The SIG556R is an excellent example of why a company should do all of its quality control and testing before bringing a product to market. It is also an example of how valuable professional consulting is to the arms industry in helping a company get it right the first time. The problem is that in the Age of Gossip, one flaw will immediately be known around the world with a click of a mouse...and it is hard to come back from that if it is true.
Although the SIG Rifles have been the whipping boy of the American rifle world for some time now, the original 556R had it coming. It took only a flimsy aftermarket magazine, and was not built to run well with the ubiquitous steel case ammo. Those two glaring issues kept it from any sort of success as the legions of internet pundits filmed it failing, laughing at it like it was drunken old man trying to get walk down the street.
I bought a SIG 556R through regular consumer channels out of curiosity. It is no secret that I have been trying to elevate the AK platform beyond what it is. Our attempts to do so with the Saiga and VEPR conversions yielded some success, but we were still largely unsatisfied. With the Saiga simply due to a glaring lack of any quality or uniformity. With the VEPR, it was due to the elevated price levels necessary to make it do what we wanted to do. Had I had any hair, I undoubtedly would have pulled it all out in frustration. And it was out of frustration that I bought the 5.56 SIG 556 initially.
That led me to the question my students and customers asked - what about the 556R? And yes, I saw all the internet babble about its failings, but you know my M.O. I see it for myself.