During my career in the military I was fortunate enough to use a wide variety of optics on the M-4 weapon system. While all of these generally performed well, each was built with a specific purpose and I routinely saw optics being mounted and employed incorrectly, and improper optic use quickly became a personal pet-peeve. Consequently, I’ve put together a list of considerations, tips, and TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) to help you decide what kind of optic to place on your AR, and some things to keep in mind while you are training.
Purpose is paramount when deciding what type of optic to use, and most AR15 optics can be grouped into these two categories:
For the purposes of this article I will give a quick rundown of the background, purpose, and correct employment of each optic, followed by a few tips, training TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures), and lessons learned from my experiences with these optics.
Stag Arms is quickly becoming widely known as a great manufacturer of reasonably priced, quality AR-15 rifles. They are also very well known for making left-handed models of their AR-15’s. When I heard they were going to be releasing a Gas Piston rifle, I needed to get my hands on one to review. Well, thanks to Allstar Tactical, one of our site sponsors, I was able to borrow a Model 8 rifle to check out and review.
The direct gas system of a typical AR-15 rifle has worked well for decades, but it has is drawbacks with reliability and cleaning. The gas tube can become clogged from carbon buildup, especially when used with lower quality ammunition. Many manufacturers have answered this call with a gas piston system, which is exactly what it describes; the action moves based on the gas transferring its energy to a piston, which, in turn, moves the bolt rearward.
There are several other manufacturers of Gas Piston AR-15 rifles, but many of them are fairly pricey and extend upwards of $2000. The Stag Arms Model 8, with it’s MSRP of $1145, comes in a great price-point, and definitely competes very well in the market.
The gas-piston system on the Model 8 is actually quite simple. Gas bleeds off through a hole in the barrel, through the regulator, actuating the piston which pushes the bolt carrier back, cycling the action. There is a spring in the forward section of the piston system which keeps the piston in the forward position until the rifle is fired. The regulator also has two positions, ON and OFF. The ON position allows the rifle to function normally, while the OFF position will allow the rifle to fire, but will not cycle the action. This system is considered a short-stroke gas piston system.
Besides the enhancement of the gas-piston system, the Stag Model 8 is everything you would expect in an AR-15 rifle. From standard carbine handguards to a forward assist A3 upper receiver, this rifle is ready to go right out of the box. Another great benefit of this rifle for us NY residents is that it can be ordered right from the factory as a NY-compliant AR-15 rifle. In fact, the one that Allstar Tactical lent us was already NY-compliant. The benefit of this is that there is no extra costs for pinning the stock or the muzzle brake.
Another great feature for the Model 8 is that it comes with a pair of $200 flip-up iron sights from Midwest Industries. Midwest industries is highly regarded for their Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) and other AR-15 accessories. Including these with the rifle only makes the price-point of the Model 8 that much more attractive!
We tested the rifle with 55gr Armscor 5.56 surplus Ammo, also donated by Allstar Tactical, and found that every round fired flawlessly. No failure-to-feed’s, no failure-to-eject’s, and certainly no jams of any sort. I was also very surprised at the accuracy of the rifle, even when using surplus ammunition. I was able to average 3-4″ groups at 50 yrds using iron sights, and I’m not that great of a shot!
So, great accuracy and ridiculous reliability combined with an MSRP under $1150 produces the Stag Arms Model 8 Gas Piston rifle, an AR-15 for the masses. Manufactured in the USA (Connecticut), the Model 8 also comes in a hard plastic case, and carries Stag Arms’ standard warranty. I would have to say that I definitely recommend this rifle to anyone looking for a gas-piston AR-15 and doesn’t want to break the bank!
|Caliber:||5.56 NATO Chamber|
|Upper:||Forged and Mil-Spec|
|Sights:||Midwest Industries Front & Rear Flip Up|
|Barrel:||16″ Chrome-Lined, 1:9″ Twist|
|Stock:||6 Position Collapsible (Pinned for NYS)|