When I first caught wind of the SIG556 project almost three years ago, I looked forward to getting my hands on one, so I put in an order with SIG SAUER. Like with many new firearms, the production date was repeatedly pushed back. Then, about a year later, the ultimate teaser; I had the opportunity to fire a prototype 556 version including a fixed side-folding stock with select-fire capabilities. This only served to heighten my anticipation—the weapon was comfortable to shoot, accurate, light recoiling, and reliable. It was also very controllable in full-auto mode. The gun also looked very slick; the fit and finish were excellent. My initial experience with the 556 left me with a feeling that I liked it possibly more than the familiar AR15 pattern guns.
The SIG550, forerunner of the SIG556, has its roots in the SIG SG-541 or Stgw.90, which was officially adopted by the Swiss Army in 1983. The SIG550 has been called “the finest 5.56mm rifle ever made” by some. Restricted for years to military and law enforcement (LE), the 551 (carbine version) was actually one of the few weapons to be selected by the feds for their agencies along with the RRA DEA carbine. The guns that won the contract were among the last standing of a brutal series of tests, and earned a reputation for ruggedness and performance.
Today, SIG SAUER has brought the design to the shooting public and law enforcement in the United States in the form of the 556, basically a redesigned 551/552.