Ruger MPR Review [AR 556 Expert Hands On]

Ruger MPR Review [AR 556 Expert Hands On]

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  • Impressive handling and trigger – before, one of the main complaints about Ruger’s AR platform was the trigger. This has been fixed.
  • Light weight – nice and easy to handle.
  • Plenty of accessories – thanks to the M-LOK handguard.
  • Nice hunting gun – particularly for deer. If you prefer, swap out the upper for .350 Legend or .450 Bushmaster and you’re good to go.
  • Recommended for home protection – collapsible buttstock makes it short and easy to manoeuvre.
  • Affordable – MSRP $899 – sure, you could custom build, but you’re getting bang for your buck with this complete AR.
  • Adjusting the buttstock took a lot of effort but once you’ve done this you’re unlikely to need to do it often again.

Ruger and rifles. It doesn’t sound right, at least to those of us who cut their shooting teeth on Ruger revolvers and semi-auto pistols. After all, Ruger’s first products were handguns, right? It started in 1949 with the MK I Standard .22 pistol and then went to the .357 Magnum Blackhawk. From there, it blossomed into many different models and types of handguns. (For a quick recap of Ruger’s history with handguns, go to my Ruger Wrangler review here). In this review, we’re going to dive into the Ruger MPR AR .556.

Ruger’s Rifles

The company kept chugging along, selling as many handguns as it could make. In the 1960s, things changed as Ruger decided to get into rifle production. Their first rifle was the popular 10/22, introduced in 1964. In fact, there have been well more than a million of those .22s sold since their introduction. Next came the very nice-looking and -handling Number 1 single-shot in 1966. 

Ruger Number 1

The Model 77 came after that a couple of years later in 1968. Originally costing $160 and coming in .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 6 mm Rem. and .308 Win., the rifle has gone through three generations and almost 60 calibers ranging from .17 HMR to .458 Lott. That’s a bunch of calibers, to be sure. In 1987, the one millionth Model 77 was built – a lasting testimony to the rifle. 

Ruger Model 77

Jumping to more recent times, more rifles have emerged with the Ruger logo emblazoned on them. They include the Precision series – check out my review of the Precision Rimfire here – and keep an eye open for future reviews of the Precision .308 and the Custom Shop Precision 6.5 Creedmoor. 

Ruger Custom Shop Precision

And, My Favorite:

Check out my Ruger Scout rifle review in .308 – now, THAT was one interesting gun! Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle brainchild of many years ago has come to be produced by Ruger. A laminated stock, open aperture sight with “winged” front sight, Picatinny rail, flash hider and an overall weight under 7 pounds made it one fun gun to shoot. It looks like a Ruger 77 married an AR and this was their first-born…

Rufle Scout Rifle

As I said, keep an eye peeled for those reviews… they are truly interesting guns.

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Ruger MPR AR 556 features as told by the manufacturer

Ruger MPR Features

All of the foregoing was by way of introducing our test rifle, the MPR. The Multi-Purpose Rifle in 5.56 is Ruger’s second effort at building an AR-style semi-automatic 5.56mm/.223 long gun. The rifle is made from 7075-T6 hard-coat anodized aluminum forgings and includes a Picatinny rail so you can stick whatever optic you choose on it. The M-LOK-compatible 13.5-inch handguard is free-floated and features attachment points at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. As for the trigger, Ruger’s Elite 452 AR-Trigger is used. This is a two-stage affair that is set at 4.5 pounds, a distinct improvement over the trigger in Ruger’s original AR offering.

Ruger MPR receiver with safety on the right
Receiver, right
Ruger MPR logo engraving close up
Nice engraving
Ruger MPR close up shown on the right

In terms of magazines, any standard 30-round AR magazine should work. It comes with one 30-round P-MAG. The threaded barrel insures that, if you don’t like the muzzle brake that comes on the rifle, you can swap it out for whatever your heart desires. Completing the rifle, a brass deflector and dust cover do their job on the right side of the receiver. For a complete listing of the AR556’s features, go to the Ruger MPR product site.

Ruger MPR muzzle brake close up shot
Muzzle brake
Ruger MPR gas block close up
Ruger MPR gas system

The gas system is a rifle-length affair that operates at lower pressures than a carbine-length setup. It incorporates chrome-plating for the gas key and bolt carrier’s interior surfaces and a fully-staked key. (I’ve seen some rifles made by other companies with gas keys that are not staked very well). 

