Stag 9T: https://www.stagarms.com/model-9t/
Buy One: /Stag 9mm
Pistol caliber carbines (PCC) have been around since… well, since pistol calibers have existed. Some of history’s most famous long guns were chambered for pistol cartridges. Like the Winchester lever action in .44-40 or the many Marlins chambered for .38 Special and .357 magnum. And of course, there are the submachine guns, which by definition are short rifles chambered in common pistol cartridges, like the H&K MP5 or my favorite icon the Thompson in .45 ACP. There has always been a place in our utility and indeed in our hearts for the PCC. It is only natural for the most popular light rifle style of our times, the AR-15 to be offered in the most common and popular pistol caliber – 9mm. And finally, in 2015 this fantastic rifle platform and common pistol round come together as a Stag Arms product. No longer is quality and reliability a question to ask when considering this type of gun.
When you open the padded plastic carrying case in which the 9T is provided, you are staring down at a fully conventional Mil-spec AR-15. Stag has chosen to dress this rifle out with a minimalist approach, but that by no means indicates they skimped on anything. The accessories chosen for the 9T were clearly done thoughtfully. It has everything you need, and nothing you don’t. And the components are among the best choices available. Diamondhead is featured prominently with the floating handguard and flip-up sights. Both are anodized aluminum and blend perfectly to the receivers. The handguard is one of my favorites, offering a comfortable and uniform grip at any point along its 13 ½” length.
If you really feel you have to hang that espresso machine off of it, additional rail can be added in sections. I would find it useful for instance, to add a small piece to the bottom front for a bipod. The Diamondhead sights use a proprietary “diamond in a diamond” pattern to get your fast sight picture, and then inside that is the traditional front post and rear peeps (large and small as needed). You can also pivot the rear peep sight flat so that you have only the large diamond into which you fit the front sight diamond – for fast acquisition and close ranges. The gun was printing low at close distances inside 25 yards, as expected – but I found it easy to make rough adjustments to my hold and do it with consistency.
Shooting with the open sights is easy on the eyes, intuitive and quite accurate. They also co-witness perfectly with the Aimpoint optic I mounted on the rifle. The entire top is picatinny rail with plenty of mounting space.
What you have to do to prepare the 9T for a day at the range is – lift if out of the box. That’s it. The 9T comes ready to run. Flip up the sights, adjust the six-position buttstock, and you’re set. Loading the magazine is the hardest part. Notice I used the singular – ‘magazine’. Stag provides you with one 32-round steel magazine with a plastic follower.
Stag Arms supplies a single 32-round magazine that is good quality.
It’s a good quality magazine, and should be interchangeable with either the Colt 9mm or Uzi 9mm mag. But the spring gets mighty tough around 25 rounds, and I usually stopped there, lest I damage my delicate typing fingers. I’d get a tool to assist with that, and a couple more magazines for starters. I’d like to see Stag include at least two mags – especially for the 9mm, since the local store is guaranteed not to have any. The good news is that Stag sells them for $20 ea., which is not bad.
The other furniture on the 9T consists of a 6-position buttstock (mil spec) that is adequate. There are no storage compartments, and no butt pad (though certainly none is needed), but the adjustments are quick and easy for length and it does include a fixed sling ring. The pistol grip is standard A2 design. I sighed when I first saw it, because I often find them uncomfortable. My hand never seems to be the one the “finger space protrusion” was designed for and so they are uncomfortable to use. But surprisingly this one was okay, and I found that I wasn’t even thinking about it. Still, if I were going to change something – that would be first on the list. Stag Arms also provides a dual attachment point just between the lower receiver and the castle nut. I used it to attach my single-point sling.
The trigger is a mil-spec single stage and I measured it at just about 5.5 lbs. on average. It is a decent one. The stroke is not excessive and the break is crisp. Reset is short and loud, just the way I like ‘em.
I put half-dozen different types of ammo through the 9T over the course of multiple range trips, and shot off-hand and various distances and rested the carbine for some accuracy tests. I shot a combination of PMC Bronze, Blazer Brass, Freedom Munitions, Herter’s Select, and steel cased Tul Ammo for most of the testing. I found the results to be very similar for all but the Tul Ammo, which functioned perfectly but printed groups twice the size of the others.
Once I got the optic zeroed well enough to keep me reliably on paper, I found the results impressive with most every brand of ammo I shot. Most printed sub-one-inch groups at 25 yards and out to 100 was still inside 4”. A better rifleman with a better scope could probably achieve half that group size. But more importantly than that, after over 500 rounds there was not one single malfunction of any kind. Nada. I fed it steel cased ammo, hollow-points, handloads with minimum power, you name it. It ate it all up and spit it all out without seeing so much as a bore snake. I ran it dirty and with just the lube it had in it the whole time. This is a reliable gun – I couldn’t make it fail.
I was curious about the increase in velocity (and therefore energy) from the 16” carbine versus a handgun, so I did some chrono tests and found about an 8 percent gain at 12 feet from the muzzle. A group average from a Glock 34 was 1208 fps, and that jumped to 1302 fps from the 9T. Not surprising of course, but if you’re wondering about the use of this rifle in defense of hearth and home, I’d say that loaded with good defense ammo it would a formidable beast.
Taking the 9T down for cleaning is even easier than for an AR-15 chambered in .223. Because the 9T action operates on blowback, there is no gas tube. This also helps keep the gun clean. I was surprised just how clean it still was after putting half a case of ammo through it. My handguns don’t stay this clean. Field strip entails popping out the two pins that marry the upper and lower receivers, just as with any AR, and then removing the bolt and charging handle. The bolt is quite plain Jane if you’re used to a traditional AR-15. No rotating bolt here. The feed ramp and ejector are incorporated in the lower receiver. It’s a masterpiece of understatement.
I think Stag Arms has done a good job of building a 9mm AR-15 that has what you need and not what you don’t. There is no way to suit everyone’s needs out of the box, but rather than pay for bells I don’t need to ring or whistles I don’t want to blow – I’d rather start with a package like the 9T and change what I need to change – if anything. Whether you think a 9mm carbine could make the ultimate home defense gun, or if you just think knocking cans off a post with it would be great fun, I don’t think you’ll do much better than the Stag Arms 9T for quality, ease of use, and long-term value.