For several years now, Stag Arms has been
producing some of the best AR-15 style rifles on the market,
known as the Stag-15. Stag makes both normal right-handed
rifles, and also has a full line of true left-handed ARs as
well., with reversed ejection and controls. Stag builds their
rifles upon forged receivers, using high quality parts assembled
by craftsmen to high standards. Stag Arms rifles are all built
in New Britain, Connecticut.
The AR-15 style carbine is the
hottest-selling rifle in the U.S. right now, and it has been
ever since our Presidential election about thirteen months ago.
Since that time, every maker of AR rifles has been working at
full capacity trying to produce enough weapons to meet the
demand of buyers who were paying whatever amount it took to buy
an AR, believing that Obama would keep his word in trying to ban
the sale of semi-automatic firearms. Manufacturers are now
slowly catching up with orders, and the buying frenzy has
subsided somewhat. Still, there is a hungry market for good
quality AR style rifles, and Stag Arms is one of the better
makers of such weapons.
While the direct gas impingement system has
worked well for several decades in the AR, a lot of shooters
prefer a gas piston system, and manufacturers are filling that
need as well. There are a few good ones on the market now, with
some fetching prices around the two-thousand dollar mark, and
higher. Stag Arms has just hit the market with their gas piston
carbine, the Model 8, and it is the subject of this piece. The
Model 8, and its left-handed counterpart, the Model 8L, are
built around a very simple and reliable gas piston system. Gas
is bled off from a hole in the barrel, flows through the
regulator, and it actuates a one-piece piston and rod system
that taps the bolt carrier, moving it rearward, ejecting the
spent cartridge case. The spring in the buttstock returns the
bolt carrier to its forward position, stripping a fresh
cartridge from the magazine and guiding the rotating bolt into
its locked position. A spring around the operating rod of the
gas system keeps the rod in its forward position until the
weapon is fired. The Stag gas regulator has two positions; on
and off. The regulator is left in the “on” position for
normal operation, and can be quickly switched to “off” if
desired. In the “off’ position, the cartridge will fire, but
the case will not be ejected. Removing the gas piston rod for
cleaning is very simple, and requires nothing more than a
pointed object, such as a bullet nose or even a toothpick to
depress the button to allow the regulator to be unscrewed from
the gas block. Other than the operating system, the Model
8 is a standard modern AR. It has a forward assist knob, case
deflector, and a flattop upper receiver. A Picatinny rail runs
the full length of the upper receiver, making easy the
attachment of mechanical or optical sights. The Model 8 comes
with a very effective and useful set of Midwest Industries
folding sights. The front is adjustable for elevation, and the
dual-aperture rear is adjustable for windage correction.
Both fold down with the push of a button, and quickly flip up if
needed. Both are removable as well, with the front being
attached to the Picatinny rail that is integral with the gas
block. There is another section of rail at the bottom of the gas
block, for the easy attachment of a bipod, laser, or flashlight.
The two-piece hand guard is of the oval carbine style, and the
buttstock is a six-position telescopic unit. Overall length
adjusts from thirty-two and one-half to thirty-five and one-half
inches. The sixteen inch barrel is chrome-lined, contoured in
the M-4 configuration, has a one-in-nine-inch rifling twist, and
has a closed-bottom birdcage flash suppressor attached. The Stag
Model 8 weighed in at exactly seven pounds on my scale. The
trigger pull is standard AR, releasing with four and
three-quarters pounds pressure.
The Model 8 was fired with several different
brands and types of ammunition for function, and with four types
for accuracy testing. Functioning of the Model 8 was flawless.
Every round fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The ejection
pattern was very consistent, and the brass cases showed no signs
of damage. Accuracy varied from average to excellent, depending
upon the quality of the ammunition fed into the weapon. While on
this subject, I often get emails from readers who are
disappointed in the accuracy of their rifles. Accuracy depends
upon the whole system. The rifle is just one component. The
weapon will only shoot as well as its weakest component. It does
no good to buy a quality rifle, and then mount a cheap scope. It
does no good to buy a quality rifle, mount a good scope, and
then to feed it inferior Eastern European military reject ammo.
It is a system. The quality of every component shows up on the
target range. This Stag is no different. It is a high
quality rifle, and when fed high quality ammunition, the
accuracy is match-grade.
For accuracy testing, I mounted my "mule",
the Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power target scope using an
ArmaLite one-piece mount. Accuracy testing was done at 100
yards, with the results shown in the chart below. Group sizes
are the average of three-shot groups at that distance, with the
exception of the TSX handload, which is the average of five-shot
groups. Group sizes are listed in inches. Velocity testing was
done with the chronograph twelve feet from the muzzle at an
elevation of 541 feet above sea level, approximately.
Temperatures hovered around the thirty-five degree Fahrenheit
mark during all testing. Velocity readings are the average of
several shots fired, and the results are listed in the chart
below. Velocity readings are listed in feet-per-second (fps).
Bullet weights are listed in grains. FMJ is a full metal jacket
bullet. HP is hollowpoint. ASP and FHVL are specialized bullets
as loaded into ammo produced by Extreme Shock Ammunition. TSX is
a Barnes Triple Shock homogenous copper hollowpoint bullet. AP
is a full metal jacket bullet with a steel-tipped lead core. The
handload listed uses the TSX bullet with 24.5 grains of Ramshot
TAC powder, a Remington small rifle primer, and Winchester
commercial .223 Remington cases.
|American Tactical FMJ
|Hand Load TSX
|Winchester USA FMJ
|Winchester USA FMJ
|Buffalo Bore HP
|Extreme Shock ASP
|Extreme Shock FHVL
|Black Hills HP
|Wolf Gold HP
|Lake City SS109 AP
As noted above, all ammunition functioned
flawlessly, even the low-velocity heavy bullet Extreme
Shock ASP. The accuracy of my TSX hand load was superb, as
was the accuracy of the Buffalo Bore Sniper ammunition. Even the
American Tactical ball ammo turned in a very good performance,
and is a good, low-cost choice. That TSX load is my whitetail
deer load. The TSX holds together very well, and retains almost
one-hundred percent bullet weight, yet expands upon contact. It
is a new load for me, but so far, I really like it.
The Stag Model 8 performed very well, as
expected. It is a quality rifle that shoots accurately. For
those wanting a piston-driven carbine, the Model 8 is a top
choice. Built in the USA, and built right, the Model 8 is priced
well below its competition. As of this writing, the Model 8
lists for $1145 US, which is several hundred dollars below some
other gas piston AR carbines. It comes in a hard plastic case
with one thirty-round magazine.
Check out the Stag line of rifles online at www.stagarms.com.
All accuracy testing was done using a Target
Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest.
As these 100-yard groups show, the Stag-15
Model 8 is capable of match-grade accuracy.
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