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Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by EAJ, Aug 24, 2009.

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  1. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    My interest in purchasing an AR plinker spiked (no pun intended) during the 2009 SHOT show held in Orlando last January. It was exciting to see new offering by SIG and other manufacturers.

    I was ready to place my SIG order early on, but after several months and no clear release date, I decided to simply add my name to a waiting list. During the interim I’d become less patient and begun looking at alternative AR rimfire rifles that were currently available in the marketplace.

    Tactical Solution’s and Spike’s build excellent dedicated AR rimfire rifles and uppers, but I didn’t want to invest that much money into a plinker, nor did the conversion kits interest me. The GSG5 and GSG AK-47 are pretty neat, but for some reason they don’t appeal to me enough to purchase one.

    A process of elimination narrowed down my remaining choices to the Colt line (I like the OPS) and S&W M&P. I’ve read enthusiastic reviews about both and they seem to be an immediate hit with shooters who have purchased them. I had the opportunity to handle both manufacturers models at a local gun shop however they’re quiet pricey in our area. Based upon my inspection, reviews and owner feedback in several online forums, I decided the M&P was the most suitable for my plinking needs, and well under my budget, even after accessorizing. My Colt and S&W comparison information (PDF file) can be viewed here.

    My price comparisons suggest that it’s a good deal less expensive ($150-$175) than the Colt, weighs less, has more functional AR-like controls, the trigger group can be changed if desired, has a removable bolt assembly (for easy cleaning), and is manufactured in the USA by a company that stands behind its product.

    So, about two weeks ago I contacted my dealer, Donna at DB Flanagan’s Gun Shop, and requested that she give my spot on the SIG 522 waiting list to a deserving soul. I placed an order for the M&P15-22, which she located very quickly for me. If you’re a SIG fan you may know Donna (MississippiGal) from over at the SIG forum. She’s terrific to work with and very competitive with pricing on many brands.

    The M&P arrived last week. When you pick it up it feels solid, but it’s also relatively light given the polymer upper and lower receiver, and quad rail. As with all new arms, I prefer to fieldstrip and clean them prior to shooting. If you own an AR you’re already familiar with the simple breakdown procedure. The only difference in the process with the M&P occurs at the very end of the sequence. With a standard AR you slip the bolt and charging handle out of the receiver. With the M&P15-22, you slip the bolt ASSEMBLY and charging handle out of the receiver.

    It’s very easy to clean the bolt assembly once it’s removed from the upper receiver. And with the assembly removed, like a standard AR, the barrel is much easier to access and clean from the chamber end. I use an Otis Cleaning System with flexible cable on almost all of my pistols and rifles. If you prefer to use something like a boresnake or traditional cleaning equipment, they should work fine too.

    Bolt Assembly & Charging Handle

    [​IMG]

    Accessories

    I decided to install a few parts I had on hand from an old AR build and add a few new accessories I ordered while waiting on the rifle to arrive.

    Boone Packer Tactical Quick Adjust Sling
    ERGO Sure Pistol Grip
    ERGO Low-Profile Rail Covers
    Ergo Rail Mount Sling Swivel
    Primary Arms Red Dot Optic (M4)
    ProMag VFG
    ProMag AR15/M4 buttpad


    Aftermarket Grip & Fit Information

    If you plan to replace the OE grip you’ll need a long-reach 3/16” Allen wrench to remove the mounting bolt inside the grip. I utilized a ball-end 3/16” long-reach Allen wrench that came with my Knoxx Spec Op Stock for my Remington 870 which worked quite well.

    I decided to replace the OE pistol grip with an Ergo Sure Grip I had on hand as shown in the photos. Once installed, I discovered that the upper portion of the grip (at web of hand when holding grip) does not snug up tightly to the lower receiver like it normally would on a standard AR15. Instead, there’s a small gap between the receiver and grip. It’s not too noticeable unless you know it’s there, nor is it a hindrance when handling or shooting the rifle. The gap does not affect the installation in any other way; the grip is held firmly in place once installed.

    It is my understanding that the gap is also an issue with the Magpul MOE grip. This suggests there may be some slight differences in the M&P15-22 and standard M&P15 design.


    I wish the quality of the photos were better, but unfortunately I don’t have the best camera and it rained and or was mostly overcast and cloudy all weekend.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Range Session

    My primary goal on this first outing was to test the reliability of the rifle with different types of ammunition and to sight-in the irons and red dot. Given the limited time I had to shoot this weekend, determining accuracy was only a secondary concern.

