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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.***