What is a Modern Sporting Rifle? - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

What is a Modern Sporting Rifle?

A modern sporting rifle (MSR) is a type of firearm designed for sporting or recreational use. These rifles typically have semi-automatic action, meaning that they can fire one round each time the trigger is pulled, and they are designed to be lightweight and accurate. They are commonly used for hunting, target shooting, and other forms of recreational shooting.

Rifles are incredible tools. From a distance, a hunter can take a large animal that will put food in the freezer to feed your family for the year. A farmer can stop a predator or nuisance animal from destroying crops and livestock. And anyone, from homeowner to serious competitor to weekend plinker, can hone their skills with practice and gain proficiency to shoot over distances of a 1,000 yards or more.

The term “modern sporting rifle” has only recently become a more regular part of our lexicon, but every era has something that’s modern to it. After the Civil War, the “modern” sporting rifle was the lever-action rifle. And so, like many things that have changed over time, so has the long gun to become what we now call the modern sporting rifle. Here’s a timeline of the MSR and how it has changed over the years.

MSR Timeline

The MSR gets a bad rap in many news outlets. Why? Because it looks a lot like the military-style rifles built on the AR-15 platform. (Trivia! Contrary to popular belief, AR does not stand for “assault rifle.” It stands for Armalite rifle; Armalite, upon hiring gun designer Eugene Stoner, developed the first rifles of this kind in the 1950s.) In reality, today’s modern sporting rifle shares a single important feature with your grandpa’s bolt-action rifle: they both fire just one round with each pull of the trigger. Sure, the features and accessories on a current-day MSR are a lot cooler than those on grandpa’s gun, but, in the end, it’s still just a rifle — no matter how modern.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® asks you to be an informed gun owner and to use the following facts to correct misconceptions about these rifles. Remember, that if AR-15-style modern sporting rifles are banned, your favorite traditional-looking hunting or target shooting semi-automatic firearm could be banned, too.

Download a Pocket Fact Card

Learn More about the Modern Sporting Rifle here


More articles highlighting the MSR you may be interested in:

The Marvelous MSR: They’re Functional and Customizable

The Marvelous Modern Sporting Rifle: Are You in for a 10 or a 15?

A Viable Choice for Home Defense: The Marvelous MSR

What to Consider When Mounting Lights to an MSR