The term “budget AR” is one that can make a person cringe (or worse, depending on their level of drama and snobbery). It’s not always a bad term, however, and in some cases, it’s a very good one. Case in point: the Stag Arms Stag 15.
Since its founding in 2003, Stag Arms has been producing quality AR-15 rifles for eager consumers at prices that won’t break the bank. Today we’ll check out the Stag 15, which is Stag Arms’ version of the M-4gery, a copy of the military’s M-4. Naturally, this one is semi-automatic. It comes with a flat top receiver complete with Picatinny rail, which makes mounting a scope very easy. In fact, I did go ahead and mount a scope, which I’ll get into later on.
My carbine has a standard, fixed front sight base. Contrary to what some might think, the front sight base sticking up really doesn’t interfere with the view through a scope. At low power, the sight base can be somewhat seen, albeit blurrily, but it doesn’t impede the use of scope at all, so it’s a non-issue.
The carbine’s action is standard, direct impingement, so there are no surprises there. The barrel is 16 inches long with a standard A2 bird cage flash suppressor with a 1/9 twist rate, which stabilizes a wide range of bullet weights. I’d prefer a 1/7 twist rate, but the 1/9 works well enough, although I have not tried the heaviest bullet weights in my rifle. So far, though, everything up to and including 62 grain M855 works great.
The handguard is standard carbine type and the pistol grip is of the A2 variety. In fact, the entire carbine is pretty much “plain vanilla”, no big surprises. One nice aspect is that there is a forward sling swivel at the base of the front sight on the left side of the carbine so that the sling can be mounted on the side, which helps when slinging the carbine over the shoulder when carrying in the ready position. That way, it can be brought to bear on target very quickly, and yet hang in front of the shooter when he is not engaging targets. There is a second sling swivel under the front ahead of the handguard, just like a standard AR-15 has. So there are two sling mounting options up front, which is a nice touch.
On the right side of the receiver, there is a forward assist, which rarely needs to be used, but it’s nice to have it there. In fact, I cannot recall an instance with this carbine where I ever needed to use that forward assist. That said, I’d rather still have it there, just in case a round does not fully chamber. There is also a dust cover over the ejection port to keep out debris.
The stock is the standard 6-position variety that most carbines wear these days, and it is sturdy enough for the given task. Being so adjustable is a real advantage because the length of pull can easily be changed if the user is wearing heavy clothing, body armor, or other gear.
All in all, the little carbine offers no surprises and is not as trendy as many “Tacti-Cool”, fashion-oriented ARs that are available nowadays. I’ve never mounted any rails or other gadgets on it, instead opting for the barebones package. One accessory that I do plan to mount, at some point, is a light. Given that many conflicts occur past the Witching Hour, having a light is a prudent step to take for target identification. Aside from that, accessories are basically just something else that can go wrong, in my opinion.
Optics for the Stag 15
One day when I was perusing the shelves in my local gun shop (it seems many of my stories begin with these words, I’ve noticed), I spied a Leupold Mark AR rifle scope. Noticing that its magnification range is 1.5 – 4X, I figured it would be perfect to throw onto my AR carbine (at least until my Tango ASR makes it in).
One of the many magical aspects of growing older (aside from amassing boundless wisdom) is that many of us experience declining vision. I used to read about this in so many articles by other gun writers when I was…ahem…more youthful. Back then, I thought to myself, “That’s your problem, old people! I don’t have to worry about that right now!” Well, guess what happened – it’s no longer right now, and currently, it is my problem. For I am now one of those “old people” who write about guns. Not that it’s a bad thing, but squinting at sights like Mr. Magoo isn’t much fun.
The 1.5x aspect of the scope is nice because it allows fairly close target engagement quickly. I .can bring the rifle up with both eyes open and the crosshairs seem to appear on the target at anything past room distance, such as about 10 yards and beyond. For room distances, I just tilt the rifle at an angle and sight down the barrel. No, that’s not a very precise method of target engagement, but at room distances, I can keep hits on a bad guy’s torso easily.
For longer ranges, the 4x magnification really works nicely, even at a couple of hundred yards, and allows hits far more precisely than iron sights.
On this scope, the objective lens is only 20mm, but it seems to let in a surprising amount of light for such a small objective.
The Leupold scope has tactical target knobs for easy adjustments and is calibrated for bullets of 55 grains in weight. Although the adjustment knobs are exposed, their clicks are rigid enough that they really aren’t moved accidentally, and yet are easy enough to adjust if the shooter intentionally wishes to. For elevation, there are yardage markers out to 650 yards should you feel sporty enough to want to engage targets at that distance. Adjustments are very easy and positive.
