Ever since I reviewed a Stag Arms AR10 back in 2017, I’ve been paying attention to the brand. Over the last couple of years, they’ve branched out a bit, keeping up their quality, but adding a focus on aesthetics as well. For 2023, they’ve further expanded their line with their new Pursuit models. This is an entire line of AR10 and AR 15 format hunting rifles available in a range of calibers.
Stag Arms has put together a complete hunting rifle. They paid attention to all the little things on an AR 15 format rifle that sets it apart from more common military style and tactically-focused guns.
Stag has made the obvious effort to tie in the receiver set and the fore end with a shared style, both in finish and geometry. The fore end itself is a slimline M-LOK compatible model with a full-length top rail and M-LOK slots all around. My only nitpick here is the fore end doesn’t have an integral QD slot, but that can easily be added.
The rifle is Cerakoted in an attractive Midnight Bronze. I doubt it provides any real camouflage value over basic black, but it looks pretty good on a hunting-focused rifle.
The stock and grip are both from Magpul. The stock has a thin leather cheek pad engraved with the Stag logo. It’s a neat touch that further sets the rifle apart.
You have to assume any hunting focused rifle chambered in 6.5 Grendel is going to be mounted with a traditional magnified optic. Stag did well to include a branded ambidextrous Breach charging handle, making it easy to get under the scope’s objective, while also being much easier to manipulate in cold weather with gloves.
Also note the ambidextrous safety. This isn’t a safety switch for left-handed “people”. The left-side switch is a full-width, easy to use safety. The right side is shaved thin. Like a precision bolt gun, this allows a right-handed shooter to keep the firing hand thumb on the right side of the grip and still engage or disengage the safety.
The trigger on the Pursuit is far from “mil-spec”. It’s a Timney curved short 2-stage trigger and it’s a very good one. My Lyman digital trigger scale put the average pull at 3lbs 11.1oz, when averaged over 5 pulls. The extreme spread between the pulls was 1.8oz.
Even though it’s a two-stage trigger, the overall travel is short, and the solid reset is even shorter. For the hunter wanting a fast-follow up shot on game, it’s pretty close to ideal. It’s not bad if you want to hammer a few feral hogs in a row, either.
Stag Arms ships the Pursuit 15 with a single 5-round magazine. It’s a quality metal Duramag branded with the Stag logo. The actual body is the same as the 10-round Duramag, but the blue follower cuts the capacity in half in order to comply with states that require no more than a 5-round capacity. 6.5 Grendel magazines used to be ridiculously expensive but fortunately, that time has passed.
Stag has a Ballistic Advantage’s SPR profile barrel in the 6.5 Grendel model. It’s their 1:8 twist 416 stainless tube with a QPQ finish. It’s all done right, with a Type 2 chamber and a nickel boron coated extended M4 feed ramp extension. That’s what you want to hear and what you’d expect from a quality hunting-focused AR. You’ll also find the appropriate rifle-length gas tube.
The barrel ends with a threaded muzzle and Stag Arms included a VG6 Gamma Brake on the gun. The brake works well, making it easier to get fast follow-up shots on game while still keeping your eye in the glass. The even better option, especially for hunting, is to pull the brake off and attach the appropriate suppressor of your choice.
The bolt carrier is AISI SAE 8620 with a full auto profile and nitride coated, the bolt itself is 9319, also nitride coated.
The gun’s guts are right and the rifle’s performance proves it. I put 460 rounds through the Stag 15 Pursuit over the course of a couple weeks, including two 100-round days. Of the rounds fired, 240 were with a SilencerCO Omega 300 silencer attached to the rifle and 220 rounds were with the factory muzzle brake installed. I fired 240 factory Hornady rounds and the rest were my own reloads of various recipes. No failures of any type occurred.
