Stag Arms: The Go-To Manufacturer for AR-15s or Just Awful?

AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
November 29, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: AR-15RiflesAR-15 RifleGunsFirearms

Stag Arms: The Go-To Manufacturer for AR-15s or Just Awful?

Here are the facts. 


Key point: Stag Arms has faced a lot of controversy, but they're clearly committed to innovation.

If you’re serious about your firearms then you’ve undoubtedly heard the name Stag Arms. This Connecticut-based company has risen to the top of the heap in terms of manufacturers offering quality AR-15s.


At one point, they were even manufacturing the much in-demand featureless AR-15. But what do we really know about Stag Arms? And why has their name been in the news in the last few years?

I’ll answer both of those questions by breaking down Stag Arms’ reputation as a manufacturer, the value and quality of their product line, and what consumers are saying about this popular purveyor of firearms.


Founded in 2003, Stag Arms earned an early reputation for innovation after putting out their left-handed AR-15s, rifles that utilize a mirror image upper and a reversed ejection port.

(This article by Will Ellis originally appeared at Gun News Daily in 2017.)

The company first came under fire in December of 2015, when their CEO Mark Malkowski copped to manufacturing hundreds of unserialized firearms, including several dozen machine guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives required Malkowski to divest all interest in Stag Arms.

The whole case was baffling to many in the gun community since Malkowski had been a staunch proponent of stricter gun laws and had even been named National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “Business Person of the Year” in 2014.

The charges came after ATF agents inspecting Stag Arms’ facilities discovered approximately 3,000 rifle receivers and more than 20 mag gun receivers without serial numbers. Additionally, they found that Stag Arms had not complied with manufacturing record keeping requirements.

All of this could have been the end for Stag Arms, were it not for White Wolf Capital, a private equity firm, who announced their acquisition of the manufacturer in February of 2016.

“We are very excited to add Stag to our portfolio of outstanding companies in the firearms industry,” said White Wolf Managing Director Elie Azar in a press release at the time. “Stag is an iconic brand with a well-deserved reputation for product excellence and world-class customer service.”

Now that we’ve learned a bit about the history of Stag Arms, let’s explore their varied product line and what makes them a worthy provider of premium firearms.

  • Stag Arms’ AR10s include a 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester

  • Additional calibers include .224 Valkyrie and 6.8 SPC II


Stag Arms solidified their spot in the modern marketplace by offering some of the best AR-15s at affordable prices. Since then, they have continued to develop some of the most impressive AR offerings, not least of which is the Model 15 O.R.C. (Optics Ready Carbine).

A semi-automatic tactical rifle chambered in 5.56 NATO, the Model 15 O.R.C. is Stag Arms’ least expensive AR-15 model at an average price point of $799 — less than the original Model 3.

Featuring a short sixteen-inch barrel with a chrome lined bore a six-position collapsible stock, it boasts a gas-operated firing system that delays the recoil until your round is spent. Offering a 1/7 Twist, Thermoplastic Handguard, with 30rd PMAG and Magpul Enhanced Trigger Guard, the Model 15 O.R. C. comes in right or left-handed ejection.

It’s got tons of airflow which helps to keep temp down, and the tried and true A2 flash hider. There’s really nothing negative that can be said about this rifle except, perhaps, the lack of front or rear sights. But the Diamondhead Versa Rail System more than makes up for where it’s lacking.

*This series is available in Rifle, Rifle Kit or Upper


The Stag15 Retro Rifle (formerly the Model 4) is just what you’ve been looking for … high quality, durable, and military proven. The 15 Retro is made to mil-spec standards with a removable A3 carry handle, A2 buttstock with trap door for storage, and an 11.5” thermoplastic handguard with double heat shields.

The Stag 15 Retro Rifle features a 5.56x45mm NATO chamber 20” 1/8 twist barrel, A2 birdcage flash hider, mil-spec charging handle and a mil-spec manganese phosphate coated M16 BCG.

In addition, the Stag 15 Retro Rifle comes in right or left-handed ejection and is available in Rifle, Rifle Kit or Upper. MSRP – $899.99.


