Review: Stag Arms Model 3 AR15


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 …

10 thoughts on “Review: Stag Arms Model 3 AR15

  1. RB

    Hey, I just got model 3 and it has a forged lower, not polymer. I haven’t shot it yet, but the fit is great. Finish, not bad, a few scratches on the barrel.

    I put Mag-Pul MBUS and a cheapo $30 red dot on it. If I like the red dot, ill buy a better one of the same type.

    1. Uncle Dave Post author

      You’ll be happy when you get around to shooting it. MBUS sights, despite their low price compared to, say, Troy Battle Sights or some other high-end system, are actually pretty solid.

  2. RB

    I ordered it, then to make sure I wasn’t getting ready to screw the pooch, I read a few more reviews. I almost canceled when I read your review and you said that your friends was polymer. Was his all stock? As far as I can tell, Stag never made a model 3 with a poly lower.

    Oh well, mine seems to be well made, but compared to my old Colt HBAR, it feels like a toy. The quality is great, but it feels like half the weight. The length is what really impresses me. With the stock fully retracted, it feels more like a big handgun.

    Oh well, ammo prices are coming down. When I can get 5.56 or .223 for less than 30 cents a round, I’ll take my new toy out.

    1. JOE

      I purchased a model 3 in 2011, and I couldn’t be happier. Well I could, but that’s not the point. For what I paid its a great rifle intended to be upgraded towards individual preference. I’ve never had any jams, malfunctions, stovepipes, failure to fire, every time I’ve pulled the trigger it went bang and I’ve got mine down to a. 3 inch group of 10 rounds at 100 yards with the AIMPOINT PRO ( 2 MOA ) RED DOT. And I admit I’m not the best shot. Love the rifle, and I would recommend to most. Also IMHO , great home defence firearm. Most likely will never have to use it to hurt another human, at least I pray not. But I also take great comfort in knowing I can protect my family and would essentially in most cases out gun any would be robber or robbers. Also good lick with ammo prices going down I hope, but I live in NEW YORK and I’m almost paying 70cents a round when they can be found. Well good luck with your firearms hope my info helps if not I’m always open to questions lol ALSO I’M TOTALLY 100% AGAINST GUN CONTROL, POINT IN FACT WITH MORE LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS THAT ARE ARMED, LESS CRIMES COMMITTED, ALSO LESS MURDERS.

      1. Uncle Dave Post author

        You are correct in the 5.56/.223 cartridge being a good, safe home defense round. 5.56/.223 is much less likely to penetrate interior walls, and endanger other family members, than pistol ammo.

        70 cents a round isn’t too bad. Here in Dixie, the price is down to about 60 cents a round, and fairly plentiful. A dime a round would suit me just fine. But wish in one hand, shit in the other …

  3. RB

    I finally got around to shooting my new toy. It had a few problems, but nothing I couldn’t explain.

    Problem 1..the bolt would not lock back after the last round. It did it with 3 different 20 round magazines. The problem eventually went away.

    Problem 2..a failure to extract ended our day. It was Tulammo with that coating on it. They say it builds up after a while. I never had a problem shooting it in my Colt. Maybe the Stag has a tighter chamber? Anyway, a few light taps down the barrel with a cleaning rod and the case came out.

    As for accuracy, with that crappy sight on it, I wasn’t expecting much. At 50 yrds, with no magnification, I was getting 3 inch groups. If I put a scope on it (which is my next move) I’m sure the rifle would do better. I wanted to set it up for short range, less than fifty, and it seems fine for that purpose. I might switch to a 2 or 3x scope though. I want to be able to shoot at 100 yards and to be honest, I cant see that far without a scope.

    The gf already thinks I’m crazy for the amount of money I spend. I always remind her of her Marcos like obsession with shoes, and she backs off. She is way more expensive than my hobbies.

    Oh, I found some cheap ammo at for .35 a round, including shipping. Its Silver Bear hp, 62 gr. It shot almost as well as Federal brass case.

    1. Uncle Dave Post author

      The manuals for the carbines owned by my wife, son and I are all unanimous on one point: Use only domestically-produced, brass-cased ammo. Using steel-cased, lacquered ammo like Silver Bear voids the warranty. The lacquer melts and vaporizes during firing, and is blown down the barrel – and back into the gas tube, where it plays bloody hell with the gun. Russian-made 7.62 x 39 is fine in an AK, with its robust gas system, rugged design and loose tolerances. I myself wouldn’t fire steel-cased Russian ammo through an AR.

  4. RB

    I will have to look again at my manual, but I dont remember seeing that in the Stag manual. It makes sense though.

    The Silver bear is steel case, but with what I think is a nickel finish. The stuff that caused me problems was Herters, which is actually Tulammo in a pretty yellow box. I wont be using that anymore. It is steel case with that lacquer stuff all over it. They also make a round with some type of polymer coating. That is sold under the Wolf brand, but also made by Tula.

    Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for. I am waiting for the federal 5.56 to back down. Its still over 50 cents a round.

    1. Uncle Dave Post author

      Stag is really not a bad rifle. And their quality seems to be improving dramatically of late. I’ve been hearing good things about their 6.8 spc guns in particular, although I haven’t had a chance to fire one yet.


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