STAG ARMS Model 3T-M—Three-Gun Ready – New Gun Review (VIDEO)

STAG ARMS Model 3T-M—Three Gun Ready

STAG ARMS Model 3T-M—Three Gun Ready

By Justin Opinion
Stag Arms LLC

If you were going to build a new AR-15 with a focus on competition shooting, such as 3-Gun—you would very likely wind up with exactly what you get out of the box with the new-for-2014 Stag Arms Model 3T-M. Assuming of course, that you used the best components and wanted a no-nonsense tactical rifle. No strangers to the competition uses of the modern sporting rifle, particularly the AR platform, the folks at Stag Arms know how to build a stage-ready rifle.

Stag Arms ships the 3T-M in a plastic carrying case with egg-crate foam protection and ample room for extra mags. The case can be locked for security, though I do not know whether it would meet FAA requirements. The evaluation unit was supplied with one magazine—an aluminum 20-rounder. The rifle boasts a Diamondhead hand guard, topped with a pair of aluminum Diamondhead flip-up sights front and rear. A very high-end set of sights as standard fare. The furniture on the 3T-M consists of a Magpul ACS 6-position stock, with some cool little storage compartments (pre-filled with dummy ammo too) and an incorporated sling mount. The pistol grip is the Magpul MOE, which has an excellent stippling.

The Magpul furniture on the 3T-M and both form and function.

The Magpul furniture on the 3T-M and both form and function.

Stag Arms starts with the basics of a standard mil-spec AR-15 and then engineers in the critical performance and reliability that shooters have come to expect from Stag—along with just the right accessories and furniture for an out-of-the-box shooter, without the glitter, sirens and neon paint that some use to market image or perception over practical application.

You won’t find a coffee maker or garage door opener hanging from the rail system of the 3T-M. In fact, you won’t even find much of a rail system on the 3T-M at all, save for the full picatinny top. But from the first moment your hand runs along the small-diameter, smooth and amazingly ergonomic Diamondhead free-floating hand guard, you will understand the “less is more” concept. At 13 ½” over a 16” barrel, the hand guard leaves little but the traditional A2 flash hider and wee end of the barrel peeking out front. This gives you ample room to stretch that arm all the way out for those who like that locked elbow grip. The dimensions of the hand guard are the same all the way down the barrel, and it is about as comfortable as a nice handlebar grip. More than one person who held this rifle at the range went straight home and did some web “shopping” for it.

The author's favorite feature of the 3T-M is this simplistic but ergonomically superior hand guard by Diamondhead.

The author’s favorite feature of the 3T-M is this simplistic but ergonomically superior hand guard by Diamondhead.

The chambering of the 3T-M is 5.56 NATO, meaning you can shoot either the increased pressures of 5.56 or less rowdy .223 ammo. You will typically sacrifice some long-range accuracy for this (versus .223 only), but you gain tremendous advantage in versatility, especially when ammo gets hard to find. But in terms of the observed accuracy of this rifle, I have no doubt that it far exceeds the abilities of this shooter. Results with several brands of ammunition varied at 100 yards but produced some respectable groups.

At 50 yards, my results were more consistent – an attestation more to my skill level and trigger control than the rifle, I suspect. I spent far more time at close distances, often inside 25 yards, shooting match-style target setups from various positions. This, to me, is where this rifle really shines. The hand guard, grip and stock were intelligently selected, with well-designed ergonomics. With six positions to choose from via the stock, the length of the rifle can be tailored for nearly any shooter. The rubber buttpad makes the butt of the rifle stay put, even in run-and-gun activity. The grip texture of the Magpul MOA pistol grip was a nice surprise. I had never used that grip before, but you can bet I made a note about upgrading! With front and rear horizontal grooves and a well stippled grip panel on each side, your hand stays put—which translates to better trigger control. The angle of the grip is very comfortable for extended sessions.

The open sights co-witnessed perfectly with the Aimpoint PRO.

The open sights co-witnessed perfectly with the Aimpoint PRO.

The Diamondhead aluminum flip-up sights that come installed on the 3T-M are outstanding and fully adjustable. The “diamond in a diamond” sight picture takes a little getting used to if you’re not accustomed to it, but it allows a far superior degree of accuracy for the shooter who can hold that bead and squeeze the trigger.

