Part 1 - Introduction, Specifications and Summary
November 28, 2014
aggressive in growing their business in the tactical market and this
is evident with the release of their new Ruger AR-556 Rifle.
Now you are probably saying "What...? They already have an SR-556 so
what's the big deal?" Well, the big deal is that Ruger is now
addressing a completely different market sector. They are
targeting those who want a traditional (gas impingement, GI) entry level
AR at an entry level price. With the MSRP being $749 and
prices coming in between about $600 and $650, I bet that some other
manufacturers are probably cringing. If you compare
this price against Ruger's most affordable rifle in the SR-556 family (the
SR-556E) which has an MSRP of $1375, clearly the AR-556 coming in at
about half the price of an SR-556E is very significant and should cater to a different group of consumers.
For Ruger to cut the price by nearly half, they
had to do some things different. The significantly different features that stand out
at first glance are the gas system (GI and not piston), the
handguard (glass filled nylon and not free floating aluminum with quad rail
capabilities) and the sights (A2 front with rapid deploy rear versus
rapid deploy front and rear).
On the other hand, some of the features that are
the same are the cold hammer forged chrome-moly barrel, full
featured upper receiver (case deflector, forward assist and ejection
port cover), 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers, and the fact that
both rifles come from a highly trusted manufacturer in the firearms
industry... Ruger. When I considered the features you get in
this rifle for the price, I knew I had to take a close look at
Ruger's new AR-556 Rifle which was the catalyst for this review.
If you don't look at any other parts of this
review or any other photos, at least take away this... the Ruger
AR-556 represents a great value rifle which has all the basic
features you would want in an AR rifle and is made of industry
standard materials and to industry standard geometries allowing you
the option to customize this rifle in the future if desired.
During my reviews I like to compare my results
to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the photo and following text in
colored italics was taken directly from the
on 10/21/14 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications
Ruger AR-556 Rifle. The
are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this
review with either photos, commentary or both.
The Ruger® AR-556™
semi-automatic, M4-style, direct impingement Modern Sporting
Rifle offers consumers an affordable, American-made Modern
Sporting Rifle with the rugged reliability they have come to
expect from Ruger.
during its development, the AR-556™ is constructed from
top-quality components, including forged 7075-T6 aluminum upper
and lower receivers and a cold hammer-forged chrome-moly steel barrel with M4 feed ramp cuts.
Chambered in 5.56 NATO, the
AR-556’s carbine-length, flat-top, M4 design is fully configured with a Ruger® Rapid Deploy folding rear sight, milled
F-height gas block with post front sight, forward assist, dust
cover, brass deflector, telescoping six-position stock, improved
trigger-reach grip, enlarged trigger guard and one 30-round
Standardized M4/AR components are utilized
throughout, so the AR-556™ can be customized easily.
- Serrated Face Milled Gas Block - The milled gas block is
located at a carbine length (M4) position for improved balance
and handling. Multiple attachment points include a QD socket and
bayonet lug, for many sling and accessory mounting options.
Serrations on the angled face of the gas block provide a low
- Adjustable Sights - The front sight post is elevation
adjustable, and a front sight tool is included. The A-2 Style
F-Height allows co-witness with many optics. The Ruger® Rapid
Deploy folding rear sight provides windage adjustability and is
a solid, reliable aiming system when coupled with the elevation
adjustable front sight. The rear sight can be folded out of the
way to make room for optics but can be instantly redeployed if
- Six-Position Telescoping M4-Style Buttstock - The
six-position telescoping M4-style buttstock and Mil-Spec buffer
tube allow the rifle to be properly sized for different
shooters, or varying levels of outerwear or defensive gear.
- Medium Contour Cold Hammer-Forged Barrel - The 16.1 inch
medium contour barrel is cold hammer-forged providing
ultra-precise rifling for exceptional accuracy, longevity and
easy cleaning. The 1:8 twist rate stabilizes bullets from 35 to
77 grains and the 5.56 NATO chamber allows the use of both 5.56
NATO and .223 Rem. ammunition. M4 feed ramps provide improved
operational reliability and the matte black oxide finish reduces
glare and provides corrosion resistance. A Ruger® flash
suppressor is provided and the ½"-28 threaded barrel allows for
standard muzzle accessories to be installed.
- Ergonomic Pistol Grip - The ergonomic pistol grip features
an extended trigger reach for more precise trigger control. The
enlarged trigger guard is designed to allow for gloved shooting.
- Matte Black Oxide Bolt Carrier with Staked Gas Key - The
chrome-plated bolt carrier inside diameter and chrome-plated gas
key inside diameter provide exceptional resistance to hot gases.
