Ruger SR-556 Range Update

Today I made it to the range with the SR-556. I had 6 other rifles to shoot, so the total round count was limited, but I started to get a better feel for how the weapon handled.

I was in luck – also at the range was Mike Pannone of CTT Solutions and Viking Tactics. An all-around good guy, Mike seems always willing to take a minute (or an hour) to help me with my shooting technique. Today, he ran me through a drill he was working on for the Border Patrol agents that he’s paid to train – two shots to the chest and one to the head of a silhouette at 20 meters, two shots at an IPSC A zone steel plate at 50 meters, then two to the chest and one to the head of the silhouette again, and finally back to the steel plate for 2 more hits.

My times with the Ruger SR-556 and an EOTech were in the 10.5 second range, though I was consistently missing shots on the steel plate at 50 meters. Shooting his own AR, Mike was in the low 6 second range – he said an 8 second run was, for him, “slow”. Note that the EOTech XPS2-0, my time with it having expired, has been replaced with my well-used 552 on a LaRue LT-110 riser.

Below, I run through the drill with a BCM lightweight midlength. The steel plate is the black dot to the left of the silhouette. With the BCM (equipped with a TA33 ACOG), my times were in the high 8s to high 9s – no misses. Although the magnified optic certainly helped, it took a little time to get used to the extra weight out at the front of the Ruger, and I kept “overshooting” as I switched from target to target, which led to frustration, wailing, and gnashing of teeth on my part.

I did not bother with accuracy testing after zeroing the optic, though the weapon seemed consistent enough for the task at hand. Later, I shot the drill once more with the Ruger. It was a “clean” run – no misses – and although the timer was not available, the pace was similar to my earlier ~10-11 second runs. I should add that Mike Pannone considers a 10.2 second “clean” time to be average for the shooters he was training.

Recoil is quite mild – as one might expect from a 10.5lb AR-15 with a rubber buttpad shooting .223 American Eagle. Still, recoil characteristics are not ideal, and the weapon exhibited a little more muzzle rise than I expected. As you can see in the first picture of this review, fired cases were ejected between 4 and 5 o’clock – more to the rear than I’m used to. I left the weapon on setting 2 for the day, and experienced no malfunctions. My only functional complaint – if I really wanted to get nit-picky – was that the selector was stiff when going from “fire” to “safe”, but not “safe” to “fire”.

After that last drill, I tried holding the rifle at the ready for as long as I could – after only a few minutes, my arm became quite sore. Unlike a lightweight standard AR, which I feel that I could hold at the ready or low ready for a very long time, the SR556 was just too much for my weak limbs to hold up all day.

My initial impression of this weapon is that it is a decent firearm – it functions, and it puts the bullets where you want them to go. If you are willing to train with this weapon and this weapon alone – or its SR-556C brother – you will probably do quite well with it (them), and be happy with the performance of the weapon(s). However, as an AR-15, for my intended use, it is not exactly satisfactory. Its handling characteristics are so different than a “standard” AR-15 that I would find it disconcerting to go back and forth between the two, or at least, I would personally have a fairly steep learning curve every time I switched. It is also unsuited for comfortable all-day carry, such as when hunting or backpacking.

I would like to thank Mike Pannone for taking a good chunk of time out of his busy day to help me out with my shooting yet again. If you get the chance to take a class taught by him, don’t miss out.



Filed under Firearms

2 responses to “Ruger SR-556 Range Update

  1. Mike W

    Great review Grizzly Adams. or are you going for the Costa look?

    Serious on the positive comment regarding the review. As always, the gun and range info are very informative.

    Not so serious on the beard…..

  2. Chris

    Precisely the same reasons I sold my Sig 556 SWAT and went with a DGI AR by Next Generation Arms.

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