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.
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.
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.
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|
|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|
|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.|