Stag Arms VS Spikes Tactical


March 18, 2010, 10:26 AM
Hey guys, I'm doing my AR build and the next step is the upper. Now, the two that I'm looking at are:

Stag Arms Model 2H found here:

Spikes Tactical M4 LE found here:

So the question is, which is better and why?

There is actually one aspect of the Spike's that confuses me. It is an LE designation, and Spike's told me that this is the model that they sell to Law Enforcement. They also said that it is made to the higher spec's of LE. BUT, they are machined from the exact same materials as their other products, so what is the real difference?

They are actually able to sell the LE version at a lower price because of their large orders from LE contracts (from their mouth). SOOO if that's the case, and it is supposedly manufactured at a higher standard, why produce any of the other types at all? Why not just produce the LE version and streamline things even more, making them even less expensive at retail?

Other benefits of buying the Stag are that it comes with a flip up rear sight for the same price while the Spike's doesn't. I also wouldn't have to pay tax on the Stag, but would on the Spike's because I live in Florida.

Now if someone can tell me why the Spike's LE is superior (or even inferior), then it's a no brainer.

Also, any other recommendations in that price range?

Thanks all!

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March 18, 2010, 11:50 AM
I can't tell you if one is better than another. Using the same materials helps level the playing field, but it's not the main reason one could be superior in quality.

Machining tolerances are one area. If the specifications are held to a tighter standard, then one might be better than another. Holding +/- .015 rather than +/-.030 will reduce the tolerance stack and eliminate the wider variations that generally create fit or operating issues.

Inspection is another. If you magnetic particle inspect EVERY bolt, you will find almost all the flawed ones and eliminate them. If you only inspect one of one hundred, more defective bolts will slip through, guaranteed.

Tighter tolerances and tougher inspections increase the parts not sold, shifting the expense to those that make the grade. Make 1,000 bolts and lose 11, or 35? Manufacturer's play a numbers game and balance it out with customer service. Some of the marginal bolts may never fail. 200 rounds and a permanent home in a safe tend to promote that.

That's why you see two different price levels - one hopefully because the standards were tougher, another because the average shooter really doesn't. What is extremely important is that two different retailers will have different standards and make marketing decisions on how strong the perception of quality may be. What happens then is both could very well have nearly identical failure rates.

It's a guessing game, your's is just as good as anyone elses. Nobody does a Consumer Report on firearms, testing standards have no standard, and branding influences a lot of buyers more than they want to admit.

It's a lot like politics, consensus opinion can work for you, or against you. Good luck.

March 18, 2010, 12:25 PM
make marketing decisions on how strong the perception of quality may be

"Perception" is the operative word.

branding influences a lot of buyers

True, with one addendum: people like to FEEL like they have something special, so they'll pay extra for the same thing with a "premium" brand.

Spikes Tactical has certainly positioned themselves as a boutique brand, with made-to-order products. I can't say whether their products are better because of it. Stag Arms has positioned themselves as a decent mass-market brand, with a lot of product uniformity, but I can't say their products are not as good because of it, assuming you want a package they sell. Certainly Stag does some LE sales, and undoubtedly they do more volume than Spikes. Volume, standardization, and brand positioning that isn't "boutique" usually do lead to better prices for the consumer, if the specs are agreeable.

March 18, 2010, 12:44 PM
if I was choosing, I would go with the spikes. But thats just me.

March 18, 2010, 01:23 PM
Here's where the gilding metal hits the rifling: There are only a few forgers making the basic platters that are machined into the upper and lowers. Over a dozen, say 15, CNC those and put the distributor's rollmark on the lower. Unless it's a boutique billet part CNC'd from one piece, all the lowers on the market come from those 15 shops. Including the major premium brands. IIRC, even Colt buys at least the platters before machining in house.

Because of the way BATF works with using SN#s and the accounting, that is the first thing that happens on the CNC machine. That way every lower is accounted for, even if it has to be destroyed. Since serial numbers tend to be unique, you can track which shop made which lower before the distributor's name is rollmarked. But generally, all the same brand is done at the same time.

That doesn't mean the next in line is any different - especially since these shops are trying to keep busy. Unless there is some significant reason, the same CNC is profiling the same lower using the same program. Only the name is changed.

How that lower and upper are assembled makes a huge difference. Just screwing on a barrel nut to capture a rifled tube happens everywhere. Whether the upper was checked to be square and the barrel coaxial, what tolerance is used, how it was done, and who's barrel, who knows. The better brands tell the name of the better barrel makers they buy from. In the vast middle range, it's a commodity item and not particularly special.

