BREAKING NEWS: Steyr Mannlicher / Rheinmetall RS556 and RS40 – Modular assault rifle system and grenade launcher

The Battle of which company that will get the German Armed Forces contract to replace the HK G36 has just begun, and the “fighting” is taking place at Enforce Tac, Germany, right now.
Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher in co-operation are showing their muscles with their modular assault rifle system and grenade launcher called the RS556 and RS40.
We’re sure you have read about the RS556 before, but both weapons are actually making their official debut at EnforceTac on 1 – 2 March 2017.

The RS556 and RS40 are the outcome of German – Austrian cooperation projects, thanks to which Rheinmetall has now added two new key components to its portfolio of infantry products.

“RS556 modular assault rifle system
The RS556 is based on the highly regarded STM556, which Steyr Mannlicher first unveiled in2012. Outstanding modularity characterizes this easy-to-use, future-proof 5.56mm x 45 cal.weapon.
Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher are offering the RS556 assault rifle as a jointly produced product, made in Germany, with a German valued added share of 60%. Among other things,the two partners thus have their sights set on the German market. This innovative weapon is a possible candidate for the new “System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr”: the German armed forces intend to replace their standard G36 assault rifle with a more advanced system starting in 2019.
Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher each have well over a century of experience in developing
and manufacturing infantry weapons. The RS556 project underscores both companies’ commitment to supplying military and security services around the globe with reliable, future-proof, state-of-the-art systems and equipment.
Featuring an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and rotating bolt, the gas-operated RS556 is based on the tried-and-tested Steyr Mannlicher AUG, or Universal Army Rifle, a design concept that has proven itself in decades of service on every continent.
With a 16″ barrel (406 mm) and without the 30-round magazine, the RS556 weighs around 3.6 kilograms. The adjustable-length light-weight stock clicks into seven different positions,meaning that operators can adjust the RS556 to match their individual equipment profile in optimum fashion.
In a matter of seconds and without tools, the hammer-forged barrel can be easily exchanged.This means that the RS556 can be readily modified for various missions.
A number of standard barrel lengths are available (14.5″, 16″, 18″ and 20″); however,
customer-specific barrel and rifling lengths can be easily created.
The RS556 features several standard and optional NATO accessory rails with receiver
systems designed in accordance with MIL-STD-1913, STANAG 2324 and STANAG 4694.
This means that the weapon can be fitted with various optics and night observation devices or laser light modules. A 40mm grenade launcher can also be mounted on the new assault rifle. Moreover, the RS556 is compatible with Rheinmetall’s modular “Future Soldier–Expanded System” (IdZ-ES), and can also be connected to other soldier systems.
A special breech system with an emergency operation feature ensures that the weapon
always functions reliably even in extreme operating conditions, e.g. in severely hot and cold environments.
RS40 grenade launcher
The RS40 grenade launcher is based on the Steyr Mannlicher GL40. This weapon, 850 mmlong, can be mounted to a rifle as an add-on module or – with a separate shoulder stock – serve as a standalone grenade launcher. The rifle-mounted variant weighs approximately1,040 grams, the grenade launcher, 2,180 grams. The RS40 is a breech-loader that can beo pened on the side. It can fire any standard 40mm x 46 cartridge in the low-velocity spectrum, attaining ranges of up to 400 meters. The RS40 complements Rheinmetall’s extensive array of 40mm systems, which also features a versatile ammunition family and advanced fire control technology.

Rheinmetall’s 40mm system family

As one of the world’s foremost makers of advanced munitions, Rheinmetall offers an impressive array of 40mm x 46 cal. ammunition specially designed for a variety of different scenarios. These range from flash-bang grenades to marker rounds and from non-lethal impulse ammunition to highly effective special solutions enabling different “methods of entry”, or MOE.

A leading system supplier, Rheinmetall also makes first-class 40mm weapons. These include the RS40 launcher, available in build-on and standalone versions; and the Magazine-Fed Grenade Launcher (MFGL), which features integrated hydraulic shock absorption.

