Gun Review: SIG SAUER 516 Patrol Rifle

SIG introduced the 516 at the 2010 SHOT Show. The 516 is actually a line of rifles with varying configurations aimed at specific markets. They are gas-piston operated with a 3-position (4-position optional) gas regulator and employ a piston to reset the bolt as opposed to the DI method that vents much of the gas into to bolt chamber to reset it. While much ink and plenty of electrons have been spilled on the pros and cons of piston ARs version DI models, the basic advantage claimed by team piston is that venting the gas directly into the bolt also vents a lot of crap in there as well. That leads to a buildup of gunk in the bolt carrier area which could eventually lead to a failure to fire if the gun is not kept reasonably clean . . .

The major negative of the piston system is that there’s no real standard here. Where most manufacturers of DI weapons have fully interchangeable parts, each piston manufacturer employs their own design so you’re somewhat locked into a vendor. I’m not sure this is a really serious disadvantage for people who are content with purchasing complete uppers as that’s where the entire piston system lives.

You can certainly mix and match uppers and lowers, but if you are the sort of person who enjoys building and modifying your own uppers, then you may find some difficulty if you choose a piston system that doesn’t have a lot of third party parts support. The other disadvantage is that piston systems are more complex meaning that there is certainly more that can go wrong with them. Plus, they tend to cost a couple hundred dollars more than DI systems.

As in most things, of course, YMMV. If you are in an intense firefight and dumping hundreds of rounds downrange without much time to clean your gun, the piston may be a good choice. For most of us, provided we start our day with a clean rifle, we’re probably not going to shoot enough rounds in a single session for the buildup of gunk in a DI rifle to bother us.

That said, the 516 definitely does not get as dirty as my Colt did and I don’t always have the chance to clean my rifle after every session, so having a gun that stays cleaner longer is a good thing. Just like 1911 vs. Glock or thin vs. thick crust, the question of DI versus piston won’t be settled any time soon.

But let me add two contradicting thoughts. First, the DI model has been in heavy use since the Vietnam era. If the DI model was seriously flawed, the DOD would likely have looked at replacing it with a piston version in the standard issue weapon system. On the other hand, Vietnam was wet jungle. It’s only been the last 20 years or so that our soldiers have had to fight in a totally different environment – one filled with sand. Lots of sand. It would seem that, with fine particulates in the wind, the less crap that gets blown into your bolt carrier group, the better.

Whether piston systems are superior to DI models in that sort of environment is still an open question. SIG did provide an impressive marketing video showing that the 516 can be buried in the mud and sand as well as submerged in water and still fire full auto with no problems. Is it a better system? That’s a question for people with a lot more expertise than I have. I will point out, though, that the newer 300 Blackout system developed by AAC in conjunction with the U.S. military uses a piston rather than a DI system.

SIG makes the 516 available in both semi-auto and select fire variants. The fire control/safety selector is an ambidextrous design. On the plus side, since the rifle is built with select fire in mind, you can use something like the Slide Fire bump stock to dump ammo downrange at near full auto rates if you want without fear that you’re going to fry your barrel.

All models come standard with a free-floating, aluminum quad rail fore-end with four M1913 Picatinny rails. Barrels are chrome-lined and cold-hammer forged with a Nitride finish for extreme durability and corrosion resistance and heavy match barrels are available with some models. The muzzle is threaded with a standard (0.5x28TPI) pattern to accommodate a wide variety of flash suppressors, muzzle brakes and suppressors.

The lower is machined from a 7075-T6 Aircraft grade aluminum just like the upper. The upper and lower feature a black, hard-coat anodized finish. Back-up iron sights are available for any model and come standard on the 516 Patrol model that I purchased.

SIG being SIG, they added a few nice features to the rifle. First, the lower has a couple of pressure buttons under the two take down pins. These are spring loaded and apply upwards pressure against the take down pins. The upshot is that there is absolutely no slack between the upper and lower. Sure, there are aftermarket parts available to add this functionality to any AR, but its nice that SIG included them in the design.

Another feature found on most of SIG’s AR-style rifles is multiple connection points for slings. You can use one, two, or three point slings and SIG’s method of attachment are push button release connectors. Again, a small thing but appreciated nonetheless as I needed to add an attachment point for a single point sling to my Colt.

SIG also designed the bolt carrier group themselves, choosing to make it an integral part of the bolt carrier group rather than simply riveting it on. While the rivet method works fine with DI systems, piston systems strike it much harder and SIG found that some of the earlier riveted designs failed due to the force of the piston.

