The SIG556R arrived with a single, black polymer 30-round magazine. Naturally, I would want more than that for an evaluation. Century Arms has become my go-to source for all things AK. I found exactly what I was looking for in their latest catalog: 30- and 40-round polymer magazines from Bulgaria and a bulk can of Yugoslavian-manufactured 7.62x39mm ammunition built with brass cases. The ammunition comes in 1,200-round cans and is a fantastic value.
Additional 7.62x39mm ammunition came from CorBon in 123-grain DPX and 125-grain JHP loads. Hornady offers 50-round bulk packs now with 123-grain SST bullets in lacquered steel cases. Wolf ammunition was a natural fit with their Military Classic 123-grain FMJ load. The only other option I added to the rifle was a BlackHawk single-point sling.
Step number one at the range was to bench the rifle and check the zero on the included Mini Red Dot sight. Ten rounds later, I was striking a 1-inch square at 50 yards. Now it was time for chronographing and bench work. Using the red-dot sight and resting the rifle on a pack provided very good results. However, this is not a bench rifle, it’s a fighter, so we needed get away from the table get it warmed up.
First up on the practice agenda would be simple contact drills. Cardboard silhouettes were engaged at relatively close distances from 5 to 15 yards. All of the previously mentioned loads were thrown into the mix with a heavy emphasis on the Century and Wolf loads because I had more of them.
After about three to four magazines full of ammunition, we went to work on the reactive steel targets set out from 100, 200 and 300 yards. The whack of bullets striking steel echoed back regularly. The 100-yard plate was easy enough. At 200 and the 300 yards, a greater amount of attention to detail was required. The red aiming dot of the Sig sight is a bit large for distant precision fire, but the SIG556R wasn’t exactly built for long ranges.
While testing the rifle, I ran somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 rounds through the gun during separate range sessions. During multiple target drills, I ran the gun with the 40-round RPK magazines until the barrel was too hot to touch.
The SIG556R consumed every piece of ammunition fed to it without hesitation. This is particularly important when considering the lacquered steel case ammunition and bulk military surplus. You don’t buy a 7.62x39mm rifle so you can practice with expensive ammunition.
During the testing period, I mainly ran the included factory magazine and the Bulgarian models from Century Arms. However, I did throw in a couple of steel 30-round magazines and they worked just fine. The Sig Mini Red Dot performed as advertised. Should you desire to add a magnified optic, the Picatinny rail makes that simple.
As far as maintenance is concerned, the rifle was easy to disassemble for cleaning. Keep in mind that much of the military-surplus ammunition out there uses corrosive primers. The ammunition works just fine, but you do need to clean your rifles after shooting them.
The SIG556R is not a stamped sheet- metal AK; it is first and foremost a Sig Sauer, meticulously machined and well-made. As such, don’t go into sticker shock at the price tag. You get what you pay for. In this case, you get an exceptionally well-made rifle that will not only chamber the plentiful and less-expensive 7.62x39mm cartridge, but you can also feed it from ultra-reliable AK magazines.