Stag Arms AR-15, Model 2L—Retrospective Look From a Southpaw Shooter

By CTD Blogger published on in Range Reports, Reviews

A guest post written by Eve Flanigan.

Stag Arms is one of the few manufacturers offering a left-hand oriented AR-15. This gun has been around for many years now, and this review is from the perspective of a southpaw shooter who’s used it for the past seven years. It’s been run in several marksmanship and defensive carbine classes, lugged around for miles in preparation for and execution of run-and-gun competitions, and general practice.

Features

Stag Arms Model 2L left-handed model AR-15

The author’s Stag Arms 2L with a custom rear sight and optic.

This model has a standard adjustable buttstock that extends the collapsed 32.5-inch length to 35.75 inches. It’s available, at this time and historically, in black only. It’s chambered for 5.56 so will also shoot .223. The 16-inch barrel has a 1:9 twist and sports a handsome flash hider. Sights include an adjustable Midwest Industries flip-up rear sight—which I replaced with a lower-profile one—and a fixed front post sight/bayonet lug. The front sight is quite prominent and necessitates an extra-high mount of most optics so as not to block the view.

The left-handed features on the 2L represent, in this writer’s opinion, a place where the booming industry still lags in satisfying customers….but kudos to Stag for trying. The most dreaded feature of right-hand bias rifles (for us lefties anyway), the case ejection port, has been placed on the left so hot brass flies safely away from the shooter’s face. In the process, Stag mounted the dust cover as a flip-up rather than the standard flip-down mechanism. The disadvantage here became obvious the first time a magnifying optic was mounted on the rifle. On the next practice session, failures to eject suddenly occurred with regularity on this once-dependable carbine. Upon inspection, we discovered that the bell-shaped scope end happened to be over the dust cover and was impeding its full opening to a degree that caused malfunctions in about one in five shots.

The other nod to southpaws on the 2L is a left-handed safety. It’s a great feature for both safety and smooth operation.

What’s lacking for left-handed shooters are two features that would seem to be common sense, but they’re not there. The most annoying is a standard right-hand bias charging handle. Over the years, I became accustomed to reaching over the top of the weapon with my right hand to reach the charging handle. Unwieldy, but with practice it worked. Now that I’ve changed it to an ambi charging handle, it’s still a challenge to overcome this unwieldy habit that practice instilled.

The other missing feature is a left-mounted magazine release. Right-handed shooters have the “luxury” of depressing the mag release with the trigger finger. Stag has done a disservice to the efficiency of left-handed shooting by keeping the mag release on the right, forcing the operator to let go with the support hand and use the right thumb to drop magazines. It’s an efficient motion when practiced consistently, but lacks speed when compared to typical right-hand operation.

Reliability

Reliability is the hallmark of this AR. It’s not elegant or even attractive by today’s standards, but its enduring value lies in reliability. In years of use and thousands of rounds, with the exception of the dust cover issue mentioned above which was promptly corrected, it has never malfunctioned. It’s cycled less expensive Russian ammunition (yes, some may consider that to be rifle abuse) and many kinds of match ammo, from 55- to 78-grain, without problems. The trigger is a battle-ready MIL-SPEC, somewhat grainy character with what Stag calls a 5- to 8-pound pull. Today’s average American rifleman, harboring affection for a light and smooth trigger pull, would likely pick the trigger as the first upgrade.

Accuracy

Shooting the Stag Arms 2L

Giving the 2L a workout on a blustery winter day.

Accuracy is what we can reasonably expect from a battle rifle. This writer has hit 18×24-inch targets with the 2L at 400 yards, only with complete attention to fundamentals. It consistently fires 4 MOA groups out to 100 yards. Ammunition and fundamentals here are at least as important as the gun. The Stag 2L demonstrates better accuracy with Silver Bear brand ammunition for practice, and Prvi Partizan match ammo. In attempts to make this 2L a better partner for the long-distance segment of some competitions, I’ve tested six common brands of match ammunition. Prvi Partizan 72-grain match performs better than others do.

Appearance

Appearance is in the eye of the beholder. Stag would do well to update the flared handguards, which aren’t conductive to mounting lights or other accessories. It does offer a nice length of Picatinny rail to give shooters choices on where to mount optics. The butt surface is rather austere; I’ve added a wrap-around shoulder pad to soften recoil and ease fatigue—incidentally, a shoulder pad is a suggested accessory for most rifles in the hands of a left-handed shooter, to diminish heartbeat interference.

Weight

Woman running with the lightweight Stag Arms 2L AR

The Model 2L is light enough to run with for miles.

Weight is on the light side, and ideal for the run-and-gun competitions in which this gun has logged mileage. At 6.5 pounds, it’s easy to carry on the run and not so easy to hold still in windy conditions. The fixed sling attachments are somewhat limiting, but this has been overcome by rigging a more flexible arrangement on the butt with paracord.

Would I buy it again?