The Stag Arms 15 Varminter (Formerly the Model 6) is another 5.56 NATO-chambered piece that’s a bit pricier than its predecessor — at $1,084.99. But, you get what you pay for and this predator delivers on all fronts.

Personally, I prefer the 15 to the 6 because I’ve found that it outperforms when it comes to long range shooting and wide berth of damage. The Stag Arms 15 Varminter features a Magpul Enhanced Trigger Guard and 10rd PMAG and is available in right or left-handed ejection.

All in all, I’d say this one’s an excellent choice for most shooting purposes. It’s definitely a beast when it comes to bagging small to medium game. In addition, it wreaks havoc on targets. As with most rifles, you’ll want to pair this one with a good scope.

The Stag 15 Varminter Series is available in Rifle, Rifle Kit or Upper. This model packs some serious punch and is a solid choice indeed!


This baby is designed for the boys in blue and has since been discounted for the Stag 15 Tactical Series. With input from LEOs and an upper with a flat top rail, the 3TM is a sight for sore eyes.

It’s got a sixteen-inch, 4140 steel, chrome-lined, government-profile manganese-phosphate-coated barrel that features a 1/7” twist, Stag 15 M-LOK SL Handguard, MOE Pistol Grip, CTR Stock, 30rd PMAG, and Enhanced Trigger Guard.

The carbine-length gas impingement system and A2-style flash suppressor or just two of the things that make this one badass. The handguard is a dream, especially if your hands cramp up easily as mine do. It’s comfortable and won’t kill after rapid fire or competition shooting.

At $969.99, it’s a steal of a deal. It’s more lightweight than the 6 at 7.5 pounds, and it can also shoot .223 in addition to the standard 5.56 NATO. In addition, the Stag Arms 3TM comes in right or left-handed ejection and the series is available in Rifle, Rifle Kit or Upper.


At $1229.99, the Stag Arms 9 Tactical (formerly the Model 9T) is more expensive than any of the other models we’ve tackled thus far. But before you write it off as an overpriced hunk of junk, let’s review the specs.

The Model 9 Tactical has been called a “game changing 9mm carbine,” and that ain’t no joke. It’s the first line of 9mm AR-15s that Stag Arms has put out and it’s rewriting the rules of what an AR can be. The 9 Tactical features a dedicated nine milli lower instead of the modified 5.56 NATO lower that’s become so basic.

It can fire the same ammo as a concealed-carry pistol and has an extended range of 200 yards. The New Upper/Lower receiver design is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum with a type 3 hard coat anodizing material.

Like the 8T, it has front and rear Diamondhead sights. The Model 9 Tactical is available in right or left-handed ejection and the Stag 15 M-LOK SL Handguard is extremely comfortable. In addition, this model features an MOE Pistol Grip, CTR Stock, Enhanced Trigger Guard, and Enhanced Deflector.

The unique 9mm trigger and ejection assembly alone are awe-inspiring. In terms of primo AR-15 furniture, this is the one. That may not be saying much considering that all of Stag Arms’ AR-15s have quality features, but this one qualifies for Gun Porn Gazette if such a thing exists.     


Speaking of going back to basics, the Model 15 M4 remains an awesome firearm. At $869.99, it’s affordable as well as accurate. With a 1/7” twist and enhanced trigger guard, the durable military-grade design and mil-spec standards make for a formidable firing range experience.

Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean that it’s trash. The simplicity of it is part of its charm. Another sixteen-incher, the Model 15 M4 is the ideal range gun. I wouldn’t call this one a serious firearm for tactical operations, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless.

Like most others, it can take .223 despite being chambered for the 5.56 NATO. This series is available in Rifle, Rifle Kit or Upper and is available in right or left-handed ejection.     


The Stag 10 is the latest innovation from Stag Arms. A .308 caliber rifle, the “Stag 10” is now available in a left-handed variant as well as a 6.5 Creedmoor. The Stag 10S 22″ 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle was specifically designed for long range accuracy with less recoil to reach your target.