This week’s gunfight is a battle of varmint rifles. An AR 15 matches up against a bolt action.

I was surprised by the overwhelming negativity in the comments section when I tried “FebruARy Madness” two weeks ago. At the same time, “FebruARy Madness” garnered over 600 votes, which shows pretty strong interest in the AR platform. So, based on the comments and the vote totals, I am wondering if there is a silent majority of AR fans out there who just keep their mouths shut and vote.

Maybe we’ll find out this week as two Gunfight Friday regulars face off. Tim Flannery, whose gun collection encompasses everything from single-shot buffalo rifles to .450 Bushmaster ARs, offers up a heavy barreled varmint rifle built on the AR platform. On the other side, the always classy Edward Palumbo has a provided a bolt-action Howa to represent for the traditional bolt actions.

Tim Flannery’s Bushmaster


I set up this AR 15 for prairie dogs. It is scary accurate. The upper is a Bushmaster Predator and the lower is standard Bushmaster except for the Timney trigger. It has a heavy varmint barrel under the forearm. The scope is Redfield. The stock is a Magpul adjustable PRS (Precision Rifle/Sniper) stock. I like Magpul furniture both for their quality products and Magpul’s commitment to our sport.

Edward Palumbo’s Howa 1500


The Howa 1500 in .223 is one of a few heavy-barreled varmint guns I rely upon. This reasonably priced rifle, purchased two years ago, is equipped with a Burris 10X Mil-Dot scope, and the combination reliably delivers sub-MOA groups at 100 yards with my carefully assembled hand loads. It has served well on Belding’s ground squirrels, though the .223 has proven a bit excessive or heavy-handed for these sage rats. I’ve spent much more on varmint rifles and gotten much less. Colleagues have questioned the Hogue stock, but the results speak for themselves. The rifle shoots accurately.

I believe these two when they tell me their rifles are accurate. (I’m guessing sub-MOA and “scary accurate” mean about the same thing.) So, it comes down to bolt action or AR. Which do you choose? Vote and comment below. Send your gun pictures to Gunfight Friday at