Up Close & Personal: Stag 10S Heavy-Hitting .308 in close quarter situations — Full Review

Whether you’re talking about hunting or military applications, the .308 Winchester is by far and away one of the most versatile and popular cartridges ever made. Introduced in 1952 and later adapted for military use as the 7.62 NATO, or 7.62x51mm NATO, the mighty .308 was first chambered for Winchester’s legendary Model 70 and 88 and marketed to the public as a premier hunting round. As a short-action hunting cartridge that is capable, with the right bullet, of taking down any non-dangerous game in North America (and the dangerous sort, too, if you really want to push your luck), the .308 is rightly one of the most trusted hunting cartridges to date.

The Stag 10S M-LOK, chambered in .308 Win., with 13.5-in. handguard and Trijicon 1-6×24 AccuPoint scope.

The .308

It’s also highly regarded in long-range shooting communities — police, military and civilian — because of its downrange performance and terminal ballistics. Simply put, it’s a relatively flat shooting, long-range capable cartridge that’ll stop an elk or an enemy combatant in their tracks while producing relatively minimal recoil for the shooter.

The .308 is also incredibly versatile, as it turns out, when paired with one of Eugene Stoner’s AR-10-type offspring — the beefier, scaled up variant of the AR-15-type rifle. While the .308 is accompanied by greater recoil than the 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem., it’s also capable of seating heavier bullets with more energy and, as a result, more devastation on target. The other beauty of this short-action thumper is that it performs well in shorter barrels than many other hunting rounds, making it ideal for the compact, lightweight carry rifle, whether in semi-auto or bolt-action configurations.

Stag 10S M-LOK

Expanding on its time-tested, American-made line of AR-type rifles, Stag Arms hit the streets this year with a newer, shorter version of the Stag 10 (its AR-10 variant), the 10S M-LOK. Wisely, Stag offers two calibers in the AR-10 platform, the .308 Win. and the ever-popular and wildly effective 6.5 Creedmoor. This review will focus on the .308 version, with proprietary Stag M-LOK handguard.

The AR-10 Platform

The Trijicon 1-6×24 AccuPoint scope is a great optic for close-quarters scuffles, giving shooters just enough magnification to cover everything inside 100 yards.

One of the disadvantages, traditionally, of the AR-10 platform was that it lacked the widespread popularity and, as a result, interchangeability of parts as the AR-15. On the Stag 10S, engineers stuck with DPMS-compatible receivers and components, one of the only standard configurations when it comes to the AR-10 platform. That means if you’re swapping parts from, say, Brownells, you can generally rely on the DPMS designation for compatibility and fit.

Like all AR-10-type rifles, the Stag 10S features .308/AR-10 buffer tube components (again, a stouter spring and buffer than the AR-15) and Nitride bolt carrier group (BCG) with quench polish quench (QPQ), a type of nitrocarburizing case hardening that increases corrosion resistance. Produced in-house by Stag, the BCG is comprised of quality parts that carry a retail price, when sold separately, of $230. In case you were wondering, it’s the same BCG that you’d find in the 6.5 Creedmoor variant.

As compared to the Stag 10 standard model, the “S” variant features an M-LOK handguard that is 3 inches shorter. The concept, according to Stag, is to make it friendlier for close-quarters combat.

What’s With the S?

The “S” variant of the Stag 10 signifies a shorter barrel and handguard; the standard model features an 18-inch barrel with 16.5-inch handguard, whereas the 10S utilizes a 16-inch barrel and 13.5-inch handguard. The beauty of the shorter version is that it’s more maneuverable in tight spaces. Overall length is 35.25 inches (collapsed), which saves you a few inches off the standard model. So whether you’re building a home defense plan that includes a .308, or preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse, the 10S is going to be your best friend in urban combat scenarios.

Featuring a Magpul Adaptable Carbine/Storage (ACS) buttstock with extra room for battery storage, the Stag 10S is a defense-ready rifle.

While it isn’t ambidextrous, the 10S is available in left-hand models and/or with a KeyMod handguard. The review rifle featured right-handed features a forward assist with brass deflector, right-hand control on the safety selector and a beveled mag well for rapid refueling. Going above and beyond the standard configuration, Stag added a luxurious Hogue pistol grip ($21.99 at Brownells) that goes a long way to improving the overall ergonomics of the rifle. The 13.5-inch M-LOK handguard features a full length top rail and M-LOK cutouts at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions.

Other Features

Underneath that lightweight handguard is a low-profile gas block and mid-length gas tube, and at the end of the barrel sits a VG6 Gamma 762 muzzle brake/compensator that helps limit recoil and aid with follow up shots. The rifle comes with one 10-round PMAG and a Magpul adaptable carbine/storage (ACS) buttstock.

The Stag 10S features forged 7075 T6 forged aluminum receivers and right-handed controls. A Hogue pistol grip adds additional comfort to the platform, and a beveled mag well lends itself to no-look mag swaps.

Federal’s 180-grain Nosler Partition is a big game workhorse, with a bullet that’s virtually a legend in the hunting world. In testing, the 180-grain load produced a best group of .80 inches, pretty darn impressive with a 6x scope.

Trigger Time

My one gripe — and this isn’t anything unique to Stag — is the Mil-Spec trigger. I realize it’s a relative bargain to get an AR-10-type rifle for under $1,600 (keep in mind, that’s the suggested retail, not the street price), but I have never understood why $300 bolt guns from Ruger or Savage come supplied with a superb trigger but AR customers are willing to settle for a gritty, weighty slab of iron that greatly hinders overall accuracy.

