Had enough of the AR-15 barrage? It seems there’s an AR built for every individual task and purpose and many of us have collected more than a few. What about that “go-to” rifle?  Digging through the piles of ultra lightweight truck guns and heavy-as-can-be target rifles, we seem to have lost the all-purpose “go-to” rifle that we can rely on to run accurately and fill a variety of needs.

Five or 10 years ago that would have meant some sort of M4 clone; boring and simple, but reliable. A lot has changed since then and features once dreamt of are now standard — standard if you’ve got your hands on a DoubleStar ZERO Carbine.

DoubleStar ZERO Carbine Build

I got my hands on the DoubleStar ZERO Carbine at the 2018 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in Montana. It’s a build that simply makes sense.


The heart of every rifle is its barrel. In an upgrade from DoubleStar’s Always Ready Carbine, the ZERO uses a Wilson air-gauged heavy barrel. These American-Made 416R stainless barrels are built to match-grade standards and feature hand-polished bores and feed ramps.

DoubleStar finished the barrel’s business end off with a precision crown, which hides behind the Alpha compensator. One look at the compensator and it’s clear DoubleStar designed the Alpha to keep the muzzle flat and on target for follow-up shots.

Cloak Handguard

To balance out the heavy barrel, DoubleStar used its new 15.5-inch Cloak handguard.

The Cloak features MLOK slots at the 12, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9 o’clock positions, ensuring plenty of real estate to attach your favorite accessories while also keeping the handguard slim and lightweight.

A section of Picatinny rail on the last couple inches rises to keep your front sight at the same height over bore as the upper receiver. The rear of the handguard features an integrated quick-detach mounting spot for a sling on both left and right sides.

Upper Receiver

The upper and lower receiver are forged of 7075 T6 aluminum and anodized to military specifications. The carrier is 8620 and the bolt is Carpenter 158.

“T” marks along the upper receiver’s rails make for quick indexing should you be the type to remove and replace optics.

The extractor system has been upgraded for hard use.

Completing the upper receiver area is DoubleStar’s billet Backbone charging handle. It features a larger area for grasping and slightly higher shoulder to reduce gas leaking into the shooter’s face.

Lower Receiver

DoubleStar built the lower receiver using mostly mil-spec parts. This is a choice I can appreciate as triggers, safety selectors and magazine releases are easy to change, and we all have our preferences. Any upgrade from mil-spec by DoubleStar would increase cost and likely not please shooters, especially since they can install their favorite at home.

Where things do stray from the usual is the winter trigger guard and Ergo Ambi Sure Grip. This combination is very comfortable. It also eliminates the gap at the rear of most trigger guards, which results in what I call “patrol knuckle.”

Anyone who has carried an AR-platform rifle for any length of time knows the pain as the gap between the rear of the trigger guard and front of the pistol grip slowly wear away the flesh on your firing hand’s middle finger. With this rifle, there is ZERO patrol knuckle.


Behind a receiver end plate with sling attachment points on either side is the beard-friendly ACE SOCOM stock.

The SOCOM is beefy enough for “social” work while also providing a nice rubber cushion so your shirt still looks presentable after such a confrontation. Five positions ensure you’ll find the right length of pull while the top of the stock offers yet another sling mounting solution.

A foam sleeve wraps the receiver extension tube and protects the cheek against both hot and cold.

Final Thoughts on the DoubleStar ZERO Carbine

Put it all together and the DoubleStar ZERO Carbine is built for fight and fun. It immediately performed at the range in Montana with consistent hits on target.

The phrase “everything you need with nothing you don’t” comes to mind. The ZERO carbine has the right amount of features while still freeing up space; you know, space in the safe after it replaces a few of those overly specialized builds that just never seem to have a good use.

Be sure to watch our range test of the ZERO Carbine.

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DoubleStar ZERO Carbine Specs

  • Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
  • Modes of Fire: Semi-Automatic
  • Barrel Length: 16 inches
  • Barrel Type: Wilson Air Gauged
  • Twist Rate: 1:8
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Sight/Gas Block: Low Profile Gas Block
  • Muzzle Device: Alpha AR Comp.
  • Handguard: Cloak MLOK Handguard; 15.5 inches
  • Charging Handle: Billet Backbone Charging Handle
  • Fire Control Group: Standard Trigger Group
  • Capacity: 30+1
  • Buttstock: ACE Socom Stock
  • Pistol Grip: Ergo Ambi Sure Grip
  • Action: Direct Gas Impingement
  • MSRP: $1,479.99

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