MSAR STG-556 Review (Long)


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Billy Sparks
January 21, 2008, 02:49 PM
One of my last guns of 2007 was a MSAR STG-556 that I got from Wild West Guns. In case you aren’t familiar the MSAR STG-556 it is a clone of a Steyr AUG which is being built by Microtech Small Arms Research, yes the same Microtech that makes knives. As several postings on internet boards point out it is sort of concerning that a company that’s manufacturing knowledge and expertise is in knives has first off branched out into rifles and then into the world of AUGs. But enough wondering, time to see how they did. In case you are not familiar with what they look like here are a few pictures of the rifle.

http://img240.imageshack.us/img240/2292/msarrightot5.th.jpg (http://img240.imageshack.us/my.php?image=msarrightot5.jpg)
http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/6206/msarleftgq2.th.jpg (http://img186.imageshack.us/my.php?image=msarleftgq2.jpg)

Right out of the box it is a sinister, neat looking rifle. To say I nearly got mobbed at my local dealer (Triad Gun Source and Indoor Range, got to plug the local guys) is a understatement. The Stg-556 has “new cool gun” written all over it. Combine that with the AUG is not the most seen rifle around and you will have a lot of people asking what it is. It handles surprisingly well for a bull pup. Even though it has a full 16” barrel it is much smaller in length than an AR with the stock full collapsed. The built in 1.5 x optic is easy to acquire, there is a sort of built in sights on top of the optic in the form of a front post and rear notch but they are not that distinct. But the optic can be replaced with a regular rail placed on it for mounting an ACOG, EoTech, Tripower, Aimpoint, etc. The only problem I can see is the charging handle and the front sling attachment point. With a sling attached it looks a little tight for a hand to fit.

http://img111.imageshack.us/img111/7048/msar1eq8.th.jpg (http://img111.imageshack.us/my.php?image=msar1eq8.jpg)

This rifle has a forward assist separate from the charging handle (on original AUGs the charging handle did double duty as the forward assist, or so I am told I have never handled a original AUG) I have never quite got the idea of a forward assist, I mean if the round doesn’t want to go into the chamber why beat it in? Also in the box was a real AUG magazine that the fine folks at Wild West Guns had modified to see if it would work. In case you are wondering the STG-556 will not work with original AUG magazines but uses magazines manufactured by them, although Microtek magazines will work in an original AUG.

Now before I shot any new gun, especially one I am not real familiar with field stripping, I like to field strip it, clean the barrel and lube it. So suitable armed with the manual (yes I use the manual) I trundled off to the basement to break it down and lube. Following the manual I pushed the disassemble button and tried to separate the upper from the lower without success. Yes, it does have an upper (with the barrel and optics) and lower (with trigger group and magazine well), I am not sure if that is the correct terminology but it is what I am going to use. After several minutes of messing and some muttering I realized that the disassemble button does not have a detent in it. So if you push it out and then move the rifle around it partially slides back into place. Once I figured this out and followed the manuals suggestion to point the barrel at the floor, hold onto the butt and push the forward end it came apart. One word of caution if you buy one realize that it is tight out of the box, the second time I field stripped it the latches and buttons moved much easier. Either that or I now knew what I was doing. I cleaned the weapon and tried to reassemble it, yes tried. When I went to remate the user and lower together, it would come with in ¼ on an inch of closing but then stop. After some more muttering I realized the disassemble latch was flopping around, so I held that in the open position but it still wouldn’t close. So what I did was put a light coat of oil on the top of the bolt housing and then did a reverse of the disassemble where I pushed the lower forward while pulling the upper toward it and it worked. Here I want to point out a gripe about the manual, don’t get me wrong the manual was good with lots of pictures but the problem is the pictures were too small to see good detail. With that said at least they don’t do like some companies and the reassemble instructions state “To Reassemble, reverse disassemble directions”. So with the gun back together and lubed it was time to load magazines and head to the range to see how this puppy does.

