Ruger SR-556: Photos and video…

If you have not heard the news. Ruger has moved into the AR platform.  They have announced the Ruger SR-556. It is a short stroke gas piston rifle built upon the AR platform.

Features include troy rails, sights and covers. Receiver is 3rd party from what I gathered from the salesmen.  The barrel, flash suppressor, and I believe the bolt are Ruger made. Possibly other parts as well. The upper two-stage gas piston system was designed by Ruger.  Essentially, what I gathered is that Ruger is trying to provide a full feature ready made gas piston AR platform.

MSRP is something like $1,995, they should start shipping in June.

Michael Bane was there filming for the Outdoor Channel. I also managed to capture some video…

Here was an outtake… ( I wonder if I’ll still be allowed at the Michael Bane sponsored Blogger Happy Hour tonight.) *LOL*

I endeavored to seek answers for a number of questions I’d seen asked online already. I asked a salesman what differentiated the Ruger SR556 from the SigSauer556. He expressed that the Sig was a long stroke piston similar to an AK. Where as the Ruger is a short stroke piston. (Now here is where I must confess my ignorance. As I have NO CLUE what this means. Nor what advantages or disadvantages either has; so if you my readers would like to chime in here, please do!)

The receiver is a standard lower and therefore you should be able to put any upper on it.  (Hmm…POF receiver with Ruger upper might be a nice setup.) While I am not sure about .22LR conversion kits. A .22LR upper system should work according the salesman I spoke with on the floor.

An interesting note…the salesmen stated that they have two testing units which have broken 20,000 rounds (uncleaned).

More photos of the SR-556 here in the photo gallery!

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 11:56 pm  Comments (24)  
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24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Get your booger picker off the bang switch.

  2. Hey John…

    While it may look a bit like it, my finger is actually not on the trigger. I have my finger slightly raised out with slight curve. It might be somewhat hard to tell there. Especially as I have very short fingers. (It’s why I’ll never own a double-stack Glock. *LOL*)

    But I will grant you that my finger should be elevated higher on the frame of the rifle. I do eat my crow when I’ve made a mistake. Just read April’s blog posts.

    This blog is all about a person new to guns learning the ropes. I try to be very mindful of keeping my finger out of the trigger guard. So when you said I went back to the full size photo to take a look. And while I have my finger out and arced. I realize now that it’s really hard to tell that in 2 dimensional film. With blogging, I am not usually posting pictures of myself. So this was very insightful for me in that it doesn’t convey safety clearly.

    Hence I approved your comment… 😉

  3. Massad Ayoob per

    The following outlays where my technique was wrong. In that it is not really enough just to have your finger out and off the trigger. I should have had the the tip of my finger on the frame as well. When using the methodology below. My bad on that…

    “First, when you take a suspect at gunpoint, KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER! In a stressful moment like this, any number of stimuli can cause a convulsion of the trigger finger that kills an unarmed man who has just surrendered to you. Dr. Roger Enoka, the physiologist who has most authoritatively studied this phenomenon, enumerates various causes: startle reflex, postural disturbance, inter-limb response, and so on.

    It’s not enough to rest the finger on the edge of the trigger guard. The tight muscles of your hand will hold the finger taut there, and if you are startled, the finger can snap straight back to the trigger, unintentionally firing the gun. The trigger finger should be up on the frame of the firearm, handgun, or long gun.

    At the classes we teach around the country for Lethal Force Institute (, we urge that the fingertip be in contact with the frame, pointed inward toward the gun, with the trigger finger flexed. That way, if the strong flexor muscles of the hand convulse, the finger comes across the trigger instead of straight into it, and is thus much less likely to cause an accidental discharge. It’s also faster to get to the trigger if you do have to fire, if you start with the finger flexed on the frame.”

  4. In a long stroke piston system, like an AK, the piston travels back the full distance the bolt carrier travels back, usualy slightly over the length of the loaded cartridge, to provide ejection. The bolt is usualy as one piece with the bolt carrier. By contrast, a short stroke piston is only pushed back by explosive gasses far enough to make contact with the bolt carrier, at which point its kinetic energy is transfered, like one billiard ball hitting another, and the bolt carrier moves backward independently of the bolt (which usualy has its own spring return).

    The advantage of the short stroke system is that the bolt carrier unit has less mass, and therefore less inertia, so its easier to return by spring, and it slams forward with less “umph” making the function seem smoother and more balanced while firing, maybe even providing a more stable position under recoil.

    the disadvantage is that it has more parts.

