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For those that didn’t get the office memo, the world ends on December 21, 2012. Or at least that is what many believe an ancient Mayan calendar is predicting. I first heard this prophesy a number of years ago while exploring the vine-covered ruins of this Mesoamerican culture in the jungles of Guatemala. Like many, I wondered how a civilization 1,000 years in the past could predict future events to that degree of accuracy, but 2012 seemed like a long time off then. Guess what, it isn’t so distant in the future anymore!

Why and how the world is going to end depends a lot on whom you ask. The list of possible natural disasters includes massive earth quakes, tsunamis, super volcanoes, solar storms that fry our electrical grid and our computers, global warming, global cooling, and just about anything else that would totally ruin your day.

So maybe a wise person should make a few preparations just in case. Even the American Red Cross will tell you that every family needs to have a 72-hour “BOB” (bug out bag) packed. But these basic survival kits are notoriously light on firepower. Who among us thinks that the normal rules of society are going to hold things together long while the world ends? Which brings us to Stag Arms’ answer to this problem, the 2012 Executive Survivor Kit.

What’s Inside

Naturally, the heart of this large grab-and-run Model 1700 Pelican case is a collapsible-stock Stag Arms Model 2 AR-15 rifle with LWI POD QUAD rail system and integrated bi-pod. An EoTech 517 Holographic Red Dot optic sight comes standard with the rifle. Also included in the kit are a Stag Arms Field Repair Kit, OTIS AR-15 Cleaning Kit and Silent Sling, two 30-round magazines (blocked to 10 rounds where required by local restrictions), Gerber MP 600 Multi-Pliers, Gerber Omnivore LED Flashlight (with batteries), dual purpose human/pet first aid kit, one military MRE Field Ration and 60 rounds of quality ammo (the evaluation rifle was shipped with PMC 55-grain FMJ-BT.

Left-Handed Rifle

One difference between the kit I had on loan and the standard model is that I requested a Stag Arms Model 2L left-handed model. I grew up on M16/AR-15 platform rifles, starting with an “XM16” back in 1968 going through Airborne Infantry training, followed by at least four more variations of the M16 while I was in the service, and several AR-15s in civilian life. No rifle feels as natural to my hands as an M16/AR-15. While I’ve always fired the rifle from my left shoulder, the controls are normally considered right-handed. The only problem I really ever had were some civilian loads in early AR-15s frequently smacked me in the forehead with their brass. For the most part, later rifles corrected the problem with the “bump” behind the ejection port.

Handling the Stag M-2L, I now realize I have been working under something of a handicap on the safety. In one of those “do as I say, not as I do” situations, I can tell you the SOP for the five-man Ranger teams I served on in combat was the point man carried his rifle safety off/full-auto. The other four men carried their rifles safety off on semi-auto. Yes, I know that defies all the carved-in-stone safety rules. It was simply more important that we put lead on target quicker than the other guy could react. It also meant I never had a reason to worry about a right-handed safety that much. Had this left-handed version been available to me, I might have reconsidered that SOP, as thumbing the safety off would have been an instinctive action on the way to my shoulder.

Perfect For The Job

As for the choice of an AR-15 platform rifle in this survival kit, I can think of few weapons I would rather have with me if the world as we know it is ending and civilization is completely collapsing. For those who believe a handgun might be easier to carry, I’m a firm believer in the old truism “a handgun is for fighting your way to your rifle.” There is simply no comparison between a rifle and a handgun at putting hits on target at any and all ranges under the stress of a combat situation. The basic 5.56 round offers far more real-world stopping power than all but the most powerful of handguns. Given their light recoil, they are also suitable for use by any member of the family, including those that haven’t done much shooting in the past.

Over the last decade, the various electronic red dot optical sights have pretty much revolutionized urban close-combat for the American infantry man. Ideally, they can be used with both eyes open in something very close to instinctive point-shooting manner. While you may have difficulty seeing your target in a low-light situation, I guarantee you will see the red dot on this EoTech Holographic sight. And knowing where your round is going is half the battle in the dark. The brightness of the dot is fully adjustable but, let me tell you, at its highest setting, it really stands out!

DoubleTap Testing

While I ran a number of different loads through the rifle in my testing, I was primarily interested in how DoubleTap loads would do, as it’s a relatively new company. At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve been using their excellent 10mm pistol loads for a year or so and have found them to be at the top of the heap power-wise. The company supplied me with four different loads for testing, a 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 62-grain SS109 FMJ-BT, 69-grain HP Boat Tail Match, and 77-grain HP Boat Tail Match.

One of the first things I quickly discovered was that it really didn’t mater that much at 50 yards what the load was—they all had a point of impact within an inch or so of each other. I’m sure at ranges past say 150 yards, this would change, but it was nice to know that in an emergency, a rifle sighted in with one would be close enough at normal self-defense distances to use the others.

The rifle supplied by Stag featured a 1-in-9 twist barrel, which meant, in theory at least, it would be best suited to loads between 55 and around 70 grains. As expected by that rule, the DoubleTap 77-grain HP Boat Tail Match as well as the Black Hills 75-grain Match HP and Hornady 75-grain TAP FPD loads were the least accurate in this rifle. Having said that, this often meant they were only off by a fraction of an inch at 50 yards. If I were put in a situation where my AR needed to do double duty as a deer rifle, one of the modern 70-plus-grain loads would still be my first choice.

Most loads between 60 and 69 grains could be counted on for a group under 1 inch at that range. DoubleTap’s 62-grain SS 109 FMJ-BT, the equivalent of the standard NATO load, turned in groups slightly over half an inch. Their 69-grain HP Boat Tail Match spread that out a little to 7/8-inch. The company’s 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip was right on 5/8-inch for its groups.

Measured Velocities

Velocity wise, as expected, the loads fell in per their bullet weight. A box of Federal American Eagle 55-grain loads were the leader at 3,015 FPS (feet per second) out of the 16-inch barrel. SS109 type 62-grain loads averaged in the 2,800 FPS range, 68/69-grain loads were in the 2,600 FPS zone and the 75- to 77-grain rounds normally came in at a bit over 2,500 FPS. If DoubleTap’s data is correct, a shooter is looking at a 300 to 400 FPS drop between a 22-inch barrel and a 16-inch one. Those expecting shots beyond the 150 mark should probably still stick with the longer barrels, but for civilian self-defense, all of these loads are adequately powerful for anything under 150 yards.

The price for this kit with the standard right-hand rifle is $2,012. Now that might seem like a lot, but I know I personally pay much more than that every single year for homeowner’s insurance and I have yet to ever recover a single dime of it. Say you buy the Stag Arms Executive Survivor Kit and the world doesn’t end next year (I certainly hope the Mayans were wrong!), you still have an excellent rifle outfitted with a full range of accessories. And if the world does go to Hell in a hand basket, this kit is going to be worth its weight in gold!

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For those that didn’t get the office memo, the world ends on December 21, 2012.…