Even some of the “high-end” AR-type rifles I’ve shot still employ the awful 5-8-pound trigger, and I frankly can’t stand them. Tons of take up, creep, over-travel and inconsistency…ah, yes, everything we’ve come to expect from a Mil-Spec trigger. Nothing like the nagging suspicion that the safety’s still on, even when it’s not. Several manufacturers are going the in-house route for a relative bargain, and I’d love to see more of it — charge me the extra $100 and send the rifle with a proprietary, drop-in trigger that’s halfway decent.

At the Range

Even for all the griping I just did about the trigger, the Stag 10S is a true shooter. Going with the theme of a close quarters combat rifle, I topped the 10S with Trijicon’s 1-6×24 AccuPoint scope, which rather than batteries relies on tritium and fiber optics to capture natural light in the illuminated reticle. It’s probably not the best optic for measuring true accuracy potential at 100 yards, but it at least gives you a reasonable expectation of accuracy in close range environment, and even then it produced pint-sized groups. As always, a scope from Trijicon is insanely rugged, ridiculously accurate and also not cheap ($1,200, in this case).

Performance:

Federal’s 150-grain Fusion shot well, considering the limitations of a 6x scope, posting a best group of 1.01 inches.

Federal Fusion 150-gr.

Average Velocity: 2,786 fps

Standard Deviation: 21 fps

Extreme Spread: 46 fps

Average Group: 1.44 in.

Best Group: 1.01 in.

Hornady Superformance 150-gr. SST

Average Velocity: 2,743 fps

Standard Deviation: 11 fps

Extreme Spread: 22 fps

Average Group: 1.27 in.

Best Group: .95 in.

Federal 180-gr. Nosler Partition

Average Velocity: 2,398 fps

Standard Deviation: 24 fps

Extreme Spread: 55 fps

Average Group: 1.32 in.

Best Group: .80 in.

Data was collected from four three-shot groups at 100 yards, then measured with a digital caliper. Shooting was done from a Caldwell B.R. Pivot shooting bench and Lead Sled, while velocity was measured using a Pro Chrono chronograph.

Best Group:

The Stag 10S features a VG6 Precision Gamma 762 brake/compensator hybrid that helps minimize recoil.

The best group size came with Federal Premium’s 180-grain Nosler Partition, which produced an exceptionally good .80-inch group and averaged 1.32 inches. I chose that round in particular because it’s a great big-game or hog-stopping load with a track record a mile long.

Also tested was Federal’s 150-grain Fusion load, which is specifically designed for the AR-type platform and is reasonably affordable at any big box store near you. Average groups on this budget-friendly load were 1.44 inches — more than minute of hog — while the best group came in at a suitable 1.01 inches. I’ve used it plenty on hogs and deer and, for my money, the Fusion round is affordable, effective, and runs reliably in the AR-type rifle.

Finally, I tested Hornady’s Superformance 150-grain SST, another reliable deer hunting round. With average velocities around 2,700 fps and a best group of .95 inches, the Superformance load was also accurate. Average groups came in just shy of the 1.3-inch mark, which was quite acceptable given the optic.

Hornady’s 150-grain SST load performed well in testing, with a best group of .95 inches. A great hunting load, the SST is a proven round at all distances.

Parting Shots

Reasonably priced, American made, and built to last — the 10S is everything you’ve come to expect from Stag when it comes to a quality AR build. Whether you’re defending your castle from Zombie invaders or feral swine, the 10S in .308 is sure to be by your side for years to come. You’ll probably want to go with a drop-in trigger, but other than that it’s a rifle that’s ready to rumble, straight from the box.

For more information about Stag Arms, click here.

***Check out GunsAmerica for your next Stag rifle.***

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Thunder May 5, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Ditto ( s ) on triggers . I have a small box of OEM AR hamners triggers w springs . Paying extra for the barrel , custom black stainless or bright S.S. Prices of Black Rifles have come way down since DJT took office . So WHY not charge the extra for a really good trigger in your Black Rifle ?

  • Bad Penguin February 27, 2018, 3:57 pm

    Ditto on the trigger. Even $2000+ rifles come with crappy mispec triggers.

  • Yermommaboy February 26, 2018, 3:51 pm

    Wow love that scope placement! Nose to charging handle puts that badboy into my sinus cavity!!

    • Big John February 27, 2018, 9:55 am

      It’s not a 5.56 there Stud, go nose to charging handle with a 7.62 and you’ll have a sore nose. Not that I am making an excuse for that scope placement whatsoever.

  • Bob February 26, 2018, 10:04 am

    With the Mossberg MVP Patrol model (a 16 1/4″ barrel) in .308, if I do my part I can consistently shoot .55 to .75 MOA at 100 yards. That’s using my reloads (better than Store bought Match ammo) using Hornady 168gr HP Match bullets with Hodgdon Powders(h4895,varget, or h335), CCI 200 Large Rifle Primers with Lapau Brass shooting from the bench or prone with just a Bi-Pod. Yes the Tools we use matter in attaining solid MOA groups but I think any modern made gun has the ability to out shoot most trained snipers. That said, it is our ‘Marksmanship & Fundamentals” that really determine the outcome and accuracy of our shot! Have fun shooting everyone! In Liberty, Bob

  • James Hargrave jr. February 21, 2018, 7:40 pm

    Iam a left handed person. I want to see more on ar15, with scope.

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