Today I’m reviewing a Ruger AR-556. But this isn’t their everyday version. Rather, it is an enhanced one, that has some special features.
The Trump Era Black Rifle Bonanza
America is now blissfully awash in AR-15 family rifles. There’s more companies manufacturing ARs than ever before. And since the election of Donald Trump, prices are ARs have never been lower–at least from the viewpoint of inflation-adjusted Dollars. So now is the time to buy.
Unfortunately, with the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, I fear that a lot of anti-gun legislation will be coming down the pike. And, President Trump may feel forced into a position to sign some of this legislation – like it or not. So, for those readers who believe that their Second Amendment Rights are safe, think again! Now is the time to get out there and purchase a new AR. As stated, prices are really down right now on ARs, as well as .223/5.56 ammo. So stock up–you’ve been warned.
With all the different makes and types of ARs on the market these days, the buyer has a wide selection to pick from. And, it takes something a little different or better, for me to want another AR these days. Ruger has come out with a different version of their standard AR-556, and it is just different enough that it caught my eye.
There are a lot of people out there, who should know better, than to make stupid statements like: “all ARs are basically the same…” Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want a bare bones, non mil-spec AR, then go for it – there are presently many out there for under $400. I don’t have a bone to pick with the entry-level ARs –far from it. In fact I own a few. They are fun to shoot – a lot of fun. But if I were going into combat of some sort, I’d want an AR that is from a first line gun maker – like Ruger – for example. Just be advised: Not all ARs are made the same. Cosmetically, they may appear to be alike, but they aren’t. Do your home work on this before making an AR purchase.
Let’s take a close look at the specs on this particular Ruger – and it is Model #8514, and also known as the MPR. That stands for Multi-Purpose Rifle. It is chambered in 5.56mm NATO. Many ARs are chambered in .223 – big difference – you can fire .223 in a gun chambered for 5.56mm, but not the other way around, so take note!
The MPR’s stock is a telescoping MagPul MOE stock and the grip is from MagPul. The buffer tube is Mil-Spec 1.15″ diameter– NOT 1.17″ commercial diameter. That is another noteworthy difference. The handguard is a free-floating and in the now very popular M-LOK style. Since it is free-floated, it means a bit more accuracy out of this AR. Barrel length is 18-inches. Most ARs in this size range have a 16-inch barrel. This rifle’s longer barrel gives more velocity. The barrel has a right hand twist of 1:8. And the gun only weighs in at 6.8 pounds.
The handguard is 15-inches long, and provides plenty of space for attaching just about anything you want to hang on this AR. As for me, I like to keep it simple – a set of fold-down sights and possibly a magnifying scope of some sort will do. But note that this rifle does not come from the Ruger factory with any sights!
The upper and lower receivers are made out of aerospace grade 7075-T6 forged Aluminum, and the upper has a forward assist, dust cover and brass deflector – some entry lever ARs don’t have these features. The upper and lower receivers are hard coat anodized for durability.
The bolt isn’t your run of the mill, cheap version. Instead it is machined from 9310 alloy steel, shot-peened, and pressure tested to ensure strength and long lasting durability. The trigger is worth mentioning, because it is a two-stage trigger that affords a smooth, crisp pull of 4.5-lbs. In contrast, most mil-spec ARs have a 6 to 7-lb trigger pull, and usually single stage. A full strength hammer spring is installed for consistent primer ignition, and a light-weight hammer that allows for a 30% faster lock time.
Full Length Gas Tube
A rifle length – not carbine length – gas system is installed, for more reliability and it also reduces felt recoil – not that many folks find the recoil of a .223 round objectionable. The barrel is worth a second look, because it is cold hammer forged from 4140 chrome-moly steel. The 1:8 barrel twist allows you to shoot bullets from 35-grain up to 77-grain without any problems. We also have M4 feed ramps for more reliable feeding. Many entry-level ARs don’t have this feature.
The bolt carrier is hard chrome plated and the gas key is staked in place – again, not something you see on some low-end ARs. It important to have the gas key staked so it doesn’t loosen and cause malfunctions. At the end of the barrel, we find a Ruger-designed muzzle brake, not a flash suppressor. This helps reduce felt recoil but like most other brakes it is more noisy than a flash hider. If you desire, you can remove the muzzle brake and install a flash suppressor in its place, too. One MagPul 30-round PMAG is included in the package. MagPul makes the best AR mags in the world, in my humble opinion.
That’s a lot of features found on this AR, compared to many entry-level guns. Do you need or want those features? I can’t answer that question for you. But it sure makes for a first-class AR, that has everything you need for the most accurate shooting, and long-lasting durability you’d want from an AR.
Courtesy of the nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition, I had a great selection of .223 Remington ammo to shoot through this Ruger AR. Here’s a list: 50 grain Hornady V-MAX, 52 grain Match Hollow Point, 55 grain FMJ, 55 grain Soft Point, 60 grain Soft Point, 60 grain Hornady V-MAX, 68 grain Sierra Match King, 75 grain Heavy Match Hollow Point, and I also had some factory seconds – 55 grain FMJ – and these are “seconds” only because of some cosmetic defects – stained brass, or a slight ding in the brass – but it is factory new ammo. So, I had a great choice of ammo to shoot through this gun.
I normally have more than enough volunteers to help me shoot new guns, but this time around, I was on my own, and my shooting took place over two days, instead of just one outing. I grabbed some extra AR mags, and loaded them up, before hitting the range, with the 55 grain FMJ Factory Seconds. I blasted through six of the 30 round mags as fast as I could pull the trigger. Not a single malfunction – not a hint of a malfunction – outstanding! By now, the gun was hot – the barrel was smoking. I killed every rock I could within 50 yards. I installed a plastic set of sights on this AR. I didn’t have a spare scope or a better pair of “iron” sights. But still the gun did what it was supposed to do.
Accuracy testing was limited to 75 yards, and I used a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest, over the hood of my pickup – I don’t use any kind of special “rest” when doing accuracy testing. I fitted a set of MagPul brand plastic backup “iron” sights (BUIS). Those didn’t give me the best sight picture, but it was good enough. The Black Hills 60 grain Soft Point ammo gave me the best group – just a hair under .75-inches – and I really like this particular Black Hills Ammo – so I was more than a little pleased it gave me the best groups. All the other ammo was giving me groups of an inch and a half or less – and that’s great, considering the sights I had installed. The 75 grain Heavy Match Hollow Point, was right on the heels of the 60 grain Soft Point ammo – either load would be great for deer hunting if you ask me. In all my shooting, I put 700 rounds down range over a two day period – the gun is addicting, if you ask me. It just kept calling out to me to shoot it, and shoot it some more.
Brake It or Flash Hide it?
I’m not sure if I would keep the muzzle brake on this AR. I might swap it out for a flash suppressor. You can feel the muzzle “blast” from this muzzle brake – a lot. Going into combat, hands down, the flash suppressor would be installed. (Not that I plan on going into combat – getting way too old for that sort of thing.) So, maybe, just maybe the muzzle brake will stay on the end of the barrel – for target shooting and hunting.
Full-retail on this Ruger MPR is only $899 – and that’s not all that much more than their standard AR-556. So it’s a great deal, on an AR with some outstanding features. It is well worth the small premium in price over the standard AR from Ruger. So perhaps you should give the Ruger AR-556 MPR a real close look. I think you’ll pick it over many other ARs that don’t have this many special features. Check it out.