Most of the Stag Arms 3T-M is, as mentioned, standard mil spec. So, there are not a lot of surprises or caveats to talk about when discussing the working parts like bolt carrier, trigger group or receiver construction. But I know that AR enthusiasts want the specs, so here are the key items:

 Barrel: 16” 4140 steel, chrome lined, government profile with a 1/9 twist
 Action: Direct impingement
 Lower receiver: 7075 T6 anodized aluminum
 Upper receiver: Forged, mil-spec 7075 T6 anodized aluminum

The bolt carrier group is coated for corrosion resistance and lubricity, and the gas key is staked in place.

The bolt carrier group is coated for corrosion resistance and lubricity, and the gas key is staked in place.

Bolt carrier: Enhanced with manganese phosphate coating
 Trigger: Standard mil-spec, rated at 5-8 lbs. My 10-pull average was 6 lbs. 10.5 oz.
 Weight: 7.5 lbs.
 Length: 33 ½” – 37” (varies with stock extension)

Takedown, cleaning and reassembly are all standard operating procedure. The rear takedown pin on the copy evaluated was always a bit tricky to get started for re-assembly. I got in the habit of keeping something at hand to tap it with, but after half-dozen repetitions it loosened up. The bolt carrier has a manganese phosphate coating that greatly aids in lubricity—not to the point that you don’t need to lube it, but it is a noticeable difference and also makes the carrier easier to clean. The gas key is properly staked. I did not baby this rifle; I wanted to see what problems it might have if someone neglected it a bit. Until I was ready to put it on a bench at 100 yards, I didn’t clean or lubricate it at all, except for a few initial drops around the bolt carrier.

The 3T-M cycled everything it was fed, without complaint. Even through hundreds of rounds without cleaning or lubing.

The 3T-M cycled everything it was fed, without complaint. Even through hundreds of rounds without cleaning or lubing.

I also didn’t discriminate about the ammo I fed it. It got everything from the good stuff with museum quality brass cases to the cheapest steel-cased stuff, and lots in between. It never failed in any way. No feeding failures. No extraction or ejection failures. Every round went fully into battery every time, and she purred like a kitten when she cycled.

The fit and finish of the Stag Arms 3T-M is superb throughout. The anodized aluminum of both upper and lower have a consistent finish with seams and joints that meet so well they look more like lightly scored lines. Everything from stampings to part fitment seems to have received the kind of attention that one expects from a top-tier manufacturer. The mag well has a nice bevel, which will help you three-gunners with those speed reloads. I used several different magazines with the 3T-M, including P-Mag 30-rounders, and all worked flawlessly and dropped free and fast when released.

Steel cased ammo was no issue for the Stag. Herter's and Tul Ammo steel cased both fed and ejected flawlessly.

Steel cased ammo was no issue for the Stag. Herter’s and Tul Ammo steel cased both fed and ejected flawlessly.

Each time I pulled the 3T-M from the case at the range, it drew attention. “Hey, is that a Stag Arms?” was usually the subtle lead-into “mind if I have a look?” I was tempted to point to the double-sided branding on the cheek rest of the buttstock and make some remark, but I never did. My, how I’ve matured! The truth is it was fun to let folks take a look and handle the rifle. I enjoyed the opportunity to see it for the first time—time and time again—through the eyes of others. I was both interested and amused by which details were important to different people, like the one who spent five minutes exploring and admiring the many storage compartments in the Magpul furniture. But overwhelmingly what got the most attention was the Diamondhead hand guard. Stag Arms made an excellent choice with this selection, and it leaves no question as to the intended purpose of this AR as a competition gun. One minor drawback of the hand guard is that, except for the full length (and perfectly fitted) picatinny rail at its top, it is bare of places to affix accessories like light, bipod, etc. But if you want those, you can get add-on rail sections for the hand guard direct from Diamondhead. And if you don’t need or want them, you have a lot of real estate for gripping the rifle.

This Mil-spec Stag Arms rifle's fit and finish are top quality. And a look at the brass deposits left on the case deflector really makes you appreciate that it’s there!

