Stag Arms Review
This is an update to an original article published in March, 2019.
I have owned and still own several different makes and models of AR rifles and pistols, from 9mm to 7.62 NATO, direct impingement and gas piston guns from the likes of Adams Arms, Anderson Manufacturing, Bushmaster, Colt, CMMG, New Frontier, and LMT.
I love the AR platform, but at this point I find it hard to get excited by another AR-15.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of companies are putting out some really nice rifles with outstanding features and price points. But there is nothing really earth-shattering going on in the world of Eugene Stoner’s baby.
At SHOT 2018 I got the opportunity to attend Media Day at the Range and was given the chance to take a Stag Arms, Stag 15L for a short test drive.
Stag Arms was founded in 2003 and until I got to meet them and check out their rifles, I always thought of Stag Arms as a pretty standard manufacturer of entry-level to mid-range carbines and rifles.
Several years ago, I picked up a Stag 15 complete lower for $115.00 and mated it to a Del-Ton complete upper that I purchased online for $249.00.
The idea being to put together a budget rifle for those without the mechanical know how to assemble one from parts, just find the cheapest upper available and mate it with the cheapest lower and see what she will do.
So, for around $365 before tax and shipping I had a flat-top carbine with an M4 profile barrel. 7 years and 2,000 rounds later I still have that rifle, so I am aware that Stag Arms makes a quality product.
Left Handed AR-15
One thing that makes Stag Arms stand out is that they are known for being the first company to manufacture a left-handed AR. Yes, you read that right and they don’t just attach an ambi-safety or southpaw friendly controls and call it a lefty.
They build AR-15s that are truly left-handed, with a mirror image Bolt Carrier Group, left side ejection port, and a selector switch on the right side.
The first thing that went through my brain after firing the Stag 15L at SHOT was “So cool, is this what it feels like to be right-handed?”
So, when the boss reached out to me several months later to ask if I would like to do a Stag Arms Review on the 15L Tactical, my answer went something like, “Does a bear defecate in the woods?”
Picking The Stag Up At The Gun Shop
The manager at my local gun shop was grinning almost as big as me when we unboxed this beauty for an inspection before I took possession of the rifle.
Left-handed rifles are somewhat scarce in the part of North Carolina that I live, every one that I own had to be special ordered.
They just aren’t something you see in most dealer’s stock, because let’s face it, south-paws make up a very small portion of the customer base. A left-handed AR-15 is even more of a rarity, right up there with hens’ teeth and four-leaf clovers.
The Stag 15L Tactical uses a standard lower receiver that is nearly indistinguishable from the Stag Arms lower that I purchased back in 2012, but that is where any similarities to a standard AR-15 end.
The Stag 15L comes equipped with a Magpul MOE pistol grip, Magpul CTR buttstock, and the Stag 15 M-LOK 13.5-inch free-floating handguard with a QD point at each end to allow for use of a 2-point sling.
It also has a single point sling attachment, an enhanced trigger guard for use with gloved fingers, and comes equipped with a 16-inch chrome lined, government profile barrel with a 1/7 twist rate and a mil-spec single stage AR-15 trigger.
The first thing I did after an initial cleaning was to mount a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6 x 24 BDC scope with a Vortex cantilever mount, which while not what I would consider a “precision shooting” scope due to the AR – BDC reticle, is definitely one of my favorite all around scopes.
Stag AR-15 At The Range
I loaded up six magazines full of surplus Lake City 55gr M193 ball ammo that I purchased several years ago to get it dialed in.
It took about 15 rounds at 25yds to BZO the rifle, mainly because I suck at math, which is why I was a diesel mechanic in the Marine Corps and not a sniper. However, once I got it zeroed in it was easy to shoot the center out of the target.
Of course, with a scoped rifle, everyone is a rock-star at 25 yards so I took it down to the 100 yd line to see what I could do. The math at 100yds was a lot easier with ½ MOA clicks and it only took a couple of adjustments for me to find the center of the target and once it was there it stayed there as long as I did my part.
Now everything I have read about 1/7 twist is that it tends to work better with heavier bullets, and since I was shooting some old 55gr surplus ammo I didn’t really have any expectations of pin-point accuracy.
That said my best group of the day was a 3 shot group at 100 yards that I could cover with a quarter and I still have no idea how I managed to do it other than to say the rifle shoots better than I do.
It should go without saying that those groups were shot from a sandbag rest.
I finished the day shooting from the offhand at 25, 50, and 100 yards. I fired long strings of controlled pairs at all ranges and had no problems keeping my shots inside the lines of my 12-inch Birchwood Casey targets.
I really can’t overstate how well this rifle can shoot, especially when you consider the fact that it comes from the factory with a mil-spec trigger which is a little heavy for precision shooting but has a very crisp break that is also very consistent.
The M16A2 that I qualified with years ago had a very inconsistent trigger, I was told that was due to the 3 round burst feature. There are no such issues with the trigger on the Stag 15, 10 pulls with my old Wheeler trigger measure averaged out at 7.5 lbs., which seemed a lot heavier than it actually feels on the finger.
Due to how well it shot, I figured I’d take it out on a deer hunt. Sadly, I didn’t get any good shots, but I did notice something about the rifle that’s important to note.
The rifle is light enough that it was not at all fatiguing while slung with a single point sling as I stalked. It was easy to navigate through some of the swampy areas that are found in this part of the country.
Stag AR-15 Reliability
As far as reliability goes, I currently have over 400 rounds through the rifle at this point and the only issues I have had were due to my own laziness.
As of this writing, I have shot 77gr Federal Gold Medal Match, 62gr Lake City green tip, 55gr Lake City, and even some 55gr Wolf, all without a cleaning.
At this point all I have done is apply a little lube at the beginning of my range day as I am trying to push the Stag 15 as far as I can to see what it will do.
This rifle keeps eating everything I feed it like Rosie O’Donnell at a free all-you-can-eat buffet, and I couldn’t be happier.
For this Stag Arms Review, I have shot this rifle from the sandbag and from the offhand, I have fired long sustained strings of fire, fired controlled pairs, engaged double targets, and performed magazine change drills and I can honestly say that it is far nicer to shoot than any rifle I fired while on active duty.
Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that I am no longer getting a face full of gas and lubricant in my face and I no longer have to worry about errant brass occasionally finding its way down my collar. For us left-handed AR shooters the struggle is real.
Stag Arms definitely has a hit on their hands with the Stag 15 Tactical, a rifle that would be equally suited to daily duty in a patrol car, as a hunting rifle, in a 3-Gun match, or on patrol in Afghanistan.
The Stag 15 Tactical is a well-balanced, accurate, and reliable rifle available in right-hand and left-hand models.
It’s well-equipped from the factory, minus the birdcage flashhider, and ready to run out of the box–just add the optic or back-up irons of your choice.