I was surprised to find that, even with suppressed shooting, the Pursuit wasn’t grossly over-gassed. Even with the silencer attached, brass ejected at the 4 to 5 o’clock position. Without the silencer, brass ejected at the 3-4 o’clock position. With factory 123gr Hornady SST ammunition, that’s pretty good, especially since it’s a direct impingement gun without any kind of gas adjustment valve.
I was interested in how low pressure I could load a round and still have it reliably function. That would be a 90 grain round with anything less than about 35,000 psi, which equals a starting load for several recipes. At that low pressure, I started to get occasional failures to fully chamber the next round, with the rifle unsuppressed. It should be noted this is considerably below the pressure of any common commercial ammunition available. With a suppressor attached it still ran fine. A young child could practice with that load all day, and still take deer with it at 100 yards.
The most precise round for the Stag 15 Pursuit ended up being a 129gr Hornady Interlock bullet loaded near max pressure, printing .8″ five-round groups averaged over four shot strings at 100 yards when fired from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest. PPU’s inexpensive 120gr HPBT didn’t do as well, printing 1.4″ groups under the same conditions.
The round with the best terminal performance of anything I would test, the Hornady 123gr SST commercial load, scored 1.2″ groups. At 200 yards a competent marksman should be able to put that round in a 6″ circle, under hunting conditions, and it would be generating enough energy to ethically kill even a bull elk when it got there. I’ve personally taken quite a few of our little Hill Country whitetail deer out to 300 yards with that round and it’s always done a great job. Plenty of others have taken deer and elk considerably further.
The Stag AR 15 Pursuit is a great hunting rifle and, chambered in 6.5 Grendel, there’s not much game in North America it’s not well suited for. The choice of barrel length and profile, as well as the furniture make for a rifle that’s balanced well between carryability, maneuverability, and precision. The rifle-length gas system isn’t only right for reliability, but also makes the rifle push more than slam in recoil.
Stag Arms not only offers a lifetime guarantee on the materials and workmanship, but also an “Infinite Shot Barrel Guarantee.” No, it doesn’t guarantee your barrel will never experience wear. But Stag offers to replace your barrel when it’s shot out through normal use. That’s no small thing.
And, like all of Stag Arms’ rifles, the Pursuit is offered in both right and left handed models.
SPECIFICATIONS: Stag Arms Pursuit 15 in 6.5 Grendel
Gas System/Length: Direct-Impingement/Rifle
Safety Selector Orientation: Ambidextrous/Fully-Configurable
Color: Midnight Bronze
Caliber: 6.5MM Grendel
Barrel Length: 18″Barrel Material / Finish: 4150 CMV – Nitride
Gas System Length: Rifle
Muzzle: Threaded – 1/2×28 RH
Muzzle Device: VG6 Gamma Brake
Handguard Model: Stag Slimline 16.5″Handguard Material: 6061 Aluminum
Charging Handle Model: Stag Arms Breach Ambidextrous
Bolt Finish: 9310 – Nitride
Bolt Carrier Finish: Full-Auto – 8620 – Nitride
Safety Model: Stag Arms Ambidextrous Configurable Safety 90-Degree
Pistol Grip Model: Magpul MOE K2+
Stock Model: Magpul CTR – Pursuit Leather Edition
MSRP: $1,599.99 (from the Stag Arms website)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
There’s only so much you can do to an AR-15 to improve its looks, and Stag Arms has done it.
Customization * * * *
This is a modern AR. Magpul furniture, full-length M-LOK rail, good drop-in trigger, threaded muzzle. One star off for no adjustable gas system.
Accuracy * * * * ½
I only had a couple of commercial rounds to test, but neither broke the 1″ mark. Reloads, however, did.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect, suppressed or not.
Overall * * * * ½
I had to take something off for the lack of an adjustable gas system and no commercial round breaking 1″, but if you’re in the market for an AR 15 rifle format for hunting — and you should be — the Stag 15 Pursuit should be at the very top of your list. I kicked myself for not picking up the Stag AR10 after reviewing it back in 2017. I won’t make the same mistake with the Stag 15 Pursuit.