    There were no compatibility issues with the quad rails and accessories (red dot, grip bi-pod, rail covers and VFG) I mounted. Although the rails are polymer they appear to be sturdy.

    The backstop is approximately 60’ on this range. Even at that distance, with my older eyes, precision shooting can be challenging with open sights or a red dot. Of course, this isn’t a target rifle, but we all strive to shoot the best we can.

    During this session I shot approximately 75-100 rounds of each of the following:

    CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN HV (0030)
    CCI Standard Velocity 40 grain LRN (0032)
    Federal 36 grain CPHP (550 VP)
    Federal Champion 40 grain SP (510)
    Federal Auto-Match 40 grain SP (AM22)
    Winchester Super-X 40 grain HV (X22LR)
    Remington Gold Box 36 grain HP

    When I pulled the trigger on the M&P15-22 the first few times it was an odd feeling. I felt somewhat bewildered and disappointed. If you own or have ever shot an AR15 you’ll understand what I mean. With the real deal you have the expectation and satisfaction of some healthy pushback and recoil. That’s not the case with the M&P15-22; there is minimal pushback, recoil and report.

    The good news is that you won’t feel bad for very long. As you continue shooting your disappointment will turn into glee when you realize how much fun you’re having and how little money you’re spending on ammo. You’ll still be standing at the firing line long after the shooter next to you runs out of centerfire ammunition and heads home.

    After sight-in, I shot offhand for a little while with open sights. Later in the session I mounted the red dot and grip bi-pod (shown in photo) and shot off of a bench, standing up. Although the magazine is long it did not present a problem shooting off the bench in this manner.

    Rapid fire is not allowed at this range so I fired one round approximately each second or two until I emptied the magazine. Interestingly, during the session I inadvertently bump-fired the rifle two or three times with 2-3 round bursts. That was kind of cool and no one seemed to notice or at least no one said anything.


    Range Session Results

    M&P15-22

    Cumulatively, I expended approximately six hundred rounds and experienced zero issues with the rifle.

    Magazine

    The polymer magazine appears durable and of good quality. It functioned perfectly as long as you followed the loading (one round at a time) instructions outlined in the manual.

    Once you’ve loaded it a few times the process goes quickly, but I must admit, after reloading this many times during one session my thumb and index finger became a little sore while holding down the load assist button exposed on each side of the magazine follower.

    The magazine bolt hold back feature worked fine. Each time the magazine expended the last round the bolt held in the open position.

    Spare magazines were not available when I purchased my M&P, but my dealer backordered two for me for $46, including shipping. At about $20 each they’re very reasonably priced.


    Ammunition Reliability

    With the exception of Remington Gold Box all of the ammunition functioned without issue. I had at least one round of Remington GB in each of 4 magazine reloads that failed to fire and had to be manually ejected. I wasn’t surprised given my past experience with it and its mediocre performance.

    The target below has five 7.5” outer rings. Each outer ring has a number eight (black) 3” inner ring. The lower rings were used to sight in the red dot and open sights. This is one of two targets that I used during the range session.

    I did not clean the rifle during the range session however when I did get to it later in the day not surprisingly it was very dirty. I also decided to disassemble and clean the magazine which was quite simple with the instructions outlined in the manual.

    [​IMG]


    Summary

    It’s a terrific little rifle for the price, reliable and plenty of fun to shoot. I think it would be a very good investment for any parent who wanted to introduce a child to shooting sports. The tactical look has that cool factor that most kids enjoy and there isn’t much more fun then shooting with your kids or family. Or, you can just purchase one for yourself like I did and invite your dad along. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  2. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent review! :D
     
  3. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

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    S&W and Colt are both making some odd decisions with their .22 rifles. In my mind there are two markets for .22 ARs, plinkers who use the guns for fun and "serious" shooters who use them for training, and obviously there is some overlap. S&W and Colt have both made dedicated .22s that probably make the former crowd happy, but leave the latter group scratching their heads. Why not make an exact copy (weight, dimensions etc) that will fit accessories properly rather than something that won't fit your gear and balances wrong if you try to duplicate your 5.56 or 6.8 rifle?

    Mike
     
  4. xstuntman

    xstuntman Member

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    I'm waiting for these to come in locally and I hope they make one eventually in 22 mag. Great revue! X
     
  5. Quiet

    Quiet Member

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    Does anyone know if the S&W M&P-15/22 uses a proprietary magazine or if the standard AR .22LR conversion magazines will work in it?
     
