Before I start my review of the SIG 556R I want to do a short review of SIG’s customer service. I purchased this rifle heavily discounted because of issues with failing to extract and failing to eject. I knew off the bat I’d be sending it to SIG for repairs, and any repair costs would still put me under the average price for one of these rifles. I talked with a CSR named Kyle who arranged for me to ship the rifle to New Hampshire. Kyle was extremely helpful, professional, and answered every question directly and honestly. He told me if the issues weren’t a factory defect I would have to pay for the repair. I sent the rifle off the next day and waited impatiently.
10 days later I get an email that my rifle was on its way back with the defects corrected. I got the rifle 4 days later, and now I’m roughly a thousand rounds deep without any issues. The best part was that SIG charged me 31 dollars and some change to ship the rifle, and that was it. SIG never billed me for repairs. While I generally feel a rifle that sells for over a grand should be defect free from the factory, I gotta give it up to SIG for making it right, and doing it quickly, and professionally.
The SIG 556R has quickly become my favorite rifle since as an AK fan I have dozens of AK magazines, and thousands of rounds of 7.62 x 39. Like the AK it’s a piston rifle, so a buffer and buffer tube are not required. The rifle weighs 7 pounds standard, but as you can see mine has a Troy battle rail which adds a little more than a pound. The rail does make the weapon front heavy, but at 8 pounds it’s not bad.
The overall length is a little under 36 inches and the barrel is a standard 16 inches. The weapon didn’t come with iron sights, so I installed a pair of low profile LPA sights. The weapon does come with a cheap SIG red dot, so you at least have some kind of sights. I’m not a big fan of this new trend of not including iron sights with rifles, especially premium rifles.
The SIG 556R shoots like a dream. Recoil is lighter than an AK, and rapid fire strings are very controllable. Accuracy is where this thing really shines over the AK 47. I was able to squeeze out 2 to 3 inch groups on average in a prone position at 100 yards with iron sights and Tula ammo steel case. I have no doubt the SIG 556R can achieve 1.5 groups from a rest and even smaller groups with high quality ammunition.
At ranges between 7 and 25 yards the weapon proved capable with hammer pairs, controlled pairs, and a variety of close quarters drills. We ran it through failure to stop drills on one and then two targets. It shined due its low recoil, and how quickly you could transition from target to target.
What may hamper some shooter’s accuracy is the heavy, two stage trigger. This thing is no gazelle. Luckily the trigger pull is pretty short. Sig list’s the trigger at 7.75 lbs, so it’s standard for military rifles. There is very little take up, and overall the trigger is smooth. You can adjust for the second stage via a small plunger behind the trigger, which requires a little trial and error. You can get the second stage to about five pounds with a little experimenting.
The SIG 556R can take any and all AK magazines I’ve tried. I’ve ran Korean, Chinese, Romanian, and Russian steel magazines without issue. I’ve also ran cheapo Thermolds, Tapco, and Magpul polymer mags through the gun with zero malfunctions. The Magpul magazines seemed to fit the tightest of the polymer magazines, and the only loose magazine was the Korean metal mag. Regardless of the magazine they all ran reliably.
The gun also digested everything from steel cased Tula and Wolf to brass cased Winchester PDX defensive ammo. Reliability wasn’t an issue, even after a long day, multiple shooters, and a few hundred rounds. If you are running it hard, and it starts to sputter you can also adjust the gas system to allow more pressure to cycle a dirty rifle. I’ve never had a need to do this, but life is about options and this is a nice one.
The ergonomics are familiar and easy for most shooters. The safety and magazine release are completely ambidextrous, but the charging handle is right hand only. Everything works the way you’d imagine it would, nothing revolutionary. The mag release is traditional AK style, meaning the mags do have to be rocked in place. The safety is easy to reach with the thumb, and in my opinion easier than the AR safety to access. The pistol grip is quite large, nearly SAW sized which I love because I have huge hands, but others may find uncomfortable. The trigger guard can hinge open to be used with heavy gloves; something I imagine comes from the Swiss school of design.
The stock is polymer, and is both folding and collapsing on my model. Other models feature folding only stocks. In its factory configuration the stock locks when folded, but since I have the Troy battle rail, mine will not lock when folded. You can purchase an adapter to mount AR stocks, but I find the factory provided stock completely suitable.
As a main defensive rifle the SIG 556R shines. It’s reliable, accurate, easy shooting, and takes a common magazine and round, and is plenty capable. The main drawback ties in with the 7.62 x 39s range limitations, making this weapon best used within 300 yards. The SIG 556 series in general are underrated weapons, and the 556R is the most unique and interesting of the group. It’s rare to see a major company chamber a new rifle in the 7.62 x 39mm round, and it’s even better that it uses a widely available and affordable magazine. Overall I think the 556R is an excellent weapon, and would not hesitate to take one to war.