The Missouri Conservation Commission issued a clarification for hunters looking to take game with AR-based pistols outside of rifle season that cements what hunters can use, when. The clarified rules are extensive and include atlatls.
Atlatls are spear-throwers used throughout history around the world and extensively in Mesoamerica by the Aztecs. Now people can use them for deer in Missouri this fall hunting season.
Missouri is changing its “muzzleloader only” season to “alternate methods” season. Hunting alternatives include muzzleloaders, archery including crossbows and atlatls, handguns including many AR pistols, and .40-caliber and larger air rifles.
“With gun manufacturers creating new versions of and adaptions to firearms such as AR-style handguns and shortened versions of AR-15-style rifles, we needed to establish a clear definition of what a handgun is for hunting during the alternative-methods portion of the deer-hunting season,” Protection Chief Randy Doman told KTVO. “We’ve had situations where hunters were confused about what defined a handgun and asked for clarification.”
Doman clarified what kind of rifle-pattern pistols, including AR pistols, are suitable alternate hunting methods.
“The updated regulation clarifies what a handgun is for deer hunting during the alternative-methods portion,” he added. “We want hunters to be able to confidently identify what handgun configurations, with or without the addition of braces or other accessories, are legal to use during this portion of the deer hunting season.”
He stressed that any pistols over 26 inches long will be considered rifles for taking game.
“The essential distinguishing characteristic of a handgun is its ability to be operated with one hand, although a second hand can be used as a brace. Any firearm with a total length of over 26 inches is considered a rifle.”
The updated rules state that a pistol is any firearm “originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile or bullet from one or more barrels when held in one hand, having a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore or bores, with a barrel less than sixteen inches in length, measured from the face of the bolt or standing breech and an overall length less than twenty-six inches as measured between the muzzle of the barrel and the rearmost portion of the firearm, not including any pistol brace, muzzle device, or other firearm accessory not permanently attached to the firearm.”
The rules go so far to specify that hunters may use pistol braces and that they can shoot pistols with both hands even though they must be designed for one-handed shooting.
“There are several meanings of ‘handgun’ in common usage, which is confusing for hunters and Department staff,” Doman continued. “Our updated definition incorporates relevant portions of the definitions from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and statutory firearms definitions to establish one, consistent definition for hunting during the alternative methods portion of the firearms deer season.”
These clarifications should make it easier for hunters to know what they can and can’t use during the various hunting seasons in Missouri, but between AR pistols and atlatls, it won’t make the decision for what to hunt with any easier.