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 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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