Those that tout a high standard often use the term "milspec," which can actually only be certified by the acceptance of Tank and Armaments Command. That make only Gov't weapons truly milspec. It is at least a common reference of a minimum standard. It's not the best either - milspec is a slowly evolving standard based on the Army's needs, not the leading edge of what could be done. Hammerforged barrels is a good example. Hammerforged is all the European nations will use, button rifle is milspec. FN sells SCARS with hammerforged, but contract M16A2's were button rifle to conform to milspec. Don't get dragged into the misconception that milspec is magically better in every case. It's not.

Issue M4 carbines are milspec with a 2MOA accuracy potential. Buy a better grade upper from an outside vendor, they might guarantee 1/2MOA, but it might not be milspec in certain features or materials.

Point being, there's a lot of jockeying and marketing about who makes a better AR or part, but lots of it is just advertising. That part could be coming from the same subcontractor - nobody, not even Colt, makes every part for every gun they sell.

That means there is no best. Only better, and the buyer has to decide which set of materials, standards, and assembly constitutes that. Problem is, you don't get to find out much. Nobody's talking, because a customer might have the strange notion what they use is somehow a crap inferior part. They aren't trained engineers, they are just customers, and the customer is always right.

March 18, 2010, 01:54 PM
Issue M4 carbines are milspec with a 2MOA accuracy potential. Buy a better grade upper from an outside vendor, they might guarantee 1/2MOA, but it might not be milspec in certain features or materials.

I think that people think of "milspec" as a good thing, because when it applies to products that are made for the low-end consumer market, with emphasis on price, weight, etc., "milspec" implies better materials, more durability, and design features like shock resistance.

However, a "milspec" rifle is not the same as a "milspec" walkie-talkie, sleeping bag or flashlight. A production hunting rifle may well exceed milspec in some respects, because rifles aren't like plastic flashlights.

Check out this place. Some of their stuff looks neat, some of it's downright funny. This is what people think of when they hear "milspec". The titanium Super Spork. :D

March 18, 2010, 02:08 PM
I'd go with the Spikes because I prefer the 1/7 twist.

March 18, 2010, 02:59 PM
I'd also go with Spikes due to the 1/7 twist barrel. Deosn't Spikes often have m4 ramps as well? Otherwise the quality of the two is about the same from the ones I've seen.

March 18, 2010, 10:05 PM
Spikes for reasons stated above.
I also think the logo is cool. P:)

March 18, 2010, 10:12 PM
Had a Spikes could'nt get it to run traded to my brother in law who says he was an armor in the Army he could'nt get it to run . Took to gun smith he replaced bolt.Word is its alright now. I will never own another Spikes. I dont have any experience with a Stag so in all fairness I cant put them down.

March 18, 2010, 10:15 PM
Every firearms company turns out a lemon occasionally, its no reason to shun them for life. If you never buy guns from companies that have turned out a dud, you would have a very small collection, perhaps none.

March 18, 2010, 10:35 PM
This is true. However when I get the dud I dont want to try that particular manufacturer again.

March 31, 2010, 01:04 AM
I purchased the Spikes M4LE Upper special that is on sale this month. Using a 9 power scope with rifle on a Lead Sled at 100 yards- this good looking upper gave me 4 inch groups 70% of the time and 6 inch groups the other 30% of the time using both XM193 55gr. and Privi 62gr. Using Match 69 Gr. Sierra HPBT's I was able to reduce the spray pattern to around 4 to 5 inches. I've left messages with Spikes over the last couple of days as this particular barrel is no where near even Mil Spec. Heck my old Stag 2T with No cold forged barrel does a solid 2 inches @100 yds. with the same brand X ammo right out of the box. Oh well maybe they'll surprise me and call me back to try to take corrective action. You get what you pay for right? Why can't I ever learn that. Not ranting- just bummed to get a lemon of a barrel.

UPDATE 3-31-2010: Spikes CS emailed me back today and they are arranging for the return of the upper for evaluation and possible replacement. I hope they take it to the range and shoot it for themselves. I'll update as the status changes.

March 31, 2010, 01:06 AM
Yes I know it's my first post here. I tend to learn more when I keep my mouth shut. The members of the highroad(mostly) are good and knowledgeable folks and I thank you for all your posts.

March 31, 2010, 06:27 AM
I'm happy with my Stag 3H upper I bought from

March 31, 2010, 10:37 AM
spikes has a $50 off coupon code for the LE uppers. I just ordered one a couple days ago. CS was good on the phone and over at ar15 they love spikes. spikes is the new hotness and stag is so last year. ;)

whenever I get it delivered and put together I'll post a range report. but I image that will be a month at least.

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