There are a lot of unnecessary add-ons people may throw onto a patrol carbine, defeating its purpose entirely. When building a patrol carbine, it’s important to start with a strong base and add only what you need—accessories that will help you get the job done every time. So I looked to two leaders in the industry: Stag Arms and Midwest Industries.
Stag Arms has been making AR components for decades, and when they started building complete guns, I was one of the first writers to review their products. I was impressed then and I remain so now, owning several Stag Arms rifles in both direct gas impingement and piston configurations. The same can be said for Midwest Industries, as their rail system was the first add-on component I placed on a gun. Their accessories have always been robust, precise, superior in fit and finish, and second to none in quality, regardless of manufacture. While I shoot and utilize other companies’ guns and accessories, Stag Arms and Midwest Industries remain my first choice when spending my own money.
When building a patrol carbine, it is critical to start with a quality base. I have spoken with many young officers who try to build “franken-guns.” They find inexpensive components at gun shows and think they can just slap them together. This seldom works. I remember trying to acquire quality gear as a young officer, paying a mortgage, raising kids, making car payments on a shrinking budget, but every time I tried to cut corners to save money, it seldom worked. I found it best to just save my money until I could do it right.
Stag Arms makes top-quality ARs at a reasonable price, and their “Plain Jane” Model 1 is a great base to start with. It could easily hit the street as-is. With its 16-inch, 1-in-9-inch-twist chrome-lined barrel, six-position adjustable stock, forged mil-spec upper, 5.56mm NATO chamber and carry handle/rear sight, the Model 1 is street-ready, accurate and reliable. The carry handle can be removed to reveal a section of Picatinny rail, which is great for mounting a preferred optic, though a solid argument can be made to use iron sights on a cruiser carbine.
A quick trip to the range revealed that my test Model 1 was capable of 1.5- to 2-inch groups using the iron sights at 100 yards. After 400 rounds of various ammo styles went downrange, I knew I had a reliable platform upon which to build my patrol carbine. The next phase was to look through the Midwest Industries catalogue to find only those accessories that would bolster my carbine for street work.
While AR accessories abound, I believe only two accessories are really necessary for the officer on a budget looking to wring the most performance out of his carbine: a sling and a white light. An optic is certainly worthwhile as it makes combat sighting easier, but if you are on a strict budget, I would say that iron sights are more than enough as they have worked in war after war. Adding a white light to the forend of an AR is much easier if rail space is available and Midwest makes this very easy. While small sections of rail can be added to the plastic forends, having a multi-railed forend offers mounting options if additional accessories are needed in the future.
Additionally, where the flashlight is mounted can be controversial, as side-mounting (three or nine o’clock positions) results in part of the white light being blocked by the barrel and sight tower. A six o’clock mount does not totally escape this phenomenon, either. By having a complete rail system, the shooter can adapt the white light location to meet their end needs. A rail system also permits the addition of a sling mount if the supplied loops do not meet requirements.
Midwest’s Gen2 Drop-In Handguard is the perfect solution. It’s easy to install and requires no gunsmithing. Made from 6061 aluminum and hardcoat anodized, this forend is light in weight while offering a high-quality and precise Mil-Std-1913 rail platform. It is also available in carbine-, mid- and rifle-length configurations.
Another item MI sent that I found interesting was a Tactical Hand Stop, a piece of machined aluminum that will fit on any Picatinny rail and is designed to keep the hand from going forward of the muzzle during conflicts. I found it to be of great use when trying to hold the muzzle down during rapid fire. I have never warmed up to the vertical foregrip, though I do see the advantages they offer. I am just set in my ways, I guess. I used the Tactical Hand Stop a bit differently—I mounted it as prescribed, but I placed my hand forward of the stop and then cammed back on it by bending my support-side elbow much like a Weaver pistol stance. This helped keep the muzzle down while offering a consistent grasp on the gun. Consistency is everything in combative weaponcraft and this small Hand Stop proved to be a real asset for me.
Since I plan to add a red-dot optic to my cruiser carbine in the future, I pulled off the carry handle and added Midwest’s Emergency Rear Sight (ERS). With its A2-style dual aperture and thick, rugged pivot ears, the ERS is tough enough for the street or battlefield. Also made from 6061 aluminum, the ERS offer the same-sized adjustment knob as the factory M16/M4 systems along with a locking detent with a double locking surface for added strength. The sight is easy to flip up but requires the release of a locking tab to close, so it is not going to be closed accidentally.
Reducing muzzle flash while keeping the muzzle on target for fast follow-up shots is always a worthwhile goal, and Midwest Industries offers the right accessory for this as well. Their Impact Flash Hider acts as a flash suppressor, muzzle brake and impact device in the event a car window or other intermediate barrier needs to be dealt with. Made from tool steel and coated with a Melonite finish, the unique cuts in the tube help decrease muzzle rise while keeping muzzle flash out of the eyes of the shooter.
All said and done, the Stag remained light, sleek and a real pleasure to work with. Shooting fast, multiple-shot groups anywhere from contact distance to 50 yards was accomplished with ease. All of the Midwest accessories worked as designed. The ERS sight provided a clear and precise sight picture while the Impact Flash Hider did exactly what its name suggested. While I did not get the opportunity to break any glass, I did shoot the Stag after dark and was most impressed with the unit’s ability to reduce muzzle flash. Midwest Industries and Stag Arms both make exceptional gear. Bringing them together for real-world use is just a no-brainer.
Equipping a patrol carbine is a very personal “journey” and it should be given serious consideration. Each officer has specific needs he or she has to fulfill. In the end, it is up to you. And if you are like me, you do not have money to burn, so give it thought and do it well. But consider Midwest Industries gear on a Stag carbine—you won’t be