The 3G utilizes a rifle-length direct gas impingement operating system that allows you to confidently switch between hunting, defense, and target loads without worrying about adjusting the gas system. While the hot gases raise the temperature in the chamber during extended firing, their tolerances and materials are designed so that this heat buildup won’t be an issue for reliability—in the field test, we spent a lot of money in a short amount of time failing to make the 3G jam.
The rifle-length gas system seemed to soften the recoil impulse slightly as well, though this is completely subjective…and many other factors go into the lightening of the 3G’s powder-puff recoil.
The 18 inch stainless steel barrel is fluted to dissipate heat, which slightly improves accuracy and might greatly improve barrel life but most noticeably keeps down weight. It is free-floated inside of a Samson Industries 15 inch milled aluminum handguard with distinctive S-pattern relief cuts that are attractive, vent gas, and offer attachment points for the (included) lengths of optional RIS rails. The hanguard is sleek and didn’t snag on our clothing as we swung the rifle around on various slings…and without the bulk and protruding flats of a quad rail, didn’t snag on barricades or snow fencing during tactical runs.
I especially appreciate that its rail-free—except for where you place the modular rails, if you choose to use them at all—design allows me to grab it anywhere, and many times a day, without ripping skin off…or needing to wear gloves. For shooting through open windows and leaning into barricades—whether in a match or shooting around the farm—I like that I can slide the smooth handguard against a solid surface until my body is in place without RIS rails biting things like saw teeth.
Crowning the threaded barrel is Stag’s own 12 port 3G compensator, which puts nine ports on top to create muzzle-stabilizing downward thrust and includes three ports in the front, just above bore line. When I asked a Stag representative about those ports, he explained that they helped reduce the amount of expanding gas directed through the upper vents, to minimize a peculiar phenomenon I found: muzzle dip.
Practical shooting, be it in competitions or in those field-expedient positions you twist into when the coyotes chase across your field, sometimes leaves you shooting off-balanced. I mimicked those conditions, essentially letting recoil have its way with the 3G and my shoulder, and found that the muzzle brake made the muzzle actually dip a few degrees. Steadying my posture fixed the peculiar opposite of muzzle rise, and subsequent testing showed that the compensator could keep the muzzle vertically stable through rapid fire strings.
This enabled an easy transition between targets that left a nice horizontal dispersal of holes as I timed shots while swinging across the field of fire. Tracking a moving target, sans muzzle rise, should be easy…and I look forward to that challenge at the next match.
Aiding accuracy is the Geissele Super 3 Gun trigger, a popular upgrade for competition guns that isn’t generally found on tactical models. It provides a clean, single stage trigger pull that requires a few millimeters of smooth travel before releasing, but doesn’t have the two-weight, two-stage feel of many triggers—there’s no pulling it most of the way and resting just shy of releasing your round…
…which I like on my practical rifles. This trigger was actually developed spun off from one they developed for the US Special Operations community for close quarters battle work. The theory holds that you don’t want to get in the habit of pulling a trigger halfway back, feeling that last bit of resistance, and holding there, a few ounces from eternity…because if the situation changes downrange, or anything happens to the smallest bit of your balance, you’re in for an accidental discharge. Also, a smooth, evenly-weight pull with no stacking or second stage resistance makes for much more accurate shooting at long ranges.
The light (3.5 pound), single stage trigger is the only hang-up in recommending the 3G for defensive work, but with proper trigger discipline and familiarity, becomes a very minor issue.
The first two changes many shooters make to their ARs is to the grips and the stock, often chucking the mil-spec grips angrily at the nearest wall. Everyone and their uncle make aftermarket grips, and some of the most comfortable come from Magpul. Their MOE grip is a straightforward grip that has a smoother, wider, more comfortable feel than mil-spec grips; swapping it out for a new grip would be pure vanity, but you certainly can.
The 3G includes the Magpul ACS stock with its clever, angled upper sides that are smooth and exceedingly comfortable for making a solid cheek weld—repeatable, comfortable cheek welds being crucial for accuracy…particularly when using optics. The general shape and design of the stock feels as solid, intuitive, and repeatable, as that of my fixed-stock bolt action rifles.
Taken together, these components should add up to a match-ready gun…but is it useful? Stay tuned to find out how the Stag 3G performs!
Story & Photos by Dave Norman