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Shooter Ready - Stag Arms 3G

A 3-gun competition-ready rifle in stag’s famous right or left handed configuration.

Back in 1981 Barbara Mandrell recorded a song called “I was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” It was a huge hit, dominating the charts that summer, and became one of her signature songs. It’s also become a piece of Americana that is paraphrased often. So, if you will indulge me a bit here: “I was 3-gun, when 3-gun wasn’t cool.”

Well actually, that’s not totally correct. Three-gun shooting has always been cool. But I was doing it before it got “discovered.” In fact, when I first started, I had trouble getting the editors of shooting magazines to accept more than a token article now and then. Today, 3-gun shooting is on its way to becoming the dominant shooting sport and it’s a big part of what I write about to earn my daily bread.

Oh yeah, I just heard a report a couple of days ago that there are more country music radio stations in America today than all the other music formats combined. So I guess Barbara and I were both ahead of our time. I just wish gun writing paid as well as singing.

Many of those early articles that I wrote were on how to customize the guns to make them competitive for 3-gun shooting as nobody made a “competition ready” long gun. I think it’s a huge statement about how “cool” 3-gun has become with mainstream shooters that so many top companies are now introducing “competition ready” out-of-the-box firearms today.

For example, Benelli’ s new 3-Gun shotgun was introduced in late 2011 and I believe is the first ready to roll, instant 3-gun, just add ammo, shotgun for this sport (Remington and FNH USA have suitable tactical/defense models; the Mossberg 930 JM is geared toward 3-gun).

Some rifles, like the JP Enterprises JP-15 that I compete with, can be ordered competition ready. But I think that the new Stag Arms 3G might be the first rifle that is designed around the sport, by serious competitors, and marketed specifically for 3-gun competition (Editor’s Note: Technically, the DPMS 3G1debuted first, but DPMS never pushed it very hard. Since Stag released the 3G to much acclaim and brisk sales, Colt’s and DoubleStar are among the recent “major” manufacturers to release a rifle marketed specifically for 3-gun.)

Stag is well known for producing left-handed AR-15-style rifles as well as the conventional right-handed models. They got noticed for the southpaw aspect, but built their name by producing high-quality rifles.

For the record, the Stag 3G can be ordered in right- or left- hand models. I have a couple of shooting buddies who are very happy about that.

Stag Arms worked with their 3-gun shooting team to develop the new rifle and after shooting it quite a bit, I think they got it almost right. That’s not a statement I make lightly, as it’s been pointed out to me that I would probably bitch about free money.

There are in truth a few things I would change. For example, I would add an extended charging handle latch, a tactical bolt release and possibly an ambi-safety. But these are small things and the truth is, this gun is competition ready out of the box.

The rifle uses an 18-inch stainless-steel semi- heavy barrel that measures .727-inch near the muzzle and uses a 1:8 twist rate. The chamber is 5.56 NATO, so it can fire both 5.56 and .223 Remington ammo. The barrel has six flutes that are interrupted by the gas block for the rifle- length gas system. The last 3/4-inch of the barrel is stepped down to .705-inch to the muzzle.

The barrel is fitted with a 2-1/4 inch-long compensator installed with a crush washer. This unique compensator has nine 1/4-inch holes in three rows of three. One row is center-top and the other two rows are close on each side. Some holes are angled, some are straight. There are also three smaller holes in the top-front of the compensator pointing forward. This is perhaps the most effective brake at countering muzzle flip I have ever tried. If I had to find a complaint with the rifle it’s that the brake actually will drive the muzzle too low with each shot so that the sights end up under the aiming point.

SPECS: STAG ARMS MODEL 3G

  • CALIBER: 5.56 / .223
  • ACTION: Gas Impingement, Semi-Auto
  • OA LENGTH: 39.25 inches
  • WEIGHT: 7.5 pounds
  • BARREL: 18 inch, Stainless 1:8 twist rate
  • COMPENSATOR: Stag Arms 3G
  • RAIL SYSTEM: Samson Evolution 15” Free Float
  • TRIGGER: Geissele Super 3 Gun (S3G)
  • BUTTSTOCK: Magpul ACS
  • GRIP: Magpul MOE
  • SIGHTS: Dueck Defense RTS (optional)
  • FINISH: Flat Black
  • PRICE: $4,159

We did some drills using fast double taps and even some fast 10-shot strings at close range and I found that once I got the hang of it I could get the sights back on a 10-yard target faster than my finger could pull the trigger. I had the impression of waiting for the shot while I watched the dot on the Z6 Swarovski float on the “A” zone. That’s not something I encounter with most rifles, as it usually takes more time to get the sights back on target than to pull the trigger. I am not sure if that’s a function of the brake or the trigger, but I suspect it’s a combination of both.

