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http://www.gunsandammomag.com/long_guns/doublestar_111607/index.html


The STAR-15 compares favorably with the M4.

DoubleStar

Kentucky's entry into the world of ARs gets high marks indeed

By Sam Thomas

You know you're getting old when your kid joins the military, the music you grew up with is now on a classic station and your M16A1 has turned into this: the DoubleStar AR-15.

According to Teresa Starnes, president of DoubleStar, "The design was derived from extensive interviews with front-line police officers. The consensus reached was a lightweight package readily adaptable to almost every situation. We listened to our customers and created a custom rifle, ready to go out of the box."

DoubleStar Inc. is an eight-year-old firearms manufacturer specializing in tactical weapons for law enforcement, military and shooting sports. Looking at its website shows a wide variety of weapons that may be owned by anyone living in one of the freer states.

The current M4/M4A1 series of rifles are direct descendants of Eugene Stoner's "black rifle," the original AR-15. Adopted first by the Air Force for its runway-walking, bomber-guarding Security Police, it rapidly spread throughout the military. Accurate, lethal (more so in its original configuration) and lightweight, it was popular and well liked until a propellant change brought about major reliability problems.

The current M4-type rifles are as accurate and reliable as anyone has a right to expect. Reports of jamming are directly proportionate to lack of maintenance. Combat arms units as opposed to combat support and service support rarely have the problems one normally associates with this weapon. Discipline in maintenance pays off (as does discipline in every other area of life).

Waiting for this rifle was like waiting for Christmas. When Woody Hogan of Bullseye Precision Tool (www.bullseyeprecision.com) finally called to announce the arrival, we were out the door like it was Friday afternoon. Woody, a master gunsmith, handed me the rifle with the pronouncement, "Very nice." And so it is. Fit and finish is excellent. The Parkerizing on the aluminum parts is uniform and black as an editor's heart. The steel parts are lighter but still uniform. All parts fit well. The rifle was marked "Cal. 5.56mm, Mod. Star-15" in crisp, uniform lettering. This level of attention to detail is encouraging in an increasingly sloppy world. Things were looking up.

Clearing the weapon left another good impression. The action is smooth and quiet, no grinding noises or sticking. Fieldstripping revealed well-fitted parts and a bit of brass on the bolt face, indicating a test fire. The weapon was dry. I left it that way to see if it would function. Looking into the action brought no surprises. Excellent fit and finish.

On the business end is the now-famous Phantom flash suppressor. A NATO standard 22mm, should you need to fix bayonets or launch rifle grenades, it now has a solid underside to reduce dust in the prone. This may also help reduce muzzle rise, although I doubt you would notice it in 5.56. The Phantom is incredibly effective, eliminating muzzle flash even when viewed through night-vision devices. You will see more flash out of the ejection port than the muzzle on this one. DoubleStar touts it as a less lethal control device. I would imagine so. Getting poked with that thing would hurt.

The M1913-type rail fore-end from Yankee Arms is interesting. Allowing mounting of all accessories with M1913 or Weaver rings, it is well constructed and solidly mounted but lacks heat shields. This concerned me until a police officer friend pointed out, "This ain't the Army, Bubba. [A police gunfight] will be over before your fingers get too warm." Point well taken. Those fingers are well protected by rubber covers that come standard.

The receivers are pretty standard civilian fare but with one very nice touch: The underside of the triggerguard is radiused to prevent injury. There are several companies that sell duck-bill grips to cover this. Those aren't needed with the STAR-15. There is no provision for burst-fire, which really means that the trigger pull is consistent.

If you've never fired an M16A2 or M4, the burst mechanism plays the game of "Guess which trigger pull you're getting now?" The ratchet is blessedly absent from the semi-only STAR-15, ensuring that you get the same mil-spec trigger pull each time. The upper receiver is M1913 standard, with markings T1-T12 to ensure that a detached optic is returned to the same position every time.

DoubleStar chose GG&G's excellent Multi-Aperture Diopter (MAD) fold-down rear sight as issue. This is a smart choice, as it is one of the few rear sights that locks into an upright position. DoubleStar assumes (probably correctly) that dinosaurs like me are on their way to retirement and that the new generation will be using some type of optic. The GG&G folds neatly and lies there quietly until it is needed. It is removable, although not by any hex wrench I owned. If you're a dedicated dinosaur, a standard carrying handle will fit and function, assuming you can find the correct wrench. I was unwilling to mangle a loaner gun with a Gerber Tool, so off to the store.

The safety is very well fitted. Crisp on and off, with no guessing where you put it. It is also marked with red on the right side, allowing range safeties, supervisors and fellow shooters to know at a glance that the weapon is on Safe. Many will find this comforting, since we can find time for every kind of training but firearms training and then wonder why people can't reliably manipulate their rifle.

The pistol grip is the Hogue finger-groove model. I am not wild about this grip, finding that it doesn't fit my hand or the rifle rack. It provides no storage either. To DoubleStar's credit, they did fit it so that it doesn't interfere with the safety. Anyone using aftermarket grips on an M4-type rifle needs to be very careful of this. I still believe that the stock grip with a lithium battery, optic batteries if needed and some earplugs stuffed in it is the best choice. Seal it with duct tape, and drive on. Yes, the battery sticks out. No, it doesn't matter when your light goes out. There are many other grips out there with storage as well. They should fit the STAR-15. Just make sure they don't interfere with the safety.
 