  5. “The bolt is usualy as one piece with the bolt carrier. ”

    this should read

    “The piston is usualy as one piece with the bolt carrier.”

  6. […] NUGUN at the convention filming Bane’s interview. […]

  7. All of the AR15s are dropping rapidly in price. Does Ruger really believe they can compete in sales by starting out at $1,995? I don’t believe they will do that well, until they get more in-line with what is already out there, price wise! Pretty soon we will be buying fully dressed AR15s, accessories IE scopes, lasers, lights etc, for $1,995 or even more like $1,500 and less and Ruger wiukk be trying to sell the bare system for $1,995. Which will you be buying? I’ll take mine fully loaded sir, Thank You!

    • First off, a couple of considerations. MSRP does not equate to street price. And Ruger’s usually sell a fair bit below their MSRP price. Of course, recently certain highly in demand firearms like the LCP have been selling at or around their MSRP.

      Second, you’re comparing a standard AR versus a gas-piston AR system. The latter usually command a fair premium. It’d probably be more fair to compare the SR-556 to the SigSauer 556 & FN Scar. Some additional considerations. While the Ruger SR-556 does not come equipped with scope, laser or lights. It does come with a chrome lined barrel and some other high end 3rd party attachments. (Fold down sights, and one of the nicer rail systems I have seen on an AR.)

      While I would have liked the Ruger AR to have a folding stock like the Sig556. At hand was Ruger’s attempt to maximize compatibility with the AR platform. The Ruger uses a standard AR receiver. Which means you can use a preferred brand such as POF. Something you cannot do with the Sig556 if I am correct.

      All things consider, with most basic AR’s currently selling for $1,100. A Ruger SR-556 which is MSRP at $1,995 but will likely sell for closer to the $1,695 mark does NOT seem like a bad deal. Yes, it puts it to the premium range of AR’s but toward the bottom for gas piston ARs.

      Plus it includes 3 Magpul magazines…I really don’t think it’s quite as bad a deal as some think.

      • I have heard alot of complaing about prices on this unit I saw one at my local gun shop fpr 1699.00. with the accessories that you get and a piston system that’s better than a standard gas system Smith & Wesson or Armalite

  8. Actually, the person describing the short vs long-stroke systems did a good job, until the end. The long stroke (AK-style) is kinder and gentler on the carrier and other parts due to the fact that the short-stroke is, as the peron stated, like a cue stick hitting a ball. The piston, op-rod and the carrier are one in the AK. In most piston ARs the old impingement gas key has been turned into a simple cup (no hole going through into the carrier) that catches the op-rod which is not connected to the carrier as in the AK. Some piston ARs have a piston that smacks the op-rod, which, in turn, smacks the carrier key/cup. Other ARs have an all-in-one with the carrier connected to the op-rod.

    By placing the return spring on the op-rod or the piston, you can eliminate need for the recoil tube at the end of an AR, as ZM weapons and Sig has done. Then you can have a shorter side-folder gun, which is a good thing in my opinion.

  9. Thanks for the straight scoop on the SR-556 vs. the AR-15. Yes agreed it does have more to it and if it does go for the $1,600 – $1,700 range it will be well worth it. Bottom line is that they don’t price it out of the average gunners wallet.

  10. Like Ricky says to Lucy “you goina have to do so splanin lucy” Yall all did a good job Thanks

  11. Now that these are getting out, you can snag one for $1500 plus shipping on Gunbroker. Dealer wholesale is in the $1,350 range for comparison. The kicker on value is that Ruger has added very high end accessories like Magpul (3! You can hardly get these right now!), Troy sights and rails, and Hogue, things you’d normally have to spend $400 + to add. Magpul is one of the few you can store fully loaded without degrading the spring. These, combined with the gas system, makes it a steal at $1,550. Those are 1,500 US dollars, which will be worth about $1 in a few years due to the number of them Obama is printing, at which point your new Ruger will be worth about 2 and a quarter million US. One cool side note: Ruger has even more accessories to Harleyize this baby, including a very neat broomstick forward grip with an integral flashlight holder that has a pistol trigger to momentary-on the light. One bad development: our Ruger rep said they are in the middle of a negotiation with DOD for 100,000 of these. If that happens, the one thing we haven’t discussed– supply–will make these impossible to get, so get yours now! Remember what happened to Sig when they got their last DOD contract… To the smart person above who mentioned POF– very wise, add the POF, and suddenly you have a $5,000 mil spec HK!! See HK’s short piston full auto on youtube– the design is VERY similar to the Ruger piston assembly. Old man Ruger is up there in reloading heaven smiling down on this one.

