Stag Arms 6.8mm SPC

BEFORE we take a look at Stag Arms’ latest offering,…

BEFORE we take a look at Stag Arms’ latest offering, a bit of history concerning the birth of the 6.8x43mm cartridge is in order. The 6.8x43mm (6.8mm SPC) cartridge goes back to the abortive 1992 Mogadishu, Somalia mission documented in the book Blackhawk Down. Rangers and Special Forces troops armed with the 5.56x45mm (.223) M4 and M4A1 carbines found, to their dismay, that although they shot “Sammies” repeatedly, as often as not they didn’t go down but kept fighting, which got some very good men killed. Because of this, by the late 1990s, alternatives to the 5.56x45mm round were being explored by US Army Special Forces. A number of rounds were considered, including the 7.62x39mm, which is totally incompatible with the AR platform and cannot be adapted to the M4.

Experiences in Somalia were confirmed in more recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where enemy combatants continue to be shot with standard M855 ball ammunition with wounds that are narrow, “through and through” shots similar to those that might have been inflicted by a .22 Mag. This is less of an issue for law enforcement, which isn’t restricted to “ball” ammunition and can use expanding bullets against the “bad guys,” but even so, bigger is generally considered better and so the 6.8mm is a round that provides an alternative caliber to law enforcement, especially in short-barreled carbines where the 6.8’s ballistics overshadow those of the 5.56mm.

stagg4.gifCartridge Details
The 6.8mm SPC was fully developed and recommended for adoption by Army Special Forces units by the time the War on Terror began. The 6.8mm SPC was designed to perform in essentially the same role as the 5.56mm, but with enhanced terminal ballistics out to 550 meters. In testing, the 6.8mm surpassed all types of 5.56mm rounds in every area of terminal ballistics at any range from point blank to 500 meters. Because of this, in 2002 it was recommended that the 6.8mm SPC round be adopted as soon as possible as the standard caliber for USSOCOM and some other special warfare organizations. As of early 2008, this has yet to be implemented for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article, but the 6.8mm SPC is superior to the 5.56mm in terms of both terminal ballistics and barrier penetration, key attributes for law enforcement.

Terminal ballistics expert Lt. Cdr Gary Roberts explored the implications of the 6.8mm SPC for law enforcement in depth in March 2004. Once the decision has been made to employ lethal force, law enforcement weapons have only one purpose: to stop dangerous individuals as quickly as possible to prevent them from continuing their threatening activities. According to Roberts’ study, 6.8mm SPC Development and Implications for Law Enforcement: “Bullets…must reliably penetrate a minimum of…10 to 12 inches of tissue in order to ensure disruption of the major organs and blood vessels in the torso from any angle.” In order to achieve this, 5.56mm bullets must yaw, expand significantly or fragment in order to create the permanent wound cavity required to reliably incapacitate violent individuals. Even with expanding rounds available to law enforcement, Lt. Cdr Roberts concluded through extensive testing that after being shot with any 5.56mm bullet, “…vioent suspects can remain a danger to law enforcement personnel and the pubic.”

One thing that we should remember is that the 5.56mm round was originally intended for hunting small game and varmints. In many states it is illegal to hunt deer with a 5.56mm/.223. Considering that many adult deer are approximately the size and weight of a human, the question arises as to just how effective a .223 can be on human targets. To quote again from Lt Cdr Roberts’ in-depth study, “Compared to current 5.56mm carbines, pistol caliber SMGs and small caliber PDWs, the 6.8mm offers law enforcement a cost effective, yet significantly improved capability to rapidly incapacitate and stop dangerous individuals who pose an immediate threat to public safety….” With many law enforcement organizations changing from submachine guns and pistol caliber carbines to M4-type carbines, the ballistic shortcomings noted by the military have come to the attention of American law enforcement.

Although the 6.8mm SPC’s ballistics are demonstrably superior to those of the 5.56mm, the 5.56mm remains a primary law enforcement cartridge because it is widely available and ammunition has been relatively plentiful and inexpensive. Recently, however, 5.56mm ammunition prices have risen and availability has been curtailed as military demand for 5.56mm ammo increased because of operations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Also, 6.8mm ammunition has been a long time coming in quantities needed for law enforcement. Another factor is the lack of weapons to fire the 6.8mm SPC. Until recently, only Barrett Firearms offered 6.8mm SPC carbines, but that has changed as other manufacturers got on board with 6.8mm SPC carbines and rifles. One of the most recent is the Stag Arms 6.8mm SPC carbine. Ammunition is currently available from Hornady, Remington and Silver State, which specializes in manufacturing 6.8mm cartridges.

