Is the SIG 556 better than the AR-15?


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marineman
June 1, 2008, 08:16 PM
Is the SIG 556 better than the AR-15? I know relatively nothing about the SIG. I have an AR and love it. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two rifles? Thanks.

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CBS220
June 1, 2008, 08:19 PM
Define "better".

marineman
June 1, 2008, 08:32 PM
Better: more accurate, more reliable, more durable, more ergonomic, easy to customize, etc. Basically, what are the advantages/disadvantages between the two rifles?

CBS220
June 1, 2008, 08:59 PM
Advantages to the AR- It's much more easily modified. It's much cheaper. It comes in a bazillion configurations. They are proven accurate and reliable.

Advantages to the SIG- It's cool looking, and we've never been able to get its parent family of rifles stateside in any quantity.

A good AR will be just as reliable... and the Sig is more expensive for what you get. However, if you get an AR, most people get it with a certain "job" in mind, and sacrifice some qualities- for instance, a varminter will probably not mind a rifle that cannot be lugged through an Iraqi sandstorm reliably, but a person who wants a home defense rifle doesn't really care if it shoots 0.5 MOA or not...

nwilliams
June 1, 2008, 10:29 PM
Oh dear....here we go:uhoh:

Seriously lets not get into a "this" is better than "that" kind of thread they only end up getting hostile because people have different opinions on what makes one thing better than another.

The fact is they both shoot the same caliber and can use the same mags but they both feel completely different as well as operate differently. Some people may prefer the AR because of its proven design while others may like the 556 because its something new and different.

I own and AR and I'm waiting for my 556 to arrive, I wanted both because they are two very different rifles. Also it depends on which AR make you are talking about. There is certainly enough argument circulating out there over who makes the best AR, if you toss the 556 into that argument it only gets more complicated.

The fact is the AR has some advantages over the 556 and the 556 has some advantages over the AR. Whether those advantages really matter depends on the shooter and the intention of the rifle.

People also like to throw in cost as factor when in reality there are AR's out there that sell for just as much if not more than a 556. The difference is that with an AR you have the option to buy a less expensive brand and with the Sig you are pretty much stuck with the several models that are out there for a more set cost.

I think the big advantages of an AR is that its a proven design, reliable and ergonomic. The big advantage of the 556 is well.....its a Sig enough said.

dscottw88
June 2, 2008, 02:32 AM
My personal opinion? No.

rangerruck
June 2, 2008, 03:57 AM
My opinion says yes, it is better. they also do all the correct, magnetic, bolt, and particle testing, that few peeps stateside are willing to do. Also , they managed to cut the weight of a same size AR by about 1 lb.

elmerfudd
June 2, 2008, 04:36 AM
I guess it depends on what you want. The Sig is a derivative of the AK, so reliability wise it should have the AR beat. Of course that also means you have the extra weight of the piston up front and although from what I've heard Sig 556's are fairly accurate, the design is probably inherently less accurate than the AR. You have the extra mass of the piston and an AK type bolt carrier in motion and the piston has the potential to interfere with the barrels harmonics. The Sig should run cleaner and be much more tolerant of dirt however. You could also install a folding stock on it. The AR will have far more parts available for it.

Now, this is all pure guesswork on my part. I currently don't own either an AR or a Sig. I have handled and shot literally dozens of M16's and AR's however and I qualified expert with the M16, so I feel I am pretty familiar with the weapon. I have only handled a Sig556 in a gun shop, so I really only know what I've read about it. I do own several AK's however and based on my experience it is a more rugged and reliable design than the AR.

Onmilo
June 2, 2008, 08:57 AM
It is Swiss, it must be better!

If I was living in Switzerland I would own one as opposed to the AR15, but I am not living in Switzerland and the higher cost of magazines and spare parts along with spotty availability rules it out in my book.

Phil DeGraves
June 2, 2008, 09:00 AM
The SIG is a much newer design so I would expect it to be "better".
On the other hand, the AR has been the standard US battle rifle for about 50 years, so it is a PROVEN design and there are parts aplenty for it. Whatever the AR has done it can still do. There is no doubt that the AR is a great gun. How much "better" can the SIG be?

TexasRifleman
June 2, 2008, 09:05 AM
The SIG is a much newer design

Surprisingly it's not. It's a rehash of the piston upper and similar to what the AK uses. There's not really anything new there.

