Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ruger SR-556 Shakedown

Today was the big day.  Come hell or high water, I wasn't going to miss a perfect opportunity to get my Ruger SR-556 out and run it through its paces.  Not having fired this rifle before today, I was time to get this hog out and sighted in.

After setting everything up, posting targets, measuring the distances for sight in, and getting the rifle in the rest, I was able to get to work.  I started with the irons.  After removing the optic, I went ahead and verified mechanical zero.  After slapping a 5rd magazine into the weapon, I sent the bolt home.  Made final adjustments, released the safety and placed my finger on the trigger.  This was it!  Gave the trigger a light press and BANG!  Checked the rifle to make sure all was well.  Reset the rest and placed my finger on the trigger and gave it a light press. BANG!  I repeated the above actions until the mag ran dry.  The bolt held open on the last shot, as it is supposed to.  Everything I did with the weapon during these first 5 rounds was slow and deliberate.  I wanted to make sure that if there were going to be any malfunctions, I'd be able to identify them and diagnose the reasons why.  To my satisfaction, the gun was operating perfectly, and there were no malfunctions.

After making adjustments to the irons, and getting rounds in the bulls eye, more or less, I put a few more 5 round groups on paper to ensure there were no anomalies.  I have to say that at 50 yards, a black target against a black front sight post doesn't look like much.  The next time I have this hog out, I'm going to use a white or red target so I can fine tune the weapon.  I was shooting about 2" groups at 50 yards, which for a guy who wears prescription glasses and has an astigmatism in his dominant eye, that's good enough for me.

After I got the irons squared away, I attached the Comp ML3 to the receiver and proceeded to sight it in.  After setting up the initial zero against the irons, I laid them flat and took 5 shots to the paper.  They all went through the bulls eye with a somewhat tighter group.  Not bad.  I made some final adjustments to the optic.  I then pulled the target in to 25 yards and watched as all the shots went through a tiny hole dead center.  Hmm, that's odd.  I was hitting the bulls eye at 50 yards with a 1 1/2" group with the optic and at 25 yards, it went through the bulls eye as well.  Must be my eyes.

One thing I can say about shooting with a red dot sight (RDS) is that it negates the disability I have with eyesight.  The problem I have is even with glasses, I can have some difficulty focusing on the front sight, especially when shooting long range, like 100 yards or more.  This problem is exacerbated when shooting flat black irons against a black target because my eyes cannot compensate very well.  This is why I like 3 dot sights because there is plenty of contrast.  It gives my eyes the ability to compensate and focus.  I'll be painting my front sight post white for future shooting.  Getting back to the red dot, I like it because I can keep both eyes open (a guy like me needs all the help he can get) and focus on the target.  The red dot appears to float in space, so I just level it on the target.  Click BANG!  I was shooting offhand at 35 yards and saw a clay pigeon on top of a stump.  I quickly placed the red dot over it and pressed the trigger.  Watching through the scope, I saw the target disappear in a cloud of orange dust.

Another neat thing about the RDS is that I don't lose the red dot during rapid target acquisition and shooting.  It stays out there.  All I have to do is level it on my next target and press the trigger.  It's like having an easy button at the range.  Click BANG!  That was easy!

The Ruger SR-556 exhibited many of the familiar qualities I've come to expect from an AR15.  One thing that was immediately noticeable is that the recoil was somewhat lighter than my Rock River Arms carbine.  Perhaps it has something to do with the short stroke piston or the buffer weight, but the rifle was very pleasant to shoot.  It's a bit on the heavy side too, but it's a good weight.  I put it on the scale last night and unloaded it weighs 9.4 lbs.  That's a bit chunky for a rifle that only shoots a 22 caliber bullet, but considering all the technology that went into this thing, you can see where it all goes.  That weight was with the Aimpoint installed.  During shooting, the weight didn't seem to bother me because I never noticed it.  I just kept on shooting.

The SR-556 trigger is a bit stiff, but it is predictable.  I didn't find it gritty or sloppy at all.  It feels solid and reliable, as a combat trigger should.  It certainly didn't hurt my ability to lay waste to 3" clay pigeons 30 to 50 yards away, and my hit accuracy on the 8"x8" steel plate was good enough for my BSA style of shooting.

All in all, I am glad I made the switch over to the Ruger SR-556.  It is a wonderful weapon and a joy to shoot.  I look forward to getting this rifle fine tuned and learning more and more about it as time and training allow.

Oh but lest I forget, I made a short movie.  Watch it.  I had fun.


-James

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