The trigger is a fairly stout 7.6 lb single stage affair, but two-stage triggers are available in some models. The trigger is decent, but nothing to write home about. I would have preferred a better one in a gun with a list price just south of $1,700. It’s a shame, actually, as the rifle is capable of good accuracy, but you are not going to win too many national matches without changing it out.

The 516 weighs in at 7.3 pounds without a magazine, which is a bit heavier than my Colt. Accessories include one 30 round polymer PMAG and a single/double point sling. It ships in a nice hard-sided case that, while not of Pelican quality, certainly saves you some cash on an accessory purchase.

Compatibility with aftermarket accessories is pretty good. I purchased a CMMG .22 conversion bolt carrier group for my Colt and I’m happy to say that it works just fine with the 516, too. A relatively recent purchase (inspired by Foghorn’s incessant love affair with the 300 Blackout round) was an AAC 16″ 300 BLK upper. It snapped right onto my 516 lower and performed flawlessly.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Slide Fire bump stock I bought for my Colt. I tried to install it on the SIG and found the first problem – the built-in mount points for the single point sling interfered with the motion of the Slide Fire and it simply did not work.  While I’m confident that a little time with a Dremel would have enabled me to modify my Slide Fire, I’m reluctant to do that to a $300+ accessory that I might one day want to sell if I get sick of dumping ammo downrange.

My solution was to pick up an inexpensive lower that takes the Slide Fire easily. Side benefit: now I have two complete ARs rather than one AR with two uppers. One other thing is that while the Slide Fire is capable of being locked into position to allow semi-automatic fire, it’s not as good as the multi-position stock that ships with the SIG, so it’s good to have the second lower.

The SIG has a 1:7 twist rate which means that it’s better at stabilizing heavier bullets. You can shoot just about anything through it, but the heavier rounds definitely afford more accuracy. In my testing, I found that the most accurate shots were obtained with Federal Premium Gold Medal .223 69 grain bullets. The 516 has no problem unloading cheap milsurp and Russian steel-jacketed rounds down range, but your accuracy will suffer.

The following pictures are the various ammo types that I tested at 100 yards with a 10 power scope. All shooting was done on a Caldwell Rock Bench Rest, but I didn’t use a rear bag so there is some variation in accuracy. The gun is certainly capable of better accuracy than I am, so take the following images with a grain of salt. For each target, I fired five to ten rounds. Given the precarious nature of my bench rest construction, you should probably look at the best three.

First up are 55-grain American Eagle brass loads:

Not terrible, but certainly nothing to write home about.

Next, we have 55-grain Wolf steel cased ammo:

Truly awful. Only three rounds even fit into the camera shot. Not using this junk again.

Followed by 62-grain milsurp penetrator loads:

Better still. Not exactly 1 MOA here, but a decent showing.

And finally the nice stuff, the 69-grain Federal Premium Gold match:

Now we can see the rifle approaching the 1 MOA at 100 yards that it’s capable of.

Overall, I am fairly pleased with this rifle, but a trigger replacement is definitely in the cards for me. Is it the right rifle for you? That’s your decision but the SIG is definitely staying in my gun collection.

Like the 516, but hankering for something a bit more powerful?  Stay tuned for my review of the 516′s big brother, the .308-spitting 716.

Specifications:

Overall Length            37.5 in
Trigger Type                MIL-SPEC
Trigger Weight            7.6 lbs
Barrel Length               16.0 in
Rifling                               1 in 7 in
Number of Grooves    6
Weight without Mag   7.3 lbs
MSRP                                $1,666.00

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Accuracy: * * * *
My lack of skill notwithstanding, this gun shoots very well provided you feed it the right type of ammo. Overall, though, I was fairly impressed with its ability to fire the cheap 62 grain milsurp pretty well.

Ergonomics: * * * *
It’s a freaking AR-15. The adjustable stock is nice, but certainly not different from the adjustable stocks on any other type of AR-15 pattern gun. The built-in sling mounting points are nice provided you don’t plan on using a Slide Fire. It would also have been nice to shave a bit more weight off of the gun, but one can’t everything. Where would you put it?

Ergonomics Firing: * * *
Generally a great rifle, but the less-than-stellar trigger cost it a couple of stars. C’mon SIG, you offer a two stage trigger in some of the other 515 models, so why not simplify the build and use the same trigger across all of the guns in the series?

Reliability: * * * * *
I have not had the guts to try any of the extreme torture tests in the video, but I have never had a single failure to feed or a misfire.

Customization: * * * * *
Again, this is an AR-15. It doesn’t get much more customizable than that and the full length quad rail is a nice touch as are the included backup iron sights.

