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Ruger AR-556 vs Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Rifle Comparison

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Ruger AR-556 vs Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Rifle Comparison

When it comes to entry-level modern sporting rifles, the two brands leading the way are Ruger and Smith and Wesson. 

Semi-automatic tactical rifles are known for their shooting precision and mild recoil. There are a variety of accessories available to customize these firearms. The simple upper and lower receiver design also tends to be very comfortable for most shooters.

Additionally, both the Ruger and the S&W brands have a long history in the firearm industry. Though they are similar, each model has their own specs that may make one preferable for you than the other. 

In this Ruger AR 556 vs Smith and Wesson M&P 15 comparison, we’re breaking down the features and benefits of both guns so you can determine which model works best for you.

Ruger AR-556 Overview

Made from aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum forging, the Ruger AR-556 includes a Type III hard coat that is anodized for maximum durability. It’s easy to add standard muzzle accessories thanks to the ½”-28 threaded barrel.

The cold hammer-forged barrel has ultra-precise rifling for exceptional accuracy and easy cleaning. The 5.56 NATO chamber allows you to use both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. ammunition, making this a versatile choice. In addition, the 1:8” twist rate stabilizes bullets from 35 to 77 grains. The six-position telescoping buttstock and Mil-Spec buffer tube add to the AR-556’s flexibility by allowing the gun to be properly sized for different shooters or layers of outerwear/defensive gear.

Ruger AR-556 RifleRuger AR-556 Rifle

The Ruger Rapid Deploy folding rear sight offers windage adjustability. The front sight is elevation adjustable, creating a reliable aiming system. You can fold the rear sight out of the way to make room for optics or instantly redeploy it if needed.

The flattop upper receiver includes a forward assist, dust cover, and brass deflector. The flash suppressor hides the muzzle flash to aid in low-light firing situations. The Ruger AR-556 includes a 30-round Magpul PMAG magazine and weighs 6.5 lbs.

Although Ruger is newer to the modern sporting rifle, it has an innovative approach.  You can remove and install handguards easily thanks to the patent pending barrel nut and delta ring. This design accepts most standard carbine length handguards using a standard wrench. Enjoy precise trigger control thanks to the extended trigger reach. The handguard and pistol grip are both designed for shooting comfort and durability.

Six-position, telescoping, and M4 style buttstock features give you the ability to adjust for different shooters and their needs. The ergonomic pistol grip is comfortable, and the enlarged trigger guard works with any sized hand or gloves.

S&W M&P 15 Overview

The versatility of the M&P 15 makes it easy to use during a wide variety of shooting scenarios. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, you can shoot 5.56 NATO or .223 Rem. The M&P 15 has a 6-position collapsible stock for increased versatility.

This rifle is reliable and easy to accessorize. It’s lightweight and rugged, offering an excellent combination of form and function. Smith & Wesson has been making modern sporting rifles for years with great success, so you know this is a quality firearm.

The barrel has a 1:9" twist, fast enough to stabilize all but the heaviest bullets under most circumstances. The Smith and Wesson M&P 15 is an excellent firearm equipped with the features most shooters need. Right out of the box it includes forwarding assists, dust covers, an A2 flash hider, and more.

Ruger AR-556 and Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Comparison

Both the Ruger AR-556 and Smith & Wesson M&P 15 are highly customizable. They’re available in many different variations, with over half a dozen model options to choose from. Both are designed to be used with milspec parts, making it easy to add accessories. 

The biggest differences between these two firearms are slightly different barrel twist rates and Ruger’s delta ring design. They weigh almost the same, with the AR-556 coming in at 6.5 pounds and the M&P 15 at 6.45 pounds.

Barrel Twist Rate

The barrel twist rate is one of the main differences between the Ruger AR-556 and the Smith & Wesson M&P 15. The Ruger’s twist rate is 1 in 8” while the M&P’s is 1 in 9”. Barrel twist impacts the speed of the bullet before it exits the barrel, with more barrel twist meaning that the bullet is rotating faster inside the barrel. The extra speed helps the bullet maintain stability on the way to your target, improving accuracy.

The Ruger’s barrel finish is matte black oxide, while the M&P’s finish is nitride. Both are durable, but you may prefer one finish over another. The Ruger’s cold hammer-forged barrel stands out, as the process improves both accuracy and barrel life.

Choosing Your AR

As we mentioned, these guns are quite similar. They’re affordable, easy to customize, and available in several different variations. 

You really can’t go wrong with the Ruger AR-556 or the Smith & Wesson M&P 15. Both companies are known for crafting quality firearms. The biggest differences to consider are the barrel twist rates and the delta ring design offered by Ruger, but at the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference.

You can find Ruger AR-556s and Smith & Wesson M&P 15s here at Green Top Sporting Goods, online or in store.

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