In a word, yes. The Stag 2L AR-15 is an excellent choice for the novice left-handed shooter. Importantly, it eliminates the hot brass/facial interface possibility that’s present with standard AR-15s. This recommendation is given with cautionary advice: its handler is best served by making a commitment to this AR and none other. The habits formed by operating the half-left-handed set of features on this AR will interfere with operation on a “normal” AR-15, especially when rapid engagement is desired.

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Do you own a Stag Arms AR-15? What do you love about it? Or are you a southpaw shooter? What rifles have you found work best for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Eve Flanigan is a firearms instructor and writer residing in the American Southwest. Flanigan provides instruction in safety, basic and defensive pistol, defensive scenarios and basic rifle as well as concealed carry. Flanigan’s work in the non-profit sector has provided opportunities for participation in law enforcement firearms and use of force training. Her instruction, as well as her reviews of guns and gear, center around safety and practicality for self-defense. Her development as an armed citizen and instructor is aided by a variety of firearms and self-defense instruction plus competitive shooting. Persons wishing to contact Flanigan for instruction or to offer materials for review may do so through www.about.me/eve.flanigan

 

 

 

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Comments (18)

  • Brian

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    I own a Stag 2L and have shot right handed guns for as long as I can remember, so I was hesitant to buy a left handed AR but I did and I’m really glad I did, it took me quiet a few rounds of ammo to get the hang of it but now that I’m used to it I love it. I put a ambi charging handle on mine and a ambi safety selector. The magazine release on the right side to me isn’t that big of a deal… can’t wait to go eject some hot brass…

    Reply

  • Carla

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    I’m right-handed but blind in my left eye. I can shoot pistols with my right hand but not rifles. Not much fun take’n 223 brass head-shots. Also difficult run’n quick rounds with bolts. Best luck so far with my lever 30-30.

    Reply

  • Scott

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    I have a standard right-handed Stag Model 3 that I shoot left-handed and have never had a problem with the brass. I figured if i ever wanted to sell it it would be easier to sell being right-handed. My problem with this rifle is not being able to sight my target and shoot without pushing my hearing protection up and getting a blast in my left ear. This would be a problem with any AR because of the inline stock design. I have more trouble with semi auto pistols racking the slides and dealing with left only safeties.

    Reply

    • Eve Flanigan

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      check out the HK VP9 for a left-hand friendly gun, out of the box.

      Reply

    • Scott Voth

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      My current favorite is the ambi safety equipped S&W MP-9 with a Crimson Trace green Rail Master laser. It is very well balanced and just feels good in the hand. The only thing I don’t like is the need for a tool to break it down – Springfield XPMs are great for that.

      Reply

  • David

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    Actually I have a regular AR, and have practiced shooting both left and right with a red-dot optic. The ejected brass is not a problem shooting left-handed (Windham Weaponry Carbon Fiber). I did add an ambidextrous safety.

    Reply

  • Rick Rosado

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    I own the model 3 LH . best gun I ever owned

    Reply

  • Daniel

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    Left-handed firearms are an extremely stupid idea and there’s no need for it.

    There are no left-handed cars and people of both handedness drive them just fine. You learn to drive regardless of which hand you use TO WRITE with.

    If you constantly feel you have to favor one hand over the other it’s a weakness everyone should be seeking to overcome.

    People type with two hands. They play guitar “right handed” but all the complex activity is going on in the left hand.

    It absolutely astounds me that people think they need to shoot left-handed rifles when both hands are being used and both hands are equally important. Just learn. And if you think you can’t learn, don’t use a gun!!

    Reply

    • Mark Wilkinson

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      Respectfully, Daniel, I disagree with you. Yes, lefties like myself have learned to adapt to a right-handed world (we’re only 10% of the population). Your guitar example is not a good one; look at a picture of Jimmi Hendrix. How about baseball? I was terrible at baseball until I got a mitt that I could wear on my right hand.

      Are you familiar with firearms that have the safety selector on the front right side of the trigger guard? Not a ‘safe’ location if you’re a lefty.

      When you’re a left-handed shooter, you need additional skills to master a right-handed firearm. With bolt-action rifles, for example, you either need to support the weight of the rifle with your trigger hand (left) while you work the action with your fore-stock (right) hand, or you have to reach over the barrel with your trigger hand (left) to cycle the action. Both methods are more complex than working the action as a right-handed shooter.

      If you’re a left-handed shooter and have fully adapted, I applaud your skill. You are the exception. As a firearms instructor, I can say that myself and all of my students have had difficulties adjusting to right-handed firearms, particularly Boy Scouts who are only allowed to shoot bolt-action .22 LR rifles.

      While I can and have learned the skills necessary to quickly and safely operate a right-handed firearm from my left hand, I’d much prefer to use a left-handed firearm from my left hand. I’m not lazy or unskilled; I find left-handed firearms easier to use than right handed ones.

      I hope you don’t take offense at my reply — none is intended. It is my intent to share my differing viewpoint and experiences with other left-handed shooters who may also have struggled with right-handed firearms as I did.

