Ruger unveiled this direct-gas-impingement AR platform rifle to enthusiasts in 2014. There are three distinct groups in the line currently available, each with a variety of versions. The Standard, Free-Float Handguard and MPR families, if you will, have MSRPs that start at $799, $819 and $899, respectively. Combined with Ruger’s American-made quality and reliability it leaves little question as to why the rifle is a regular on the high-volume sales list each year.
Don’t let the “Standard” name fool you. All models in the group are chambered in 5.56 NATO and feature the company’s medium-contour, cold-hammer-forged 16.1-inch barrel. Ruger’s Rapid Deploy foldable rear sight comes standard. It’s windage adjustable and the A2-style sight up front allows owners to change elevation when required. Gas block at the carbine-length location, glass-filled polymer handguard and more make it a budget-friendly option. State-compliant versions with reduced magazine capacity are also available.
The Free-Float line is available in 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout. Each features a flattop upper receiver to ease optic installation and an 11-inch aluminum free-float handguard with M-LOK slots at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. If that’s not enough to mount all your accessories, there are additional slots on the angled faces close to the muzzle.
MPRs add the two-stage, Ruger Elite 452 AR-Trigger with a crisp, 4.5-pound trigger let-off weight. You can choose between 5.56 NATO, .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster versions. Barrel lengths, depending on chambering, run from 16.1 to 18.63 inches. Each wear Ruger’s highly regarded muzzle brake design and free-float handguard.
There are even pistol versions of the AR-556, but that falls into a different category when it comes to 2019’s gun sales.