Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review
Back in January 2009, Smith & Wesson introduced their new M&P15-22 tactical rifle chambered in .22 LR and they introduced it with one of the catchiest advertising phrases I have seen in a long time, "Kick Brass".
For those of you who already own a .22 rifle, I think you know what I mean when I say that is exactly what a .22 rifle is made for, kicking brass out of your gun until your thumbs are sore and you're tired of loading magazines. Over the past couple of years, I have been keeping a close eye on the M&P15-22 to see if this rifle would acquire a following and my initial impression was that S&W may have a winner with the M&P15-22. The fact that at the time of this review Smith & Wesson now makes 6 different versions of this rifle should give you a pretty good idea that they have succeeded in capturing a piece of the consumer market and they are expanding their product line. These next photos show each of the six basic models (there are other state compliant versions of these models shown at their website). In some cases, the differences in models may only be the color of standard parts such as those shown on the MOE versions. In other cases, there may be significant differences such as barrel, flash hider, magazine capacity, sights, sling swivel, stock and grip.
Figure 1 - Model M&P15-22 - Standard
Figure 2 - Model M&P15-22 - Performance
Center, Threaded Barrel
Figure 3 - Model M&P15-22 - Realtree® APG HD®
Figure 5 - Model M&P15-22 MOE - Magpul®
Sights, Stock and Grip
Figure 6 - M&P15-22 MOE - Flat Dark Earth
For this review, I selected the M&P15-22 Realtree® APG HD® Camo Rifle for a couple of reasons. First, this Camo rifle is very similar to the Standard rifle configuration with the most significant differences being the addition of the flash hider and camo finish. Given a choice, I would have preferred the Camo rifle to come with a 25-round magazine, but instead it comes with a 10-round capacity magazine. The second reason is that selecting this model ensured I would get one of the most current builds of the M&P15-22 rifle. This makes sure that any tweaks that Smith & Wesson may have made in their manufacturing processes would hopefully be incorporated in this rifle because this Realtree® APG HD® Camo version was introduced in January of this year.
The key features that have helped to make this rimfire rifle a success are it's light weight (5.5 pounds empty) and that it has the same ergonomics as many AR platform rifles on the market, specifically it's big brother the M&P15 Rifle. When I say ergonomics, I mean that the magazine release, bolt release, safety, charging handle, 6-position stock, sight height and grip are all in the same locations and function in the same way as a normal AR style rifle. There are some minor differences like the charging handle has a shorter pull length than a normal .223 rifle due to the shorter action length needed for the .22 LR, but overall I think Smith & Wesson did a great job in matching the functionality of the M&P15-22 with the standard AR style rifles. Another key feature is the price point for this rifle. This camo version for this review has a suggested retail price of $549, but you can find it in the online for $449 plus S&H and a FFL transfer fee. Overall I don't think that price is too bad considering you get a camo rifle setup with rails, collapsible stock, sights and an attractiveness that will draw the attention of your shooting buddies.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturers claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Smith & Wesson website on 7/30/11 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the M&P15-22 Rifle. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both. I may also add commentary after these marks as necessary to explain some items if needed.
The M&P15 rifle line has expanded to now include the new M&P15-22. Chambered in .22LR, the M&P15-22 rifle is built with high strength polymer upper and lower receivers. This creates a reduced weight rifle that retains the looks and operating features of the standard M&P rifle.
This review is broken down into multiple parts with this page providing links to each part along with an overall summary of the specifications, pros and cons, and my final "bottom line" comments. Make sure you take time to checkout the other parts of the review because they contain many photos and lots of commentary. Also, there is an extreme amount of detail in those parts which is not covered on this page.
As you read these Pros and Cons below, keep in mind that it is hard to keep my particular preferences from creeping in the equation. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to look at the other parts of this review so you can decide for yourself on items which may be more of a personal preference.
The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 clearly "kicks brass" when in comes to rimfire rifles. All you need to do to have fun with this rifle is add bullets. It is about as close to a .22LR AR style rifle as you can get, but at a fraction of the weight and cost. I can see why this rifle is developing a following in the rimfire market and I expect S&W will continue this platform of rifle for many years to come. If you are in the market for a rimfire rifle, you need to look closely at the M&P15-22 rifles when making your selection.