This Mil-spec Stag Arms rifle’s fit and finish are top quality. And a look at the brass deposits left on the case deflector really makes you appreciate that it’s there!

I didn’t sling the rifle, but if I were to I think I would go for a single-point sling attached at the steel ring (actually, there are two, for right or left hand use) located at the intersection of the buffer tube and lower receiver. The reason I probably never mounted the sling was because it never felt like I needed it. The 3T-M is so cleanly built that it is a non-issue to navigate through a moving course of fire with it, change shooting positions and grip styles, all of which come so easily and naturally, thanks in large part to the ergonomic design of this rifle. There are no edges, corners or tabs that can snag on clothing or gear. Champion shooters learn early on not to equip their guns with anything that does not contribute to better and faster shooting. While I might wish that Stag Arms included at least a bipod mount, I have to respect their decisive approach to the 3T-M, making it a lean, mean machine with no identity crisis at all.

While it may be designed to appeal to the action-oriented enthusiasts, such as 3-Gun competitors, the Stag Arms 3T-M is also a born and bred AR-15, and with that moniker comes an expectation of accuracy. Many of the hundreds of rounds I pumped through this rifle were fed from a rest at varying distances and with varying sighting options. For my initial out-of-the-box experience, I simply flipped up the Diamondhead aluminum sights, shouldered the rifle and put some rounds down range. Next was resting the open-sighted rifle on bags and adjusting them to punch center of paper at 25-40 yards. The sights are easy to adjust, particularly the rear for windage. It doesn’t take long to start making good groups with the open sights.

Of several brands tested, Remington UMC produced the tightest 100 yard group.

Of several brands tested, Remington UMC produced the tightest 100 yard group.

Next, I moved up to a red-dot optic that would be more indicative of a competitive or tactical operator’s use. I chose the Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic) for this purpose, and it was perfectly suited. The Aimpoint and the Diamondhead sights co-witnessed perfectly and gave me the fast acquisition sight picture I needed to run this gun through a moving course of fire.

In the past year we have seen our share of turmoil in the firearms market—and no one gun better exemplifies this than the AR-15. Coveted as a symbol of our American liberty and hated as a symbol of “assault and violence”, the AR-15 platform has been the focal point of the “interesting times” in which we live. For most of the past year, you could not find inventory to purchase, and what you could find was being sold at often exploitive prices (supply and demand 101). Now that the market is reaching some equilibrium, consumers once again have more choice and perhaps an even higher standard. Stag Arms has earned a reputation as one of the few “go to” brands for the modern sporting rifle because it gives the customer high quality and intelligent design at a reasonable price. My experience with the 3T-M indicates that this tradition is alive and well at Stag Arms. Best suited for close-range work and fast acquisition, add a few extras and it is a competent distance shooter too.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • CPL 0326 June 10, 2014, 2:11 pm

    The barrel is too long, 16 inches is too long to maneuver if you took it into combat. Especially for a 556 NATO rifle. Not to mention have you noticed that this guy hasnt maneuvered at all in the video, he was always at prone position or had the barrel laid upon something to support it.

    • CPL 0326 June 10, 2014, 2:13 pm

      Not to mention it isnt accurate at all, anyone say the grouping while he was in prone? The range on the rifle is hilarious too, reading the article it said it had a shorter range than a 223 but a bigger punch. Who cares about the punch if you miss your target?

  • grease May 27, 2014, 12:20 am

    It’s nice, but they ruined it with that horrible bumper sticker on the stock.

  • Nick May 20, 2014, 11:25 am

    Gimme a break. If you think these are on par with DD, Bravo, Colt, etc., you haven’t shot anything else. I live in CT and I know that the owners of Stag are good people, but these aren’t top tier guns. The flip up sights look like they operate with a cloths pin coil. What’s the hang guard made out of by the way? These are budget guns. Unless Stag is sponsoring a competitive shooter, no one in their right mind would compete with an out of the box Stag unless they had financial constraints.

    This type of review is par for the course for this site. Whether it’s a Stag AR, a Mossberg shotgun, or whatever – these articles are always geared to budget guns. While they might be a good value, the author shouldn’t be calling their “fit and finish superb”. It would be nice to actually see some truly super guns reviewed. Why don’t we? Do they have to be a sponsor?

