Ruger SR Series: The good, the bad, and the ugly

SR-556, SR9c, SR40

Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege to shoot almost 10,000 rounds out of the various guns in the Ruger SR series.  The SR series consists of Ruger’s SR9/40, the SR9c, and of course the SR-556, Ruger’s AR-15 pattern piston gun.  After nearly a year shooting these guns, it’s time to take a hard look at what Ruger got wrong, and what Ruger got right for each of the guns in the series, starting with my favorite entry in the SR series, the SR-556.

Ruger SR-556

Like I said, this is my favorite gun in the SR series.  I think the SR-556 is probably the best gun in Ruger’s tactical/self defense market as well.  Let’s take a look by the numbers at what I like, don’t like, and just don’t get.

The Good

  • Accuracy – the Ruger can shoot.  At night, offhand, with iron sights and a white light I was able to make hits on targets at 100+ yards.  The rifle shoots very well.
  • The features – Troy rails, good sights, Pmags from the factory, good trigger, Hogue grip, basically the rifle is set up with a lot of the aftermarket parts that people would buy for an AR platform rifle.
  • Intangibles – the rifle has a mid-length system for its piston, and because of the weight of the piston system is a bit heavier than a lot of other ARs.  What that means is recoil reduction and muzzle flip reduction.  5.56 doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot of recoil anyway, but the factory Ruger SR-556 has less than your standard M4gery.
  • Reliability – once I figured out how to adjust the gas system, the gun has been boringly reliable.  Read the manual!  It tells you how the ejection pattern of your gun indicates if you need to adjust the gas system or not.

The Bad – Note: these are features that I think could use improvement

  • The flash hider – It’s not an A2 style flash hider, and just kind of looks weird sitting on the end of the gun.  I fully intend to replace this with a Surefire or Miculek muzzle brake, which will then effectively make the gun recoilless.
  • The stock – After going full out on the rest of the accessories, the stock is just kind of there.  A Magpul MOE stock would definitely enhance the appearance and function of this gun.
  • The weight – I like the weight of the gun, for 3-gun and competition it’s perfect.  However, other shooters have complained about the weight.  This is a personal issue, but because it’s been reported, I want to bring it up.

The Ugly

  • Heat build-up – I hold my rifle as far forward as I can get my support hand on the gun.  This is currently the hot-shot way to hold an AR.  With the SR-556, if you do this you absolutely have to have the rail covers on the gun.  The problem is that the gun only comes with 3 rail covers, so the exposed part of the rail collects all the heat from the gas piston system.  For 1 or 2 magazines it doesn’t matter, but over the course of a match I’ve found I need to wear a glove on my support hand to keep from burning myself.

The SR-556 is my favorite gun in the SR series.  Yes, the heat build up issue is problematic for series 3-gun and tactical shooters, but it can be ameliorated by purchasing another rail cover from Troy to throw on the exposed part of the rail.  I have a couple of ARs, but if I had to pick one to actually carry around should the zombies come, I’ll throw a VTAC sling on my SR-556 and use that.  I strongly recommend the SR-556 for anyone looking to get in the piston AR market without having to

SR-556 6.8 SPC upper

mess around.  In fact, what I really recommend is that you buy the SR-556 upper, and mount it on your lower.  The SR-556 is also available in 6.8 Remington, which is personally where I think this rifle really shines.  You can purchase a 6.8 Remington upper from Cheaper than Dirt or from Ruger directly, however the price is better at CtD.

And now I’m off to order my muzzle brake and MOE stock for the gun to really finish making it the rifle I want it to be.

Tomorrow and Friday we’ll continue the series with the SR9c and the SR40.


  1. Good information. Gas Tube AR is on my Christmas list this year.
    I am looking forward to your review of the SR9C as I have my eye set on it for March time frame

  2. The vexing thing about it though is for what the Ruger cost and what the parts you want cost you could have had what you want with an LWRC and ,I don’t know,I too am a Ruger Fan ,its just that when I shop for anything I seem to try and find what I want with all the little refinements I consider necessary and see who in the top of line-up has them as a stock item ,not as an extra purchase .

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