The AR15/M16 family has been through many changes since its adoption by the United States Air Force in 1962 as the AR15, the US Army began testing the weapon system as the XM16E1. In 1967 the US Army adopted a product upgrade known as the M16A1. This was later improved to the M16A2 in the early 1980’s, this eventually morphed into what we see today as the M4 family. Early on during the switch to the 5.56mm weapon system some people questioned moving away from a full-bore battle rifle which at that time was the 7.62×51 NATO. The smaller and lighter projectile was seen as a negative to this new hi-tech weapons system. What most people don’t know is that a 7.62×51 NATO(308 Winchester) battle rifle was developed by Eugene Stoner in the 1950’s a full decade before the adoption of the AR15 by the Air Force known as the AR10. While these were not adopted by the US military, they were widely accepted by various countries Africa. The design of the AR10 was scaled down and improved to become the iconic family of weapons we see today known as the AR15/M16/M4.
When I was in the search for a AR pattern rifle that would provide increased ballistic performance I had a choice to make stay with the AR15 family and use the 6.8SPC or the 300 Blackout (supersonic loads) or move up to a AR10 size weapon (308 or 7.62×51). There are more than a few calibers to choose from I choose to use a standard cartridge the 7.62×51. I also knew I wanted a piston driven gun as to keep all of the fouling and junk out of the receiver group. AT the SHOT show in 2013 SIG introduced the Model 716 a (308 Winchester/7.62×51) chambered version of their Model 516 (223/5.56×45) rifle. The SIG 716 is the weapon I chose to provide this increase in ballistic performance, what I wanted was a round that would turn most normal things that provided cover against the 5.56 round into just concealment.
As one would expect the 7.62 platform weighs a bit more than the 5.56 weapon systems. The sig 716 weighs in at 9.3lbs without optics or empty mag where as my Noveske Rouge Hunter weighs in just a tad over 6.5 lbs. Both weapons have 16in barrels and backup sights and 2 point slings. The extra weight does help soak up the additional recoil generated by the 7.62×51 round. During my testing of the Sig 716 I found it accurate out to the limit of my 100yd range with groups in the 3.5 in range with iron sights, this due the slightly heavy trigger pull, the trigger also exhibited some gritty creep. This wouldn’t be a deal breaker as you could drop in a Geissele Automatic trigger even their G2S 2 stage trigger I have this in another AR15 and even as an entry-level trigger it has a very nice pull with a smooth 1st stage pull and a crisp 2nd stage break.
The biggest difference between the 5.56 and the 7.62 platform is the ability to run it fast, while you can do it with the 7.62 platform it is vastly easier to do with lighter easier to maneuver 5.56 platform. With appropriate ammo you can achieve the same level penetration I was looking for M855 ball will easily defeat any of the barrier I will face in a self-defense situation. Would I say there is no place for the 7.62 platform, by no means do I think that on the contrary if I was out where the ranges could be stretched this 7.62 will have longer legs and the ability to engage a threat at vastly longer distances with more retained energy.
So if you are looking for a platform with great penetration and extended ballistic capabilities look no further that the Sig 716, gives you the big bore package without the great cost associated with other comparable models from other various manufactures.