Ruger MPR barrel

Ruger MPR handguard close up

The 16.5-inch alloy barrel is cold hammer-forged and utilizes a 1:8” twist that should help stabilize all common 5.56 bullet weights. M4 feed ramps and a 5.56 NATO chamber let you use either .223 or 5.56 ammo, important in this day and age of “no ammo to be had” so you grab whichever of those you can find. The barrel and its ½”-28 muzzle brake are black oxide coated in a matte finish to cut glare and to provide optimal corrosion resistance. The muzzle brake is of radial port design that helps squelch the recoil generated by the rifle. Even though it’s “only” a 5.56, there is some recoil so any mitigating factor is appreciated – fast follow-up shots are easier. And, if you don’t want the brake that comes on the gun, pull it off and attach something else to the threaded barrel, as I mentioned above.

Ruger MPR right hand side engraving

Ruger MPR: Multi-Who?

As I typed the title’s “Multi-Purpose Rifle”, I asked myself ‘what exactly does that mean?’. How can a rifle be multi-purpose? Aren’t rifles by design already pretty multi-purpose? Well, yes and no. Rifles can be set up or designed to perform different tasks. Let’s look at a couple of them…


Rifles have been used for target shooting and competition for just about as long as there have been rifles. I would imagine that our shooting predecessors had a lot of fun as they set targets up across the pasture and proceeded to poke holes in them with their rifles. Some of the older, revered shooting traditions and names have filtered down to present days – an example is the name of the very popular cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor.

Creedmoor is a name with an interesting back story. It is named for Creedmoor Sports, a name that can be traced back to early NRA matches on the site of the “Creed” farm in upstate New York in 1874. The surrounding farmland reminded visiting British and Irish shooters of their “moorlands” back home…hence the term “Creedmoor.” Rifles set up for competition usually have stiff, heavy barrels that take a while to heat up. Other traits are a finely-set trigger, a precisely-machined chamber and excellent sights and stock. Of course, modern competitions encompass many different types of shooting, from “close-quarter-combat”-style of tactical games to long-distance steel-ringing affairs and everything in between.


Rifles are used for all types of hunting, from varmints to large or dangerous game. Hallmarks of these guns include a caliber appropriate for the game you’re after, a good trigger and appropriate sights. As with competitive shooting, accuracy is essential. Guns set up for dangerous game have even more attention paid to them, since a malfunction could cause injury or worse.


Rifles have been used for self- or home-defense for ages. From America’s founding, home owners have kept arms at the ready…most of those were rifles. It is still that way today…just yesterday I had cause to take my 9mm Diamondback AR into the rear of our property to investigate the sighting of a big cat. All that were left of him were his paw prints, but that was enough to have the gun at the ready. With the domestic animals we have, we take no chances where assorted fauna is concerned, especially if said fauna has sharp teeth and claws. My collapsible-stocked Diamondback is easy to tote around in such situations.

Tactical …whatever that means

As we all know, law enforcement and military personnel carry rifles every day. Whether transported in the back of a police cruiser or schlepped through the underbrush by members of our military, rifles play a huge role in defense of country and citizens. The popular justification for handguns goes something like “Q: If attacked, would you use your pistol? A: I sure would – I’d use it to fight my way to my car and then I’d grab my rifle”. So, we see that the rifle is the instrument of choice when the flag goes up.

These are only four reasons to own a rifle – there are more – but they are all valid. Each reason might indicate a rifle specifically set up for that usage. How much easier it would be to own one rifle that addresses equally all these purposes in an efficient manner – that’s where the Ruger MPR comes in.

The Ruger MPR has a very nice trigger, a requirement for target shooting but useful in any situation. Its chamber is cut for the 5.56, which means that two different types of ammo can be used – that increases usefulness and versatility.

The barrel, at 16.1 inches, is a compromise but offers the accuracy potential that any rifle usage requires. And, the telescoping stock offers a shorter length of pull which can condense the rifle to make it handier when you must clear a room.

The rail allows you to put any optic on the gun that you like, again increasing its value and versatility. Add in the M-LOK handguard with its myriad attachment points and you have a winner. This gun is an improvement over Ruger’s original AR (especially the trigger) and the improvement increases its desirability factor as a multi-purpose rifle.

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Range time with the Ruger MPR

I took what 5.56 ammo I could immediately lay my hands on and moved to my backyard range. What I had available to me exactly one factory load – an old box of American Eagle 55-grain FMJ with tarnished brass cases (top target). I also had a handload that had performed well before. This load consisted of a Sierra 55-grain SP over 26.0 grains of a pull-down military powder, WC844 (bottom target). This load has exhibited good accuracy in other rifles. 

