Ruger® AR-556 Review
Part 5 - Range Test
November 28, 2014

Ruger AR-556 Review

For range testing the new Ruger AR-556 Rifle, I wanted to zero the sights that came with the rifle (A2 front sight and flip-up rear sight), check for overall accuracy potential with various types of ammunition, and have some fun shooting at various steel targets to get some rounds through the rifle and have a feel for it's reliability.


For the accuracy portions of my range test, I installed a Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40mm Riflescope using a Burris AR-P.E.P.R.™ QD Mount.  If you click on the photo below, you can see an extremely HD image of this configuration.  One thing I want to point out is that although the front sight is clearly in front of the scope, you do not see the front sight through the scope when your eye is in the correct eye relief position.  My final optics configuration for this rifle will probably be some type of 1-4x scope, but the 18x zoom of the Bushnell scope helps me improving my group sizes when at the bench.

Figure 1
Ruger AR-556 Review: With Bushnell AR Optics Scope

The types of ammunition used during this review are shown below which include some value PMC and Armscor ammunition plus a selection of 55gr Hornady ammunition that will probably be used in the future, along with the Hornady 75gr BTHP that gives me a good idea on how the 1:8 twist will perform with this heavier bullet.

Ruger AR-556 Review: Ammunition Used in Review

On the day of range testing, outside temperatures were in the lower 70s (°F) and winds were coming from my back (about 7 o'clock) and gusting between 8 and 12 mph.  I zeroed the riflescope on the previous day with some PMC 55gr FMJ ammunition but never spent the time shooting groups or collecting chronograph data with the PMC ammunition.  My impression with the PMC was positive and it appeared to give good 3-shot group sizes (~1").

My bench setup is shown below and I shot five 5-shot groups at 100 yards for each of the Hornady ammunition with the velocity data being recorded at approximately 10 feet from the muzzle.  During range testing, I used a 5-round magazine instead of the 30-round PMAG because the length of the 5-round capacity magazine works best at the bench.

Figure 3
Ruger AR-556 Review: Bench Setup

Figure 4
Ruger AR-556 Review: Range Test Setup at Clearwater Lake

The accuracy portion of my range test results are tabulated below.  I included the manufacturer's stated velocity for reference.  One thing I found interesting was how different the velocity was for the V-Max ammunition compared to the FMJ/BT and SP considering they all had the same rated (on the box) muzzle velocity.  Overall I was pleased with the accuracy performance of the Ruger AR-556 and found the average of all 5-shot groups (20 total groups) to be 1.43" at 100  yards.  Clearly I shot several groups less than 1" and one as tight as 0.51".  Considering the rifle had a 7.6 pound trigger pull and the wind gusts did make shooting a little more challenging, I felt good about the overall accuracy results of this rifle and feel it has greater potential than I was able to show based on my total group average.

Ammunition Velocity
On Box1
Velocity1,2 (ft/sec)
Group Size3
Average Std Dev Max Min Avg
Hornady .223 REM 55gr FMJ/BT 3240 2902 23 1.51 .75 1.26
Hornady .223 REM 55gr SP 3240 2923 32 2.24 .95 1.57
Hornady Varmint Express .223 REM 55gr V-Max 3240 2791 21 1.60 .93 1.17
Hornady Steel Match .223 REM 75gr BTHP 2790 2505 28 2.45 .51 1.67
1 - Manufacturer's velocity based on a 24" length barrel and AR-556 on a 16.1" barrel
2 - Based on 10 shots through chronograph ~10 feet from muzzle
3 - Five 5-shot groups from a bench at 100 yards

These next photos show the best groups for each type of Hornady ammunition used during the review and I feel these groups are a testament to the accuracy potential for the Ruger AR-556.

Figure 5 - Hornady 55gr FMJ/BT                               Figure 6 - Hornady 55gr SP
0.75"                                                                      0.95"
Ruger AR-556 Review: Hornady 55gr FMJ/BT at 100 yards  Ruger AR-556 Review: Hornady 55gr SP at 100 yards

Figure 7 - Hornady 55gr V-Max                            Figure 8 - Hornady 75gr BTHP
0.93"                                                                      0.51"
Ruger AR-556 Review: Hornady 55gr V-Max at 100 yards  Ruger AR-556 Review: Hornady 75gr BTHP at 100 yards

Throughout my bench tests, the empty cases were being ejected to about the 4:30 location with the 75gr cases being tossed slightly further away.

After I completed my accuracy portion of the test, I sighted in the sights that came on the rifle.  They zeroed without issue.  The only thing I noted was that the front post adjustment tool provided with the rifle and another I had in my tool box would not push the detent plunger down far enough to rotate the post.  I used a small screwdriver to assist with pushing the plunger and then made my adjustments.

With the iron sights adjusted, I emptied several magazines into various steel targets at various distances.  Using these sights allowed the rifle to weigh in at 6.5 pounds and was a pleasure to carry and shoot during various drills.



I would have a hard time believing that someone would not be pleased with the performance of the Ruger AR-556 Rifle.  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) potential.  If longer range accuracy is something you are wanting, I would consider this a great versatile platform for adding an aftermarket trigger.  Throughout my range tests I had no issues with failure to feed, fire or eject. I go back to value... getting a Ruger AR style rifle for $600 to $650 that is reliable and can shoot 1 MOA is a great value.

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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