    • Administrator May 20, 2014, 2:01 pm

      What part of STAG makes parts for most AR manufacturers don’t you understand? Does anyone want to explain the keyhole secret?

    • Steve May 27, 2014, 7:01 am

      You think very highly of yourself… you should go do your own reviews. The guy took a lot of time and did a decent write-up.

      I don’t consider STAG a high-end rifle but it definitely isn’t bottom rung either, to all the guys slinging mud at STAG I would be really interested to hear what you are shooting.

      • Nick2 June 2, 2014, 9:01 am

        What am I shooting? I own many, but the one AR that comes to mind that would put this gun to shame in 3 gun is my Daniel Defense V2LW. I’ve made more than a few upgrades to it, but replacing the trigger with a Giselle SSA and replacing a useless flash hider with a BattleComp alone would make it a much better gun than this for 3 gun. And as one person mentioned already, it doesn’t have a silly bumper sticker on the stock.

        Also I could care less what Stag makes for someone else. We’re looking at the sum of all parts here and my point is that a Stag is not a top tier gun. You get what you pay for.

        • 8541 HOG December 13, 2014, 1:57 pm

          Have you been to combat with an AR platform rifle or in a gunfight with a barracaded suspect with an M4/AR15????? IF so…then fine, I guess you have a reason to like what you like. All these opinions about what is better and what sucks….as far as I can tell you are shooting at paper and steel……let me know when those 2 targets start shooting back and Ill listen to your opinion about the quality of a rifle…especially when it saves your life! ……Owning a DD carbine or BCM doesn’t make you a badass rifle operator it makes you someone with lots of money who likes to show off his high end shit. And really how does the review of this particular rifle or the opinions of anyone on here really effect you and your life….get over yourself and mind your own business, If you don’t prefer a STAG rifle…don’t buy a STAG rifle…but don’t knock someone else who is interested in it and wanting to get into the sport or just simply try something different. And just because I’m sure you are gonna say something cute…..I shoot a Noveske..(you know..a TOP TIER gun)….and I’m not on here running my mouth about how much better it is or how much better I am just because I own it nor am I running down other guns. In fact, Im looking at this rifle for my wife…so she can start enjoying sport/recreational shooting…but I guess I better go spend $2000+ on an AR or its just plain CRAP.

          • JohnWick December 17, 2016, 9:59 am

            Well said Hog. Besides, if you’re in combat, prissy 3 gun, won’t always work with the cheap
            Military Surplus Ammo. The primers are too hard. Stag 3T, is a perfect rifle for your Wife.
            PS, let me know how it worked out, my Wife is getting interested in mine. Oh No!

  • Bill May 19, 2014, 3:08 pm

    if its not hand made by les baer. lwrc etc it is ar it probably has some part on it made by stag

  • Kevin May 19, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Based on the specs above, I am glad I purchased their previous 3Gun AR – the Stag 3G. I hope Stag positions 3T-M as a lower priced entry point into 3Gun, and not as a “new and improved version.” Their other 3Gun model, the 3G, uses a Geissele Super 3 Gun (S3G) trigger, Samson Evolution forearm, Stag Compensator, and 18″ barrel with rifle length gas system. According to the review above, the 3T-M uses a standard MIL-SPEC trigger, Diamondback rail, 16″ barrel (which I will assume is a carbine length gas system), and standard birdcage. As for the rail, individual choice as both companies make very good rails. In my view, the trigger, barrel, and compensator are the biggest differentiators that are also enabling the lower cost. Anyone who has spent anytime behind a higher quality AR trigger can tell the difference between that and a standard MIL-SPEC trigger…it is night and day. With the goal of 3Gun to enable the shooter to have quick, follow up shots, the carbine length gas and the lack of a compensator will limit their effectiveness.
    I am a Stag fan. I am thrilled with my 3G purchased in Nov 2013. I spent several months researching the options and test firing different manufactures when I had the option. The only mod I made to the 3G was an adjustable gas block (Syrac). This was due to the different loads I am working up (55/69/75gr) and for my suppressor.

    Best of luck. Shoot straight and often.

