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Feel free to skip this storm narrative and go right to the Ruger firearm information that follows. The Sunday night storm took us by surprise. The weather shifted from a cool autumn evening with a forecast of moderate rain to torrential rainfall, flash flood warnings and rumbling thunder that shook the house. Around midnight, the winds coming up the side of the mountain from the southeast picked up to a sustained sixty to seventy five mph. Between rolling thunder, howling wind and the strafing of driving rain, it was difficult getting to sleep. Around 2:30 AM, the lights flickered, then went out before the generator ticked over and restored power to the house.

By 8 AM, the storm had subsided, the winds had died down and rain fall was moderate. The generator was still running, all of the clocks in the house were blinking in abeyance of being reset, the phones were working, but cable Internet and TV was out. An outside assessment of storm damage was as eventful; roof shingles laying in the driveway, a decorative wishing well located forth feet northwest of its original placement, porch furniture overturned and hanging on or over the porch railings, and then there was the matter of a forty five foot oat tree tipped over and angled from the stone fence at the tree line to the porch roof. With all of the storm racket, we didn’t even hear or feel it land on the house.

The fruit tree dilemma…

The roof shingles blew off next to the chimney so replacements from a spare bundle kept for such occasions were quickly put into place. The oak tree did no damage, even the window screen the trees branches knocked off was unscathed. Unfortunately, beneath the trunk of the oak tree was a dwarf peach tree. Not just any tree, but one my wife and I planted fourteen years ago, one my wife tended, nurtured and protected from twig to mature tree. Almost killed by drought, insect infestation and a really bad level loader driver, it has come to mean more than just a tree. So how to dissect the oak to prevent it from crushing the fruit tree beneath?

The tree was blocked to the right of the fruit tree, then cut back in short segments from the roof end until the trunk extended just left of the fruit tree. A tow strap was tied to the far end with side pressure manually applied, a horizontal cut was made to the right of the fruit tree and just ahead of the blocking point which allowed that section of trunk to be pulled clear before it fell in the tree beneath. The rest of the oak’s trunk was cut back in fireplace length increments. Area power remained out for three more days, four hundred thousand residents in the dark, Maine’s Governor declared a state of emergency and we experienced the worst storm since the ice storm of 1998.

Ruger’s AR-556 – MOE


There are currently seven configurations of the Ruger AR-556® sold through general distribution and four more configurations sold as special configurations sold through unique distributors. Additionally, Ruger offers an assembled lower that is utilized across this product line as a stand alone item. With the exception of the 18″ barrel and absence of mechanical sights on the AR-556 MPR, all configurations use the same upper and lowers, all have 16.1″ barrels, all have Rapid Deploy rear sights and all have adjustable post front sights. All but one are 1/2″-28 threaded at the muzzle to accept muzzle devices.

The Greatest areas of model differentiation are buttstocks, handguards, grips, muzzle devices, and magazine capacities.Yes, that was a meandering prior paragraph and definitely lacking in connective grammatical… tissue, but I have faith that you will extract the most from its potential. Moving on, for my money, the Ruger AR-556-MOE is the most useful and best performing configuration… but maybe that’s just me.

 Ruger AR-556®-MOE
Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Point of Manufacture Mayodan, NC
Model# 8515
Caliber 5.56 NATO / 223 Remington
Mag Capacity 30 Round Magpul PMag
16.1″ Medium Contour 4140 CM
Rifling 1:8″
Weight 6.5 Lbs
Overall Length 32.25″ – 35.50″
Buttstock Magpul MOE Collapsible
Handguard Magpul MOE M-Lock
Receivers 7075-T6 Aluminum Forging
Receiver Finish Type III Hard Coat Anodized
Barrel & Gas Block Matte Black Oxide
Length of Pull 10.25″ – 13.5″
Accessory Mount Picatinny Rail
Trigger Pull  7 Lbs 12 Oz.
Safety Rotating
MSRP $849

Looking at the AR-556-MOE, Ruger has put together a well balanced AR product while maintaining Ruger’s high quality standards for form, fit and function. Ruger has introduced innovation components, but none that can’t be replaced with industry standard pieces as a matter of preference or convenience.

The Ruger AR-556-MOE is a solid configuration for a hunter, although it may be desirable to dial back on the thirty magazine capacity out of personal preference or state law. As an example, while Maine has fairly liberal firearm regulation, semi-auto centerfire rifles are limited to a magazine capacity of five round when hunting. No, I don’t like encroaching regulations, but I would personally never hunt with a higher capacity magazine as they represent: an increase in a rifle’s profile, excess weight and suggest a lack of marksmanship skills.

The Magpul MOE handguard is of excellent form. It is hand filling, steadying and easy to remove and reinstall for firearm cleaning and maintenance thanks to Ruger’s innovative barrel nut and delta ring design.

Rather than pulling back on a spring loaded ring while trying to separate upper and lower handguard halves, the ring is unscrewed back toward the receiver until the handguard flanges are free.

YouTube unleashed… Yes, there are 30 minute videos instructing how to remove and reinstall an MOE handguard, but we’ll try the short form. Back off the Ruger’s delta ring, lift the back of the bottom guard half and rotate forward until the handguard flange clears the handguard cap and off. Next, lift the rear of the upper guard half, rotate forward until the flange is clear of the handguard cap and off. To install, reverse process.

The buttstock is a six position Magpul MOE collapsible mounted to a mil-spec diameter buffer tube; very stable and enounh adjustment range to fit virtually any situation. Below, the polymer Ruger Rapid Deploy sight… is the reason I stopped using the term “metallic rear sights” and began using the more appropriate and commonly applicable “mechanical rear sight”.

I like scopes and Ruger was kind enough to include a Picatinny rail for that accommodation. I do like electronically enhanced optical sights, but I do not use them frequently enough to embrace battery changes as the new normal. I do like mechanical sights, particularly the accuracy of a peep sight, for the 90% of the time I don’t really need a scope, particularly when they will fold down out of the way when not in service. The rear sights provides windage adjustment and the A2 style F Height adjustable post front sight provides elevation compensation.

The cold hammer forged barrel is medium weight. The chamber is 5.56mm NATO, allowing use of both 5.56mm NATO and 223 Remington ammunition. M4 feed ramps make for smooth cartridge transition from the Magpul thirty round magazine to chamber. The barrel’s 1:8″ twist rate accommodates 36 grain to 77 grain bullets. The barrel is tipped with 1/2″-28 threads to accept standard muzzle devices; the rifle ships with a Ruger Flash Suppressor installed.

Top down, one of the bullet points in the Ruger product presentation of the AR-556-MOE should be, “No gunk”. It has an AR-15’s narrow profile without weird, mutant controls or gadgets hanging off all sides. So what we have an a quality assembly, devoid of engineer’s revenge in an ideal configuration. There is one thing I would like to see… Of course.

The Ruger AR-556-MOE is supplied with the Ruger AR single stage trigger, rather than the Ruger Elite two stage trigger that is supplied with the AR-556 MPR. The two stage trigger is lighter in pull and cleaner on break. The MPR does not ship with quick deploy sights, only a full length top rail and its price is approximately $50 higher. As an accessory, the 452 Elite trigger is $159. Personally, and that is just me, I’d rather pay $50 more and have the Elite trigger included on this very nifty AR.

Part II will be a handloading section, optimizing ammunition with current application specific smokeless powder and a range of bullet weights and type suitable for hunting.

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