SIG Sauer’s new series of AR-style rifles takes its name from the Gadsden flag: “Don’t Tread on Me.” In fact, there is a stylized Gadsen flag stamped on the forends of the three current models, emphasizing the point. The product description reads: “The TREAD is engineered to deliver exceptional quality [and] performance and comes standard with the most sought-after features for today’s AR-platform rifles. Unlike most rifles in its class, the TREAD is easily customizable with a full line of purpose-built accessories, designed and built in the USA.” After working with the first of two TREAD models — the 716i TREAD in .308 — I heartily agree. I don’t foresee it needing further customization though.
What Makes the 716i TREAD a Standout?
There are many older AR-10 variants that feel particularly big and clunky. If you check out the original AR-10, you will see what I mean. But the 716i TREAD is not one of those guns.
First, the TREAD has no integral carry handle to add to the overall bulk. It is a flattop with railing instead. The TREAD forend is also a sleek, free-floating M-LOK — quite different from the bulky, old Picatinny quad rail or round military-style forends found on previous generations of AR-10s. Third, the telescoping stock is a reduced-profile M4 type. This also reduces perceived overall bulk. I never had much use for previous generations of AR-10s, but the 716i TREAD is a whole new ballgame.
Even though the 716i TREAD weighs 8.5 pounds, it is comparable in size to an M4 entry carbine. I see it as a compact designated marksman rifle (DMR). It should be able to handle situations at ranges beyond those where the 5.56 runs out of gas (between 250 to 500 yards would be a fair operating envelope).
SIG Sauer 716i TREAD Specifications
Price: Approximately $1,499
Weight: 8.5 pounds
Barrel Length: 16 inches
Overall Length: 37 inches
Operating System: Direct gas impingement
Barrel Material: Stainless steel
Receiver Finish: Hard-coat anodized
Magazine: One 20-round Magpul P-MAG included
SIG 716i TREAD Special Features
The folks at SIG pay great attention to detail and are very good at enhancing the qualities of their AR rifles without adding features of dubious value. Here are the features I think are most important:
- Ambidextrous safety levers
- Ambidextrous magazine releases
- Polished hard-coated single-stage trigger
- Three-prong flash hider
- Free-floating M-LOK aluminum handguard
- Magpul SLK six-position stock
This is a great setup for a compact DMR rifle. After testing, the only thing I might change or add is a stock with a bit more padding to help absorb more recoil from the .308 cartridge.
SIG was kind enough to ship the 716i TREAD with a SIG TANGO6T 1-6x24mm Illuminated Tactical Riflescope already mounted. The TANGO6T is compact but with ample magnification and clarity to make it about as good as it gets for the TREAD. The sample I received had the 3 Gun HellFire reticle. The handy magnification throw-lever had also been pre-installed. It turned out to be an ideal selection for the 716i TREAD and its intended mission.
At the Range
Dave Hall, a retired U.S. Secret Service Agent and former police partner who happened to be in town when I received the 716i, helped test this TREAD (as well as the M400 TREAD which I will review later). We set up the target at 100 yards and arranged the TREAD on a bench using an adjustable rest rather than sandbags. The test ammo was SIG Sauer’s 150-grain .308 Elite Ball FMJ ammo, which has a factory-rated muzzle velocity of 2,900 feet per second and 2,802 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Overcast conditions had set in, and a thunderstorm threatened a few miles away. Prior to firing, I turned on the TANGO6T illumination to full brightness. I gently applied pressure to the single-stage trigger and was rewarded with a clean break. I was reminded of the difference in power between the 5.56 and .308 and was glad that the TREAD weighs 8.5 pounds rather than 6.
When I got zeroed in, I had no problem with getting three-shot groups in the 1.5-inch range, usually with two rounds punching through the same hole. Once Dave settled in with his shooting position, the results were the same. He liked the 716i TREAD a lot and may be planning to add one to his personal defensive battery in the near future. Those who do a bit of hunting might find the TREAD useful there too!
This 716i TREAD is a great of example of what can be done with a properly designed and engineered AR-10-type rifle in terms of trimming away some of the fat and turning it into a true multi-purpose arm. If it had been available during my time as a police sniper, it might have become my duty arm. Both Dave and I highly recommend it as an enhancement for your battery and your long-range security as well.
SIG Sauer: SIGSauer.com
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.