  12. I had not heard anything regarding a DOD contract. Though I did hear a Ruger rep state they were very open to such.

    I for one would love to see it happen if the SR-556 proves to be a better option for our soldiers than the M4.

    My guess, Ruger would probably just cross license the design. And let someone like Colt do the manufacturing for a DOD order.

  13. I picked one up at the Houston gun show 2 weeks ago. Sticker price $1399. Walked out the door for $1515. Zeroed and shot like the ones I used in the Army but was a lot easier to clean. I’m very pleased with my purchase.


  14. Ruger SR-556, I just had to have one. But now I wish I had waited. I have had nothing but problems with it. I have sent it back to the factory for repair twice and still not satisfied with it. From stuck shell cases, not chambering next round and the charging handle dragging across the lower receive causing wear on it. This rifle will not operate with cheaper ammo. I should have spent that $1600 on two other brands of AR15

  15. I bought mine in August for $1420.00. I see them on Gunbroker for 1,399.00 and up. Everyone was/is fretting about MSRP. You will get it cheaper. As far as the Colt licensing to DOD, Colt sold their licensing in July 2009, so the DOD can now get what they want from whom they want.

    As far as the SR556, I shot mine at a ‘three gun’ in Fernandina Beach, Fl. It was flawless, I was shooting Georgia Arms reloads & everything went well. I have not tried Wolf or Bear etc (laqured casings).

  16. I wish I had not bought this rifle. I sent it back to ruger on October 12 it is now November 22 and still no rifle. I dont wish this headache on anyone. The price is to cover the R&D ruger did not do. BAH HUMBUG!!

  17. They might be keeping so long to evaluate your problem. I know it took quite a while for us to get our LCP back.

    But in the end Ruger did us right with a working firearm, an extra magazine, and a store coupon.

    So I wouldn’t give up yet. I seems like for most people, things are going well but a handful are problematic.

  18. Bought one for $1499. With the chrome bore, rails, covers, sights, mags, etc., that isn’t a bad price for a piston driven AR. Ruger installed a lawsuit-proof trigger at the factory, so I replaced it with a Geissele trigger from Geissele Automatics. Night and day difference – smooth and crisp, breaks at 2.5 pounds. Hung an Elzetta super bright light and a Mako vertical fore grip on it. Makes for a reasonably priced gas piston gun. I don’t shoot Wolf or Silver Bear ammo in anything and I haven’t had any problems. Still deciding what kind of sight/scope to put on it… Too many choices!
    Shoot straight – shoot often.

  19. Well all is well that ends well I geuss, Ruger finally got my rifle back after 2 months. The replacement is more along the lines of what I wanted. I have put 800+ rounds thru it including brown and silver bear and have had one FTE and that was with Hornady ammo albeit the rifle was resting on the mag. If the serrations on your bolt do not go all the way to the ruger logo you have the bcg thats giving problems. After an extensive group firing session I got an average of 1.25 inches per 5 shot group @ 100 yards with the first three shots always going .5 to .75. It took way too long but I am now very satisfied with my SR556. I appologize to Ruger for my angered comments and I hope that they did not steer anyone away from a great rifle backed by a good company.

  20. Great to hear Ryan,

    Glad that Ruger took car of the issue. Often is the case with new technology, refinements are necessary.

    Usually it’s a matter that the design works, but when a part is out of tolerance it is unknown the effect it will have. As production continues the tolerances get more defined.

    Glad to hear it’s working and shooting well for you. It’s definitely a rifle that has my interest piqued.

    We had a similar ordeal with our LCP. In fact we sent ours in before the recall and for a totally different failure. I watched as people received their recall returns, and I still hadn’t received ours back.

    I think here is the reason why there was a delay. If your firearm is a bit more of an oddity, then Ruger (or any manufacturer) wants to study and determine exactly what the issue is. While it might be a simple as popping out the barrel or replacing a slide, trigger assembly or bolt. That doesn’t help them prevent the problem in the future. So I think they study guns like yours and mine until they pinpoint exactly what is causing the issue.

    Thank you for following up on your prior comment.

    – N.U.G.U.N.

  21. Yes’sir thought it was the least I could do.

  22. i brought a sr-556 and i noticed the piston scratched the upper reciever. it put a deep grove scraping the meatel off. so i send it back. its been two weeks now and no one has looked at it yet. i probably wont see my gun on march 26 . how may guns have had this problem?

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