  6. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    Thanks folks, glad you found it informative.

    The M&P magazines are proprietary.

    As I mentioned in another forum each (Colt & S&W) design has its pluses and minuses; if they combined the best features of both I think we might have the perfect AR-like plinker. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  7. winston smith

    winston smith Member

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    Wow! Great review. I am planning to get a NY compliant one, put a collapsed (and pinned) stock on for my 6yo daughter.
     
  8. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    Wonderful, sounds like the making for a great father and daughter teaming. :)
     
  9. garza

    garza Member

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    s&w m&p 22

    How much does one of those cost ?
     
  10. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    Mine was $425 delivered to my FFL. Dealer info available in my review.
     
  11. KingTiger

    KingTiger Member

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    Better than the Shooting Times review I just read, good job! The true bolt lock after the last round was much needed. The flat top & quad-rails from the factory is what I want also. The rails & sights are polymer however. If it only had a factory threaded barrel, but that is solved easy enough.
     
  12. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    Thank you.

    Only the rails, the clamp-on front and rear sights are iron.

    Perhaps on future versions. Some info on barrel removal and threaded barrels here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2009
  13. twofourthree73

    twofourthree73 Member

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    It's proprietary. The Black dog mags that you use with ceiner based kits won't work with it.
     
  14. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Great write up, sorry I missed it while doing my research!
     
  15. HexHead

    HexHead Member

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    Interesting that S&W decided to "reinvent the wheel" considering Colt is using Walther, which is owned by S&W.
     
  16. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    Thank you, it didn’t get much attention here when I initially posted and was quickly buried. Went through this process myself; hope the information here was helpful to you. I’ve updated a few times since I initially posted. The most recent edition can be found here if you’re interested. Good luck with your decision. :)
     
  17. 15guns

    15guns Member

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    I heard from a gun shop that the smith and wesson 15-22 wasn't gonna be out for about a year. Colt already makes one through umerex but it costs more.
     
  18. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    The S&W M&P15-22 has been out for about a month.
     
  19. wally

    wally Member

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    ARs and AKs just look wrong without a flash hider or brake, the rubber pad on the butt stock seems goofy with a .22LR.

    I'm happy to have paid a bit more for my Spike's dedicated upper and use it on a real lower which I can convert to full power anytime.

    My biggest disappointment with these things is everybody going their own way with the mags which will keep the production volumes low and prices high :(

    But in any case these are great fun and a good way to lower the cost of shooting, back when Wolf was $100/1000 I had no use for these, but now $16/550 vs ~$300/1000 they will pay for themselves quickly if you like to plink as much as I do.

    --wally.
     
  20. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    I installed the rubber butt pad on mine to eliminate the slippage I experienced with the bare stock against my shoulder. The rubber has a tendency to grip rather than slip. It was a leftover from my AR build.

    Glad to hear that you’re happy with your Spike’s dedicated upper. They certainly build very nice rimfire AR’s, but they’re not for everyone for one reason or another.

    I understand that the Colt mag’s are about $40, however the M&P’s are very reasonably priced at $20, and a little less than what you would pay for a Black Dog mag.
     
  21. second

    second Member

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    Thanks for your review, these will hopefully be out in mass around october.
     
  22. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    A buddy of mine has purchased both the Colt and the M&P dedicated .22s. The Colt turned out to be quite crappy by comparison. I put about 400 rounds down range today with the M&P. I didn't get that far with the Colt because it had numerous function issues.

    Simply put, the M&P wins hands-down in my opinion. It actually functions like a regular AR15...which is what you want. The Colt has some very silly aspects such as the fake parts (e.g., fake bolt release that you can actually remove - so why have it?).

    The M&P was also less expensive.
     
  23. 15guns

    15guns Member

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    Ok so now it's clear. The colt 22 are junk but the smith and wessons are good. I heard that gsg-5s are crappy to. Someone needs to do a review of that one on here.
     
  24. bigeye

    bigeye Member

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    Cabelas might not thrill every soul out there, but a week ago my local store had a four hour sale on the S&W for $402. And believe it or not, they had them in stock. Quite a few in fact. Very nice looking and reviews are rolling in on a very positive note.
     
  25. EAJ

    EAJ Member

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    FYI - I just received a wish-list notification from Bud's that they have at least one M&P15-22 in stock for $419 delivered. If you're looking for one grab it while it's still available. :)
     
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