Overall Rating: * * * *
Fix the damn trigger and you would have a five star rifle here. Even with that oversight, though, this is a fairly nice weapon system and certainly a nice bump up from my Colt AR.

46 Responses to Gun Review: SIG SAUER 516 Patrol Rifle

  1. avatarJames says:

    I have a Sig716 Patrol and I love it.

    I have no qualms about the quality of the rifle. The sparse information available online leads one to believe that Sigs quality leaves something to be desired, and I haven’t found that to be the case.

    Unlike you, though, I found the trigger excellent. While I never measured it, what you say is a 7+lb. pull sounds about right. I don’t shoot in competitions (just for “personal betterment”), so I don’t know about those needs. But for relaxed target shooting at two and three hundred yards, it suits me perfect. It’s a little stout, but the single-stage break is clean and consistent. Squeeze squeeze sq BAM! Squeeze squeeze sq BAM! Every time. The quad-rail hand guard adds a lot of weight to the front end of the rifle, though. I’ve never had a quad-rail hand guard before, and I was surprised at how much added weight there is compared to a standard guard. (It’s not that it’s that heavy, but it does throw off the balance of the weapon.)

    I’ve only used a couple kinds of ammo in it, but it eats them up like nothing. I got the shop to throw in a box of those Hornady Zombie bullets (168gr. HPBT), I grabbed an extra box of Remington 168gr. FMJs, and came home and ordered 200 rds. of Sellier & Bellot 182gr. FMJBTs. I’ve had no problems with any of them.

    The price tag was a little more than what I wanted to spend at the time, but still considerably less than the other .308 ARs offered at my local shop. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend the 716 to anyone looking for a .308

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      My comment on the trigger was in comparison to some of the other guns I have. It is just not as smooth by comparison. It’s mot a terrible trigger, but since the offer the 2 stage on other guns, it would have been nice to see it here as well. That said, I personally don’t find the trigger on my 716 to be as annoying as the one on my 516, so it may be comparing apples to oranges.

    • avatarMichael says:

      I have both rifles, and the 716′s trigger is way lighter and smoother than the 516. I read that sig went this route to maintain better accuracy for the longer range capabilities. Plus I paid almost $2000- for the 716, its the least they could do right? Anyway, I love both and hate cleaning rifles, so these were the only choice for me!

  2. avatarj says:

    planning on getting one in the (hopefully near)future

  3. avatarLTC F says:

    The issue of fouling with DI rifles in my opinion is rather overstated. I have been in one of those ” intense firefights and dumping hundreds of rounds downrange without much time to clean your gun.” In a lovely spot called Sadr City back in 2004 I fired my complete basic load (210 rounds) my wounded driver’s basic load (another 210 rounds), and most of my gunner’s basic load (another 180 rounds…he was too busy on the M240 to bother with his M4). I fired 600 rounds in a little over half an hour, with zero failures to feed, zero failures to fire, and zero failures to eject. I could feel the heat of the barrel and gas tube through my nomex gloves, and I have no doubt that do to barrel heating (and being scared s***less, and the other bastards shooting back at me with their AK’s, and trying to bring in gunships on the radio, and get the QRF to where I was, etc) I wasn’t the most accurate marksman who ever lived by the end of the experience.

    The important thing is my M4, with service M855 ammo (with about every fifth round being a tracer mixed in), fired more than 20 rounds a minute for a half hour without being cleaned and without malfunction. I’m not saying a piston rifle wouldn’t have performed as well or better, I’m just saying the DI system gets a bad rap.

    That bad rap goes back to Vietnam. The problem was the M16 (as in M16 “A Nothing”) as originally fielded didn’t have a chrome bore, resulting in a lot of failures to eject (hence documented stories of dead Soldiers being found with a cleaning rod jammed down the barrel of an M16 trying to get a casing unstuck). The original M16 also lacked the forward assist, and those gunked up, pitted bores sometimes resulted in the failure of the bold to close and failures to fire. The final straw that broke the camel’s back was the use of a slow burning powder that caused fouling of the gas tube.

    The M16 “A nothing” has been gone for almost fifty years. The modern M4 is a good rifle. It hasn’t let me down in 36 months of use in combat. I’m more than comfortable with my choice of a DI S&W M&P 15 for civilian use.

    Again, nothing against Piston Rifles, I’ve never even played with one, I just hate to see DI maligned because of stuff that happened fifty years ago when a half baked idea was rushed to the jungles of Vietnam by a moron (Robert F. McNamara, worst SECDEF in the history of the United States…but that’s a different argument).

