Ruger has announced their latest AR-15 style rifle – the AR-556. The new carbine will feature direct impingement gas system (DI) instead of a gas piston and appears to be aimed squarely at the budget end of the AR-15 market. Many of the decisions were obviously made to hit a price point and that is okay. I suspect they will sell a ton of them with a street price likely to be well below $700.
I suspected that this day would come and, when it did, I hoped that Ruger would use a mid-length gas system given that their piston carbines use something like a mid-length system. However, the AR-556 uses carbine length gas.
The 16″ hammer forged, medium contour contour barrel is not chrome lined. The lack of chrome-lining is often sold as a “feature” since it makes the barrel “more accurate” but it is usually just a way to cut cost. Chrome lined barrels can be very accurate. The 1 in 8″ twist should stabilize just about projectile you can find on the shelf.
The front sight base has been machined instead of forged. There is a QD sling swivel socket integrated into the bottom and it is proper “F” height. It looks like a fairly nice unit and the barrel is .750″ beneath it so it should be easily replaceable.
The upper looks fairly standard and does have M4 feed ramps. It also has a brass deflector and forward assist which are not found on some competing budget rifles. It has an interesting (and a little strange) delta ring assembly that threads into place to retain the hand guards rather than being spring-loaded like a standard delta ring. Unfortunately, this means that the barrel nut is not standard and will have to be replaced in order to nearly every free-float hand guard on the market.
The grip and rear back up sight appear to be Ruger’s own design and the rifles will ship with a Magpul PMAG.