? Both the Remington 7400 and the SA-58 have these features in common:

They are both semi-automatic. A new round is chambered after every pull of the trigger.
They both use the same ammunition, a Winchester .308 cartridge.
They both have a “pistol style” grip.
They both use a detachable box magazine.

Functionally speaking, these two rifles are identical in terms of firepower, rate of fire, and reload speed. However, the SA-58 looks more intimidating which is what gives it the negative connotation and the “assault” label.

Why it’s Important to Know the Difference

As per the example above, it’s obvious that the line between what a hunting rifle is and is not, is thin and can be easily crossed. It’s important that you know what is acceptable or legal in terms of your firearms before you take off for the range or the woods. Being found in possession of or discharging an illegal firearm often comes with severe penalties which can include time in jail and large fines. To make matters worse, under the certain conditions your charges could be escalated to a felony offense. If you’ve been charged with possession or use of an illegal firearm, it’s important that you seek the help of an experienced defense attorney immediately.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.