Ruger AR-556 vs S&W Sport 2

Not open for further replies.


Nov 25, 2007
Southwestern US
I have read all the old post on these guns but I want any new feed back. I'm looking for a home defense AR that won't break the bank in case of theft. Through my research & discounts these two gun are $570 vs $590 with free shipping. The slight price advantage to S&W. Any input is welcome as I am an experienced shooter but an AR rookie. I especial welcome hands on experience with these weapons like malfunctions & reliabilty. Thank you in advanced for your input.
I don't have any experience with the S&W, but the Ruger I bought a few months back has been perfect. I, too, agonized over which one to get, and in the end, I decided there was really no difference. I've had good experience with Ruger's customer service in the past, and I prefer the ergonomics of Ruger's Magpul-like pistol grip over the S&W's A2-style pistol grip with the finger protrusion thing. In the end, those were the only two factors that tipped the scale to the Ruger, and I'm sure I would have been just as happy with the S&W if I had gotten it instead.

Both rifles have been run through the wringer by many other owners, and I've yet to hear about any major problems with either one.

That's probably not very useful information as far as helping you make a decision, but really, the differences between the two are very slight.
I may be wrong here ....

Barrel twist in the Ruger is 1-8 and the S&W is 1-9
Something minor to ponder.
40-Grain 1:12
55-Grain 1:9
62-Grain 1:8 or 1:7
77-Grain 1:7 or 1:8

I find a lot of bulk ammo in 62 gr and I would prefer a heavier bullet in this type firearm anyway. I load a lot of 62 gr for my 1-7 twist Sig.
I vote for Ruger in this case.
I picked up an AR-556 last year, you know, "just to have one for whatever". It makes a fine closet gun, but is not much fun on the range. About 20% more money will get you a 100% better gun. Features like premium barrels, mid length gas, rifle stocks, and free float make them much easier to shoot accurately.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Does the Ruger still come with an unshrouded bolt carrier? Earlier AR-556 and SR-556 models did while even budget ARs have moved on to shrouding the firing pin. To me unshrouded is a dealbreaker.
I've got a Sport 2 I won in a 3 gun shoot earlier this year. The only downside is the trigger is what you would expect in an AR at this price level, I swapped in a CMC trigger and it's good to go.
Sport gets good reviews I own 2 of them , they work as they should and I shoot
55 to 69 grain no issues at all.
My older kid has fired many rounds in one of them seems to hold up as good as
any other rifle. both are sport 1 models
Honestly I think the Aero Precision AC-15 is the best gun under 700. Primary Arms and brownels had them for like $579 recently. The advantage is a better Barrel (balistic advantage) and BCG. The barrel is mp/hp tested as well as the BCG (full auto). Mrgunsandgear did a review on it recently on youtube. The barrel and BCG are the heart of the rifle and this gun beats the SW and ruger in those places. Between the two you mentioned I like the SW sport 2. It doesn't have any proprietary parts like the Ruger and seems to get slightly better feedback from what I read, but have no actual experience shooting it.
First off both guns are good guns and will fill your needs, but knowing something about the two can make a difference to some.
Smith & Wesson uses a lower that hat the milled in trigger guard. This is something you will not be able to change out latter, but it does add strength to the area. No breaking off those little ears. It has a MagPul MBUS rear sight.
Smith does not make AR parts. They buy them and build the guns. This is not a bad thing, Spike's does the same thing. All of the Smith parts are Mil-Spec and can be changed out, replaced, or upgraded whenever you want or need.

Ruger makes some AR parts or has them made for them. The barrel is not Mil-Spec. The pins that hold the front sight on the barrel go through the top, not the bottom of the barrel. To replace the barrel you will have to use one of their barrels. The Delta Rings does not have springs in it. You screw it up or down to remove the handguard. This makes it easier to remove or replace the handguard. The rear sight does not have the side leavers like MagPul.
Gust about every part of the gun has the Ruger logo on it, which looks nice.

Now when it comes to barrel twist? Under 100 yards you really wont see much difference. Plus you can find 55gr ammo cheaper then the 62gr and most 62gr ammo has steel core.

Both are great for an entry level gun and will give you years of service, but if you have plans to upgrade later on, I would go with the Smith.
In my mind the primary difference you should focus on are in the barrel. Other than that, the guns aren't all that different, given their purpose and price point. The Ruger has an unlined barrel with a slightly thicker profile than normal. It will weigh a little more, but not feel significantly heavier. It will however heat up much slower when shooting long strings of fire. The S&W has a nitride treated barrel and will last longer, but you'll have to shoot several thousand rounds to notice a difference.

Does the Ruger still come with an unshrouded bolt carrier? Earlier AR-556 and SR-556 models did while even budget ARs have moved on to shrouding the firing pin. To me unshrouded is a dealbreaker.

There are plenty of Colts from the 90's with unshrouded carriers that are still going just fine. I'm not saying they are ideal, because they are not, but I have a hard time believing they are a problem either. The problems of the carrier are far more of a talking point than an actual, real world problem.

I may be wrong here ....

Barrel twist in the Ruger is 1-8 and the S&W is 1-9
Something minor to ponder.
40-Grain 1:12
55-Grain 1:9
62-Grain 1:8 or 1:7
77-Grain 1:7 or 1:8

1:9 will shoot 62-grain SS109 bullets just fine. On a theoretical basis, it is better than a 1:7, but since the bullets aren't really that accurate anyway, the point is moot in most guns. 1:9 will stabilize almost all 68-69gr BTHP bullets, and many will stabilize the 75/77gr BTHP bullets as well.
Apologies for what's probably a dopey question, but what is a shrouded/unshrouded bolt carrier? I'm no stranger to AR's, but the terms are unfamiliar to me.
I was in the OP' shoes not to long ago. Like you I read tons of reviews and for an entry level AR I had narrowed it down to the S&W or the Ruger for my first AR . The Sport 2 wasn't available at the time.

Fate ultimately decided for me. For about a month neither had been on any shelves near me. Then one day I walk into my favorite LGS and there sat two Ruger AR-556's. Twenty minutes later I am on my way to my favorite range. :)

I have put just north of a thousand rounds through it and zero issues. I intended for it to simply be for range play, and " hope I never need it " situations, but after tinkering with it and a cheap scope one afternoon I was amazed at the 100 yard groups with plain bulk Federal ammunition.:)

This being said my son picked up an M&P Sport and ease of use and reliability have been great for him, so both would appear to be good choices for an entry level AR.

Last edited:
A standard/shrouded carrier cocks the hammer itself. An unshrouded carrier has some metal removed on the bottom which makes the hammer cock on the firing pin. It was a Colt invention to prevent the gun from being modified to shoot FA, among several other redundant and needless modifications. It's a rare example of Ruger making a silly choice when creating their interpretation of a common firearm.
The Aero Precision is tempting. I don't like the 1:7 barrel though. I also can not find if they have a lifetime warrantee like Ruger & S&W have. Keep the replys coming. This is great. Thanks to all who replied.
I have an original M@P Sport and its been a good rifle. I did have a bolt issue at the 2000 round mark, but S&W took care of it and paid shipping both ways.
Just looked up the Gunsngear video of the Aero rifle. That is a hell of a rifle for under 600 bucks. The only ting I saw that I would say was 'wrong' with it was the carbine buffer. Switch that out for a H buffer and you have a properly built rifle for a great price.
The Aero Ac 15 is 589.99 at Primary Arms right now. They have a lifetime warranty . Absolute best buy under $600. Check out MrGunsAndGear review on youtube
Not open for further replies.