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The buttstock is the currently popular six-position version. Adjustable to fit everyone from little bitty armored shooters to gorilla-size shooters with dragging knuckles, this is another excellent choice. It is missing the loop on the top of the stock, though. This is probably not critical given the plethora of tactical slings and attaching methods out there, but it's something to watch if you attach your sling to the butt. It may slide off. Use duct tape. On the plus side, DoubleStar has rounded the top of the leading edge. No more digging into your jaw under recoil. Good attention to detail. The butt is deeply checkered but not on the edge. Anyone who has fired the M16A2 or, worse, Stoner's SR25 will find that this stock does not eat your shoulder but still remains in place under recoil. Somebody at DoubleStar either shoots or listens to shooters--I hope both.

Range day was a long time coming, but when it arrived I grabbed Billy Smith and headed out. Billy is a Master Class International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) shooter and one of the finest shooting instructors I have met (www.TDSATulsa.com). Say what you will about IPSC, but its better practitioners can shoot. We were equipped as well as anyone can be, with piles of gear and bags of ammo.

Our first test was to zero at 50 yards. This zero allows for a dead-on hold out to about 200 yards while halving the drop at 300 vs. a 25-yard zero. The load of choice was 55-grain ball, fired using the MAD's small aperture. Shooting was uneventful, with groups of two inches commonplace from the 1:9-inch-twist standard-weight barrel. We also fired Remington's 55-grain softpoint (SP) load, Black Hills 55-grain V-Max, Precision Made Cartridges' 64-grain pointed softpoint (PSP) and even some RBCD Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration (R2LP) ammo. All grouped within 21?2 inches. In our experience, a magnifying optic would have cut the group size, but we elected to use only iron since this is primarily a backup sight.

Moving to M855 ball produced the same-size groups. This is the infamous green-tipped NATO-spec ball, sometimes known (incorrectly) as SS109. With 62 grains with a steel tip, it is as effective as any other ball round within 200 yards, provided you hit him solidly. That proviso holds true for any non-exploding projectile: Don't expect miracles. The 5.56 works fine on people, as long as you don't have to shoot through anything to hit them. Before you burn up the 'Net with email, I spent eight months on Baghdad's Haifa Street and have shot and seen enough people shot with this round to have an opinion. I'd rather have 7.62 (or 40mm high explosive), but I can live with 5.56, provided I can catch them away from cover. Once they get behind something, it's time for 7.62.

Hornady's excellent 60-grain TAP Personal Defense round produced the best groups. With its distinctive black nickel cartridge and red polymer-tipped round, this would be my first choice for a purely anti-personnel round. The polymer tip not only ensures feeding but also protects the bullet nose from impact and vibration damage. A couple of mags of this backed up with M855 would be a formidable combination.

I bought the correct wrench and changed to the 2x20 Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) mounted on the carrying handle. This excellent scope has an amber triangle reticle that is easy to use. At 100 yards, groups hovered around 11?2 inches, with Hornady going into the smallest group at .75 inch. This scope is also excellent at close quarters, providing enough magnification to be extremely helpful at typical battle-rifle distances but not so much as to prevent effective use at less than 15 yards. When mounted high, it allows rapid both-eyes-open engagement that is critical in a fight. It is powered by a tritium source augmented by a fiber optic collector, lights brightly when needed and adjusts itself to conditions automatically.

Worth special mention are Brownells' new 30-round M16 magazines. These are produced with tighter tolerances and better springs and followers than most commercially available magazines. Brownells sent six for this article, and all functioned flawlessly. We only loaded 27 rounds in each one, although they easily held 30. Old habits die hard, but then again they got to be old habits because they work. Better safe than sorry. At $18 each, they are a bargain and far better than any other aftermarket mag I've used. If you're deploying and they don't give you new mags, call the good folks at Brownells. It could save your life.

Having satisfied ourselves that the DoubleStar is more than accurate enough, we swapped the ACOG for Trijicon's TriPower optic. Locked solidly into slot T-11 on the receiver, we shot several rapid strings from three to 75 yards. The rifle performed flawlessly, despite the lack of lubrication. The TriPower is Trijicon's entry into the non-magnifying red-dot-type scope field and possibly the best of its type on the market. Powered primarily by their ultra-reliable tritium source, the TriPower also uses two CR-1/3N batteries and an unusual fiber optic collector.

Mounted on top of the tube and protected by an optically pure lexan housing, this flying-saucer-looking collector sucks up ambient light and directs it to the red chevron-shaped reticle. Like the ACOG, the reticle automatically adjusts to ambient light. There are three buttons on top of the scope that control the reticle brightness. My preference would be to turn it on midway and allow the collector to make up the difference. This would ensure a visible reticle outdoors but would power it up if you moved into the shadows. One word of caution: You must replace the cover on the collector at darkness. If you are using battery power with the cover off, the collector glows like a brake light. You'll only do it once--hopefully in training.

I hate to return this rifle. The only reason I will is because I already own several of this type. If I were a police officer, competitive shooter or homeowner in search of a reliable M4-type rifle, I'd get a STAR-15 soonest. Now if I can just get Billy to clean it for me…

In the crowded field of M4geries, DoubleStar has produced a winner. Light, reliable and versatile, this rifle is a great value. As criminals and extremists grow bolder, rifles of this type will play an ever-expanding role in the homeland security of the Republic.
 

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It's very much a renaissance of the AR-15 we are seeing here. I doubt in a couple of years due to politics you will see as many companies produce AR's in good quality as you see now. I suggest that all of you in the coming months, if you have thought about getting one, do so, and keep the ones you have or you will regret it. I kick myself every time I passed on a smith and wesson revolver at the gun show for $250 bucks because I thought they would never go up again in value.
 
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