The AR-15 platform derived from battle-rifle roots, however, because of its modularity, it’s been tweaked and tuned into manifold other shapes, including accurized varmint versions, such as Ruger’s piston-driven SR-556VT.
I recently had a chance to take a SR-556VT Autoloading Rifle #5914 to the range before it was recalled by Ruger because some parts in the trigger weren’t hardened properly. I didn’t have any problems with the two-stage trigger, and I thought it was one of the best factory AR triggers I’ve had a chance to shoot extensively. Nevertheless, just be aware of the recall before you read any further.
At Ruger.com/SR556VTRecall, the company says, “We have determined that the disconnector in the two-stage trigger system on our SR-556VT modern sporting rifles was not properly heat-treated by a vendor and that the disconnector can wear prematurely. This, in turn, can result in an unsafe condition in which the rifle delays firing (there is a delay in firing after the trigger is pulled) or doubles (discharging once when the trigger is pulled and again when the trigger is released). Although no incidents have been reported from the field, this is an important safety issue, and we are therefore recalling the rifles.”
Apparently, the affected disconnector is used only in the two-stage trigger system found in the SR-556VT models, and no other models of the SR-556 are affected by the recall. But all SR-556VT rifles manufactured to date are subject to the recall.
I shot the rifle with a Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 optical gunsight, whose integral Picatinny base fit directly onto the Ruger’s flat-top receiver. Indexing was pretty accurate — point of impact only changed about an inch when I took off the sight then put it back on and checked the zero.
To collect accuracy data, I fired five 5-shot groups at 100 yards using a Caldwell Fire Control Front Shooting Rest and sand bags. Temperatures ranged between 68 and 80 degrees, with variable sunlight and wind.
The Ruger fired TulAmmo 223 Rem. TA223550 55-gr. Full Metal Jacket rounds into 2.7-inch average groups, a little better than the Federal American Eagle 223 Rem. 62-gr. FMJ bullets with 3.0-inch average groups. Far and away, the Ruger preferred Black Hills Ammunition 223 Rem. 77-grain Sierra MatchKing Hollow Point Moly Coated M223N9M ammo, which grouped at 1.8 inches on average — certainly accurate enough for hunting coyotes at appropriate ranges. I did notice the Ruger strung shots vertically as its barrel heated up even though it was free floated.
The two-stage trigger was excellent, with a 2.4-pound first stage and a second stage aggregate of 4 pounds.
The rifle’s two-stage gas piston functioned flawlessly. The gas system had a 4-position valve to tailor the gas flow to the round or suppressor. The bolt carrier group was chrome-plated for corrosion resistance. The polished 410-stainless-steel barrel was 20 inches long and had a 1:8 right-hand twist with six grooves. The barrel didn’t come with a flash suppressor or sights, and it was chambered in 5.56 NATO so it shoots both .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO rounds.
The heavy-gauge barrel made it a hoss to carry, with an empty weight of 8.75 pounds. The barrel length and fixed stock (LOP 13.75 inches) made the rifle’s overall length 38.25 inches, so it’s not the most compact rifle either. The upper and lower receivers were made of aluminum alloy with black oxide finish and hardcoat anodization. As mentioned, the upper had a flat-top picatinny rail that ran its length. It came with three Steel C Products Defense 5-round magazines, but it accepted all the 10-, 20-, and 30-round AR magazines I tried in it. The rifle had an oversized charging handle, and the stock featured two built-in compartments for storing cleaning supplies.
The aluminum forend was comfortable to hold without gloves. The shooter can add Picatinny rail sections to the forend if he wishes. The controls were unusually smooth and positive. A slightly oversized trigger guard made shooting the Ruger with gloves easy.
Cleanup was a joy. The bolt was fairly clean, and the firing pin was spotless. To remove the piston, I needed to punch out a pin and rotate the regulator. While the process was simple, the parts were very tight.
Assuming the recall fix doesn’t mess up the trigger, I’d be happy to continue shooting the Ruger SR-556VT Varmint Rifle. It brings a lot to the table with the right loads.
Have you shot the Ruger SR-556VT? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.