Finally got the new Ruger SR556E to the range today. Since forum posts seem to have a lot of complaints, I am pleased to be able to say that the SR556E functioned flawlessly. I put exactly 200 rounds through the rifle, and everything worked great.
Although I have fired a lot of M16s in my day, the SR556E was quite a surprise due to its piston operating system. I had fired some other piston rifles before, but not this one. The action when firing feels very smooth and imparts a "gentler" feel than the standard Direct Impingement system. The result was that I was able to achieve pretty OK groups for a rusty 58 year old codger. Shooting at 25 yards while shooting from the shoulder my groups were around 2.5 inches and a few were better than that. (OK, OK a few were worse too. Alright, more than a few.
) Naturally practice will better this. Overall I must say that I was pleased with the gentleness of the rifle. It performed beautifully.
I shot 3 different types of .223 ammo and all fired and ejected fine. I used three different brands of magazines and all were fine, and all held the bolt back when empty. Ejections were very consistent. I used setting 2 for all of the ammunition. I should have tried setting one but did not think about it.
By the way, my perception of the smooth action of the SR556 was not only mine. A couple of friends who had been firing a brand-new DI AR15 also fired my SR556 and made the same observation that I did about the smoothness of the rifle. One remarked that "my wife would like firing this gun."
The piston system sure beats the heck out of the DI system when it comes to cleaning. It only took a few minutes to clean the piston assembly. The bolt was almost pristine -- a gentle wipedown with CLP was all it needed. When I think of what my Army M16 was like after firing, particularly the bolt container group and chamber, I can really appreciate the piston system of the SR556E.