Ruger SR-556: AR-15 has arrived

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

Ruger was that attractive girl at high school who you wanted to love but she stabbed you in the back and you just could not trust her again. That was two decades ago. Sturm, Ruger & Company CEO Michael O. Fifer has listened us, the customers, and changed the company culture for the better.

There is no better illustration for this change than the Evil Black Rifle itself which has just joined the Ruger product offering. The slogan for the SR-556 is “a platform redefined”. I say it should be “a company redefined”. I present to you the Ruger AR-15, the SR-556:

Ruger SR-556

Ok, I will wipe the tear from my eye, be a man and shove my emotional outburst back down where it came from 😉 Onto the features …

The most significant feature is a new short stroke gas piston designed by Ruger. It shares the same benefits as other gas pistons system: a cleaner, cooler bolt carrier as the excess gas it vented out the gas block, far from the upper receiver. The AR-15 was not designed for a piston and retrofit piston systems can cause problems, for example the pressure from the piston operating rob can cause the bolt carrier to bind. It was been suggested that the Ruger bolt carrier is designed to mitigate this particular problem. Time will tell (I am no expert on this topic).

The chrome lined SR-556 bolt carrier.

Disassembly of the gas system.

Another feature is a four position gas regulator. The first position prevents any gas entering the piston system. This turns the rifle into a single shot which requires the bolt to be manually cycled between shots. The next position allows the normal quantity of gas into the piston system to cycle the bolt. The next two position each let in more gas than the previous system which can help when the rifle is dirty or the ammunition is low powered. It is a compelling feature for reloaders because it gives them a greater range of adjustment for thier powder loads.

Chromed gas regulator.

Gas regulator positions.

The rifle also features:

  • Full length Troy Industries Quad Rail with rail covers.
  • Hogue Pistol grip.
  • Ruger branded Troy Industries flip up Backup Iron Sights (BUIS).
  • Ships with three 30-round Magpul PMAG magazines.

Ruger branded Troy Rear Sight

The Specs:

Caliber: 5.56mm NATO / .223 Remington
Barrel: 16.12″
Barrel Twist: 1:9 Right Hand
Weight: 7.92 lbs
Total Length: 32.75″ – 36″ (depending on stock position)
Stock: 6 position M4 style

It is nice to see Ruger has explicitly said .223 Remington AND 5.56mm NATO are compatible with the rifle.

The MSRP is $1,995. It is expensive and you could build one your self from parts for less, but if the gas system works flawlessly then I think it will be a good seller. I think it will sell for about $1800 on the street.

Here is the Ruger promotional video. They seem to be keen to promote it to law enforcement and military: made this video showing the rifle in action:

This photo is from Snowflakes in Hell. For the high resolution version and many more photos as well as on the ground reporting from the launch visit Snowflakes in Hell:

This photo Adam’s Incoming blog. For many more photos check out the Guns and Hunting Incoming blog.

More information about the rifle is at Caleb’s Gun Nuts Media blog.

Thanks to y’all who emailed me about the SR-556. I appreciate it. Contrary to popular belief I am not dead just slow and overworked.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Brian for sending me these photos of his new Ruger SR-556.

Fore-end and gas regulator.

The Backup Iron Sights.

Nice touch with the buttstock Ruger logo.
Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

More by Steve Johnson

Join the conversation
2 of 259 comments
  • Steve Steve on Oct 06, 2013

    My SR556E does have a chromed barrel, piston, carrier and bolt, and it came with the Troy folding Ruger branded sights. Top rail is good for me. Ruger quality is top notch as always. LOVE this rifle!!

  • David Johnson David Johnson on Aug 20, 2014

    Love my SR, But feeding problems, and a trip to Ned at Michiguns confirmed that my chamber was .556 deficient, and needed to be reamed out. If you find missing primers, chances are your gun snuck by quality control.