    • avatarTom says:

      Try again.
      I was not in Vietnam, but I was getting close to being drafted when the war ended.
      I did have older friends who were in Vietnam and it seems that the M16 performed differently as it was refined during the war.
      Early deployment of the M16 was beset with ball powder used in M14 which was not very clean burning. The bolt and other parts were not chromed, soldiers were told it was self cleaning and quantity of cleaning kits were insufficient, poor lubricants were used. Gun was labelled crap by the early users of the weapon, and they wanted the M14.
      Friends who were there around 1967, Tet and 1968 stated the M16 was OK if you kept the thing spotless. It was improving, due to much more more cleaning and different powder.
      Friends who used the weapon after the Hamburger Hill episode in 1969 and 1970 got along with the M16 fine as many subtle items had changed, including many chrome parts. Most actually fired the M16 in semi auto surprisingly enough.

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      As with the other posters, I agree completely, that I am grossly under qualified to render a verdict on DI versus Piston. All I meant to do here was to restate the various positions on the two systems as if I had not done so, someone else would have in the comments. While I certainly do not have the real in the sh*t experience that you obviously do, I can say that my 516 is easier to clean than my Colt was. Whether this makes a bit of difference to someone under fire is not for me to say. Instead, I simply offer my experience to those folks who are likely considering buying this rifle for their own shooting needs.

      I also concur with the others who thank you for your service. You and the other brave men and women who put your lives on the line to protect us in our fat and happy lives are owed more than we can ever repay.

    • avatarDJ says:

      I was over there in the same time (Baghdad, ’04). My team wasn’t involved in any of the firefights (we were executive protection – different gig), but we want to see how reliable the M4 was, so we ran 400 rounds through one on the range with similar results. It got hot, but no failures to function.
      I never had a reason to complain about the M4.

    • avatarEsh325 says:

      I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but the French had fought for years in Indochina and did not complain about the lack of chrome lining on their barrels.

    • avatarcounihan says:

      I also have to agree with the colonel. The DI system does have a bad Rep that is not entirely deserved. I, like most soldiers, have countless thousands of rounds down range through M4′s and haven’t had the terrible experience described by the piston people. News flash: direct impingement works, and works well. The M16 Jammomatic was remedied before I was even born. You can dump a full combat load (210 rounds) and dump your buddies and still have a functional weapon. A crazy hot functional weapon. The only advantage I see to a piston gun is the lack of fouling and heat transfer. I have been concerned about cookoffs in the past. A piston kit would prevent that from happening.
      Now the M2 and M249 do deserve their reps. I hated the saw and maintenance on an M2 is a beast.
      Good on the brass for stepping up and defending a weapon system that served me and my brothers admirably. I appreciate you LTC F.

    • avatarLongbeachyo says:

      Well said. Thank you for your service.

    • avatarJames says:

      I have been through the first and second Gulf/Iraq wars/conflicts, and Bosnia to Afghanistan. The DI has had several issues coming from Crane via the manufacturer. The issues are not just from Vietnam, but has had many faces of bad since then. Stoner weapons now Knights arm. has taken up its torch and has a problem with commercial off the shelf products. Crane has issues with its QA, and has sent items to commands without firing pins (for one of numerous examples). I also have been in and around Sadr City but was not low on the priority to have to wait for an AC-130 for support. So when you had to wait for you gunship be glad that you had a gun that worked in its operational/combat ready timeframes. Bad stage example: WHen we pushed to 10 in uppers we also shortened the gas tube and created an extraction issue for a start. Its funny all of the things they tried to fix it, and I still have slides on it.
      As of right now the DI systems are working great, and you can put over 1000 rnds through it in most AO’s, provided you are using the correct lube for your AO.
      More to follow, maybe later.

  4. avatarTarrou says:

    Second the LTC F (although god help me if that’s his rank, I do hate to agree with an officer)

    I’d heard all the stories about how the M-16 sucked and had a pussy cartridge and had terrible reliability. They’re not true anymore, if indeed they ever were. I’ve got thousands upon thousands of rounds through an M-4 and M-16s. My last weapon was so shot out you couldn’t even see the indent of the rifling, just a faint swirl. I’ve used those weapons on deployments, and never had one seriously jam. Only a couple failures to eject, attributable to hard use/misuse and easily remedied. I love the weapon system, and am in the process of rebuilding a civilian model similar to what I carried. The standard AR mechanism is certainly rugged and accurate enough for military use, which means more than any of us are likely to put them through. That said, I’ve spent many hundreds of hours cleaning that weapon system, and it is a fucking monster to clean. Totally impossible to ever get all the fouling out of the action. I once cleaned the same M-16 for five days straight, twelve hours day, and the Drill Sergeant could still dig carbon out of some crevice or another. Doesn’t affect the functionality, but damned if I wouldn’t have liked an easier cleaning job.

