Takedown rifles have been around since the 19th century and have proven ideal for sportsmen in the field and for those with a dearth of storage space. With that in mind, Ruger has taken this concept and worked it into their modern sporting rifle to produce an AR-15 clone with a twist.
Why a take down?
The takedown model, as the name implies, separates into two halves. The first half with the stock, action and trigger group. The second half with the barrel and forearm. This enables the firearm to be stored in a suitcase, saddlebag, backpack, or other non-standard gun case. The take down 19th century Winchester and Marlin lever guns readily appealed to travelers in the post-Indian Wars American West where open carry of a long arm was frowned upon but still needed from time to time in areas where Mexican revolutionary raiders, desperate criminals, and cattle thieves still were a legitimate threat.
These styles were popular and remained in production into the 1960s. The same take down concept that made the 1900's era lever gun easy to carry as a passenger on a train, or in a saddle bag or the boot of a horseless carriage; still allows the new design to be stowed in a boat, bush plane, snowmobile, or ATV with ease.
Dubbed the SR-556, Ruger debuted the design at the 2009 NRA Show and over the past few years enough of the initial models have sold and been around the block to start and get a feel for the rifles. Taking the basic now-half century old AR-15 design and improving it, it seems like the company has become an instant competitor in the modern sporting rifle market. The SR-556 uses a short stroke piston operating system rather than the legacy direct impingement design. This, in theory at least, gives better reliability and runs cleaner but adds to the cost.
One cool thing about Ruger's piston system is that it is rapidly adjustable without special tools to suit different flavors of shooters and ammunition. Lots of people like to poke holes in the fact that piston driven semi-autos are too new to judge. However, it should be remembered that all of the US semi-auto/autos before the AR were piston: the M1918 BAR, the M1 Garand, and the M14. Many still living GIs will attest to them.
One of the nicer things about Ruger's ARs is the amount of chrome. They have a chrome bolt carrier, gas regulator, and barrel among others, which all help with fouling and reliability, especially if using moody ammo.
Ruger uses many commercial off the shelf accessories such as Troy Industries handguards, quad rails, and flip up iron sights, Magpul magazines, and Hogue monogrips. The rest they make themselves and it all fits together very well. According to the company's literature, their SR-556 series rifles are compatible with all AR-15 lower receivers, grips, and stocks, as well as most uppers. All models come with 16.12-inch 6-groove hammer-forged mil barrel and rock the old-school A-Team flash hiders that Ruger used on the AC-556 series.
They come in three main variants: Standard, Carbine, and Essential.
Standard versions come in with all the bells and whistles, are 32.75" - 36.00" long overall, and weigh 7.94 lbs. empty. The Carbine versions are just a tad smaller at 31.00" - 34.25" overall and an unloaded weight of 7.17 lbs.
Enter the takedown Ruger AR
Coming on the heels of Ruger's 10/22 Takedown series, the company has introduced this week the SR-556 (TD) model.
The 16.1", chrome-lined, cold hammer-forged Mil-Spec 41V45 chrome-moly-vanadium steel barrel removes from the upper by moving a slider bar back to the breech, then rotating the assembly free and pulling it away. No tools are needed and it reattaches-- while retaining its zero-- in a reverse process.
"We are excited to bring the portability and ease of storage that we introduced with the 10/22 Takedown to a modern sporting rifle," noted Mike Fifer, CEO in a statement obtained by Ruger Talk. "The SR-556 Takedown has all the reliability of the original two-stage piston SR-556 and adds new and innovative features for MSR shooters."
Did we mention there is also a cold hammer-forged 300 AAC Blackout barrel that is 16.1" long, has a 1:7" twist, and is capped by a 5/8"-24 threaded muzzle fitted with a Ruger flash hider sold as an option with the take down?
Check it out in the video below