While I was not using a timer on these drills,this gun is extremely fast, as often the two shell casings would only be a few inches apart in the air.

The gun is fitted with a Samson Evolution free-floating handguard. This handguard comes with a rail along the top. There are holes along the sides and bottom to add more rails if you want them. The sides are skeletonized with a double row of cuts on each side. The diameter of the handguard is 1.825-inches, which is easy to grip. The 15-inch handguard extends well past the low profile gas block. One of the problems with most AR- style rifles when used for 3-gun shooting is the short handguard.

A tip that some of the top 3-gun shooters have taught me is to have the weak hand extended way out on the front of the gun. Never hold the gun in front of the magazine well, rather get your hand out as far as you can.

Well, you long-armed types, please don’t take that to mean put your fingers in front of the muzzle. I have actually seen that done with an MP5 during a match and it was not a pretty sight. Grip the fore-end on the side, with the elbow extended parallel with the ground. This gives much better control of the rifle for lateral movement for rapid target transition. Try this with a short handguard and all you get is burned fingers. I guess my point is, this long handguard proves to me that Stag listened to some real shooters when designing the riflle.

Another point of contention on most AR15 rifles is the trigger. Many AR builders are stuck on “Mil Spec Stupid” and forget that shooters need good triggers. It’s not uncommon to have precision targets at 500 or 600 yards or even farther in a 3-gun match. It’s a huge handicap to have a ten pound “battle trigger” that’s Rougher than Rosie O’Donnell’s personality. Unless you order a better trigger as an option, almost all rifles will need an expensive replacement before using them in competition. One popular replacement trigger is the Geissele Super 3-Gun trigger. This STAG rifle comes with that trigger as standard equipment.

Geissele made its reputation with two-stage triggers for AR rifles. I have one in one of my hunting rifles and it’s excellent. This new trigger was developed by Geissele for 3-gun and uses what they call a ‘hybrid pull.” It’s a longer pull than most match-grade single-stage triggers, but smooth and clean. On my rifle it breaks at just slightly over three pounds.

The buttstock and pistol grip are from Magpul, featuring its collapsible ACS buttstock and MOE hard-plastic pistol grip. Both have storage compartments.

The rifle is also available with optional Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights (RTS,) which are offset iron sights that are used for close in shots. This system was developed by Barry Dueck, a top shooter who I have had the pleasure of squadding with in several matches. In all but Open Class of 3-gun shooting you are limited to one optic, which is almost universally on the rifle. I choose the 1-6 Swarovski Z6. That means I can turn it down to one power, which is no magnification, turn on the electronic dot and use it like a red-dot with both eyes open for close stuff. Then, using a MGM Switchview lever, I can quickly turn it to 6X for the longer shots. This works great for me, but there are some shooters who prefer more magnification on the top end for the long shots, particularly those who compete in the West where long shots are common.

The Open Class shooters often install a 3-9 or larger scope and then put a small, reflex, red-dot sight at a 45-degree angle for the close targets. It’s very fast to simply roll the gun, keeping your cheek weld, and line up with this sight. But the other classes are not allowed this second optic. They can, however, have iron sights. So the Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights (RTS) is mounted at a 45-degree angle to provide an iron sight option for the close stuff.

If you are planning to compete with a scope that does not have zero magnification at the low end, you should consider this option. It will add $200.00 to the $1,459 price tag of the gun.

I tested the rifle by shooting three different factory loads and one handload using bullets ranging from 50 grains to 75 grains. The average for three, five-shot groups with each of the four loads was 1.23 inches, which is excellent accuracy.

When I put out the word that I am bringing all the guns, targets and all the ammo for some 3-gun practice I do not have any problem finding willing shooters. My shooting buddies and I took this gun to the range a few times to practice running some rifle scenarios. After several hundred rounds (of my ammo!), we are in universal agreement that this is a well-balanced and a well behaved 3-gun rifle. We experienced no jams or failures to operate. We found the gun handled well for the fast stuff and settled fine for the long-range precision work. The only complaint was after we ran out of ammo and I wanted to pack up and go home, when the guys bitched that I “didn’t bring enough bullets.”

Anybody looking to get into 3-gun shooting would be well served to check out this rifle. All you add are optics and ammo and it’s competition ready.

Also note that 3-gun simulates combat situations. So even if you are not interested in competition, if you want your gun to defend your home or to spank your buddies at your shooting range, a gun that wins matches works just as well for those uses too.

After all, it’s designed to be accurate, fast and dependable. What else could you possibly want in a rifle?

Written by Bryce M. Towsley

This article is proudly sponsored by 3-Gun Nation
The National 3-Gun Association promotes practical shooting by shining a light on amateur and professional shooters alike, as well as the guns, gear and lifestyle that define the high-octane sport of 3-gun competition. Learn more about 3-Gun Nation at http://3gunnation.com.

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