  5. avatarJoseph says:

    LTC F, thank you for your service sir. The opinions of those who have “seen the elephant” are worth 10,000 gun shop commando opinions. Thanks again.

  6. avatarKC says:

    Nice rifle, shot it at the Rifle 101 class I took at the Sig Academy (also a nice course for anyone new to rifles.) Although I did have a double-feed in the only 80 or so rounds we shot. The instructor had a double-feed he couldn’t clear in the field but that was on a full auto 516 he brought out to demo to us. To be fair their guns get a ton of use I’m sure. And you clean what you shoot at Sig – so how well cleaned/maintained the borrowed guns are, well… You get 20% off stuff in their pro shop when you take a course. I asked what they had in stock for the 516 and they said nothing and probably wouldn’t have one for 6 months. I asked to put my name on the waiting list and they said they didn’t have a waiting list system setup so to just check back. I can’t imagine that’s good for sales. Then again most gun manufacturers probably aren’t hurting for sales right about now. No matter how good the gun is and how much the discount is if you want something bad enough how long will you wait with no guarantee of getting one before you give in and buy something else.

    • avatarKC says:

      FWIW if I remember correctly my problem wasn’t a double feed, I think I had a failure to eject and a new round fed and wedged the spent round in the chamber but I cleared it. The instructor explained his problem as a double-feed. His rounds were so wedged into the feed ramps(?) that neither round was willing to come out.

      • avatarDerek says:

        I believe your malfunction is called a stovepipe. They’re probably the most common malfunction for any firearm as they have many different causes. Bad ammo (low pressure), stiff springs from a brand new gun, friction on moving parts from fouling or lack of lube.

        Fortunately, they’re the easiest to clear. Tap-Rack. Smack the magazine to make sure it’s properly in place and cycle the action.

  7. avatarJustin says:

    Love my 516 Patrol, accurate and reliable and only payed 1250 for it. just wish I could justify spending another 1000 bucks for an acog. But another part of me just says hey that thousand bucks could buy more guns instead.

  8. avatarChad Haire says:

    This is a good buy for the money I guess, but I ordered one of these in 7.62×39 thinking it was my dream rifle. What a mistake. The front plastic forearm rattled, and the magazine well is far too wide, causing AK mags to wobble back and forth, more rattles. And there is still NO FRONT /REAR battle site offered, only a red dot setup, limiting your range to about 200 yards. Geeze, I can do that with a AK.
    I sent it back without firing it. I like Sig products, but they have done a lot of stupid stuff lately…

  9. avatarChad Haire says:

    NOTE Follow Up: I realize the above tester rifle is based on the AR and not the piston patrol rifle in the 7.62×39 that I was complaining about. But there was nowhere else to attach to a SIG rifle test. Sorry if I was confusing anyone here, but was in a hurry. (I do like the AR in DI and use them).

    • avatarZip says:

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Most Sig owners know the Sig’s whole lineup. And yup everyone in the Sig community knows about the early 556′s especially the 556R’s problems. I only own 2 later gen 556′s and haven’t seen the probs of the early guns. But every gun make puts out a lemon every now and then. I own around 17 AK’s 7 are Arsenals and one of em is a .223 SLR 106 CR and everyone who knows AK’s knows NOT to SBR a 5.56 Arsenal as the straight walled case of the 223/556 round can cause parts wear and malfunctions to the CR and UR guns which have a shorter gas system. Imo its a similar problem the 556R had with the 7.62×39 round tho reversed.

  10. avatarScott says:

    The SIG is a beautiful AR, but I bought the S&W M&P 15PSX instead, (piston and quad rail), for the simple reason it has the more appropriate 9″ twist. The military’s 7″ twist has to be suffered if you *really* plan on a diet of tracers, but it’s way too fast for 62 grain M855 and, of course, insane for 55 grain.

    • avatarZip says:

      Yup love my ACR for the very same reason. Don’t know why so many people want to shoot heavy bullets. And no a 7″ will work with a light round just not as effectively. My SCAR 16 has 1 n 7″ twist and shoots 55′s fine just like I said not optimally. Barrel twist is mainly for bullet weight.

