Breakdown of Ruger’s New AR-556

Breakdown of Ruger’s New AR-556

Ruger unveiled their first Direct Impingement AR15 at the end of September, but it looks like another entry into the limitless supply of consumer level AR15s. Breaking the Ruger AR-556 down into its individual components will give us a better understanding of the quality of the weapon. Does it keep quality up and costs down? Does it do anything new? Let’s take a look.

What I like About the AR-556:


F marked front sight, machined in house at Ruger, and features anti-glare serrations and a QD sling swivel on the bottom. That is a clean looking FSB, and the integration of a QD socket was a nice touch by Ruger. It is pinned on the upper portion of the barrel, so gunsmithing the weapon will be a bit different then your standard AR15.

Hammer forged 4140 steel barrel, in 5.56 NATO with a medium contour and 1/8 twist. Here we have a carbine length barrel forged on Ruger’s hammer forge. I am glad they are making use of their equipment to produce CHF barrels and in an appropriate twist! If the bullet can fit in the magazine, this gun can stabilize it. 55-77 grain ammo will not be a problem.

HPT barrel and bolt, shot peened bolt. A good step. The introductory video makes me believe they HPT each bolt and barrel together before they leave the factory. This is an important step to ensure the barrel and bolt don’t break from an unseen weakness before the gun leaves the factory.

A More Robust Grip. A nice polymer grip with a palm swell and better ergonomics than a stock A2 grip.

What I don’t like:

The barrel isn’t the better 4150 blend of steel, but this will be inconsequential to most shooters.

The barrel is not chrome lined.

Carbine length gas system. More and more manufacturers are moving towards mid-length gas systems in the 16 inch carbine platform. Mid length gives you more room for your support arm and the mid length gas system is a bit easier on the internal components.

The rest of the rifle is pretty standard for an AR15; a Standard 6 position telescoping stock, skinny carbine hand-guards, and a Ruger (Magpul?) flip up BUIS. Apparently the delta ring and barrel nut are not mil-spec components; that’s something that could get in the way of certain upgrades, namely free float rail systems that clamp to a standard USGI barrel nut. Since we cannot see what that barrel nut looks like, I cannot say for sure. The barrel nut and delta ring are “patent pending”. What? WHY?

Would I Recommend it?

This rifle is geared towards entry level AR owners. If the reports come in that the rifle is reliable then there isn’t much that bothers me with the weapon. For someone scraping the bare bottom of the budget barrel, sure I am sure the Ruger will keep up with whatever the casual shooter can throw at it. If someone you know has to have an entry level AR15 and they wont spend a dime more than $700 then sure, the AR-556 looks like a good choice. Comparing it to the Smith and Wesson M&P Sport, I might be tempted to take the Ruger based on some of the features. For someone who can build their own rifle or has a higher budget, there are better choices on the market.

Nifty features for an entry level AR15: CHF barrel, 1/8 twist, HPT Bolt/Barrel

FSB has a QD sling socket and is actually a nicely designed component

Price: MSRP is affordible

× Non-milspec barrel nut may inhibit the use of certain free float rails

× Carbine length gas system / hand-guards are getting dated

× Non chrome lined barrel

 Edit: corrections made. Rifle is not chrome lined!

Written by lothaen


  1. Jan C. · November 14, 2014

    Seems to be an ok carbine. I just wonder if the magpul (SL) hand guards can be installed on this rifle? If yes, then I will buy one.

    • Tim · June 19, 2015

      Yes they can. I installed magpul handguard, vertical grip and CTR stock on my AR 556. To say that my friends are envious is an understatement. Great rifle.

  2. Bill Parnall · December 14, 2014

    I wonder if the two pins at the top of the barrel that pin the front sight/gas block will mean it is hard to find a rail gas block that can be switched.

    • lothaen · December 14, 2014

      As long as it is of the appropriate diameter for the gas block, it should be capable of being switched though you would need the right gas block to cover up the holes.

    • Jason De Bra · September 20, 2017

      I am changing the front sight with a picatini gas block on my ruger ar 556 and is simple.

  3. Matt B · January 15, 2015

    Does anyone know if you can replace the barrel nut/delta ring with a milspec one? Magpul MOE carbine length handgaurd does not fit and I am extremely disappointed.

    • lothaen · January 15, 2015

      The upper receiver looks like a standard forged receiver and as such the upper receiver should be of standard dimensions and thread pitch.

      The hard part will be removing the front sight base as these typically require a jig to remove the pins without mauling the upper.

      I will send you a spare delta ring / barrel nut assembly, just shoot me an email: [email protected] Mbarkie. You may need to take it to a gunsmith if you lack the tools. Don’t do it yourself unless you have all the right tools otherwise your going to maul the gun up pretty easily.

    • nick · February 3, 2015

      The new ruger twist lock ring can be replaced by mil spec delta rings

    • Jesse · February 22, 2015

      Just installed a magpul me sl handgun rd tonight. Fits perfectly.

    • John · March 27, 2015

      The video says you can switch those out for Milspec. All parts are supposed to be interchangeable.

