Ruger Goes Direct Impingement with AR-556

Ruger Goes Direct Impingement with AR-556
Ruger is taking aim at the value AR market with the release of its AR-556.
Ruger is taking aim at the value AR market with the release of its AR-556.
Ruger is taking aim at the value AR market with the release of its AR-556.

Ruger is aiming at the value-minded with the introduction of its new AR-556.

Ruger has been in the AR-style rifle game for a spell. But there was always a bit of a barrier when it came to the company’s SR family of firearms.

The rifles earned praise as being well engineered and reliable. But complete with a two-stage piston system, the SRs’ price tags didn’t exactly lend them as “everyman’s” firearms.

With a recent addition to its catalog, however, Rugers looks to make a run at the entry-level AR market. The AR-556 appears to have all the bells and whistles shooters look for on the platform, including a fairly decent price.

Presently, the new rifle’s MSRP is $749 – nearly a third of the price of Ruger’s SR-556. Of course, there is cost-savings engineered into the AR-556, which overall equates to it being a more traditional AR-style rifle.

Perhaps the biggest chunk of change saved on the new .223/5.56 is drifting away from the SR series piston system. Instead, the AR-556 is driven by a time-tested direct impingement system.

The AR-556 also has another aspect setting it apart from the rest of Ruger’s AR-style rifles and a lot AR-style rifles in general. The company has strayed away from the ever popular 1:9” twist rate, opting instead for a 1:8” rate.

In theory, the faster twist rate should make the gun happier with heavier ammo. But Ruger gives a fairly wide spectrum of optimum bullet weights – 35 grain to 77 grain.

The gun also has a proprietary barrel nut with a threaded delta ring. The concept behind this is to allow for quick and simple hadguard swaps. The nut is still compatible with standard wrenches and is interchangeable with Mil-Spec barrel nuts.

Ruger's new AR-556 offers shooters a light and accurate direct impingement option.
Ruger's new AR-556 offers shooters a light and accurate direct impingement option.

The AR-556’s barrel is cold hammer forged from 4140 chrome-moly steel with a matte black oxide finish. It has 44 feed ramp cuts and has a ½”-28 threaded muzzle that comes outfitted with a flash suppressor.

The upper and lower receivers are made of 7075-T6 aluminum and are hard coat anodized. The rifle comes standard with a forward assist, dust cover and brass deflector.

The rifle boasts a M4 style six-position buttstock, adjustable between 32.25 inches and 35.5 inches. The AR-556 tips the scales at a manageable 6.5 pounds and has a carbine-length 16-inch barrel.

It also boasts a single-stage trigger and comes standard (depending on your state’s laws) with a 30-round Magpul PMag.

It should be noted, everything on the rifle is compatible with Mil-Spec parts. It is also the first firearm to be completely manufactured at Ruger's new North Carolina plant.


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Elwood Shelton is the Digital Editor for Gun Digest. He lives in Colorado and has provided coverage on a vast spectrum of topics for GD for more than a decade. Before that, he was an award-winning sports and outdoors reporter for a number of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains. His experience has consisted of covering the spread of chronic wasting disease into the Western Slope of Colorado to the state’s ranching for wildlife programs. His passion for shooting began at a young age, fostered on pheasant hunts with his father. Since then, he has become an accomplished handloader, long-range shooter and avid hunter—particularly mule deer and any low-down, dirty varmint that comes into his crosshairs. He is a regular contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and has contributed to various books on guns and shooting, most recently Lever-Actions: A Tribute to the All-American Rifle.


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