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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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