  11. avatarRooster Grady says:

    I have 27 years experience with all sorts from mortars, to field, to heavy arty in addition to all sorts of small arms from 1903′s, Garands, AK’s and M4′s. By and far the best weapon mentioned is the M4. In my humble opinion it is simply put the best weapon ever made! Of the M4′s I have fired Olympic, DPMS, Bushmaster and of course Colt. My favorite is the Smith. That is the one I own now. With a VX3 Leupold 3.5×50 scope.

  12. avatarChris says:

    I havent owned or even shot a 516 but after this review i want one.. I was in the army for 5 years 04 to 09, i did have an opportunity to but an m16 through its paces.. i had ~450 rounds that i was instructed to shoot in about 3 min.. i can say that at the end of that firing exercise the gun was dirty as all hell and jamming every round the last mag.. but my guess it was because the barrel was hot as hell and causing problems.. but hey it can do it. i would love to shoot one of these 516s..

    • avatarMichael says:

      Chris, When the time and budget is right, God Willing with these tough times, I would Highly Recommend a look at either Sig Sauer Model; Sig 516 or Sig 716 Rifle. With All Cost, Brand Name, Company Name, Endorsements, Pistons, Non-Pistons, Barrel Length, Ammunition Type and Availibility, Magazine Capacity,and Types, Colors, Coatings, Servicability, Reputation, Influence, Destructive Power, and Multi-Caliber Capabilities, Most People Will Agree, That For The Money, You Get Alot Of Gun! These Rifles Come Packed With a Mutitude Of Accessories Out Of The Box With Just About Everything You Will Ever Need, And Then Some! Remember, We Are Not Talking About Things You Think You Need!, Such As a Better Trigger, Flash Hider/Compensator, Buffer Tube, Rate Reduction, Components and Springs, Or New Hard Chromed Bolt Carrier Assembly’s Etc!…This Was Thier Introduction Into The Semi-Auto Assult Rifle Family Of Weapons. Sig Sauer Designers Wanted A Rifle That Functioned Reliably, While Giving The Customer Just About Everything You Will Ever Need Out Of The Box To Get The Job Done!- Period!- You Know, I Really Hate To Say Negative Things About Other Firearms Companys, (Seriously) I Love All Firearms!! They Are Basically Functional Pieces Of Art As I Am Concerned. Most Gun Makers Charge A Premium, On Certain”Often Needed” Performance Enhancement Parts And Accessories, That We Sometimes Can’t Live Without In Most Situations. These Other Premium, Often Well Known Firearms Manufacture Company’s Don’t Really Care About Your Bottom Line And Call These Extras, ADD ON FEATURES!! -This Is The Reason,- I CHOOSE SIG SAUER! PERIOD! – THINK ABOUT IT.

  13. avatarGreg says:

    As a Vietnam combat vet I fired the M-16-A1 a couple of times in long engagements and had zero problems with it. By 1970 all of the issues the rifle had earlier were cleared up, and we had some weapons in our unit that were VERY well worn, shot out, beat up beyond belief, broken furniture ect…and they still worked fine. The M-16 in all its later guises is way more reliable than folks give it credit for. I have shot DI guns as a civilian for decades, mostly Colts, but I have two piston guns now, an Adams Arms base middy and a SIG 516, and these rifles are as fine a shooter as you can get! The AR platform built with modern materials, a tweaked and more mature design, with modern stress relieved bbl’s and modern metal coatings is just an amazing piece of tech. The M4 is a great weapon, but comparing it to a 516 is apples and oranges.

    • avatarMichael says:

      Greg, sounds like maybe its time to step up to the big leagues! Next Stop Sig 716- And the really great thing, besides awsome firepower, attitude, weight, new round, authority, shoulder bashing, noise, people wondering what the hell you are shooting, wanting to shoot it, making crazy faces and laughing thier asses off after the first couple of rounds fired, intimidation, higher ammo expense, purchase of extra mags, maybe a bipod, new padded rifle carrier, alot more ammo selection with higher cost, YOU STILL GET ALL THOSE EXTRAS! If its in your budget you wont be dissapointed!

  14. avatarZip says:

    Service, law enforcement or whatever I won’t say as to me this is the internet for all I know bozo the clown is on the other end. So I won’t say what I do as it doesn’t matter and I have no need to prove anything to some strangers online. With that lets just say Ive been shooting and collecting for over 40+ years. So my collection is quite sizable but Im not one to brag. So regarding the Sig I own 3 516′s 2 are SBR’s, 2 555′s, a 716 and a 522 along with 5 pistols. And for QC and functionality their all great and run flawlessly on par with my 2 HKMR556 one has a 10in 416 upper and a MR762. I even like em more than my SCAR’s 16&17. My latest Sig was a 10inch 516 Gen 2 it has a different BCG and piston rod system, along with some other minor fixes and changes like a CTR Stock and Miad pistol grip and it comes with a bit more accessories, sling, rail covers etc.