stagg2.gifGun Details
One of the best features of the 6.8mm is its simple conversion from existing 5.56mm arms. All that is necessary is a replacement upper receiver to include bolt and bolt carrier, since the 6.8mm case head diameter is larger than that of the 5.56mm. The 6.8mm magazines, different internally than those in 5.56mm, are also required. If the user desires, complete rifles and carbines are available from Stag Arms. For our test, we acquired a Stag Arms 6.8mm SPC 16-inch barreled carbine. Each Stag Arms 6.8mm is shipped with two magazines. We should note that 6.8mm SPC magazines are externally the same as 5.56mm magazines and although there have been reports of successful conversions of 5.56mm magazines to 6.8mm SPC by simply changing followers and springs, we don’t recommend such a “band-aid” fix. If you are going to change over to 6.8mm SPC, order dedicated 6.8mm SPC magazines. We recommend at least five per carbine for LE use. The 6.8mm SPC magazines hold 26 to 28 rounds, depending on manufacturer. Also, the 6.8mm magazines can generally be differentiated from 5.56mm magazines by their red followers that are configured differently. But since Murphy is along for the ride at all times, we like to label the floor plate of our 6.8mm magazines “6.8” just to make sure.

The Stag Arms 6.8 comes ready to be fitted with modern tactical accessories right from the box. The optional Vltor collapsible Modstock is a decided improvement over the original M4 type, with improved configuration that provides a cheek rest that is actually better than a full stock AR. The Modstock configures the shooter’s eye relief perfectly for using optics that are virtually universal in today’s tactical operations, both military and law enforcement. Even better, the Modstock provides waterproof compartments for batteries and other small gear. These compartments are not only waterproof, but can be accessed without removing the stock from the drive spring tube, unlike some others that must have the stock removed in order to access the storage compartments. Furthermore, the latest Modstocks have extra compartments near the toe of the butt and a rubber recoil pad that isn’t necessary for recoil with the 6.8mm, but firmly positions the carbine against the shooter’s shoulder for improved fire control.

Load Comments
  • GlocksRock

    Still a believer in the .300 Blackout (7.62 X 39mm) cartridge. Sending the bigger, heavier AK-47 bullet out 200-250 yards has been a real knock-down round for deer and wild boar. Swapped out *only* the barrel on a spare Stag Arms 1H Upper and it has exceeded my best expectations!

  • S L

    I just purchased the Stag Arms Model 3. I haven’t even picked it up yet but am already contemplating getting the 6.8 upper. Guns are addictive!!



  • Phil S. McKracken

    After reading this blurb early in the article…
    “A number of rounds were considered, including the 7.62×39mm, which is totally incompatible with the AR platform and cannot be adapted to the M4.”…
    One must question the validity of the information you present. Not only CAN the 7.62x39mm be adapted to the AR platform, it ALREADY HAS, and is widely commercially available. So much so, it’s common knowledge. Thus one must question anything the author of this article writes, as he either does not do proper research, is ignorant of the AR platform in general(at the very least), or both. What makes this even more astounding, is the EDITOR apparently believes the same thing… which then brings into question the credibility of the magazine as a whole.
    I followed a link to this article from Stag Arm’s website. Looking at the name of the magazine, I remember picking up a copy and reading it a few months ago. While I don’t remember any glaring inaccuracies in it, I do remember noticing the page layout had the reader having to bounce back and forth because some articles weren’t laid out properly, and also a plethora of spelling and grammatical errors. With the availability of spell and grammar-checking software these days, even a simple every-day ‘Joe’ such as myself has the capability to ‘fix’ such noticeable errors in my e-mail, letters etc…How then a ‘professional’ writer and editor were able to both let these mistakes ‘slip by’, is a mystery to me. Especially when you consider the amount they charge(d)for the magazine.

  • J D

    For the price of the ammo and components, and no more difference that there is in ballistics,I’ll stick to my 7.62X39ARat. I really couldn’t afford to shoot this thing much, at a dollar a pop. I’d end up hanging this thing up in the vault and wishing I wouldn’t have bought it.

  • Jason

    This article has very little to do with the Stag rifle and a lot to do with 6.8 SPC and optional accessories.

  • Smitty

    The author says that the 7.62x39mm is “totally incompatible” with the AR platform,but,Bushmaster makes one that works great.But,the 6.8mmSPC still has more hitting power aka kinetic energy,than the 7.62 commie,with less recoil.Remington just came out with a R-15,chambered in .30 Remington,instead of the 6.8mmSPC.Why?Who knows,but they have an R-25 chambered in 7mm-08,and .243.I’d like one of the new 6.8mm carbines,but with my AR-10,I never worry about having enough hitting power!


  • Robert Bogan

    Would have liked the article more if it had been more about the weapon and not the stuff added to it.