The gas key is staked so that it will not loosen after extensive
firing. A matte black oxide finish on the exterior of the bolt
carrier provides corrosion resistance.
- Also Includes one 30-round Magpul® PMAG® magazine.
- Model Number: 8500
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO
- Stock: Black Synthetic, Collapsible
- Finish: Type III Hard Coat Anodized
- Front Sight: Adjustable Post
Elevation only, 1/4 turn equals 1.75" at
- Rear Sight: Adjustable Ruger® Rapid Deploy
Windage only, one click equals 0.625" at
- Barrel Length: 16.10"
- Thread Pattern: 1/2"-28
- Length of Pull 10.25" - 13.50"
- Twist: 1:8" RH
- Grooves: 6
- Overall Length: 32.25" - 35.50"
Review rifle measured 32.38" - 35.63"
which is close enough
- Height: 8.00"
- Width: 2.50"
- Weight: 6.50 lbs.
- Capacity: 30
Comes with a single 30-round Magpul®
PMAG® magazine but will accept other capacity magazines
- Suggested Retail: $749.00
Online price coming in between about $600 and $650
Another great source Ruger has provided for
finding out information on this rifle is their
Sheet. This sheet provides a great summary on much of
technical information I cover in this review. You can view the
sheet by clicking on the photo below.
This review is broken down into multiple
parts with this page providing links to each part along with an
overall summary of the specifications, pros and cons, and my final "bottom
comments. Make sure you take time to checkout the other parts
of the review because they contain many photos and
lots of commentary. Also, there is an extreme amount of detail in those
parts which is not covered on this page.
As you read these Pros and Cons below,
keep in mind that it is hard to keep my particular preferences from creeping in the
equation. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to
look at the other parts of this review so you can decide yourself on
items which may be more of a personal preference.
As I have been going through the details of this review, I kept
thinking "what a great value!" The materials and features of
this rifle with a name like Ruger to stand behind the product
for a potential price of $600 to $650 is truly a great deal.
The rifle shot great and has real accuracy potential if you can
do your part. When I was able to do my part, I
demonstrated it has 1 MOA (or better) capability.
All the components are made from industry standard materials and
Ruger kept the "Mil-Spec" configuration of this rifle to allow
you the ability to upgrade it in the future if desired.
This rifle was potentially the tightest
rifle I have reviewed. The upper and lower receivers fit
together perfectly with no noticeable free-play. I know
this is a function of overall manufacturing tolerances and there
is no way to guarantee any other rifle will be the same, but the
one I received for review was the best so far which may be an
indication of the manufacturing capabilities of Ruger's new
Mayodan, NC facility.
This comment is more a Pro for Ruger in general. The documentation
on this rifle's specifications and Instruction Manual are the
best I have seen so far and you really know what your getting
when you purchase the Ruger AR-556. Always make sure you
checkout the "Videos/Extras"
pages anytime you are researching a Ruger firearm.
Pro/Con/Comment (you decide)?:
The front sight seemed odd in that the sight adjustment tool needed longer prongs
to push the plunger down to make adjustments. Ruger
provided a tool with the rifle which was great on their part,
but the tool (nor another I had in my box) wouldn't work on this
Everyone has there own personal preference on whether a flattop
upper receiver should be paired up with an A2 front sight.
The point I like to consider is the type of sights I intend to
use (fixed or flip-up, holographic, red dot, or variable power
scope). If my final configuration were to be a variable
power scope at higher power levels, I might tend to consider
some type of flip-up front sight as a backup instead of a fixed
A2 front sight. Having said that, I will say that you do
not see the A2 front sight when looking through a typical
variable power scope with your head at a normal eye relief
position. Also, it is hard to beat the durability of a
fixed A2 front sight if you are planning on a co-witness setup
with a red dot or holographic sight.
One feature I found a little squirrely
was the bayonet lug on a carbine gas system with a 16.1" barrel.
The bayonet seems mounted too far to the rear (See comments in
Part 3 around Figures 23 & 24). Although I didn't
explore much and I didn't have any on hand, I know that there are
aftermarket adapters that can utilize the bayonet lug for other
purposes (e.g. bipod mount).
I feel it was a great move on Ruger's part to
offer the AR-556 rifle as part of their AR style product line.
For those who are fans of Ruger firearms and are on a budget, this
is the perfect opportunity to get budget minded Ruger AR styled
rifle. For those just interested in and entry level AR, the
AR-556 has the features, materials and quality that you would want
in an AR styled rifle.
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