    Don’t know why all the fuss over DI vs PS. Some seem to think Pistons on AR platforms are new. They aren’t new at all anyone who knows firearms knows Eugene Stoner built the AR-10 and the Stoner weapons system etc around the same time as the AR-15 in other words ALL his other designs were of piston origin and around the same time period. Pistons guns were around decades before, DI guns which btw (DI) can be counted on one hand.

    Now no one is arguing the DI gun works. But only if its maintained. But FACT is block the gas tube and you’ll have a major failure.. Don’t believe that? Go load up a DI gun, go get some water etc in your gas tube and pull the trigger and see what happens. In fact just immerse the gun in mud, water or sand and pull the trigger.

    And do own a fair number of AR DI guns and uppers so no bias here. But facts are facts a blocked gas tube is BAD. Why do you think their replacing it? And why did they issue it in Vietnam instead of a piston gun? Simple…Cost. A DI gun was much cheaper than a piston gun. It’s not the 1st time the Govt gave troops the shaft. From the civil war with union troops issued muskets while repeaters were available and or the Sherman in WWII and yes to the early days of Vietnam. Its always about the buck.

    Sorry for the rant. For anyone interested in the Sig 516? Get one..Tho at the moment with all the anti-gun ban hysteria going on it’s pretty much impossible to buy any tactical rifle, mags and ammo. The old bag Fienstien…One of the biggest murderers ( her past bans have killed so many) and gun sales woman in history as she’s caused the greatest number of firearms sales in the history of the planet.

  15. avatarM Mahy says:

    Zip is correct, Stoner did design a piston rifle and the government opted for the cheaper version. I have a 716 and a new 516 gen 2. So far both are outstanding. I will agree with others on the DI rifles, it works great. The only problem I ever had was rings wearing out on the bolt turning my rifle into a single shot. Probably my fault for not lubricating properly.

  16. avatarJerry says:

    So it is down to three and the local gun shop has them all. 516, 716 and a billet Wilson combat light. I have one Sig gun, work great, etc. I realize the 716 is the odd duck here, but I always wanted a .308 but with Ammo prices so high and two boys 14 & 16 that like to go ‘bam, bam, bam’ I am now back to the 516 vs the more expensive Wilson. Also, the concussive force from a .308 at the local concrete with overhead range makes shooting them obnoxious, breaks my heart. I see the Sig as more utilitarian and the Wilson more of a boutique offering. I think the question I have is will the Wilson be any more accurate than the 516? I can’t seem to find a solid comparison, just lots of opinions.

    I’ve been shooting for over 45yrs and can hold a good group, study ballistics, etc. so I am pretty sure I can take advantage of all either gun has to offer in accuracy. Initially wanted a 3000 but was told 8 months here in California. I don’t want to have to swap trigger, barrels, etc out of the box. Both guns feel pretty tight. I will probably shoot 5 to 10 boxes a month, probably double or even triple that for this summer. Scope will be higher-end as well as ammo.

    Thanks. great site.

    Jerry

  17. avatarTLG says:

    Has anyone had any experience using Hornady .223 Match Grade 75gr. I am thinking that because these are a little heavier that they will shoot better in the 516 than some lighter loads even in .556. Any thoughts are welcome.

  18. avatarBrent says:

    I’m courious about the Hornady .223 75gr. BTHP Match, as well and the 60 gr. V-Max, and the Super Performance.. Any suggestions on rounds for Hunting Yotes with the 516 that will be accurate and cycle good??

  19. avatarJames says:

    You can’t go wrong buying this Sig 516. Trigger is just fine. It’s an incredible rifle.

  20. avatarJeff says:

    I understand where the writer was coming from on the trigger. I have a 516, as well as a RRA CAR4 with a match trigger. After you get used to a nice 2 stage trigger, everything else seems not quite up to par. The 516 trigger is what I would call “standard” and I also agree they could have done themselves a favor putting a “nice” trigger on an otherwise exceptional weapon.

  21. avatarEd says:

    Well, I’ve read all the comments and I must say that you all are incredibly knowledgeable. I appreciate all the wisdom I’ve been able to peruse. As a firefighter whose never been in combat, I greatly appreciate all of you who’ve served abroad and in combat while I work comfortably driving my 40 ton ladder truck around my first due. I’m off to get myself the Sig 516 tomorrow. I’ve had nothing but great function from both my P220s and I’m ready to add the 516 to my collection. Does anyone have any specific alterations to suggest.
    Thanks in advance.