That has it's good points though as you say, it's a tested method, but it's not new at all.

I had a 556 ordered for a good while until I shot one. I canceled my order right after that.

IndianaBoy
June 2, 2008, 10:23 AM
It is Swiss, it must be better!

If I was living in Switzerland I would own one as opposed to the AR15, but I am not living in Switzerland and the higher cost of magazines and spare parts along with spotty availability rules it out in my book.



The 556 takes AR mags.

It is made in the US, parts are available from Sig Sauer.

Nikon777
June 2, 2008, 10:30 AM
Yes "better" is very broad.

FlyinBryan
June 2, 2008, 10:36 AM
i was on the 100 yrd range last weekend and the guy right beside me had a sig223.

his groups were the size of a softball, maybe a little bigger.

i was shooting a bushmaster 16" rifle. my groups were the size of a quarter, with a few dime sized groups here and there.

could have been the shooter but he appeared to have decent technique, firing from sandbags with his left hand under the stock in typical benchrest fashion.

for accuracy its going to be hard if not impossible to beat a good ar with any semiauto.


EDIT: i havre fired almost 2000 rounds from this ar and its jammed or stopped running exactly zero times. its reliable.

Pilot
June 2, 2008, 10:45 AM
I had a 556 ordered for a good while until I shot one. I canceled my order right after that.

May I ask why? Was it innacurate? Unreliable? Just curious as I'm thinking about getting one.

TexasRifleman
June 2, 2008, 10:47 AM
May I ask why? Was it innacurate? Unreliable?

It did not do anything at all for me to justify the price. It was not as ergonomic in my opinion as the AR, it was heavy, and the accessory market just isn't taking off.

I can't say anything necessarily bad happened when I fired it but all that was going through my mind was "it's an AR that doesn't feel as good and costs more".

If you can possibly find someone to let you try it I recommend it before plunking down the money.

Even if you're sold on the piston function you can get into a good piston AR for that price and still have all the AR accessory market. I just couldn't find any way to justify it.

Patrick Henry
June 2, 2008, 10:55 AM
Don't forget that the SIG does not use the "direct impingement" system and should therefore be more reliable with less maintenance than the AR. I have not owned either one so take that for what it's worth.

rellascout
June 2, 2008, 11:03 AM
No it is not better for 95% of shooters.

The 556 is heavy. The "real Swiss" add ons and upgrades are very expensive. The ones being sold by Sig Sauer in Exter are crap IMHO. Do not confuse the stuff sold by Sig Sauer here with the real swiss stuff.

It is also very expensive IMHO. You will pay about $1175 for a optic ready rifle. Compare that to a Stag or S&W AR-15 which can be had for $850. That difference alone will pay for a decent Eotech.

The gas system is great but lets all be honest how many of us really are slogging around in the dirt, mud and sand firing thousands of rounds before cleaning? So in the end it is a on paper difference not a real world advantage.

The AR platform fits most people. The same cannot be said for the 556.

In the end it is a great rifle but I just don't see it as a major improvement over the AR platform. To me you are better off buying more ammo and shooting the crap out of the AR you already own versus buying the 556.

Nikon777
June 2, 2008, 11:12 AM
No it is not better for 95% of shooters.

The 556 is heavy. The "real Swiss" add ons and upgrades are very expensive. The ones being sold by Sig Sauer in Exter are crap IMHO. Do not confuse the stuff sold by Sig Sauer here with the real swiss stuff.

It is also very expensive IMHO. You will pay about $1175 for a optic ready rifle. Compare that to a Stag or S&W AR-15 which can be had for $850. That difference alone will pay for a decent Eotech.

The gas system is great but lets all be honest how many of us really are slogging around in the dirt, mud and sand firing thousands of rounds before cleaning? So in the end it is a on paper difference not a real world advantage.

The AR platform fits most people. The same cannot be said for the 556.

In the end it is a great rifle but I just don't see it as a major improvement over the AR platform. To me you are better off buying more ammo and shooting the crap out of the AR you already own versus buying the 556.

Bingo.. +1

Bartholomew Roberts
June 2, 2008, 11:21 AM
My opinion:
Better: more accurate,

AR

more reliable,

I'd call this a wash if comparing quality AR to SIG 556. If comparing SIG556 to the random AR in your local gunshop, then SIG.

more durable,

SIG. ARs have never been great on durability but you will need to spend at least $4,000 in ammo at current prices before you notice a problem with either one. On the other hand, the AR can be repaired/refurbished cheaper if it does break.

more ergonomic,

AR. SIG is too nose heavy.

easy to customize

AR... what other rifle allows you to switch out: barrels, handguards, pistol grip, stock, sights, charging handle, even the gas system can be changed.

