When I had the opportunity to visit the Stag Arms manufacturing facility in New Britain, Connecticut last year to film a television show featuring the company and their line of AR-style rifles, I wasn't sure what to expect. They were a relatively new brand (introduced in 2003), and I knew little about them other than they had taken the market by storm with their left-handed AR rifle. What I found was pleasantly surprising. The manufacturing process was efficient and quality control and pride in the finished product seemed to be at the nucleus of the entire operation. The Stag brand was a newcomer, but the parent company, Continental Machine & Tool, started in the 1960's and had been making parts for AR-15 style rifles ever since. The only thing new about the company was a change in brand name and the decision by Mark Malkowski (the founder's son) to build their own line of complete rifles.
When I saw the guys from Stag Arms again at SHOT this past January, I noticed a rifle adorning the wall of their booth that caught my eye. The "Super Varminter" and "Guaranteed 1/2 MOA" labels that were proudly displayed next to it convinced me that the rifle would be a perfect test subject to determine if the attention to detail that I saw at the factory correlated to performance in the field. The guys at Stag Arms weren't afraid to have their rifle and their claims put to the test and sent a Model 6 Super Varminter for review.
The Stag Arms Model 6 Super Varminter Rifle
The Stag Arms Model 6 Super Varminter Rifle weighs in at a hefty 9.7 pounds (unscoped and unloaded). It has a 1:8 twist, match-grade, stainless steel barrel chambered for 5.56 NATO, a free-floating, textured, aluminum handguard, an aluminum flattop receiver, a two-stage match trigger, Hogue grip and a non-adjustable A2 stock. All of these components add up to one thing - this is not your typical run-and-gun AR style rifle. The Model 6 SV was designed for driving tacks from a stationary position at long ranges.
The 1:8 twist, match-grade, stainless steel, bull barrel is
perfectly suited for an accurate, long-range varmint rifle.
Although the Model 6 SV is chambered for 5.56 NATO, it inherently shoots commercially available .223 ammo (see safety note at the end of the article). I decided the new Nikon M-223 in 3-12X42 configuration complemented with the Nikon M-223 mount designed specifically for AR-style platforms would be the ideal combination to sit atop the Stag rifle. After a quick bore sight, I was ready to head to the range.
I nestled the rifle into a set of Caldwell DeadShot Shooting Bags and prepared to complete the sight in process. Rather than waste "the good stuff" while adjusting the scope, I chose to use inexpensive Monarch .223 Rem, 55 gr., soft point ammo to get the shots on paper. I quickly had the shots hitting within a half inch of dead center at 100 yards and decided to go ahead and put a few more rounds through the gun to see what kind of accuracy could be achieved with "the cheap stuff." Three shots later, I was looking through the spotting scope at a group I could cover with a quarter. Less than 1/2 MOA with off-the-shelf, non-match-grade ammo. Now the rifle really had my attention.
The mass and shape of the handguard indicate that it was designed to
reduce recoil and aid in making accurate, stationary shots.
I then fed it three other configurations of ammo ranging from 40 gr. to 75 gr. and achieved similar results at 100 yards (see table). No matter what ammo was used, the Model 6 SV fed each without a failure. The trigger was light, crisp and consistent. The substantial mass of the gun kept recoil to a minimum allowing me to remain on target and take quick follow-up shots. Despite a 15 mph headwind at the range with 25 mph gusts, two of the ammunition configurations broke the 1/2 MOA and the other two were knocking on the door. Impressive firearm. Even more splendid might be the fact that if I took all of the target holes from every bullet type tested and transposed their point of impact onto a single target, the 12-shot group would still be less than 1 MOA. Very impressive firearm.
The two-stage trigger was crisp, clean and consistent, which are all essential in a 1/2 MOA rifle.
Although the rifle is chambered for 5.56 NATO, commercially available
.223 Remington ammunition can be used with no discernible loss in accuracy.
An assortment of ballistic tip, hollow point and soft point ammunition
ranging from 40 gr. to 75 gr. was used during the review.
Table 1. Stag Arms Model 6 Super Varminter accuracy results. Calculations are the results from firing three-shot groups of each ammunition configuration.
|Brand (.223 REM)||Bullet Weight||Bullet Type||MMOA|
No matter what ammunition the author fed through the Model 6, it resulted in consistent, accurate groups.
The Model 6 seemed to have a slight preference for 55 gr. ammunition, and the
Federal Premium 55 gr. BTHP rounds produced an impressive three-shot .402 MOA group.
In 2003, when the Stag Arms brand hit the market, they were the talk of the town with their innovative left-handed AR platform. Only time would tell whether they were a company making quality rifles or one that was riding on the coattails of a novel idea. Based on what I observed at their manufacturing facility and the impressive results of the Model 6 Super Varminter review, I would say that they might have used innovation to get noticed in a sea of "black gun" shops but have also successfully focused on quality to get remembered.
For more information visit the Stag Arms website at www.stagarms.com . 1/2 MOA guarantee is a 3-shot group at 100-yards using quality new manufacture ammunition (Hornady, Federal Winchester, etc.)
The author found that the pride in workmanship at the Stag Arms factory
resulted in a reliable, precise firearm in the Stag Arms Model 6 Super Varminter.
Safety note about 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington:
The Stag Arms Model 6 Super Varminter is chambered in 5.56 NATO. I chose to use .223 Remington ammunition due to commercial availability. Most "AR" style guns chambered in 5.56 NATO can safely shoot .223 Remington, but you should consult the manufacturer before shooting 5.56 NATO in a firearm chambered for .223 Remington. The 5.56 NATO round can result in a higher pressure than the .223 Remington chamber was designed for and could damage you and your gun.
Larry R. Beckett Jr. is a full time freelance writer, photographer and videographer. His greatest joy is spending time fishing, hunting and hiking with his wife and son. Larry discovered his enthusiasm for the outdoors at a young age and devotes much of his time trying to instill that same enthusiasm in future generations.