      Sincerely,
      Mark

      Reply

    • Max

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      I’m with Mark on this as well, Daniel. In actually right handed but shoot both a rifle and a bow & arrow left handed…always have. I know that it’s good practice to be trained in both positions in case of injury during a fight, but that’s gong to be rare and I’d rather have 99% comfort and 1% discomfort when using my rifle.

      Reply

    • Daily Llama

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      I’m curious why you care what sort of sporting arms other people spend THEIR money on …. Do we all have to conform to your preferences and demands, Barack?

      And why can’t left-handed or left-eye dominant (or those blind in their right eye) shooters be able to enjoy modern sporting arms with the same degree of comfort and safety as right-handed shooters?

      And by the way, there ARE left-handed steering wheel cars, you narrow-minded imbecile! I learned to drive on one in my country of birth.

      Hope I never cross paths with you … You’re scary-stupid.

      Reply

  • Anon E Mous

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    I shot my M-16 in the Army left handed, with a brass defector. The one time during Basic Training that some hot brass got in my fatigue shirt, I untucked the shirt sooo fast!

    I wonder, does anyone make a kit to convert a standard AR-15 into a lefty model. I bet that would sell a lot, since the Stag Arms 2L is above average in price.

    Reply

    • Mark Wilkinson

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      Thanks for serving in the Army! I helped build a sniper system for an unmanned Army helicopter. We mounted an RND 2000 rifle (.338 Lapua) in a gimbal that we then mounted to a helo.

      It was an impressive rifle. While breaking in the barrel shooting from the bench, I too caught brass in my collar. The burn took a couple of months to heal.

      Sorry, I don’t know about any conversion kits. There are miscellaneous parts for ambidextrous conversions. Several manufacturers make ambi selector switches. IMHO Norgon makes the best ambi magazine release (Ambi-catch); the USMC now uses it. Magpul, Troy, and Tactical Link all make ambi bolt releases; I don’t have experience with them.

      Good luck.

      Reply

  • Kyle

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    Great article! I feel your pain as far as lefty support in the AR world. Although I admit, I have gotten used to manipulating the rifle, albeit with an aftermarket left handed mag release (NorGon Ambi-Catch, it’s awesome) and ambidextrous charging handle and selector lever.

    If you want a complete, out-of-the-box southpaw-ready AR-15, look no further than the Rock River Arms LAR-15LH “LEF-T” line of rifles. They have a lot of trim levels to choose from, like Stag, and are priced accordingly and are a bit more expensive than Stag Arms.

    Where they excel at compared to Stag, though, is the rifles are COMPLETELY 100% left hand ready out of the box. They come with a left handed charging handle, left handed mag release (similar to the Nor-Gon unit I mentioned above), left handed selector lever, bolt catch/release located on the right side of the gun directly above the “standard” mag release button, and last but not least, a right-side-up ejection port cover on the left side! I believe I saw where a representative from RRA even said the barrels have a left-hand twist instead of right-hand. What difference that makes, I don’t know.

    I don’t have one (yet!), but I’m strongly considering going for it. The only minor catch is that you have to use only their receivers, BCG, barrel, etc. I think you can install aftermarket triggers in the rifles, but I’m not completely sure.

    Reply

    • Eve Flanigan

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      Kyle, thanks for the info on the Rock River AR, that’s news to me.

      Reply

  • Mark

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    I’ve owned a left handed Stag for years. I’d never planned to buy an AR-15, but when I saw that someone had made one specifically for leftys, I had to have one. My father, who has always been staunchly a proponent of wood furniture and disliked plastic guns, was impressed with my Stag and bought an AR-15 of his own.

    While I’ve not had the opportunity to shoot competitively, I’ve enjoyed the Stag immensely. I find, in comparison to other AR-15 rifles/carbines, that the tolerances on the Stag are very tight. On a bench rest at 100 yards, I can get 1 MOA on a good day (American Eagle, 5.56×45 NATO, 55 gr.). It speaks to good workmanship. My biggest irritation with the lefty Stag is the magazine release. I wish they’d included the Norgon Ambi-Catch standard on this rifle. In actuality, only the upper is left-handed. The lower is right-handed with an ambidexterous selector (safety). This is understandable, because Stag kept with normal AR-15 magazines rather than developing ones that would work with a true mirror-image lefty rifle (the magazines would also need to be mirror image). I’m pleased with this decision. It would be immensely irritating to need left-handed magazines.

    I’m still looking to Stag to make a lefty M1911!

    Reply

  • Mikial

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    This is an excellent article and well written. You objectively catalog both the pros and the cons, which is the beauty of blogs like this . . . no manufacturers advertising dollars to bias opinions. I’m not a leftie, although my son is, but I appreciate your candid approach to the issues lefties have to face.

    Although I have done USPSA pistol competition shooting, I always shoot in the Limited division because i like to shoot with what l carry because praticallity is the hallmark of any gun. Left handed shooters need a gun they can use in a life-or-death home defense situation.

    Reply

    • Eve Flanigan

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      Mikial, thanks for the kind remarks. Totally agree re: USPSA, I also compete with a stock handgun because it just makes sense for being prepared for real life!

      Reply

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