Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh my god, it's a $2000 Ruger

Actually, when it finally gets down to street prices, and production capacity and panic buying have settled out, I'd expect it to retail somewhere around $1700.

UPDATE: Distributor pricing was released, at $1350; so I'll revise my estimate down to "between $1600 and $1675", instead of $1700.

The gun in question is the newly announced Ruger SR-556, Rugers first entry into the AR market; and their first entry into the "assault weapon" world, since transferable AC-556s stopped being made in '86 (which is only half evil... after all, the A-Team used them, and they were the good guys... who couldn't hit anything).

The first thing most folks are going to notice, and most likely dislike, is the price. $2000 list is by far Rugers most expensive non-presentation grade gun (some of their shotguns get up there though).

I'm not one of those people. As I said, I expect that the eventual street price will hit around $1600; and for a piston AR, especially one configured as it is, that's a decent value.

Given that it's got the Troy sights, and Troy rail system on it, and that's $300 and $350 respectively if bought separately (plus the rail covers and Hogue grip, another $80 or so); it's actually a pretty damn good deal. Most other piston ARs start at $1800-$2400, without those things.

Oh and coming with 3 PMags is a great idea as well, and a usable soft case is gravy. There's another $120 you don't have to worry about spending.

... of course for some people, the whole reason they buy an AR is for the accessories... it's like tactical Barbie for them; but let's face it, they'd never buy a Ruger anyway.

From a purely political perspective, having Ruger in the AR camp is an unambiguously good thing. Do you really think the largest civilian firearms manufacturer in the world is 1.) going to get into manufacturing an AR if they think it's going to be banned shortly thereafter and 2.) going to allow their millions of dollars in tooling and marketing expenses to go down the drain without a fight?

Oh and another political plus; now every major firearms manufacturer makes an AR: Ruger, S&W, FN, Colt, and Cerberus (with Remington, Bushmaster, Cobb, and DPMS).

So, how do I think it will be received?

Well, with a certain percentage of the community, scorn. Ruger is forever poison to them after the actions and comments of the late founder surrounding "assault weapon" bans, and standard capacity magazines.

Also, this is not going to appeal to the tacticool at all; which is the usual market for higher end AR platform rifles. I mean, it IS a Ruger, even if it is a superneatohighspeedlowdrag Ruger; and you can't claim it's the "same gun as SEAL Team Six uses" or some other such nonsense.

Plus I'd assume it's cast (that is Rugers core business after all), and as "everyone knows" cast receivers and uppers are "just no good".... yeah, you can tell my opinion on that one.

UPDATE: Nope, it uses a forged (and outsourced from a major name) upper and lower.

So that's a fair portion of the potential market left right out.

For the rest of the shooting world... It's probably going to be seen as too expensive. Ruger is the biggest, because they sell decent guns cheaper than any other gun of comparable quality.

While this gun represents a much lower cost option than other piston ARs, and is a good value in the configuration it's sold in, the rifle is most certainly not inexpensive. The traditional Ruger customer is probably not going to appreciate the differentiation of a piston operating system, troy rails, Hogue grips etc... when they compare the $1700+ Ruger to a $900 Olympic.

Rugers traditional markets and customers are very cost sensitive, and they're going to have to work to convince folks either to stretch into that price range; or to convince premium firearms customers to consider a Ruger.

Personally, I think it will be a big hit at first; but will sell modestly well, once the initial buying surge passes, and the AR market stabilizes (well... ok, IF the AR market stabilizes).

I did get a chance to talk with Michael Bane about the gun; and he's put a few hundred rounds through one. He was favorably impressed with it, likes the gas system, and that the quality just "felt sturdier" than POF or LW. We talked about the relative value of the gun, with the premium parts and accessories; and he also thought that Ruger was going to have a little trouble finding acceptance at that price point.

The Quinns over at gunblast were also quite pleased with the sample they reviewed; though they didn't talk about the price (I've rarely seen Jeff and Boge talk about price in a review though).

Am I interested? Not really. Give me an 18" model with a real stock and I MIGHT be. I'mna try and take a closer look tomorrow (we didn't make it to the exhibit hall today).

UPDATE: Got a great interview with the chief engineer on the project, and the production manager for the Newport plant where it's assembled, as well as handling, and field stripping the rifle. More in a followup post.