Ruger SR-556VT Review
Part 6 - Range Test
June 12, 2013

Ruger SR-556VT Review

In this part of the review, I show my range test results for the Ruger SR-556VT Varmint/Target Rifle.  Before I could start my range testing, I first needed to install a scope mount and scope.  I decided to use a Nikon P-Series Mounts with a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x50mm Scope.  The P-Series mount is designed for AR platforms allowing a comfortable scope height and forward mounting position to get a good head position with comfortable eye relief.  I have had the Conquest scope for several years and it has been proven to be a good solid scope and the 14x power is a plus for target shooting.  The photos below show my optics configuration for the range test.

 

Figure 1
Ruger SR-556VT Review

Figure 2
Ruger SR-556VT Review

Before I started my range testing, I also made an attempt to bore sight the rifle to get it on paper at 100 yards with minimal effort.  Once bore sighting was complete, I setup my bench to shoot.  The photos below shows my bench setup during my range tests.

Figure 3
Ruger SR-556VT Review

Since there was a threat of showers,  I had to setup under a shelter at camp and shoot between the trees at targets located 100 yards in the distance.  The winds were light (0 to 3 mph) coming right to left from about the 2 o'clock direction and the humidity was high with ambient temperatures at 91° F.

Figure 4
Ruger SR-556VT Review

I selected a variety of Hornady ammunition which ranged in bullet weight from 40 grain to 75 grain and bullet types that would be representative of those used in the "varmint/target" intent for this rifle.  The photo below shows the ammunition used during this range test.

Figure 5
Ruger SR-556VT Review

I initially started out shooting 55gr Steel Match ammunition to zero the rifle.  Once a basic zero was achieved, I started shooting the heavier weight 75 grain ammunition first and then worked my way down to the lightest 40 grain ammunition.  During my shooting, I noticed that for some reason (me), I was having a flyer in my 5-shot groups.  The photo below is an example of what I'm talking about.  In this photo you can see that clearly there was an odd shot that was outside the group.  By chance, the flyers happened to be in the same approximate location for these two targets, but in other groups it was positioned differently.  Since I feel this flyer was a result of the shooter and not the rifle or ammunition, the group sizes reported in the table further below show the 4-shot group sizes.  It hurts my ego to say this, but at the end of the day, I felt that I was able to deliver only 80% of my shots down range without my inconsistencies having a significant impact on the group sizes.  In the photo below, you can see that dropping one shot from the groups had a significant impact on group size and I feel the 4-shot group is more representative of the rifles capability.

Figure 6
53gr V-MAX at 100 yards
5-shot = 1.26"                                                 5-shot = 1.13"
4-shot = 0.74"                                                 4-shot = 0.53"
Ruger SR-556VT Review

To try and redeem myself, there were cases where I was happy with my 5-shot groups and the photo below shows my best 5-shot group of the day.  Considering that it was Ruger's intent to produce an accurate varmint/target rifle, I feel this group is representative of the rifles capability which I believe to be sub MOA.

Figure 7
55gr V-MAX at 100 yards
5-shot = 0.78"
Ruger SR-556VT Review

This table below summarizes all my accuracy data and is based on shooting four 5-shot groups of each type of ammunition and then taking the best 4 out of 5 shots during the group measurement.  By looking at the data, you would generally conclude that the rifle preferred the 53 grain V-MAX ammunition, and in the future I'm sure I will explore shooting more of the ammunition to get a better feel for the rifle's capability.  On the other hand, the 75 grain Superformance Match delivered some great results.  When you look at the scatter between max and min group sizes, I think this spread has more to do with the shooter and less to do with the rifle or ammunition.

  Measured Velocity1 (ft/sec) 4-Shot Group Size2 (in)
Ammunition Average Std. Dev. Maximum Minimum Average
Hornady Steel Match 75gr BTHP (#80261) 2631 31 1.98 0.63 1.65
Hornady Superformance Match 75gr BTHP (#80264) 2741 18 1.00 0.60 0.88
Hornady Match 68gr BTHP (#80289) 2827 17 1.27 1.02 1.14
Hornady Steel Match 55gr HP (#80274) 3039 24 1.38 1.18 1.29
Hornady Varmint Express 55gr V-MAX (#8327) 3031 29 0.97 0.72 0.87
Hornady Superformance Varmint 53gr V-MAX (#8025) 3216 23 1.02 0.53 0.76
Hornady Varmint Express 40gr V-MAX (#8325) 3535 42 1.02 0.77 0.94
Total Group Average For All 4-Shot Groups for All Types of Ammunition = 1.03
1 - Velocity data based on 10 shots through a chronograph 10 feet in front of the muzzle.
2 - Group data based on four 5-shot groups at 100 yards, shooting from a bench and taking the tightest 4 out of 5 shots to reduced inconsistencies from the shooter.

During my range test, I had the gas regulator initially set at the "2" or middle setting.  As I transitioned down to the lighter weight 53 and 40 grain ammunition, it seemed that the bolt didn't fully cycle and I started to have failure to feed issues.  I switched the gas regulator setting to "3" which corrected the issue.  Looking back on the range tests, I wish I had tried the regulator setting in the "1" position with the heavier ammunition.

 

Thoughts

After range testing the Ruger SR-556VT Rifle, I feel that if you can do your part, the SR-556VT can do it's part.  With my best 4 shot group measuring 0.53" and best 5-shot group measuring 0.78", it is hard to dispute that this rifle is capable of sub MOA accuracy.  I was a little surprised to see the 200 to 300 ft/sec drop in velocities with the 20" barrel on the SR-556VT compared to the 24" test barrels used on Hornady's velocity data on each box of ammunition.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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