Ruger MPR ammo close up (American Eagle Centerfire Rifle Cartridges and Sierra WC844)

I set a couple of targets up at 50 yards – not 100 – since I was using a TruGlo Ignite red dot and didn’t have enough ammo to properly site it in. (Hopefully, from now on my rifle targets will be perforated using a proper, scope-equipped gun, as I just received some scopes for review. I should be able to move the targets back a bit further to a more-realistic distance). Hence, I brought the targets in closer in an attempt to keep my shots on paper. It worked. You can see from the targets that, although not centered, the points of impact were not bad. The rounds landed just a touch south of the target center, an easy fix were I to keep this rifle. 

Target shot with the Ruger MPR using factory bullets
Target shot by Ruger MPR using handload

Shooting Impressions

One aspect of shooting this rifle that I had totally anticipated was that I figured it might kick a touch more than most ARs I’ve shot due to its weight. I was totally surprised at how light the rifle was when I first hoisted it out of the box it came in… this is one light gun. The published weight is 6.7 pounds, which is accurate, but it just feels lighter. To me, it felt like a five-and-a-half-pound gun in my hands. There are optical illusions where things look one way but are another way in reality… I wonder what they call it when something feels lighter than it is… sensory illusion? At any rate, the gun shot very well and was fun to shoot (as are most AR-platform rifles, to my mind). 

One Small Glitch

Ruger MPR stock close up

The only glitch I ran into was the buttstock. The adjustment was hard to accomplish as the stock took a bit of effort to pull out or push in. I had to squeeze in the lever and give a really decent tug to extend it. I’ve not had this happen with any other AR I’ve shot, as most stocks just slide in and out pretty easily.

However, I think what may be happening is that there may have been earlier reports of the stock collapsing unexpectedly when the rifle was being shot, so I suspect there is a hint of over-tensioning built into it to keep it in place. This is not a big deal. It’s the only not-totally-positive thing I could find to include herein. Moreover, let’s face it – once you set the stock either in or out, it pretty well stays there. The only time it might be an issue is if you are teaching a shorter or younger person to shoot and you need to keep moving the stock in and out, or if you want to store the gun in the shortest space possible. Honestly, this is not a big deal since it is probably only applicable to this particular rifle. 

Ruger MPR specifications

Overall Length:33" - 36.25"
Length of Pull:11.13" - 14.38"
Weight:6.7 lb.
Stock:B5 Bravo
Handguard:Lite Free-Float with M-LOK® Attachment Slots
Sights:None; full Picatinny rail
Barrel:4140 chrome-moly steel
Barrel Length:16.10"
Thread Pattern:1/2"-28
Twist:1:8" RH
Grooves:5 (5R rifling)
Bolt:9310 alloy steel, shot-peened, pressure-tested
Capacity:30, one P-MAG magazine included
Finish:Type III Hard-Coat Anodized
"Real World" Price:$750 - $799

In Summary

I could really see this gun not spending long in a gun store’s rifle rack. Its handling and trigger is impressive. I didn’t test the trigger pull since it is set at the factory at 4.5 pounds. There was no take-up, no creep and a nice, crisp break. The main complaint that shooters had about Ruger’s original AR was about the trigger… they seem to have addressed that issue with this, their latest version of the AR platform. 

If you are not a fan of the 5.56, or have need for a more potent hunting round, a couple hundred dollars more will buy you one of these chambered in either .350 Legend or .450 Bushmaster… talk about a great deer rifle! Put a good optic on the rail, find the ammo that works best in it, practice with and then take it to the field – I don’t think you’d be disappointed, especially considering the rifle’s lighter weight you’re toting around. Add a sling and you’re good to go. The advantage of the M-LOK handguard is that it will accept many different accessories, which makes the rifles that have that type of handguard even more popular with certain types of hunters, who may need a light, off-angle iron sights or a laser for their morning or evening afield. This little gun fits right in. 

If you’re looking for a rifle for home protection, this gun should be up to the task. The gun’s collapsible buttstock allows it to be very short overall, which helps when you’re negotiating hallways and rooms. Add a bright light (or possibly laser/light) at 6 o’clock on the handguard and you’re good to go. Or, if you just want a well-built AR to take to the range that won’t bust the bank, give the MPR a look – I think you might like what you see. This is an awful lot of gun for the money.  

You can pick up one of these now on for a little over the MSRP or wait for them to come back in stock at other retailers… that could be, unfortunately, a while!

As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

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