Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ruger SR 556 Review - In The Field and Range Report

Hello everyone and welcome to my Ruger SR 556 In The Field Review and Range Report.
In this video I take a detailed look at Ruger’s SR 556, their premier auto-loading rifle.  This gun caters to an ever increasing market in the US; those looking for an AR-15. Below are the specifications of the Ruger SR 556:
Make:                   RUGER
Model:                 SR 556 (FB) - Model # 5902
Caliber:                 5.56mm NATO /.223 rem
Action:                  Semi-Automatic Gas Piston Driven System
Barrel:                   16.125"  Heavy contour, 16-1/8” chrome lined barrel is cold hammer forged from Mil-Spec 41V45 Chrome-Moly-Vanadium Steel
Magazines:         3 30 Magpul PMAGs
Sights:                   Troy Folding Battle Sights included
Trigger:                 Approx: 8 lbs
Length of Pull:   10.5 - 13.25"
Frame:                  Maganase Phosphate Hardcoat anodized
Rail:                        Ten-inch Troy Industries Quad Rail Handguard
Safeties:              Left Side Selector ON/OFF
Recoil:                   Low Recoiling allowing for rapid accurate follow up shots
Height:                 7.75"
Length:                 36"
Width:                  2.5"
Weight (e):         7.94 lbs Unloaded
Flash Supp.:        AC-556 flash suppressor
At the time of this review, I’ve owned the weapon for a little over two years.  I’ve been recording and documenting its performance and different pros and cons since I’ve had the gun and with this video am brining forward what I have discovered. 
Over the course of ownership I’ve shot at least 2,500 rounds of various ammunition through the rifle.  The two primary grain weight I have shot have been 55 gr PMC .223 rounds and ATI 62 gr Steel Penetrator 5.56mm rounds.  For testing various other brands I have not noticed a preference to a particular cartridge, as is a common pro of all Piston operated firearms.  Throughout numerous tests of the firearms accuracy I have come to the conclusion that this gun is capable of 1” groups at 100 yards, again with the bulk ammo listed previously.  Most modern AR-15s claim 1 MOA, but few can consistently deliver the group without upgrades to the trigger, sturdy firing positions, match grade ammo and 8x+ power scopes.  I was able to attain 1 MOA with a stock trigger, with the fore end resting on a cheap lead sled firing with a shoulder mounted position, inexpensive cheap ammunition (PMC 55 gr) and a fixed 4x Trijicon ACOG scope.
High quality craftsmanship is obviously inherent in the gun and it shows. After having the gun 2+ years I have yet to experience a single reliability issue with the weapon.  The fine folks at Ruger went out of their way to include quality accessories saving you time and money. They teamed up with a few other Companies known for reliable and quality products. They included a 10” Troy Industries Quad Rail as well as front and rear flip up battle sights, also from Troy Industries.  The gun comes with 3 30 round Magpul PMAGs (state depending) which are also high quality. The pistol grip is Hogue brand. 
 Additionally the gun comes with 3 rail panels, which I chose to replace with Magpul Ladder panels. I have also mounted a Magpul MOE Rail Vertical Grip (RVG).  The buttstock is of the standard six position adjustable variety, I chose to replace this with a Magpul MOE buttstock. There was minimal play in the factory buttstock, even less so in the MOE.  The buffer tube is of the military spec variety and will except all military spec buttstocks.  The weapon also comes with an included “Ruger” branded carrying case.
The Ruger SR 556 retails for $1999 on Ruger’s website, but street prices have been seen usually between 1500-1750 (higher in the larger brand names stores) YMMV.  I was able to acquire mine for under 1500 out the door.  If you were do to a price comparison on some other options in this price range I think you would find that the cost for accessories that you might add aftermarket will end up costing you more than if you paid upfront for the Ruger… Your own needs and preferences will be the deciding factor here.
The Ruger does weigh in slightly heavier than some other popular AR15s on the market today, mostly due to the fact that this is a piston operated firearm.  I go into some detail within the video on the differences between a Piston gun like this and other DI (direct Impingement) guns, but have included a Pros and Cons comparison for your convenience here below:
1.       Runs cleaner on the BCG (bolt carrier group)
2.       Runs cooler on the BCG, contributing to a longer life span and reliability
3.       Carbon and fouling does not accumulate on the BCG
4.       Runs arguably better in conjunction with suppressors or in SBRs
5.       Are typically less picky on what ammo they prefer
6.       Usually, everything not related to the proprietary piston system is interchangeable including all lower components
7.       May run longer between cleaning
1.       Possible carrier tilt – The piston may place torque on the BCG causing it to contact the bottom of the buffer tube
2.       Usually heavier that DI systems especially in the fore end
3.       Piston assembly consists of proprietary parts and is therefore more expensive to replace and requires gunsmithing
4.       More expensive
DI (Direct Impingement)
1.       Typically lighter, especially in the foreend
2.       Enjoy more interchangeability with current equivalents
3.       Easy to build your own from the ground uop
4.       Lower cost
1.       Accumulation of carbon and foiling occurs directly on the BCG
2.       Heat from cycled gas heats up the BCG which may decrease reliability and lifespan
3.       Reliability decreases when running a suppressor
4.       Shorter time between cleaning is required
There are many arguments for which is the better system. IMO both are excellent options, one may suit your needs better than another and that is what you should consider, not someone else’s opinion.  All guns get dirty when shooting; it is a matter of where on the gun this occurs.  Both systems have proven their reliability over the years. Eugene Stoner’s DI system is the longest serving weapon system in United States Military History.  Mikhail Kalashnikov’s short stroke piston system in the AK 47 has proven its reliability over the years.  No one can dispute the fact that both systems have proven themselves in the course of world history.
Overall the Ruger SR 556 is an excellent option for anyone looking at AR 15s within the price range. Again I recommend taking a look at what aftermarket options you may add to your AR 15 (see my video on the subject) before making a purchase decision. If you do the math of a cost analysis you may determine that this weapon is a better option (both quality wise and $ wise) than buying a system you which to make significant modifications to.
Below I have detailed a summary of the conclusions that I have come to:
-Zero reliability issues in over 3k + rounds
-1 MOA
-Heavier than other DI options
-Ergonomic design allowing for full control in high speed environments
-Minimal felt recoil (weight/design contributed)
-Not overly front heavy
-Retails for 1999, street price 1500 to 1750
-Ruger has excellent customer service.
I can not emphasize enough my admiration for this gun.  I trust my life to this weapon and strongly consider you add it to your list of possible purchases if its features coincide with your needs. If you have questions on this review please feel free to contact me directly.
As always, thanks for watching and stay safe…


  1. Do you know if the buffer tube for all the sr556 series is mil spec? I have a sr556e and I have been looking into buying a troy ind. stock and noticed that it is mil-spec. I want to make sure that the specs for the buffer tube is the same, across the board, before investing the money into it.

  2. I can only speak for my model, the SR 556 FB, but it is milspec. I don't see any reason why Ruger would have changed that to commercial on the other models, so you should be good to go.