AR-15 Review: SIG 516 Patrol Rifle

AR-15 Review: SIG 516 Patrol Rifle
The Sig 516 Patrol Rifle comes in a standard black model, but is also available in Flat Dark Earth (FDE) and a black/Olive Drab (OD) Green version. Beyond the colors, each model boasts many of the same features.
The Sig 516 Patrol Rifle comes in a standard black model, but is also available in Flat Dark Earth (FDE) and a black/Olive Drab (OD) Green version. Beyond the colors, each model boasts many of the same features.

The Sig Sauer Difference

The Sig Sauer 516 Patrol Rifle is not intended necessarily for military or law enforcement use, but can be if the inside is changed.; it’s a semi-auto, yet it is extremely accurate; and it will dust coyotes. The 516 is not just another AR. It has some really cool improvements over the typical AR-style rifle. One of the most notable improvements is it’s gas piston operated. Conventional AR rifles channel gas down a tube to the bolt—specifically to the carrier shoe, which is attached to the bolt carrier. This is where the gas stops, expending its energy to the spring-loaded carrier pushing it backward into the stock. This, along with the blowback action of the cartridge, extracts the spent case.

Raise Your Sig Sauer IQ

This system has and still performs extremely well, but the gasses transferred to the bolt area carry dirt and fouling along with it, which can be left on the bolt carrier. This fouling needs to be removed during routine maintenance in order to ensure continued smooth operation. The gas piston system, however, and this has been around for years, keeps the gas up front on the gas block part of the rifle. The energy is then transferred to the bolt carrier via a solid rod that runs along the same path the gas tube ran. This keeps the fouling in the gas piston chamber, which means it doesn’t have to be cleaned as often. It still needs maintenance periodically though. I have shot about 600 rounds through the 516, and there is not a speck of fouling around the bolt or carrier area.

The gas-piston Sig 516 Patrol AR is one sweet shooter.
The gas-piston Sig 516 Patrol AR is one sweet shooter.

The rifle comes with MagPul’s adjustable stock and pistol grip, which is a nice addition to an AR.  The adjustability makes it fit a variety of different sized shooters and makes storing the firearm when not in use a little easier. It also comes with a four-rail forearm for attaching a white light or whatever tool for the purpose intended. The carbine barrel is topped off with a flash hider.

The rifle has a more robust lower than your granddaddy’s AR with heavy squared off lines like the area that houses the front pivot detent spring and area around the bolt release/lock. Also there is a left side magazine release making this function ambidextrous. Inside the frame is thicker with quite a bit more metal on the sides and back area for improved durability.

Have you ever been aggravated with your AR when the upper and lower start to wear a little making for a less than tight fit? Companies have come up with expandable pins for the rear upper as well as the little red rubber Accu Wedge, which all help in this area. Sig had a better idea: they put a spring-loaded adjustable detent in the lower right under the rear locking pin tab that keeps constant spring tension on the upper. As the unit wears, it can be adjusted to keep the tension as it should. The end result is no more rattling upper and lowers.

Shooting the Sig 516

The rifle comes with flip-up adjustable iron sights, but Sig’s semi-mini red dot sight—a nice light sight for fast action shooting—can also be had. I topped this one with a Leupold Mark 4 MRT scope, a 1.5×5 illuminated reticle scope that can be used in close quarters, as well as handle long shots all in one sight. I was planning to use the gun for 3-Gun competition and the MRT helps with those close and long-range rifle shots in the same stage. Guess what? It will be a light and quick handling rifle for dusting coyotes in the fall and winter, too.

I’ve been shooting the full floated carbine at longer range targets and found it to be accurate out to 400 yards. Shooting at an 8- and 10-inch gong, one homemade and one of MGM Target’s flash gongs, if I do my job, the rifle does its. I have used several different types of ammo in the rifle, and it seems to digest it all well. I started out with Federal 55-grain FMJ, shot some Silver Bear 62-grain HPBT and had great luck with American Eagle 62-grain FMJ. It seemed to like the heavier bullet. I kind of do, too.

The rifle is quick to work around obstacles like barricades and windows making it a nice 3-Gun choice, and of course it would make a great close combat or home defense weapon. The shorter carbine barrel is better for retention during searches and working barricade stages and still accurate enough for the long shots.

This article appeared in the March 11, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Raise Your Sig Sauer IQ:


Next Step: Get your FREE Printable Target Pack

Enhance your shooting precision with our 62 MOA Targets, perfect for rifles and handguns. Crafted in collaboration with Storm Tactical for accuracy and versatility.

Subscribe to the Gun Digest email newsletter and get your downloadable target pack sent straight to your inbox. Stay updated with the latest firearms info in the industry.


  1. My Cousin and I had the absolute pleasure of “trying out” a friends SWAT issued Sig Sauer in the select fire 10″ barreled version, topped with a high quality red dot optic. Not only was it a joy to shoot, it was easy to control, never stuttered or had any problems. We tried some walking fire on multiple targets, some near and far. We emptied multiple 20 round magazines (many on full auto) with no feeding or ejection issues whatsoever. The piston system functioned flawlessly, and, soaked up some of the recoil impulse, making it not abusive even to a 12yo that was with us. It totally convinced my Cousin (a Vietnam Veteran with many years of handling issued and privately owned M16s and M14s) that the next rifle he would purchace would be a Sig.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.