Finally, the Group’s advanced fire control and aiming devices make Rheinmetall the perfect one-stop shop for 40mm technology.

Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with an European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatic firearms, optics and sound suppressors. Owning the night would be nice too.


  • Guy Slack

    Looks like the most robust gasblock ever put on an AR15.

    • micmac80

      We will see but it migth have nothing but general looks to do with AR15 .I wouldn’t be suprised it had return spring around the gas piston and no buffer in the stock

      • Vitor Roma

        It would be weird to have the typical giant ar buffer empty and not going for a folding stock.

        • nabbdd

          The empty buffer makes sense if you consider compatibility with aftermarket AR stocks, for example a DMR, sniper or lmg stock would be a simple addition. But getting in and out of vehicles is going to be a pain without a short barrel as standard.

    • GD Ajax

      Europeans don’t bother with a worthless buffer tube that just gets in the way. Any non bullpup without a folding stock is a relic.

      • AHill

        According to this article and the little “field strip” diagram in the lower right, it would seem the this rifle uses what is essentially a standard AR bolt carrier (except for the strike plate instead of gas key) and therefore probably has a buffer. Looks like another short stroke AR to me.

        That being said I want one…

        • GD Ajax

          The HK416 and other short stroke AR’s don’t have one.(because many want the stock option) So the chances of it having a tube is unlikely due to the RS556 being a child of the AUG.

          • AHill

            You do know that the 416 has a basically stock ar buffer right (one that it is heavier than normal but still esseantially a standard buffer)? Judging by the diagram and the length of the BCG I feel pretty confident saying that the RS556 has a basically standard buffer and tube.

          • jono102

            In his world apparently they don’t. Pretty standard large reaching comments with little to back it up.

      • Intoler8

        Yeah, because it’s turned out so badly for the U.S. M4. Oh wait, it’s been in service for over 50 years and is the most manufactured and copied rifle in the world with the exception of the Kalashnikov.

        • GD Ajax

          Not copied given out at the cost of the American tax payer. Every AR-15 given out “Christian rebels” and Special Force is your tax money.

          You DI fanboys tend to ignore the fact that the only reason that it hasn’t been replaced is because each upgrade program was sabotaged. Like when the XM8 was ended by by Army PEO Soldier (a BG) and SOCOM PEO (a COL) who were class mates that hated one another and worked behind the scene to
          screw each other and each ones rifle development programs.

        • nighthawk9983

          Most copied rifle? No, most cloned rifle maybe. Laziness in design for firearms buyers who can’t fathom a system that isn’t an AR is why there are so many ‘copies’. The market is responding to the clarion call of simpletons who just want AR-15s and use stupidity like yours to justify how great the lacking design is.

        • poalla

          Buffer tube has forced u.s to get a 14.5 inch barrel, the shortest standard barrel on any military rifle, for cqb and easily getting in and out of vehicles. This short barrel lead to velocity issues in afghanistan forcing them to update their ammunition. So it’s actually been a pretty big deal.

  • Max Müller

    3.6 freaking kilos with such a short handguard and such a thin barrel? Is that a gas-piston from a .50 bmg and a reciever from steel or what?
    And can they please mount that optic a little higher? You need at least 10cm between your barrel and scope to have a completely messed up zeroing range because of a way too big gap between the two.
    And it doesn’t even have a quad-pic-rail. I thought that was standard to make shooting military rifles uncomfortable? Because nobody needs keymod or mlok.

  • Major Tom

    Dat scope. It’s like an AUG A2 and an M4A1 had an illegitimate bastard child.

    • int19h

      It’s not just the scope, look at the gas block as well.

  • GhostTrain81

    Gentleman… the AUG A4.

  • MichaelinPA

    Are they rocking ETS mags?

