Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit hunting rifle
Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit hunting rifle in 6.5 Grendel (Image courtesy JWT for
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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 Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

6.5 Grendel has been one of my favorite calibers since it first came out, and when Stag Arms chambered the Stag 15 Pursuit in 6.5 Grendel, I was stoked to get my hands on one. I was not disappointed.

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 Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Ammunition for this and all TTAG reviews is sponsored by Ammo To Go. You can support TTAG by shopping at Ammo To Go for ammunition and more.

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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 Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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 Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

Stag Arms Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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 Stag 15 Pursuit 6.5 Grendel hunting rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

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.

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  1. “…allows a right-handed shooter to keep the firing hand thumb on the right side…”
    as in the “correct” side, or do some righty ar folks have their thumbs placed by their trigger finger?

  2. The Grendel is one of my favorite calibers. Reload my ammo because the retail ammo prices for the Grendel are ridiculous.

    • Ed, not to push the ammo sponsorship, but seriously, check out the link in the article for Ammo to Go. Wolf ammo at 84 cents a round and that elk slaying SST round at $1.50. I reload everything as well, but that’s not too expensive at all for quality hunting ammunition. They provided all the commercial ammo for this article and it got here quick.

  3. I don’t know. My biggest problem is the caliber. I’m sure it’s a good one, but I want to walk into a Mom & Pop anywhere in the country and buy ammunition. Not sure I would be able to do that with a 6.5 Grendel. (BTW, I despised reading Beowulf). I am giving the AR platform another chance. Some may remember I’ve disparaged it a few times. As of two days ago I now own three of the damned things.
    As an aside, UPS just dropped off a package from Midway USA while I was typing my comment. Three boxes of Buffalo Bore .44 Spl. loaded with 255 gr. hard cast Keith SWC w/gas check at 1000 fps. That should get someone off me. Guess who’s going to the range tomorrow with a 4″ S&W third model hand ejector. Christmas in August. Supposed to be 115 heat index today.

    • GF, it’s a fairly common round around here, but the intermediate AR calibers are usually prevalent in the Hill Country. I guess the hipsters are good for something after all.
      I am familiar with that particular loading on the 44SPL. It works darn good on our little whitetail under 50 yards and really is just a great round to shoot. The 44SPL is still an underrated cartridge.

        • jwtalor, I also picked up a second model 6.5″ hand ejector target at the same time. Won’t shoot the Buffalo Bore in that one, but I have some vintage Winchester 246 gr. loads for it. Doubtful I’ll part for either before they pay me in the face with a shovel. You can speak to my son John after that. Good luck with that!

        • jwtalor, you want to hear the cherry on top? I already had El Paso Saddlery Tom Three Persons rigs to fit both revolvers.

    • Gadsden, it is muggy as Hades down here right now. Very sauna like, i mean I’m full sweat when i step outside just to sit on porch.

  4. AQ, I feel your pain. I’m just wondering why you would sit on the porch at all. I take my morning constitutional at 0530 hrs EDT. An hour before sunrise. It starts getting hot fast.

    • Lol with wife and 3 kids the Porch is happy place. Nah i actually end up out there because i smoke (cigarettes).

      • AQ and Gadsden, it’s been crazy hot and humid up here by Minnesota standards for the last couple of days. Your conversation reminded me of my neighbor Dave who was out working on one of his fleet of jalopies and said “I swear this heat’s gonna be the death of me yet” – as he flicked another cigarette butt on the driveway next to the other ten or so already there… yeah, not so sure I’d blame the heat.

  5. What part of this gun is actually “Stag?” I’m genuinely curious…it seems like they just buy parts from other manufacturers and assemble them.

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