Finally I was over the cold/virus nose running like a stream and coughing up junk, to head to a local range, Triad Gun Source and Indoor Range. Triad Gun Source is a relatively new range in Rural Hall; it is a converted store front with a 20.5 yard indoor range that the backstop is rifle rated. I know some people will say what good is a 20.5 yard indoor range for a rifle, well seeing as how it was breezy and cool and this place is at least warm I say plenty. I took with me 3 magazines (2 MSAR manufactured ones 1 30 rounder and 1 10 rounder and the WWG modified 30 rounder), all loaded with Lake City surplus ammunition. I pasted a Birchwood Casey Shoot and see target over the center of a humanoid target and ran it out to the 10 yard line. I fired one round and was pleasantly surprised to see it hit just a touch low and to the left of the orange dot I was aiming at. Now before we go one further let me explain the type shooter I am. I am one of those that when I make a good shoot I get so excited that my second round is just as likely to be on the person next to mine target (as some of my scores at local IDPA matches can attest). Therefore when I fired the second shot I wasn’t totally surprise to not see a flash of yellow but then when I fired the third and fourth round and still didn’t see a new splash of yellow it sort of bothered me so I ran the target in. You can imagine my surprise when I look at the target and realize that the reason I don’t have new yellow dots on the target is that they are hitting so close to the original that it is just making the yellow dot slower bigger. To test to see if the stars were just aligned I got the owner of the range loaded up the 10 round magazine and let him try it. Once again at 10ish yards he was able to get all 10 rounds in an approximately 3” circle. This with a rifle he had never handled let alone fired. So was there any problems, yes I had several feed problems with the modified AUG magazine. I think I can get it to work but I would not depend on this if you were using the rifle for anything other than range plinking. The other thing is (for me) how do you change magazines in a timely manner? The magazines and latch are basically between my firing wrist and my shoulder.

Okay to wrap it up. What do I think of the MSAR STG-556? Seeing as how real AUGs are starting in the $2,500 dollar range on GunBroker this is a chance for someone to have an AUGlike (because it is not a 100% Steyr Aug but a clone it is AUGlike) for at least several hundred less. It handles beautifully and I can see when some armies have adopted bullpups, you get small size with a longer barrel length. If my job involved getting in and out of vehicles all day with a rifle this would be my first choice if I could figure out the ergonomics. It has very impressive accuracy and of course it is loaded with “Cool Gun” vibes. The bottom line is doing I like it? Yes, would I buy it again? Yes.

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iamkris
January 21, 2008, 02:53 PM
Great review! Thanks for taking the time for the long writeup.

You're right, this is a rifle that would get lots of looks/comments. Even if I showed up at the range with a SIG556, most people, on a cursory glance, would assume it is some type of AR.

No mistaking the AUG profile, however.

El Tejon
January 21, 2008, 02:55 PM
The other thing is (for me) how do you change magazines in a timely manner? The magazines and latch are basically between my firing wrist and my shoulder.


Tacticool gun review quotation of the year!!:D

So, the gun did not run, or did you only have a problem with a certain magazine?:confused:

Soap
January 21, 2008, 02:59 PM
The other thing is (for me) how do you change magazines in a timely manner? The magazines and latch are basically between my firing wrist and my shoulder.

Use the replacement mag to push the button and the empty one should fall free. You may have to swat it with the replacement one after this to get it all the way out.

El Tejon
January 21, 2008, 03:02 PM
Like you do with the AK, Billy.

Billy Sparks
January 22, 2008, 11:57 AM
So, the gun did not run, or did you only have a problem with a certain magazine?

I only had problems with the modified magazine and I am not 100% sure that wasn't operator error. Before I got it I had never handled a AUG. The two MSAR manufactured magazines ran fine.

Use the replacement mag to push the button and the empty one should fall free. You may have to swat it with the replacement one after this to get it all the way out.

Okay that makes sense. This was the first time I have ever held or shoot a bullpup so everything about it was foreign to me.

Like you do with the AK, Billy.

See when I change a AK mag I still keep my right hand on the pistol grip and remove the magazine with my left hand but all of this is occuring in front of my right hand. I guess I am so used to the magazine being more forward I can't picture it.

El Tejon
January 22, 2008, 12:49 PM
So, you have your right hand on the firing grip of the AK, bring your left hand up holding the replacement mag horizonitalish. Swat the old mag out forward with the new mag as you rock in the new mag.

You see guys on the range reaching up with their left hand and making multiple motions to change an AK mag coon fingering the old and new mag, or changing hands or all kinds of goofy stuff. Do it enough and it becomes habit, that including doing it incorrectly.

Similar (not the same) with the AUG but you have to hollow out your chest and roll your shoulder slightly (at least I do, YMMV).

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