The Stag Arms Model 7 in 6.8 SPC has been my go-to deer rifle for years. I like its balance and heft as well as the performance of the 6.8 SPC cartridge. There are some excellent AR-platform rifles being built in 6.8 SPC that are well suited for hunting, but when I heard that Stag Arms was offering the Model 7-S—basically the Model 7 with a Nikon 3-9x40mm Active Target Special scope—I knew the combination would be good.
The Stag Arms Model 7-S is equipped with a 20.77-inch barrel so it can really squeeze more speed and energy out of the 6.8 SPC cartridge than a typical 16-inch barrel. Depending on the cartridge, I have collected data that suggests longer barrels increase velocities by 30 to 70 fps. The Model 7-S’ free-floating barrel has a medium contour, tapering down to 0.7 inches in diameter at the muzzle, which has an 11-degree crown. The rifle has a 6.8 SPC II chamber, and the barrel’s four-groove, 1-in-11-inch-twist rifling means it prefers bullets weighing between 90 and 110 grains.
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The low-profile gas block has a rail on top for mounting a front sight, and surrounding the barrel and rifle-length gas system is a round Hogue handguard with rubber overmolding for a comfortable grip.
Like Stag Arms’ Model 7, the Model 7-S uses upper and lower receivers forged from 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. The lower features a fixed A2-style buttstock, a Hogue finger-grooved pistol grip and a nice two-stage trigger. The rifle also comes with a five-shot magazine, which makes it compliant with hunting laws in certain states. Of course, like Stag’s other offerings, the company makes a left-handed version as well.
Deer-Dropping 6.8 SPC Combo
As mentioned, what sets the Model 7-S apart is that it comes from the factory with a Nikon 3-9x40mm Active Target Special scope in a one-piece Nikon M-223 XR mount with 20 MOA of elevation built in. The Active Target scope features spring-loaded Instant Zero Reset turrets as well as a quick-focus eyepiece that is easy to adjust in the field.
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The scope comes with a bullet-drop compensating (BDC) reticle that allows you to compensate for the trajectory of your cartridge through your rifles. The reticle features a vertical stratum with circular aiming points. According to Nikon, the circles are positioned based upon an average trajectory for popular projectiles and cartridges on the market. Of course, you’ll still need to see how your preferred loads match up to with the markings on the reticle. I only had a 100-yard range for testing, but I used the additional aiming points because I knew the hits would be higher at 100 yards. I also compared my cartridge data using a ballistics calculator. This all may seem overly complicated, but I like data and I like knowing how my bullet travels. You can just use the aiming circles below the horizontal stratum in order of 200 yards, 300 yards and so on as a general guideline.
At 100 yards, the Stag Model 7-S gave me 1.01-inch five-shot groups with a Federal Fusion load as well as Hornady’s 120-grain Custom SST ammo. Another load from Hornady, the 110-grain V-MAX, produced a 0.65-inch group, and Silver State Armory’s 100-grain load came in second with a 0.74-inch group. This is impressive performance, and it all translates to a dead deer in a real hunting scenario.
Check out the photo gallery to learn about six other hard-charging 6.8 SPC models for hunting and self defense.
This article is from AR Rifleman 2017. To pick up your copy, please visit OutdoorGroupStore.com.
For more information about the rifles featured in the gallery above, please visit the following sites.
Stag Arms Model 7-S
Barrett REC7 DI
Rock River Arms LAR-6.8 Coyote Carbine
Armalite M-15 LTC 6.8
Lewis Machine & Tool CQBPS68
Wilson Combat Recon SR Tactical