Review: Ruger AR 556 DIG AR-Style Carbine

   08.22.16

Review: Ruger AR 556 DIG AR-Style Carbine
When Ruger firearms jumped into AR-15 game, they used pistons instead of the original direct impingement gas (DIG) system. Whether you like them or not, we can agree that piston-driven ARs run much cooler and cleaner than DIG ARs. That said, many AR fans still wanted a DIG AR, and Ruger listened. Enter the Ruger AR 556 DIG AR carbine.
At first glance, the AR 556 appears to be just like any other DIG AR, but there are quite a few differences between the AR 556 and other ARs. Starting at the end of the barrel, you’ll notice the famous Ruger flash suppressor. Not only does it look different than standard AR flash suppressors, but I believe it also works better. The barrel is 16.10 inches long and has a 1:8 barrel twist (to handle bullets from 33 to 77 grains). Plus, this is not a “stepped” M-4 barrel. So if you want to mount your grenade launcher on the AR 556, you are out of luck.

Features, Fit, and Finish

This rifle comes with smaller carbine hand guards instead of the large oval M4 hand guards. The front sight block has a bayonet attachment, but it is quite a bit different than those found on standard ARs. The angled portion of the front sight also has serrations to cut down on glare and is adjustable for elevation only.
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The flat-top upper receiver has a Ruger Rapid Deployment rear sight. I like this sight; it’s fast, it gives a great sight picture, and windage adjustments are quick and easy. You can also mount optics or other types of sights on the flat top upper.
The barrel has the M4 feed ramp for more reliable feeding, which is a nice touch. The inside of the bolt carrier is chrome-plated for smoother operation and keeping things a bit cleaner.
The pistol grip is different. It’s a bit larger than those found on standard ARs, as is the oval trigger guard, which gives a little extra room in case you need to wear gloves while shooting.
The entire gun is finished is a nice, subdued, black finish. The steel barrel and the anodized aluminum upper and lower receivers all matched nicely in color. What amazed me is that the AR 556 only weighs in a 6.50 pounds with the MagPul 30-round magazine.
For sling attachment, there’s a Quick Detach hole on the underside of the front sight and a rear sling attachment point on the 6-position telescoping rear stock
As you can see, the Ruger DIG AR 556 has a number of innovative changes versus a “standard” AR-15/M4 carbine. One has to take a close look to see many of the changes to really appreciate them.
The Ruger AR 556 is no entry level AR in my opinion. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t; it’s ready for “combat” right out of the box. My AR 556 arrived just as deer season was opening, and I wasn’t able to get out to my usual shooting spot, so my accuracy testing was limited to 50 yards.

Accuracy

The first thing I did was clean the new AR 556, then I headed to the range with a mix of AR 30-round magazines (all of which worked fine in this rifle).

I burned through 3 mags in short order with no problems just to function-test the AR 556. I settled in for the accuracy portion of testing, and I had a selection of 223 Rem and 5.56 ammo on hand:

  • Black Hills 55-grain FMJ
  • Black Hills 55-grain FMJ reloads
  • Black Hills 55-grain soft point
  • Black Hills 60-grain soft point
  • Black Hills 5.56 77-grain OTM
  • Buffalo Bore 69-grain JHP “sniper load”

Using the hood of my SUV with a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest, I settled in for my accuracy testing. The weather was just about perfect. At 50 yards, I was able to keep most of the above loads inside an inch and a half if I did my part. The one standout was the Black Hills 60-grain soft point round. It was consistently shooting one-inch groups at 50 yards.

The Buffalo Bore 69-grainload was hot on the tail of that load and on another day, it might have been the champ in the accuracy department.

In all, I put slightly more than 500 rounds through the Ruger DIG AR 556 in the course of my shooting, and no problems were encountered.

Final Thoughts

What we have with the DIG Ruger AR 556 carbine is an above-average M4 type carbine with quite a few subtle differences from other M4 carbines.

I’ve saved the best for last, and that is the MSRP: $799.00. Many entry-level ARs come in at this price point or even higher. Which would you rather have at this price, a no-name AR, or a Ruger? That’s what I thought.


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