The concept of a bug-out bag (or kit) is nothing new. Whether it came into being in the wake of well-publicized emergencies or the run-up to the millennium, I can’t really remember. It is, essentially, a ready-loaded emergency stash containing a firearm, ammo, food, tools, flashlight and anything else you’d want on hand in the event of a (hopefully) temporary civic meltdown—say a natural disaster, riot or whatever. In theory, it’s something you can grab and go with—leaving wherever you are in order to get somewhere you’d rather be.
Obviously, we’re talking short-term survival here. But with the undeniably upscale Stag Arms’ Executive Survivor’s Kit, we’re moving well beyond the “SKS, 100 rounds, a couple cans of tuna, water bottle and flashlight in a duffel bag” approach.
Inside of a very nice Pelican 1700 Long Case, nestled in compartmentalized foam recesses, I found a Stag Arms M2 AR featuring a Diamondhead Versa-Rail handguard topped with an EOTech Holographic Red Dot optic, a field repair kit, Otis AR-15 cleaning kit, sling, two 30-round magazines, Gerber MP 600 multi-pliers, Gerber Omnivore LED flashlight, spare AA batteries, a first-aid kit, 60 rounds of Federal M193 5.56 ammo and one MRE (in this case, beef enchilada with a full array of extras).
The only thing lacking is $1,000 in gold coins, which would drive up the weight—not to mention the MSRP.
The weight of the entire kit, incidentally, is a shade over 28 pounds, which makes those roller wheels on the Pelican case less of a luxury than a necessity. Permanent vehicle storage would seem to be the order of the day.
After playing around with the assorted items in the kit (and managing to cut myself on the very sharp knife blade of the Gerber multi-pliers), I took the M2 out to the range. Originally, I’d intended to only use the supplied Federal ball ammo, but I chickened out and brought along some Black Hills 55-grain V-Max and Hornady Superformance 53-grain .223 loads as well.
I decided to do my shooting with the EOTech installed, primarily because (1) it’s got a very high cool factor and (2) I’d never had the opportunity to use one before. I’ve used standard red dot sights, and while they can be very effective at the 100-yard distance I’d be shooting at, it’s a bit tough to shoot tiny groups with them. Or at least groups that are really indicative of the rifle’s potential. The EOTech is a lot better in that regard because the 1X unit features a red dot inside of a red circle.
This reticle can be instantly adjusted for intensity. If you dial it down you get an almost ghost-ring effect with the central small dot assuming the dimensions of a bright one-MOA pinprick, which is fairly easy to center on a 5½-inch bullseye target at 100 yards. No, it’s not as well suited to that purpose as a duplex-type crosshair, but it’s very fast and works well in lighting that would render a conventional scope problematic (your field of view at 100 yards, assuming four inches of eye relief, is a very generous 90 feet). Anyway, it can be taken off the 1913 rail very quickly without tools should you want to go with the standard aperture rear/front post setup. But those extra AA batteries mean you’ve got enough run time for anything short of an end-of-the-world situation.
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After setting the collapsible stock to its full-length setting, I spent a couple of rounds horsing the sight into zero at 25 yards. Then I fine-tuned things at 50 and moved the target out to 100. Elevation and windage adjustments are easily made via two screws on the right-hand side of the optic. They’re half-minute, so if you’re used to quarter-minute adjustments, try not to go overboard.
The single-stage trigger was nice and crisp, breaking at just barely over six pounds. The A2-type flash suppressor and 16-inch barrel meant that regular earmuffs—rather than plugs—are pretty much mandatory. Functioning was flawless as I pretty much expected; most M16/M4-platform rifles have been tweaked and R&D’d to death in the last couple of decades, and this Stag was no exception.
Groups with the three loads averaged from 11/2 to two inches. I’m almost certain a more “bullseye dedicated” sighting arrangement (not to mention a more bullseye-dedicated operator) would have yielded tighter results, and I think a more varied menu of loads would have helped in that regard as well. Still, this is an accurate, reliable carbine. With all the accessories in the case, you’d be pretty well equipped to deal with a short-term emergency scenario. And that MRE wasn’t half-bad either.