Doublestar Star-15 7.62 x 39 Semi-auto Rifle

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 28th, 2005

Updated July 12th, 2005

 

 

 

Fans of Eugene Stonerís AR-15 rifle system have never had it so good. There is a seemingly endless variety of AR-15s available, with more on the way. While many love the AR, there are those who are critical of the 5.56mm cartridge for which it is generally chambered. While the little cartridge does pretty well on vermin, and even shows good performance for social work using the right bullet, many desire a larger bullet. Moving up to a .308 chambered AR-10 is one solution, but at a cost of heavier weight and greater bulk. On the AR-15 platform, the 6.8mm SPC and the 6.5mm Grendel are showing great promise, but for those who desire more power in an AR-15 chambered for a much more common cartridge, Doublestar Corporation of Winchester, Kentucky is now offering their Star-15 carbine chambered for the plentiful 7.62 x 39mm cartridge. The 7.62 x 39 has been chambered in millions of SKS and AK-47 rifles, and military surplus ammo is cheap and readily available for plinking and target practice. Good hunting ammunition is also available from several sources. The power of the 7.62 x 39 cartridge is almost up to the level of the .30-30 Winchester cartridge, and due to the better ballistic coefficient of its bullets, offers a better trajectory for long-range performance. While I am not promoting the cartridge for long-range game hunting, it does perform better than one might expect out to three hundred yards or so, if the shooter does his part.

We received two variations of the Star-15 carbine here for review, differing only in the design of the hand guard. One version wears the standard elliptical fiberglass two-piece hand guard, and the other wears a short version of Doublestarís Critterslayer free-float aluminum guard. The Star-15 carbine has a sixteen inch barrel with a flash suppressor attached at the muzzle. The upper receiver is of the flattop configuration, with a built-in 1913 Picatinny rail. The gas block also has a section of rail for attaching a front sight or other device. The upper receiver has the forward bolt assist and case deflector of the A-2 configuration. The pistol grip is of a very comfortable pebble-grain design, and has a bit of storage space within, along with a cover for the bottom opening.  The buttstock is an excellent six-position unit, allowing compact storage, along with an adjustable length-of-pull to fit most any shooter. The length-of-pull adjusts from ten and one-quarter inches to fourteen and one-eighth inches in roughly three-quarters of an inch increments, by depressing a lever and sliding the buttstock. Releasing the lever locks the stock into the desired position. Aside from the storage and transport handiness of this feature, this allows the rifle to be used by youngsters, and the length-of-pull can easily be adjusted as the shooter grows. It is also handy for full-sized adults to adjust when wearing heavy winter clothing. The overall length adjusts from thirty-two and one quarter to thirty six inches, and the unloaded carbine weighs six pounds and eleven ounces. 

The trigger pull on this Doublestar is much better than the what is normally found on an AR-15. It has a very crisp let-off that releases at three pounds and ten ounces, yet feels even lighter, allowing for much better practical accuracy than can be achieved with a standard AR trigger. 

The rifle is very well fitted, and wears an even matte black finish throughout. 

The rifles were shipped to us without magazines, but standard AR ten, twenty, and thirty round 5.56mm mags worked reasonably well. I mostly used twenty-round Colt mags from the Vietnam war era, which worked well when stuffed with seven of the fatter 7.62 x 39 cartridges. Loading any more than that into the magazine swelled the body of the mag, making it difficult to insert into the magazine well of the rifle. Standard thirty-round magazines were also tested, and functioned well, but I prefer the length of the shorter mags.

I tested the gun for functionality and accuracy using a variety of commercial and surplus ammunition. The gun function perfectly with all ammo tested, but some of the Chinese surplus ammo failed to fire. This was no fault of the rifle; the primers were dented heavily, but failed to ignite. Winchester 123 grain soft point ammo proved to be plenty accurate for hunting in the Star-15, grouping five shots into one inch at one hundred yards, under gusty wind conditions at the NRA Whittington Center range near Raton, New Mexico. At fifty yards, the same ammo grouped into a ragged one-quarter inch hole for three shots.  Mounting a three power Trijicon ACOG scope, we took the Star-15 to the big bore metallic silhouette range at Whittington, and it was pretty easy to hit the steel rams at 500 meters (541 yards). These rams measure about  32 by 26 inches, but even with the wind blowing hard, hitting them four out of five times was not hard to do. My brother Boge and I, along with our good friends Chuck Smith, Dustin Linebaugh, and Rico Valencia kept the little carbine pretty hot plinking at the distant steel, with very satisfying results. Keeping the hits on a  200 yard whitetail deer would be very easy, and the cartridge is powerful enough to do the job at that range, and farther.

As a short, light and handy carbine to keep around the ranch or homestead, the Star-15 7.62 x 39 excels. It offers plenty of power and accuracy for ninety percent of what needs to be done with a rifle, from varmint control to home protection, or filling the freezer with meat.

Check out the entire line of Star-15 rifles at:  www.star15.com.

For more info on the Winchester 7.62 x 39 ammunition, go to: www.winchester.com.

To view the ACOG line of scopes and other excellent optics, go to:  www.trijicon.com.

 

UPDATE

Since originally writing this article, I have found that Brownells sells ten-round plastic magazines for the 7.62x39 AR-15 rifles. The ones that I tried worked well. They locked into the magazine well, functioned fine, and locked open the bolt when the magazine was empty. However, while the magazine loaded easily, it was hard to insert that tenth round. I believe that I will treat mine like they are nine-round mags, as it is very easy to load the first nine. You can order these direct from Brownells by calling 1-800-741-0015 or go online at:  www.brownells.com.

Brownells' part number is 556-115-310 and it sells for around fifteen bucks.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Doublestar's Star-15 7.62x39 Semi-auto Rifle.

 

 

The Star-15's adjustable buttstock allows easy regulation of stock length to fit any body size, including young hunters.

 

 

 

 

The Star-15 is also available with Doublestar's "Critterslayer" aluminum handguard.

 

 

Author tests the Star-15 at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, NM.

 

 

Our friend (and fellow Shootist) Chuck Smith fires the Star-15. As a hunter and law enforcement officer, Chuck was impressed by the power and accuracy of the Doublestar.

 

 

Whether fitted with a variable scope such as Simmons' Pro Hunter 2.5-10x (top) or a lower-powered unit such as Trijicon's excellent ACOG (bottom), Doublestar's Star-15 is plenty accurate for the task at hand.

 

 

Winchester's 123-grain FMJ (left) and 123-grain Soft Point (right) proved to be excellent choices for accuracy, as the 50-yard and 100-yard groups show.

 

 

The AR-15 has come a long way, as evidenced by the Doublestar Star-15 7.62x39. This little rifle is an excellent choice for anything from inexpensive plinking to hunting deer-sized game at reasonable range.

 

 

Ten-round 7.62x39 magazines for the AR-15 are available at a reasonable price from Brownells, and worked well in our initial testing. Note the Doublestar's lower receiver is marked "CAL. 5.56MM", but the rifle is factory chambered for 7.62x39.