In a previous article I reviewed the near exact copy of this rifle with literally the only change being the replacement of a heavy picatinny quad rail handguard with this smooth version. The barrel, bolt carrier group, barrel length, and accessories are all identical. Even the price is the same and as all the major points are the same I will direct you over to my previous SR-556C review here.
Instead what I want to emphasize in this article is that in my opinion, the SR-556CLA is Ruger's best AR in the lineup for several reasons including size, features, flexibility, comfort and weight.
SIZEFirst off the compact size of the AR-556CLA is due to the 16.2" total length barrel including the permanently attached flash hider. That two extra inches of reduced length when compared to a standard 16" barrel + 2" flash hider's total 18" length. The shorter 16.2" length increases maneuverability in the tighter confines of urban defense work and in some sporting competition uses.
Features of the SR-556CLA are the same fully loaded piston driven feature set as you will find on all of Ruger's standard SR-556 lineup with Hogue grips, Troy handguard and front/rear folding back up sights, three 30 round Magpul PMAGS, a soft side case, and a 6-position adjustable but stock. It is ready to run right out of the box and all you need is ammo and you will need no upgrades out of the box.
FLEXIBILITY, COMFORT, & WEIGHT
The flexibility, comfort and weight all come from the singular difference between the SR-556C and SR-556CLA, the smooth handguard rail system. This rail system sheds approximately 1/4 lb, but still allows the user complete configuration flexbility with detachable rail options and bolt on rail blanks. Ruger gives you complete freedom to put the rails where you want them.
Putting the rails only where you need them prevents the typical quad rail cheese grater ergonomics and comfort all with less weight and a slimmer easier to grip profile. It is the weight that makes the SR-556CLA the big winner in the Ruger line. Not that the Ruger rifles are heavy, however they are nearly a full pound heavier than comparable direct impingement rifles and long days of shooting make you feel the extra pound. With the SR-556CLA Ruger is able to strike a happy medium between a standard direct impingement and heavy piston gun. 7.17 lbs is not bad considering the option list and tvery good considering this is a piston gun.
I really liked my Ruger SR-556C with the shorter barrel, however the 556CLA is better yet with all the same exact features, but in a lighter slimmer and more comfortable package. The accuracy of this model delivered vitually the same groups as my original model, so I stopped testing after the first few sets. After thousands of rounds through each, I have yet to see any difference.
As noted in the original SR-556C review, most AR15s you buy you will need to go pick up a couple magazines, sights, upgraded grips, a nice range case, and perhaps a forend. When you consider the Ruger 556CLA includes the premium level of all those items in a piston driven rifle, the $1995 retail ($1400 street price) price tag does not seem that high. Ruger has added about $1200-$1300 of upgrades on this very high quality base gun. Although a few manufacturers offer excellent $800 rifles, it would be tough to end up with a gun this well equipped for Ruger’s SR-556CLA $1300-$1400 street price. The SR-556CLA is the model I would choose again when comparing the two.
- Catalog Number: SR-556CLA
- Model Number: 5913
- Caliber: 5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem.
- Stock: Black Synthetic, Collapsible
- Finish: ManganesePhosphate/HardcoatAnodized
- Sights: Folding BattleSights
- Height: 7.75"
- Barrel Length: 16.12"
- Overall Length: 31.00" - 34.25"
- Width: 2.50"
- Weight: 7.17 lbs.
- Twist: 1:9" RH
- Grooves: 6
- Length of Pull 10.25" - 13.50"
- Capacity: 30 (3- Magpul PMAGS included)
- MA Approved & Certified: No
- CA Approved: No
- Suggested Retail: $1995.00 (Street Price >$1400)