It has been a year since Ruger
introduced their entry into the popular AR-15 market.
Instead of jumping in with a stripped-down rifle assembled from
parts bins as do many who build ARs, Ruger introduced a
top-of-the-line rifle built with high quality parts. Featuring a
very simple and reliable gas piston system with a four-position
regulator, the Ruger SR-556 has been well-accepted in the
marketplace, even though it is priced higher than the entry
level ARs available from other builders. The SR-556 wears
quality components that many shooters add anyway, such as a quad
rail hand guard and folding sights, resulting in a rifle that is
very accurate and ready to go to work right out of the box.
Since writing about the SR-556 last year, I
have heard but two areas on complaint. The first is the price.
The only way to lower the price and still make a profit is to
cut material or labor costs. Using lower-priced components would
certainly lower the cost to produce the rifle, as would having
the rifle assembled in a foreign country with a depressed
economy. Ruger builds their firearms entirely in the United
States from American made parts, many of which are made in-house
by Ruger employees, and importing the rifle is not an option.
The materials used in the SR-556 are top notch, and Ruger chose
to build a better rifle than the many entry level guns already
on the market. There are many low priced AR-15 style rifles
available, and they are all pretty good guns, but many are
imported or use commonly available mass-produced parts. That is
satisfactory if that is what you want, but the SR-556 is a cut
above the common AR-15 rifle, and with the quality of components
used and the care in assembly using American labor, it is still
a good value for what you get. That addresses the price issue.
The second complaint that I have heard is
that the SR-556 is too heavy. To me, that is not the case. Ruger
uses a high quality hammer forged barrel with a semi-heavy
profile in the SR-556, which attributes to the rifle’s fine
accuracy. For me, accuracy is everything, and the muzzle-heavy
balance of the SR-556 feels pretty good to me. However, Ruger
chose to address this issue with the introduction of the Ruger
SR-556c. The 556c still uses a barrel of the same diameter
inside the quad rail hand guard (.850 inch), but the barrel is
heavily fluted to reduce weight and promote faster cooling.
Also, to reduce the weight a bit more and to reduce the overall
length of the barrel, and thus the rifle, the flash suppressor
is machined integrally with the barrel. The barrel has the same
overall length as does the barrel of the SR-556, but by using an
integral flash suppressor instead of a threaded-on flash
suppressor, the overall length of the 556c is one and
three-quarters inches less that that of the original SR-556.
Fluting the barrel and shortening it shaves off about a half
pound from the rifle’s barrel, dramatically changing the
balance of the rifle. The 556c handles quicker, and the reduced
length makes it a bit handier in tight quarters. Wearing the
same six-position buttstock of the original SR-556, the SR-556c
has an overall length of between thirty-one and thirty-four and
three-eighths inches approximately, depending upon the position
of the buttstock.
I covered the features of the original Ruger
SR-556 in the review last year, so will just hit the high points
here. The SR-556c still has all the features of the original
such as the aforementioned four position gas regulator, chrome
plated bolt carrier, and Troy Industries quad rail, covers, and
folding battle sights. It also has a Hogue pistol grip and comes
with three thirty-round Magpul magazines with feed lip covers,
and a handy padded carry case.
I fired the new SR-556c using every type of
5.56x45mm and .223 Remington ammo that I had available for
function testing, and also used several of the better quality
brands for accuracy testing. I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to
25 power riflescope for accuracy testing using an ArmaLite 30mm
mount. All accuracy testing was done from a solid bench using a Target
Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest. Being as this carbine
is built for serious purposes, the trigger pull is pretty much
standard AR, which is great for social work, but I prefer a
lighter pull for benchrest target work. The trigger pull
measured around six and three-quarters pounds on the test
weapon. However, the Ruger still turned in a stellar
performance, and I was surprised at the level of accuracy
displayed by this rifle. I really should not have been, as it
uses the same basic chrome-plated, hammer-forged barrel of the
original SR-556, and I was using some ammunition that has proven
to be very accurate in many other rifles. I was concerned that
the Ruger’s 1-9 rifling twist would not stabilize the Buffalo
Bore Sniper ammo with the long 77 grain Sierra bullet, but those
concerns proved to be unfounded, at least out to the limits of
my 100 yard rifle range. I will probably try the ammo out at
longer range in a couple of weeks, but at 100 yards, the
accuracy was superb, with no indications of instability at all.
Range conditions were mild, with a slight breeze and an air
temperature of seventy to seventy six degrees Fahrenheit at an
elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level. Accuracy
and velocity results are listed in the chart below. Velocities
are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Group sizes are the
averages for three-shot groups at 100 yards. Bullet weights are
listed in grains.
|Lake City SS109
|Winchester USA FMJ
|Winchester USA FMJ
|Black Hills HP
|Wolf Gold HP
|Buffalo Bore HP
I was well-pleased with the performance of
the SR-556c. Functioning was flawless. I left the gas regulator
set to position 2 for all testing. The rifle fed, fired, and
ejected every round perfectly. Accuracy was good with every load
tested, and superb with a couple of them.
The SR-556c is a welcome addition to Ruger’s
line of semi-automatic rifles. It balances well, is very handy,
and relatively lightweight at only seven pounds, ten ounces.
However, all of the weight that was removed was removed from the
front end of the weapon, and really makes it more “lively”,
to use a shotgunner’s terminology. Retaining all of the great
features of the original SR-556, the SR-556c is just a
better-balanced, faster-handling carbine, and another fine
choice for those looking for a top-tier AR-15 gas piston
For more information on Ruger products, go
online to www.ruger.com.
For the location of a Ruger dealer near you,
click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the SR-556c online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
|To buy this gun online, go to:
Best accuracy performance was with Black Hills and
Buffalo Bore ammunition.
Hogue pistol grip.
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Click pictures for a larger version.
Ruger SR-556c semi-auto carbine.
The SR-556c comes with a soft case, three
thirty-round Magpul magazines, instructions, sight adjustment
tool, pad lock, and rail covers.
Sight adjustment tool.
Barrel flutes can be seen through ventilated
Troy Industries folding battle sights.
Chrome-plated bolt carrier.
Four-position gas regulator.
Integrally-machined flash suppressor.