DefenceWeb recently released a video overview of the new Steyr / Rheinmetall RS-556 assault rifle. The rifle, a sort of hybrid between an AR-15 and a Steyr AUG, was submitted to the Bundeswehr’s System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr trials, competing against both Heckler & Koch’s HK416 and the new HK433 assault rifles. The RS-556, mechanically, is substantially different from a basic AR-15, and therefore occupies an interesting spot in-between being an AR-15 variant and a completely different weapon. The upper receiver is a single piece forged unit, with an AUG-style fixed extension/trunnion and quick change barrel. An AUG-style short stroke tappet gas system and connecting operating rod replace the AR-15’s direct impingement system. In the upper, a steel insert, rather than the aluminum receiver itself, guides the bolt carrier group. This feature is supposed to increase upper receiver life, and improve its maintenance characteristics, although it does make the rifle significantly heavier.
At the 2017 Association of the United States Army show, I spoke with Rheinmetall representatives about the RS-556 rifle. According to them, the weapon was designed by Steyr and is being produced as a joint venture with Rheinmetall as a way to give the Bundeswehr a domestic manufacturer for the weapon. However, Rheinmetall did not actually bring an RS-556 rifle to the show, as they did not think there would be interest at an American defense expo. Quoth the representative “since you’re asking, though, maybe we should have brought it.” Ah, well, I am sure it will be at SHOT Show!