The SIG556R is a quality, piston-driven rifle that is chambered for the venerable Russian 7.62x39mm cartridge, which is inexpensive and plentiful. Compact and made to high tolerances, the SIG556R can fold for greater versatility. Shown here with a Sig Mini Red Dot.
Over the years, the Sig Sauer SIG556 has gained a worthy reputation as a superbly built piston-operated rifle. Up until recently, if you wanted the SIG556, your only caliber choices were indeed the 5.56x45mm NATO round and .223.
This changed recently when Sig introduced the new SIG556R, with the “R” for Russian. Built with all of the original quality features, the SIG556R not only chambers the 7.62x39mm Russian cartridge, but it also feeds from all standard AK magazines as well. Many companies have attempted to build black rifles chambering the 7.62x39mm cartridge while loading them from modified AR magazines. That formula seldom proved reliable, however, and the magazine issue has historically been a problem.
The skeptic might ask, “Why 7.62x39mm?” Let’s address that issue. First, not everyone out there is a fan of the 5.56mm cartridge for a fighting rifle. I’m not going to take sides in that debate, but the fact remains that, for many shooters, fighting rifles start at .30 caliber.
American-made 7.62x39mm ammunition is head and shoulders above what it was 20 years ago. In addition to the standard 123-grain FMJ loads, there are a number of controlled-expansion rounds with ballistic tips and expansion cavities. CorBon and Hornady come immediately to mind in this category. Should the shooter have the need to engage two- or four-legged predators, they have many choices for ammunition.
On the flipside of that coin, the price of centerfire rifle ammunition over the last five years has gone from costly to damned near ridiculous. Not only did the cost skyrocket, but ammunition manufacturers are just now starting to catch up with demand, and shortages of popular calibers, .223 included, have been frequent.
Lacquered steel-cased 7.62x39mm ammunition has historically been a better price deal than brass-cased .223 or the hotter 5.56mm. When purchased in bulk lots, 7.62mm Russian cartridges offer shooters even greater savings. For folks who train, practice and shoot a lot, saving five to ten cents a cartridge will add up quickly.