Recently, a friend purchased a Stag Arms Model 3 AR15 carbine in 5.56/.223. He’d purchased it new for about $750 (MSRP is $895), and had equipped the flat-top rifle with flip-up MagPul MBUS sights. I had reservations as we headed out to the range to shoot the bejeebers out of this “cheap” AR15.
My skepticism arose mainly from the low cost of the gun as much as anything. $750 for a new-in-the-box AR15? Daylight was visible between the milled alloy upper and synthetic lower recievers, although the two halves seemed to fit tight enough. There was no sloppy milwork or tool marks on the internals. The roughly 6-lb trigger seemed a trifle heavy for my finger, which has been spoiled by the two-stage triggers my wife, son and I have on our ARs. However, the trigger on the Stag Arms is well within industry standards. The matte finish was acceptable and defect-free. And the six-position collapsing stock was as prone to rattling as one would expect on any no-frills AR. In particular, I found the propritary handguard was sturdy, useful and aesthetically pleasing.
Stag Arms markets these as entry-level rifles for those buying their first AR platform. These utilize, of course, “direct impingement” gas systems – there is no piston, just a gas tube (although, Stag Arms offers a piston-driven system, the Model 8).
Two things I found aesthetically distressing were a sticker on the collapsing stock with the words STAG ARMS, in huge white letters on a black background; and the company logo, a deer’s antlered head, molded into the port side of the magazine well. The sticker is removable; the stamped logo is not – unless you buy a new lower. Neither of these screams “tactical” – especially the sticker. The “deer head” logo immediately called to mind fine hunting shotguns and rifles, with complicated hunting scenes engraved into the receiver. Obviously, an AR15 is not a fine deer rifle. However, company literature indicates the Model 3 (and other variants) are aimed at persons – probably hunters who own hunting arms – who are buying their first AR15. I suppose a fellow used to blasting bunnies and ducks would find the “deer head” logo less jarring than, say, a “Skull & Crossbones” emblem or something.
But these are very minor issues. The big question was: How did my pal’s new Model 3 shoot?
We put a half-case of factory 5.56/.223 ammunition through it. Various reputable brands were represented, and we experienced not one single hangup, stovepipe, jam, misfeed or malfunction. Firing at maximum ranges of 100 yards, the Stag Model 3 shot about as tight as the more highly-regarded (and more expensive) Bushmasters I’ve fired – though not as tight as high end rifles with two-stage triggers and all that. Then again, the Model 3 is not intended as a high-end, match-grade rifle.
After blowing half-a-case of ammo through the Model 3, we disassembled it and checked for … anything weird. The guts of the gun were in order - dirty as hell, yes; but nothing worn, loose or broken.
If a Stag Arms Model 3 suddenly fell from the heavens and into my lap, I’d have to replace the factory stock with something a bit more solid. The standard A2 grip and trigger assembly would go to the Big Box Of Unwanted Gun Parts, in favor of an Ergo grip and a nice two-stage trigger system. And, probably, I’d keep the existing bolt and bolt carrier for a spare, in favor of a chromed carrier group for easier cleaning.
Like I say, I’ve grown spoiled. And also lazy.
The forend seems perfectly acceptable just the way it is.
The Model 3 is not a superb rifle. It’s not intended to be, right out of the box. Stag representatives, appearing in videos on their website, admit as much. Their goal here was to produce a basic, reliable rifle – at an affordable cost – that the user could customize to his or her liking. I’d say they have succeeded in spades.
Now if only I could get them to change the “deer head” on the mag well to a skull & crossbones, or something …