    • Ceapea May 20, 2014, 9:00 am

      I couldn’t agree more.
      I too purchased my 3G in November ’13, and I was thinking the same as you about their “new” 3-gun rifle.
      I cannot see any improvement, and like you said, perhaps a few steps backward. My 3G is a great rifle and as it should be, it is a tack driver. I am considering the adj. gas block at future time. For now, as it is, it is hard to beat.
      Oh, and the price for my 3G back in November?
      I paid $1129 OTD!

    • Badabing August 28, 2014, 12:15 am

      Kevin, thank you for your excellent description of the differences in the 3T and 3G. I am looking to purchase a rifle soon, and I was originally looking at the 3G. Then I saw the 3T on gun broker for several hundred less. The trigger group alone makes up for the cost differential. I’ll likely be going with a 3G



  • Donald Trump May 19, 2014, 12:23 pm

    Nobody at the range is getting excited to look at some Stag Arms gun. I call BS. Its an AR15. Seen one, you seen them all. And everyone at the range has one. Its not like its a good or unique gun. Like a Tavor.

  • Elkhunter May 19, 2014, 10:42 am

    Just my own experience with Stagarms. I purchased a model 3 a couple of years ago, just before the shtf for AR buyers. I knew there already was a lead time of a few months, but no big deal. After a few months I signed in to check my order, and it showed it did not exist. Contacted them and was told orders after a certain date had been cancelled ( I missed the cutoff by 2 days). I contacted them and re-iterated, take all the time you want, put me at the bottom of the list and start over. Received a no apology response stating that new orders had been suspended and they would not reinstate mine. Seems like they over reacted a bit, as I found they started taking new orders just a few months later. Miffed? Yeah, I’m not used to this treatment when spending $1500 with a company. It all worked out as I eventually found a Colt 6920mp for less than I would have spent on the Stag. To be fair, I applaud Stagarms for keeping their prices down during the craziness, and I still think they make fine weapons. Just wish they would have tried a little harder to work out a deal with me.

  • Nick May 19, 2014, 9:51 am

    All Stags should come with a paper bag for the shooter to wear on their head if they have to be seen in public with one. Why do we see reviews of garbage like this instead of reviews of Bravo Company or Daniel Defense rifles?

    • Administrator May 19, 2014, 10:14 am

      I’m going to let this through because it was probably posted by someone working at Bravo Company, who probably buy their uppers and lowers from STAG. STAG rifles are extremely high quality, made by passionate and old time gun nuts, not johnny come latelies, like most of the new AR makers who are ex military. STAG probably made the receivers of most of the ARs you have ever seen. They are a primary supplier have been since before the ’08 boom.

      • Elkhunter May 19, 2014, 10:22 pm

        Touche, administrator. I posted my glitch in dealing with Stag. But I also admit I wanted one. Just a customer service problem. I do think they are a fine company, and have top notch rifles, I regret we could not come to an understanding. I am trying to work out my issues. Maybe I will seek therapy. ( see my other comment). Enjoyed the review.

  • Kevin Calongne May 19, 2014, 8:24 am

    The groups posted are not acceptable for a competition rifle. That should have been stated in the article.

  • Steve May 19, 2014, 6:33 am

    Nice writeup, what is the price as reviewed?

    • Dave Higginbotham May 19, 2014, 8:41 am

      Oops. Apologies. The MSRP is $1,160. Retail should be closer to $1,000 when supply catches up with demand.

  • Spike Lake May 19, 2014, 4:00 am

    Nice review of what looks like a fine rifle.
    So how come there’s no price included?
    Did the reviewer not ask or just omit the price intentionally?
    Or is there no price yet.
    Every complete review ought to include a price.

    • Justin Opinion May 19, 2014, 9:50 am

      Apologies about the price info. It is included in one of the spec graphics, but I agree with you that I should have also mentioned it in the review. $1,160 is the MSRP of the model tested.

      • Muhjesbude May 20, 2014, 6:57 am

        Well, at least it’s not one of those tricked and freaked out overweight $1600. plus ones that anyone can replicate and put together for half that amount. But if you’re not mechanic minded or inclined then if you search Cheaper than Dirt or CDNN, i believe, you can now get a decent Windham carbine for $610. complete and ready to do just as well as this one. But at half the price.

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