Tarvis
June 2, 2008, 11:29 AM
Don't forget that the SIG does not use the "direct impingement" system

As Tex said before you, you can get a piston kit installed on an AR and still have the same cost as the 556.

rellascout
June 2, 2008, 11:33 AM
As Tex said before you, you can get a piston kit installed on an AR and still have the same cost as the 556.

I think the more important point is that 95% of shooters do not need a gas pistol system. How many rounds go through the average civilian AR before cleaning.

When was the last time you shot your AR covered in the mud?

Tarvis
June 2, 2008, 11:44 AM
I think the more important point is that 95% of shooters do not need a gas pistol system.
You are correct.

LiquidTension
June 2, 2008, 11:58 AM
Those of us with cans often benefit from piston systems due to decreased blowback. I know that my suppressed AR spits quite a bit of gas into my eyes, and you don't want to inhale while shooting either. I have not fired a suppressed 556 yet so I don't know if it's any better.

Robert14
June 2, 2008, 12:56 PM
I do not like the grip angle of the 556 as much as I do the AR. Also, try to hit the mag release on the 556 without removing your hand from the grip - it's a longer reach than the AR.

marineman
June 2, 2008, 03:29 PM
If you had to choose between the two for a combat rifle, which would you choose?

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 2, 2008, 03:31 PM
The Sig has a better trigger and an adjustable gas system. The AR is superior in most other ways, IMO. 556 not worth the money, to me.

But the question itself is flawed, because the better question is: Bushmaster ACR/Masada or Robinson XCR? Those rifles are (or appear to be, in the case of the ACR) superior to the two asked about in this thread.

For a combat rifle, which one? It depends on what country's armed forces I'm in. If I have the logistical support of the US Military, I'll take the AR. If I'm akbar hussein's middle eastern military, I'll take the Sig, due to the adjustable gas system being able to compensate for an un-maintained weapon (to an extent).

nwilliams
June 2, 2008, 05:17 PM
If you had to choose between the two for a combat rifle, which would you choose?

Again I think it depends on the application of the rifle. I don't think the 556 has any kind of track record to go off of at this point. Whereas the AR platform whether good or bad at least has a long track history look at. No military that I know of uses the 556 in any sort combat way and its my understanding that the 556 was developed for the civilian and LE market not really for the military.

I think until you put the 556 into some varied combat environments and allow soldiers in the field to experience the rifle you are never going to know for sure how good a combat rifle it is. The AR platform on the other hand has seen it all and had the worst thrown at it.

Personally I like that 556 is more like an AK than an AR I think based on that I would certainly be willing to take a chance and carry one into combat. The AR platform has certainly had its share of ridicule over the years by soldiers in the field.

TexasRifleman
June 2, 2008, 05:45 PM
The AR platform has certainly had its share of ridicule over the years by soldiers in the field.

And of course so has every other weapon platform ever issued to US soldiers :)

Pappy Boyington once told me "The Corsair was just too heavy, I wish we'd had something lighter" or something similar, we were many drinks into the evening when he said it so I can't quote it verbatim.

It is the proud tradition of the US Soldier to bitch about his gear :)

Phil DeGraves
June 3, 2008, 12:58 PM
The SIG is a much newer design

Surprisingly it's not. It's a rehash of the piston upper and similar to what the AK uses. There's not really anything new there.



Well, after doing a little research, it is in fact not a very new design. All the SIG rifles seem to be a derivative of the Japnese SDF Howa rifles. Not really AKs but I suppose they had some influence on the design.

def4pos8
June 4, 2008, 01:32 AM
I can clean my SIG's gas system MUCH faster than my AR's.:D
I am OVER digging carbon out of AR bolt carrier assemblies!!:fire:
I've been scraping carbon out of AR/M-16 bolt carriers since '73 and I've HAD IT!!!:cuss:

My SIG's trigger feels MUCH better than my AR's.

I LIKE a slightly forward balance point.

My SIG's folding/adjustable stock isn't even possible on an AR.