    • Audie Bakerson

      Doesn’t look like it. Baseplate and ribs on the magazine differ. Not a lancer either, as the baseplate goes the opposite direction on a Lancer.

  • Kyle

    Seems like AR ergonomics has completely won the day. Works for me!

  • laoama

    May be rough around the edges. As the steyr aug mechanism has always had some problems, for one it doesn’t suppress well, doesn’t work that well in very dusty conditions, barrel changes don’t hold zero and most importantly it can become non-operational after being submerged in water. Maybe they borrowed all the improvements of the new Australan EF88, which solves all the above problems with the possible exception of the water problem.
    And the steyr aug is not proven in the field at all. The only nation with any real operational experience with it is Australia, and they had to arm their really active troops the commandos (special forces equivalent) with M4s. And even from it’s most early iteration, they had to modify the gas system due to it not being able to handle their ammo having a higher initial pressure spike.

    • dunhillmc

      Please stop spreading internet rumors. I’ve had my AUG-A1 for over 20 years and it has not once lost zero after hundreds of times of having the barrel removed. The water issue also non-existent. And it suppresses just fine with the updated gas regulator plug with a suppressor setting.

      There was also no change the gas system in the EF88. Australia fielded a new 5.56 round (F1A1) which more closely mimicked the port pressure of the US M855

      • n0truscotsman

        My limited experience with military and civie AUGs indicates they’re pretty solid. Theyre mechanically reliable, even if they have numerous attributes I dont like.

        I haven’t ran mine as extensively as I have my AR, AKs, and even Tavors, although I wouldn’t characterize it as sensitive to the elements.

        • alanam

          Serviceable if that’s what you mean, but certainly no M4. Anyway with the A3 they had a long time to solve those problems, and this would be the unofficial A4. But I’d take the Australian complaints very seriously just in case.

      • laaand

        The F1A1 ammo blew the gas port off the Austria steyr aug the new zealanders had, so they bought the made in Australia ones,(F88) which had a modified gas port.
        Anyway just saying what I heard online which sounded legit. Don’t think anything from the Austrians can be trusted given they make the rifle and have no operational experience with it. (peacekeeping doesn’t count)

        • jono102

          Nope. The first batch of AUG’s/IW’s (late 80’s) New Zealand received were Austrian made as the Australian production was still kicking off and they also had to supply the ADF. All the later batches were Australian made. There are still a few of the original Austrian Steyrs still in NZDF service.
          Further more the F1A1 has only been in service in New Zealand for a few years and the Gas plug issue you talk of never happened in New Zealand.

  • NukeItFromOrbit

    What were they thinking with that scope other than “we need to throw the AUG scope on something because we’re Steyr”?

    • Tierlieb

      Just plain, boring corporate identity stuff.
      Same reason that Sig makes the 1911 slide so fugly.

  • Just say’n

    re:”Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher each have well over a century of experience in developing
    and manufacturing infantry weapons.”

    FYI Rheinmetall absorbed Mauser several years ago.

  • This kinda looks like they’ve re-invented the AR wheel into a square.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Is the magazine well STANAG? Is that a custom magazine?

    Also doesn’t mounting the scope like that make handguard removal a pain (lose zero)?

  • HLM

    Anyone know what type of buttstock is on the rifle? Is it proprietary? It looks simple, tough and functional.

  • Joe Schmo

    Are they in cahoots with rail manufacturers? Because no one with normal length arms would keep that ~9″ rail if they had a choice.

  • noob

    “A special breech system with an emergency operation feature ensures that the weapon
    always functions reliably even in extreme operating conditions, e.g. in severely hot and cold environments.” So… they invented a forward assist?

    • KFeltenberger

      No…it won’t melt.

  • 7n6

    What makes this cool is it uses something similar to the AUG quick change barrel system.

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    I hate how every rifle made today looks like a damn AR
    wtf is going!!!!!!!!!!!

    • inchang

      It’s a popular design that just works for a autoloading rifle