Stag Arms Model 1: A Basic AR-15 Equipped for Reliability

By Robert Sadowski published on in Range Reports

Do not equate simple and basic with cheap and low quality. The Stag Arms Model 1 is simple in that it nearly mimics the U.S. Mil-Spec M4 carbine, which is a proven weapon design, and because its stock, pistol grip, handguard design, and sights are all basic. It’s nothing fancy, but it nonetheless can be a serious combat rifle if needed.

As I got to know the Model 1 during an initial inspection and range time, I realized it is a basic rifle that performs exceedingly well, and it can also be viewed as a platform to be customized by each individual shooter with optics, a lighter trigger, and a different stock, and handguard, if that is what the owner chooses to do.

Breaking down the Stag AR for lubrication, I saw the bolt carrier was well finished, and the mechanism was clean and machined well. Like other Stag Arms carbines and rifles, the Model 1 uses the traditional direct-gas-impingement system. The upper is forged 7075 T6 aluminum mated to a chrome-lined, 16-inch barrel chambered in 5.56×45 NATO/.223 Remington with a twist rate ratio of 1:9. A birdcage-style flash suppressor is attached to the muzzle. The Model 1 also comes in a left-handed version called the Model 1L, but this test rifle was a right-handed Model 1.

Stag Arms Model 1 and Model 1L AR-15 Rifles

This test rifle was a right-handed Model 1 (shown above left), but a left-handed version is called the Model 1L.

Front and rear sights are simple. The front is a standard GI-issue with the sight and gas block combined. The post, protected by two wings, adjusts for elevation. Markings on the sight indicate which way to turn the post to raise it or lower it. Use a tool or needlenose pliers to adjust the sight.

The rear aperture sight is built into the carry handle. Two apertures are available, one small and the other large. Flip the peep sight to selected the desired aperture diameter. The larger aperture is for close range, and the smaller-diameter aperture is for long-range work. Windage is adjustable via a knurled knob located on the right protective wing of the rear aperture. It is clearly marked for left/right rotation. Under the aperture is a larger knob that elevates the rear aperture out to 600 meters.

If you prefer optics, the carry handle can be removed by loosening two knurled knobs on the left side using your fingers, a flat-blade screwdriver, or a coin. Under the carry handle is about 5 inches of Picatinny rail for mounting a scope or red-dot optic.

Stag Arms Model 1 and Range Gear

With open sights, Hornady Steel Match 55-grain hollowpoints shot 5.13-inch groups at 100 yards.

The handguard is also Mil-Spec with a round, grooved surface that is easy to grasp and hold and hang on to, even with sweaty hands. Vent holes are along the top and bottom of the handguard. Because the handguard is round, it naturally fits the shape of your hand. Sling swivels are mounted under the barrel and on the left side of the barrel.

The aluminum lower comes with a standard GI pistol grip—simple, effective, and easy to hang onto even in high humidity and with sweaty palms. The six-position collapsible stock is practical for shooters of varying sizes.

The trigger was heavy and broke at 7.5 pounds on average, heavy for target work but fine for a high-stress situation. The safety lever rotated with confidence, and the magazine release allowed an empty to fall at my feet. The bolt release allowed the bolt to pop back into battery with authority. A matte-black finish was well executed on the lower and upper receivers. They also mated together tightly, yet field-stripped easily. The barrel exterior was Parkerized.

A 30-round polymer MagPul magazine ships with the Model 1. The magazine is a simple design that works well and is easy to load and disassemble. To check for function, I also used an assortment of magazine brands and capacities in the Model 1 and found the carbine had no preference. It fed rounds from all of them.

At the range, I shot the Stag with three different loads. The Hornady Steel Match uses a polymer-coated steel case and a 55-grain hollowpoint bullet. Herter’s ammo is similarly set up with a steel case and 55-grain hollowpoint bullet. Both of these loads are inexpensive and practical for high-volume shooting. Federal’s American Eagle uses reloadable brass cases with a 55-grain full-metal-jacket bullet.

Stag Arms Model 1 AR-15 in Use

As author Sadowski handled the unloaded Model 1 (and with no ammo on the range), he saw it as a basic platform that can be left as is or customized.

Initial firing was performed at 50 yards and closer. The aperture sights allowed me to easily pick up the target out to 50 yards. The Model 1 grouped the 55-grain bullets with excellent consistency in the center of the target. On the day I shot, the air was thick with humidity. Even after I waded downrange to change the target, the basic polymer pistol grip didn’t allow my sweaty hand to slip, and neither did the handguard. Its grooved surface was plenty to hold on to without losing my grip in double-tap drills.

At the range, the Model 1 experienced no failures to chamber, fire, or eject, and I had no need to use the forward assist. The deflector sent empties back and to my right side with such consistency I could have set up a bucket to collect the empties. At 100 yards, I used a rest, and though the accuracy was hardly precise, I averaged 5-inch groups with the open sights. The best three shots out of five-shot groups were typically just over 2 inches.

Personally, if I owned this rifle, I’d keep the Model 1 as is. It is perfect as a basic rifle that I would train with often and keep in a safe place, ready for use when needed.

