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The Gun Safe

Sig516: Did Sig Sauer Just Build the Ultimate AR-15 Rifle?

Image: Creative Commons.

A premium upgrade was at the top of the list when Sig Sauer tackled the AR-15 platform and designed the Sig516.

Recognizing the need to improve the gas operation system for improved reliability, Sig Sauer took the classic AR-15 and upgraded it with exceptional success. From its inception, the AR-15 was designed with a gas-operated bolt and carrier. The direct gas impingement (DI) system design for operation is smooth and reliable.

However, Sig Sauer recognized some room for improvement. The expulsion of the gas in DI Ar-15s carries residue along with the gas through the carrier on ejection. The build-up of that residue will cause malfunctions if left unattended for very long. The design engineers at Sig Sauer had a solution, the gas piston. By mechanizing the bolt carrier, there is no carry of the gas residue to the carrier itself. This keeps my rifle significantly cleaner without exposure to the residue. I’ve had my 516 for several years now, and every time I stow my rifle I can’t help but smile as I wipe down in two minutes while my cohorts start to fully break down and clean their rifles.

Whereas the piston drive is the most significant difference between the Sig Sauer 516 and other amazing rifles, there are plenty of upgraded features to add appeal to this stellar AR-15. The 516 is great for shooters of all sizes with an adjustable stock and familiar-to-hold pistol grip. A left-side mag release makes for easy ambidextrous use. The upper and lower connection point has been given extra attention by Sig Sauer. Connected with a spring-tensioned coupling, I can have the spring tightened by my armorer as the gun ages. This ensures that, unlike some of my budget AR-15s, there are no rattles in the rock-solid connection.

Very accurate, the Sig Sauer 516 is able to work as hard as I can. I get most of my long-range experience with my 516 shooting varmints and coyotes, so I know it can handle the far afield critters with ease. The 1:7 twist barrel can handle heavier ammo for improved accuracy on long-range hunting as well. The single-stage seven-and-a-half-pound MIL-SPEC trigger will get the job done. It’s not fancy, but it’s functional. The fully floating carbine length barrel is also good for close-quarters combat courses and home defense. Chrome-lined and treated to prevent corrosion, the intention by Sig to preserve my weapon for the long-term is appreciated.

Some other notable features of the Sig Sauer 516 include the ability to personalize the rifle, just like you would with any AR-15. 4 Picatinny rails can accommodate any of your favorite lights, optics, or other accessories. The threaded muzzle accommodates a flash hider, suppressor, or muzzle brakes.

If you’re planning to load your rifle up, or carry when you’re fully geared up, don’t worry about the weight. Built from aircraft-grade aluminum the lighter carry weight is there for you without compromising durability. A touch over 37 in long and 3 in wide, without my accessories the Sig 516 is just under 8 in tall. My EOTech sight adds several inches to the build height. Flip-up iron sights and a 30 round mag are included.

All in all, I have loved my Sig Sauer 516 for quite a long time. To have a rifle that isn’t susceptible to dirt and grime is a big advantage. This upgraded AR-15 is an excellent addition to my armory and it will remain there for years to come. If you are looking for an extremely well-made carbine AR, look no further than the piston-driven Sig Sauer 516.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.