The Ruger AC-556 Select-Fire Carbine was marketed to the military and law enforcement market to provide a less expensive alternative to the M16. Although offered with options for 18.5- or 13-inch barrels and a fixed or folding stock, it was the short-barreled AC-556 with a folding stock that proved especially popular with special police units and close-protection teams. By offering semi-auto, three-shot burst or full-auto capability, Ruger made the 5.56mm carbine versatile enough to be used for longer range engagement on semi-auto, precise close-range engagement on “burst” or deal with multiple attackers quickly on “full auto.”
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Other than having the selector switch, the AC-556 is very similar to the Ruger Mini-14, which allowed an agency to use the Mini-14 patrol rifle while equipping special units with the AC-556. Both 20-round and 30-round magazines were available for the AC-556, and these were also usable in the Mini-14 as well. One of the best features of the AC-556, and one not always inherent in select-fire weapons, is that it was known to be highly reliable, as was to be expected from a Ruger firearm.
To learn more, check out the May 2014 issue of TACTICAL WEAPONS, available on newsstands and digitally March 11, 2014. To subscribe, go to http://www.tactical-life.com/subscribe/tactical-weapons