Ruger SR-556VT Review
Part 1 - Introduction, Specifications and Summary
June 16, 2013

Ruger SR-556VT Review

Back in early 2011, I reviewed the Ruger SR-556C Rifle and have been pleased with it's performance over these past two years.  That is the main reason why I was excited this year to see Ruger offer a new Varmint/Target model to the SR-556 line which is designated as the Ruger SR-556VT.  I have several AR style rifles, but none I would consider to be a target AR style rifle.  After studying the features of the new SR-556VT, it was clear that this rifle was geared towards longer range operation and accuracy.  Some of the key defining features of this model are the 20" 1:8 twist cold hammer forged stainless steel barrel, two stage trigger, A2 style buttstock, slim profile handguard and extended charging handle.  Ruger lists the MSRP as $1995 which is the same as their original SR-556 rifle.  Ruger is able to keep a common price point on their rifles by swapping some of the features such as sights and case for the added costs of the barrel and trigger, which I think was a good decision on Ruger's part.  In today's market, it is hard for me to say the common street price for this rifle because it seems to range anywhere from about $1650 to $2000 at various online sources.  Hopefully in time the prices will continue to stabilize, but until then, availability may be more important than price point.  Fortunately, I was able to get Ruger to send me a rifle for review because I haven't seen a SR-556VT in any of my local gun shops.


During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Ruger website on 5/4/13 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the Ruger SR-556VT Rifle.  The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.


  • The SR-556® offers Ruger's legendary rugged reliability, and comes factory standard with a host of accessories that today's shooters demand.
  • Employing a patent-pending, chrome-plated, two-stage piston driven operating system that provides the user with a cleaner, cooler running, reliable firearm that is truly state-of-the-art.
  • The chrome-lined gas block and chrome-plated piston and regulator work together to provide a smooth power delivery stroke to the bolt carrier.
  • The by-products of the gas system are vented out the bottom of the gas block, away from the bolt carrier, keeping the action clean and free from contaminants. The end result is significantly improved performance over gas driven rifles.
  • The SR-556VT™ is a Varmint Target model of the two-stage piston-driven SR-556.® Ergonomic features and accuracy enhancements including a two-stage trigger are all designed to do one thing: put you on target and keep you on target.
  • The 1:8 twist cold-hammer forged stainless steel barrel effectively stabilizes a wide variety of bullet weights.

Key Features

  • Two-Stage Piston With Adjustable Regulator provides a cleaner, cooler running, reliable firearm with superior operating endurance.  The two-stage piston provides a smooth power delivery stroke to the bolt carrier.
  • The four position gas regulator can be adjusted for optimum reliability and superior operating endurance.  The gas system may be closed completely for manual operation during training or when using a suppressor.
  • Lightweight adaptable handguard with flattop receiver features a Picatinny rail at 12:00 position that extends the full length of the handguard.  Additional rails for 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 positions are sold separately. (the review rifle came with two 3" rail)
  • Two-Stage, Target-Style Trigger with a short "take-up" stage, followed by a crisp, light target pull with no creep or overtravel.
  • Fixed-Length, A2-Style Buttstock for a solid cheek weld.
  • Cold Hammer-Forged 410 Stainless Steel Barrel with target crown and 1:8 twist for the ultimate in accuracy, longevity and compatibility with a broad range of varmint and target ammunition.
  • MAGPUL® MOE® Grip for optimum trigger finger placement.
  • Extended charging handle for easier manipulation when optics are mounted.
  • Also Features: chrome-plated bolt, one-piece bolt carrier and extractor, three magazines and soft case (no case provided).


  • Catalog Number: SR-556VT
  • Model Number: 5914
  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO
  • Stock: Black Synthetic
  • Capacity: 5
  • Finish: Black Oxide/Hardcoat Anodized
  • Length of Pull: 13.75"
  • Sights: None, Picatinny Rail
  • Height: 7.75" Height measured 7.18" from the top of the upper receiver to the bottom of the grip.
  • Barrel Length: 20.00"
  • Overall Length: 38.25" review rifle measured 38.5"
  • Width: 2.50" The 2.50" stated would be without the extended charging handle.  With the extended charging handle, the width is 3.25".
  • Weight: 8.50 lbs. Review rifle weighed in at 8.39 pounds with an empty magazine and without the extra rails and covers installed.
  • Twist: 1:8" RH
  • Grooves: 6
  • MA Approved & Certified: No
  • CA Approved: No
  • Suggested Retail: $1995.00

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 line" 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 into 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.


  • The trigger pull measured 3.7 pounds based on an average of 10 pulls using a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Scale.  The two stage trigger had a light initial take-up  on the first stage, a very slight bit of creep before it broke on the second stage and no detectable overtravel on the second stage.  Overall I think most people would be pleased with the trigger pull on this rifle.
  • Sleek simple handguard with the ability to mount rails where needed, if needed.
  • Disassembly of the Ruger SR-556VT Rifle was quick and easy like most AR style rifles.
  • 20" stainless steel heavy profile cold hammer forged barrel.
  • 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.

Pro/Con/Comment (you decide)?:

  • The A2 stock is very simple and functional, but I think adding a stock like the Magpul MOE Rifle Stock would have been a nice touch to go along with the Magpul grip.
  • It seems that there are strong opinions on both side for gas impingement versus a piston AR style rifle.  Ruger has chosen to go with the piston system for their SR-556 platform.  Having owned a SR-556C for a couple of years and putting thousands of rounds through that rifle, I have been pleased with the performance of Ruger's SR-556 piston rifles.
  • The handguard is not considered to be removable by the consumer.  Ruger recommends that removal of the gas block assembly and handguard be performed by the Ruger factory.


  • The barrel is not fully floated because the handguard contacts the gas block.


Bottom Line:

Based on my range testing, the Ruger SR-556VT Rifle has proven to be an accurate varmint/target platform.  In the hands of a real shooter, you should be able to obtain sub-MOA accuracy based on my experience with this rifle.  You may need to adjust the gas regulator depending on the type of ammunition you plan to shoot, but making an adjustment only takes about 10 seconds.  The trigger pull on this rifle was 3.7 pounds and clearly suitable for this varmint/target role.  The handguard is simple and slim and I feel most people would be pleased with its features.  I wish Ruger had added a buttstock with a little more bling, but the A2 buttstock is very functional for this configuration.  As always, if you are looking for a precision autoloading platform rifle, do your research and read as many reviews as possible, but in the end, the Ruger SR-556VT Varmint/Target Rifle should be one that you consider.

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