    • GB Timmer · December 23, 2015

      Magpul MOE handguard fits no problem whatsoever…just like their MilSpec stocks.
      I love my AR556, very well made and eats all types of .223 & 5.56 no problem.

    • Ross Johnson · January 14, 2017

      I have one, and it took a little finesse, but my MOE SL hand guard went on and fits and performs perfectly. Although it takes a little patience, it’s a good fit.

  4. ETG · February 4, 2015

    I don’t understand the fixation with chrome lined barrels, unless one is shooting corrosive ammo; that is certainly not going to the the case with ARs.

    • TXCOMT · August 29, 2015

      I know this is a late reply, but I’ve often wondered the same thing and an answer that I found among another gun sight’s comments put my mind at ease: chrome lining apparently makes it sticky case extraction less common than it would be in non-lined barrels (well, chambers, to be really specific). I haven’t shot enough rounds through all my ARs to have ever experienced a stuck case, but the argument seems solid enough. I’m sure it can happen and chrome lining could be a lifesaver in that instance.


  5. dan · March 5, 2015

    where to look for good prices on accessorizing your ruger ar 556. I don’t care about the high end stuff. good sights- scope or red dot. floating hand rail for a tripod. lasers. etc.

  6. Kris · March 19, 2015

    I finally got one- LOVE this gun! Good presentation and very accurate right out of the box. Can be upgraded with accessories- whatever you want to do to it- you can! I haven’t had any issues with loaded or feeding- shoots all the regular ammo well. I would recommend it to anyone- beginner or the more experienced shooter.

  7. Sarah · May 5, 2015

    I’m new to the AR15 world and just bought this gun today. I would like to mount a Primary Arms MD-06 RDS on the gun but have no idea what mount to order with it and can’t seem to find anywhere that tells me. I don’t want to have to remove the front sight if I don’t have to…any advice or recommendations for this newbie? Thank you in advance for your help!!!

    • lothaen · May 5, 2015

      Hi, call or email primary arms directly, they are known for their general helpfulness to customers and they should direct you to the right mount.

      Tell them you want a lower 1/3 co-witness mount. This will allow you to keep the front sight and it will appear in the bottom third of your red dot window so its more or less out of the way.

      It won’t be distracting to your use of the dot, yet if the dot should stop working it will allow you to use a flip up rear iron sight and you will be able to use the sights through the optic.

      Let me know if you need anymore help.

  8. billmar · August 18, 2015

    just got a new ar 556 and i am very disappointed. it is suppose to be fully customizable well i tried to install a scope on it and found that the front sight was in the way so now i am looking for a new low profile gas block tube so i can take the the front sight off (another $50.) additionally, my son and i were out shooting and after a while (about 30 rounds) it started jamming when he tried to shoot 3 quick shots. since i gave it to him for his birthday the rifle’s performance made me sick. i am going to clean the bolt, barrel, and chamber and then try several quick rounds.

    • lothaen · August 18, 2015

      I can’t comment on the jamming, other than to say ensure you use quality ammo. Some ammo is a little weak to properly cycle rifles reliabily.

      Otherwise, the shadow cast by the front sight post can be overlooked so just mount the scope and shoot through the ghosted image. I like a flip down front sight, but its not a deal breaker with optics.

    • Junko · November 25, 2015

      You didn’t notice that the traditional front sight is in line with the line of sight, where they’ve been since Mr. Stoner designed it 55 years ago ???? Really??? How inconsiderate of Ruger to mount it in such a silly place. They tricked you!!! This must be reported!!!!

    • GB Timmer · December 23, 2015

      You have to keep the BCG wet at all times or your going to get jams and lock-up’s, just like any other gas-impingment AR platform.

    • Niles J Tackett · March 16, 2018

      The front sight cant be in way for it is made to co witness with scopes. Do more research before assuming.

  9. Blake · September 5, 2015

    After shopping around for my first AR I found this Ruger AR 556 at one of my favorite ranges. The price point actually scared me. It was Very inexpensive comparatively. $579 dollars. I have been to the range several times and not once have I had a FTF, stove pipe, extraction issues, etc It has gone ~bang~ every time I wanted it to fire. One issue than I can say is that the iron…err polymer sights needed a LOT of movement to the left to get on target down range.

    I have changed the front hand guard to a Magpul (just looks cooler). I am extremely satisfied so far with my purchase.

    Color me a Very happy Ruger customer!

  10. Andrew · October 21, 2015

    Had this gun for a year. Very solid gun. 1000 rounds or so through it, no issues whatsoever. I put a Larue quad rail on it and used there low profile extended gas block. Covers up the original hole from the factory gas block/post just fine.

  11. Chris · November 8, 2015

    Is the butt stock on the ruger 556 commercial? Trying to figure out what kind of stock I need to buy for upgrade.

  12. Sancho · January 12, 2016

    I want to install a free float handguard like Fortis. Will it work?

  13. scott j sturzl · November 30, 2016

    I have a ruger 556 and the rear take down pin does not stay attached to the rifle. When I turn the rifle on its side the pin falls out. Is this common? I sent it back to Ruger and they fixed it. the first time I split the reciever and stock it fell out again. any help?

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