My SIG's spring-loaded firing pin will almost eliminate the possibility of a slam-fire.:D

Initial accuracy checks of the SIG have been encouraging. I'm still experimenting with loads but, even so, it seems to shoot on the tight side of 1.5MOA whereas my Colt AR is on the loose side of 1.5MOA.

A Swiss rendition of the AK, made in New Hampshire, with great magazines/GI mag compatability. . .I voted with my wallet and wasn't disappointed!;)

Don't Tread On Me
June 4, 2008, 02:44 AM
I'm a big AR fan, and I think the Sig is slightly better.

Now, assuming all things are equal (build quality) ..the Sig is a better design.

A major weakness of the AR is the bolt design. The lugs and cam pin hole are a weakness. You can counter that claim by suggesting that you should just follow the maintenance schedule and understand a bolt is only good for 5,000rds or whatever. The other weakness is the gas system which is filthy. The filth isn't really the problem, but the fact that it blasts away the lubricant and heats up the parts. The counter to this is, that a properly lubricated AR will run totally reliable for double the expected load-out (480rds). Which it does and should. The bolt becomes extremely hot, which effects the lifespan. But more importantly, ever shot is blasting away lubricant and adding gritty carbon. The operation becomes significantly less and less slick.


The Sig takes a lot from the AK. That is evident in the bolt design. It is very solid. I can't imagine breaking an AK or Sig bolt. The extractor is also much stronger.


One weakness of the Sig or most piston systems is that the recoil spring is subject to heating which alters its characteristics. Weakens it sooner, changes its tension. The other weakness is the piston itself. That is an advantage of the gas impingement system of the AR. The AR has a single gas tube. That's it! No piston, no op-rod, no spring, no knobs or screws. Less to rust. Less to break. And a lot LIGHTER. Piston systems weigh more. Another weakness of piston systems is that they are more ammo sensitive. This claim is made of the gas-impingement system but I just don't see it. It is an issue with piston systems. The Sig can be adjusted when the action is slowing down. Increasing the gas flow to blast out the crud or to function with weak ammo. The AK system doesn't care.


Overall, the AK system is the best. The piston is easily 2x over-built and will not break or bend. The recoil spring is kept away from the gas system, so it does not heat up and fatigue. It has a robust bolt that will not crack or shatter. Has a strong extractor. And a fixed external (from the bolt) ejector that will not clog up or break. Add in tapered cases, and feeding and extracting are now even easier...but that is not part of the rifle's design but rather total platform.


HA! Sig vs. AR and the AK wins!!! :evil: Unfortunately, the AK is no where nearly as easy to modify and make as ergonomic as the AR, and even falls well behind the Sig.


The Sig 556 has had some issues. Still a young rifle and they pretty much have the bugs worked out. Not so much design flaws, but rather QC and build quality/parts quality. I do not care for the handguards at all. A lot of people are paying $100 to get original Sig 550 handguards. Making the stock compatible with the AR-15 is a smart move. They should have taken it a step further and made the grip compatible also -- while keeping the Sig trigger which is a better trigger in both pull and feel.


Sig claims the barrel finish is superior to chrome lining. I'm skeptical about that. Usually whenever a company doesn't chrome a chamber and bore they make extravagant claims about whatever alternative process they use.


The AK is an anomaly in that compared to pretty much every other weapon system past and present, it is built to survive with the least amount of armorer support. The AR-15 system has the U.S. Military behind it, which is the greatest logistics master since the Romans. Most other weapon systems are what they are and function as a State's military combat rifle. It will be used by professional or well-trained soldiers within the military sphere. That is perhaps why the AK was and is so successful among rebels, militia, guerrillas all over the world in remote areas. It works without the support. It was designed with conscripts in mind from the Soviet WW2 experience.


The AR would have been a lot better if the lugs were reduced in number and then increased in size as well as the bolt being beefed up, particularly in the cam pin hole area to eliminate or double the service life of the bolt from cracks. The other area is the extractor. A stronger design would have been better.


Aside from rebel warfare in remote areas, or mass conscription of peasants ...the Sig and AR will serve the American civilian just fine on the range or for home defense or during a disaster situation. If Western civilization melts down, you have more to worry about than where you will get your spare parts for your AR-15. If you can't get spare parts for you AR-15, you cannot get ammo either and if you can't get either of those, chances are you can't get food either. Sort of goes hand in hand. But I digress.....

The point is, where one really shines as better than the other is in situations that aren't likely or you're likely to have to cope with.

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