Saturday, May 28, 2011
Now that Ruger has had the SR-556 on the market for a while, the market has responded and it turns out that I wasn't the only one who didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for this rifle. So, they introduced the E model, as in SR-556E. I guess E stands for economy or something. The difference between the E model and the regular model is that some of the extras on the regular model have been stripped off this rifle in order to attract buyers who don't necessarily want all the extra stuff that is bolted to the regular SR-556.
For instance, the most dramatic change is in the handguard accessory rail. On the original SR-556, there is a Troy quad rail handguard, with enough space to mount your optics, lights, lasers, etc. The SR-556 also features folding Troy backup iron sights - a very high quality sight setup. The other obvious distinction is the Ruger license Hogue pistol grip on the SR-556.
The SR-556E has had all of these things changed. Gone is the quad rail in favor of a slimmer handguard with a full length rail at the 12 o'clock position only. However, Ruger is banking on customers purchasing the less expensive model and then wanting to add stuff later, so they offer rail sections that you can bolt on to existing holes to customize to your liking - and I like that. Additionally, they did away with sights completely. Many customers want to mount optics on the guns and have no need for irons. But a decent set of iron sights can be had anyway, and you can now buy whatever you want instead of getting what Ruger says you'll get. Lastly, the rubberized pistol grip has been replaced with a standard Mil-Spec plastic grip.
Where it all counts is the same, however. The chrome-plated two-stage piston setup is still there. The 16.5" barrel with flash hider is the same, minus the chrome lining. I'm on the fence about that. My RRA isn't chrome lined either and it holds up well. However, you can add a chrome lined barrel at a later time. The buttstock is the same. All the other guts are the same on this E model. Essentially, it is the same rifle, minus a few accessories.
What grabs my attention more than anything else, however, is the price. Ruger's MSRP for this stripped down economical SR-556E is only $1369; a big $626 reduction over the original weapon. This is very good news, as street value is usually $400-$500 less than MSRP. Now, we're talking about a great weapon for a very down to earth price that even us average JOES (who don't use credit cards to buy our guns) can enjoy.
The part I really like about this is the opportunity to build it how I want it without having to remove other stuff. Buying the regular SR-556 would be akin to buying a fully restored and modified muscle car. Sure, it's cool as hell, but it's not exactly what you would have done, given the chance. Getting the SR-556E would be more like getting a fully restored bone stock classic and then having the opportunity bolt on a goody here, add horsepower there, etc but it is still cool as it sits. I like that.
With any luck, I can make getting this gun early next year's project.