As far as adjusting the power of the scope, there is a ring near the rear eyepiece that has a small nub on it, and adjustments could not be easier. Again, this ring offers enough tension where you’re not going to knock it out of a set power accidentally, but you can easily make adjustments at your leisure. Leupold definitely gave quite a bit of thought when deciding on the tension of impact and power settings. Kudos!
All in all, this scope is like the carbine it’s mounted on – it is simple, efficient, and it works!
One frustration that I did have was when I contacted Leupold to check into getting flip-up scope caps for both ends of the scope. They quoted a price of 99.99 plus tax for each lens cap. Not being made of money, there’s no way I can justify spending that much (more than $200) for scope caps because it’s slightly less than I paid for the entire scope!
The Mark AR’s reticle is simple and uncluttered, being of the standard Duplex variety. Again, I enjoy simplicity, and this scope and reticle embody that very principle. There is just enough to use and accomplish the job without it becoming confusing. This particular scope does not have an illuminated reticle, although other models do have that option (of course, at more cost). I believe I paid a shade over $200 for this scope. Given the great clarity of the optics, I considered it to be a steal at that price.
Stag 15 At The Range
I’ve owned this particular carbine for a number of years now, and I’m not sure of its date of manufacture. I actually bought it from a good friend, and he put some rounds through it before I bought it. I haven’t put a tremendous volume of rounds through it, but I do get it to the range a few times a year. I also have a couple of friends who have Stag AR-15s. All of us have found these carbines to be reliable and accurate, and I’m not aware of any of us experiencing a single stoppage with any of our carbines. So reliability has been 100%.
Accuracy is decent; I normally achieve groups of about two inches or so at 100 yards. While this isn’t surgical accuracy, it is certainly Minute-Of-Bad-Guy. Considering that this is with factory ball ammo, a low power scope, and outdated eyes, I consider it to be quite good.
At close ranges, the little carbine handles incredibly well, engaging multiple targets quickly. It swings from target to target easily, as would be expected. Over the years, I’ve run many drills engaging multiple targets, and this carbine fits the bill very well for this. As a sniper, we used Colt HBARs as the cover weapon for our teams, and we ran similar drills with their 20-inch barreled rifles. They worked well enough but were not optimal for very close range such as room clearing. The 16-inch barrel of the Stag 15 works much better.
Trigger pull is pleasantly crisp. While not light, the crispness contributes to accuracy, and I see no reason to mess with it as it is now.
Other Stag 15 Offerings
Stag has AR-15 (Stag 15) offerings in 5.56 NATO, .300 BLK, 6mm SPC II, and 6mm ARC. There are pistols, rifles, and carbines, many with varying furniture and color options. Wisely, they have produced left-handed versions of all of their firearms for those who are southpaws. They even offer a number of versions that are compliant with states with draconian gun laws, such as New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and California. It’s nice to see a company look out for those who are caught behind enemy lines.
Barrel lengths for the Stag 15 models run from 7.5 inches for their pistols, up to 20 inches for their rifles, and everything in between. I saw 7.5 inches, 8, 10.5, 16, 18, and 20-inch offerings. One thing that cannot be denied is that Stag offers a staggering variety for their models!
Aside from offering left-hand models, there are also a huge variety of handguards and flash hiders/muzzle brakes to choose from. If you visit their website, there are literally pages upon pages of their products displayed. Chances are if you want the configuration, they likely make it.
They also offer rifles in other calibers, namely the AR-10 (Stag 10) in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308. Barrel lengths range from 16 inches up to 24 inches. Both right and left-handed versions are available too. As with the Stag 15 models, these are also available for NJ, NY, MD, and CA, where politicians despise firearms. I think it’s not only a great marketing move on their part to cater to people who are oppressed, but it’s also the mark of a great American company to further the 2nd Amendment! This is a company that listens to its customers and then responds to what they want, which is to be commended these days.
Stag Arms offers a 100% transferrable lifetime warranty on their firearms. Even more amazing is their “Infinite Barrel Shot Guarantee”, which means that if you manage to shoot out the barrel of your rifle, they will replace it – for free.
Some people have asked why someone would need an AR-15 these days, and I find that assertion nearly comical. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen that even the police have had a difficult time defending themselves against angry mobs of bloodthirsty people. Images of burning police vehicles have been plastered across the news.
If the police are engaged in fighting for their lives, how can they be expected to come and save us during such civil unrest? Mobs of people have proven that they have no problem going after businesses and homes, burning them all to the ground. When people are attacking us with firebombs, that just might be a good time to have the right tool with which to defend ourselves and our family.
For me, the Stag 15 and Leupold scope combination checks off quite a few boxes. I can engage targets at extremely close distances, or reach out several hundred yards with ease should I need to.
And finally, beyond the defensive/utility factor that the Stag 15 offers, let’s not forget the first aspect that drew many of us into the gun game in the first place – it’s fun!
Check out Stag Arms and their wide array of firearms.