Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sig 556 And Alternatives For The Cheap Or Impatient


The Sig 556 has caused a flurry of excitement and impatience in the firearm aficionado community.

SigArms, a company whose products are considered Cadillacs of the firearms industry (finely made examples of affluence from my youth when Cadillac's name had that cache), has not been able to meet demand with their production. Of course high demand and low supply keeps prices up and helps maintain the desirability for those who want that something different in their safe or to sport at the range. Here are two examples from Gunbroker where a Sig 556 which went for $1675 and$1525 (perhaps more). This from a weapon with MSRP of $1299.

Much like the trophy bride the Sig 556 has features which are greatly admired if for different reasons; the main functional attraction for the Sig 556 is the acknowledged superiority of the reliability of a gas piston upper which prevents the gas and propellant remnants from hitting the chamber and bolt. This decreases cleaning demands, increasing range time fun all while you may take advantage of inexpensive and ubiquitous AR-15 magazines. This makes the Sig 556 all the more alluring.

For those who want the reliability of a Sig 556 without the premium price and can live without the cache the name brings to your gun safe there are other options. DSA markets Phoenix based POF-USA's Gas Trap Carbine uppers for $1100 to $1400 dollars. This could be added to the lower of your choice or as a replacement for the upper on your current AR clone.


Also available are the Leitner-Wise gas piston uppers, while as pricey as a whole Sig 556 they are well reviewed. On Leitner-Wise's site is a wonderful visual aid on the difference between gas piston upper function and that of direct gas impingement. Leitner-Wise also has a video on the why,how and function of their products.

Bushmaster is producing a gas piston upper for the AR series as low as $1000.

Rumor has it that Colt is developing their own gas piston upper in the face of competition from companies such as Heckler-Koch (HK 416) and Fabrique National (SCAR) both of which are available in 5.56x45mm (.223)and 7.62x51mm (.308).



Last and least as far as the private firearms owning community is concerned due to their policy of not selling their rifles to the benighted masses is HK's 416. While this weapon received great reviews from the Special Operations community, I predict they will be stuck in the position of the AR series in the early 1960's, unwanted by the brass despite being potentially less expensive and more reliable than current weapons until someone forces it or a weapon similar to it down the bureaucracy's throat.

For first hand impressions of a POF-USA gas piston upper in action keep an eye on Cowboy Blob's Saloon.

I personally will be holding out on the purchase of an AR series weapon until the gas piston uppers come closer to the price point of the run of the mill AR or,more likely, the ever increasing price of .308 and 7.62x39mm ammunition forces me to adopt a different weapon for range time fun.

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