Stag Arms Model 1
Action Semiauto, direct gas impingement
Barrel Length 16 inches
Caliber 5.56x45mm NATO / .223 Rem. / 1:9 twist, button rifled
Overall Height height in inches; use decimal numbers
Overall Length 35.5 inches, with stock fully extended
Weight Unloaded 6.25 pounds
Bolt Carrier Enhanced semiauto with a manganese phosphate coating
Sights Rear, removable A3 carry handle / Front, F-marked 2 mil-spec
Stock / Grip 6 Position stock / A2-style plastic grip
Finish Matte black
Magazine 30 rounds
Lower Receiver Material 7075 T6 aluminum with a type 3 hard coat anodizing

Performance Results — Stag Arms Model 1

Load .223 Rem. Velocity Best Average

Range Notes

Velocity in feet per second measured 15 feet from the muzzle by a ProChrono digital chronograph. Accuracy averages are the result of three five-shot groups at 100 yards.

American Eagle 55-grain FMJ 2,879 fps 2.25 in. 5.13 in.
Hornady Steel Match 55-grain HP 2,863 fps 2.50 in. 5.13 in.
Herter’s 55-grain HP 2,865 fps 2.86 in. 6.25 in.

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Comments (11)

  • James


    I have the stag 7 in 6.8 caliber. It is my favorite ar. Everyone wanted to shoot the 223/556 ar’s until I bought the stag arms 7 hunter in 6.8 caliber.
    Now I am going to buy another one. And then buy 2 uppers from stag in 6.8 caliber.
    Ps I need 6.8 brass at a reasonable price.


  • Michael


    I’m building a stag15 model 1 spendlt the extra money I.saved on labor back into the rifle. Upgraded to the plus package barrel 16 inch 1/7 twist chrome line 4150 steel spec. Not the 4140.. I love it . I Will change the hand guard. It’s to bulky. Thick around ..and no rail system.. Will buy another stag any day.. was a colt fan until I found out cmt sub contracts colt parts. And the owner of stag father owner cmt so I’m overtly happy


  • Joe


    I have a stag model 1, and I love it. It was my first AR and it runs like a champ! My latest AR is a Wyndham Weaponry MPC (aka “new and improved bushmaster”). I like my WW better than my stag – they both run flawlessly, but the bolt carrier group in the MPC has the full backing like the mil-spec fully auto model has – the stag doesn’t. This is more of a longer-term confidence thing, because again, no issues with the stag to date. I run my WW with an Acog 4×32, but still running my stag with the irons that it came with, and loving it. For reference, I also have a Rock River with an Eotech 512 and I hate them both – rifle fails and lens fogs.


  • rabroos


    Just one complaint, and this is for the whole industry. Why the heck do they all use that cheap, hard-asp plastic grip? For junk rifles ok, but why do the pretty high-end rifles use it? I changed to CAA’s with the swapable finger&palm sections, It was the best thing I’ve done for the rifle. A vast improvement in control over the plastic.


    • gB


      1. Because some people have no problem with the grip.
      2. Your idea of a fancy grip might well not match my idea of a fancy grip. I don’t particularly care for the CAA grips I’ve handled. Or the MagPul. I use either A2 grips of the BCM Mod0.
      3. If they put a $30+ grip on them, they have to charge ~$30+ more for the rifle. Would you rather take off and throw away a $2 grip or a ~$30+ grip to put your fancy grip on?


  • rabrooks


    When I picked up mine ’08 as a birthday gift for myself. I didn’t know how lucky I was. Back when I was in the army, I ended up with H&R’s( I also remembered the things that went wrong with them), so I had no clue to the quality, except for the recommendations of the salesman. I have been very pleased. I’ve made several up-grades to inhance it’s shootabillity and reliabillity. Roxy always draws attention at the range. When my nephew asked which AR he should get, I of course pointed him to Stag. My first failure was this year when the bolt broke. I kept a spare in my kit. Things have been fine since.


  • Larry


    Thanks for the price info on the Stag. I agree that the Stag products have a good reputation for reliability, however I still have to say that I’m very impressed with the Mossberg because of the vast difference in price. Can’t believe that CTD had them for $499, and wish I’d have bought a half-a-dozen! I’ve decided to replace the stock with a Magpul MOE with a cheek-riser, put a Primary Arms red dot with a good mount, Magpul MBUS’s, a decent light and foregrip, and maybe a Nikon .223 scope. Was gonna’ pick up a better trigger, but the one on it seems to be getting better the more I shoot it-and it’s pretty darn good right now. My point is that I’m no longer in the military, and this little MMR does everything I need for under a grand.


  • mike


    Have a Stag 1…except for a failed/weak trigger spring(that was replaced immediately)it is perfect!


  • David T


    I own the Model 1 (now customized) and a Model 3 (also revamped) and I have to say they are flawless in their performance. I would turn to Stag as my primary weapon any day. Also have a Sig PM400 11.5″ and while now my primary weapon, the Stags are my HD and range weapons.

    Good review. Stag M1 can be had for $850-900


  • Bryan


    There is no price in this review because the MSRP for this rifle on the $949. CTD has it for less, but still more than I would pay for a basic model.


  • Larry


    Good review but a price would have been appreciated. The 100 yard groups aren’t really impressive though.
    I am new to the Shooters Log, and don’t know if there has been a review of the Mossberg MMR yet, however I have recently purchased my second one new on sale for $499, (the first one I paid $599 for) and am getting 2″ groups with both all day long with American Eagle ammo, and with premium ammunition can often get 1 inch groupings. I use the Mossberg and Lancer mags, and have yet to have any malfunctions with this surprisingly well made rifle. I believe the accuracy is attained primarily because of the free floating aluminum quadrail. I like this rifle.


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