  22. avatarJessieFromAL says:

    Let me begin by saying thank you to all those who preceded me in this thread and served to protect me.

    I have never served but I have had to depend on my weapons to defend myself and my property from REAL criminals, a dozen or so who ended up cuffed by me and in jail. I understand the importance of reliable and effective weapons. I am smart enough to seek the advice of friends who have been where I have not. Those friends run the gamut from Vietnam to Panama to Bosnia to Iraq to Afghanistan and they have ALL done real work.

    I shoot with most of these guys pretty regularly. Every single one of them has several AR-platform rifles and not one of them is a piston machine. I understand the design and theoretical advantages of a piston AR, but EVERY SINGLE ONE of my friends that have used this platform for it’s intended purpose, has a DI system.

    I am pretty certain that my uses will not exceed the operational demands that they experienced.

    That means I have a hard time paying more for a more complex system and own DI platforms.

    With ALL of that said, I think SIG is one of the finest manufacturers of arms on the planet, I thoroughly enjoy my 226 and 239 and don’t see how anyone could go wrong with this beautiful rifle.

  23. avatarBlackwater says:

    I’ll just say I love my 516. I did change the stock trigger out for a Timney which does make it a 5 star gun to be sure.

  24. avatarChad says:

    I agree 100% with your review. I swapped the stock trigger with a Geissele SD-3G. If you put one of these triggers you will throw rocks at the bump fire stock. I also swapped out the Magpul stock for a VLTOR IMOD (just one of my favorite stocks). I own both an HK 416 Upper and a complete MR556A1. The Sig has been as reliable as both. While I still like the slightly better accuracy of the MR556A1, it isn’t a deal breaker to use the Sig. Sig has truly outdone themselves. I bought my 516 for $1350+ tax. So for the price of a good DI AR, you can get a good piston gun…

  25. Pingback: New Sig 516 - SIG Talk

  26. avatarThomas Odom says:

    I have a Sig 516 and a Sig 716. The only thing I didn’t like about the two rifles was the trigger. I dropped a Giessle SSA in both and that made a world of difference. It also makes for great consistency in feel when switching between them. I run both with suppressors. I found the 516 to be a bit finicky on ammo when talking accuracy. hopefully I will try them on some hogs once turkey season closes.

  27. avatarMikieG says:

    The reviewer has overlooked a couple important facts. Firstly, the 516 has an ambi mag release. This is important for a hammer gun who is intended to serve as a primary blaster.
    Mine did not come with ambi selector nor the hard case. Hmmmm.
    Secondly, other than poor or damaged mags, nearly all stoppages in the Ar15 are due to failure to extract or failure to eject. Interestingly as these are both reliant upon very small thin springs found inside the bolt. This is also where we are dumping hot carbon laden gas to operate the weapon. This continued cycling of heating and cooling these two extremely important springs causes them to lose temper thereby lowering their operating poundage thus inducing stoppages.
    So as we can see, ease of cleaning is just a bonus as the real advantage is the cold bolt and chamber environment.
    And lastly. The DI system only exists because it only costs $3.75 for a gas tube with roll pin and a gas key on the carrier with two screws. The piston alternative would add over $30 to each rifle’s cost. Folks, we have bought alot of rifles.

  28. avatarjimmyjames says:

    My 516 and 716 have run flawlessly since purchase. My M400E…not so much. No hardcase with any of the 3 guns. M400E came in 2 sturdy card board boxes and softcase. Sig 3000 came in hard case which UPS dropped hard enuff for the flash hider on the bbl to bust thru the corner of the case. Triggers suck on all 3 AR platform guns from Sig. That can be fixed. Sub MOA accuracy out of all my Sigs with match ammo. The M400E was hyper accurate with 77grain match ammo and a 16x scope off a machine rest. The most accurate of the 3 AR platform guns. The 516 and 716 have chrome lined bbls which hurt their accuracy but help their reliability (?) The 516 weighs a ton and has a sharp recoil impulse compared to my S&W Sport which feels like it weighs half as much and feels like it kicks much less (YMMV). I think I still have the American Riffleman issue where the 516 debuted about 5 years ago. I believe the first time I saw one on the shelf was about a year ago. Since the AR insanity of 2013, the 516 may now be available at its originally advertised price of $1200. Complete DI uppers and lowers can be had now for $300 and $150 respectively…you pays yor money and takes yor chances as the saying goes.

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