Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review
Part 1 - Introduction, Specifications and Summary
August 22, 2011

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".

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

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
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Figure 2 - Model M&P15-22 - Performance Center, Threaded Barrel
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Figure 3 - Model M&P15-22 - Realtree® APG HD® Camo
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Figure 4 - Model M&P15-22 - A1 Style Comp
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Figure 5 - Model M&P15-22 MOE - Magpul® Sights, Stock and Grip
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

Figure 6 - M&P15-22 MOE - Flat Dark Earth
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

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.

Overview

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.

Key Features

  • 6 Position Collapsible Stock
  • Functioning Charging Handle
  • Adjustable Rear and Front Sights
  • Two-Position Receiver Mounted Safety Selector
  • Cartridge Case Deflector
  • Bolt Catch
  • Recessed Magazine Release Button
  • High Strength Polymer Magazine
  • Light Weight, High Strength Polymer Quad Rail Handguard
  • Match Grade Precision Barrel
  • Ambidextrous Load-Assist Button
  • Lightweight, High Strength Polymer Upper and Lower Receiver with Integral Steel Inserts

Specifications

  • Model: M&P15-22
  • SKU #: 811046
  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Capacity: 10 Round Detachable Magazine
  • Action: Blow Back Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Length: 16" / 40.6 cm
  • Barrel Twist: 1 in 15"
  • Front Sight: Adjustable A2 Post
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Dual Aperture
  • Overall Length: 33.75" Extended / 30.5" Collapsed Dimensions shown seem to be for a non-compensator (flash hider) model.  Actual dimensions measured were 31.75" to 35".
  • Stock: 6-Position Adjustable Stock
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs. /2,494.8 g The review rifle with sights and magazine actually weighed in at an even lower weight of 5.2 pounds.  I speculate that the website is listing the greater weight of a rifle with a 25-round magazine, not 10-round magazine.
  • Barrel Material: Carbon Steel 4140 Steel
  • Upper Material: Polymer
  • Lower Material: Polymer
  • Finish: Realtree® APG HD® 
  • Purpose: Competitive, Recreational, Hunting
  • Suggested Retail Price: $549.00

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.

Review Results

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.

Pros:

  • The combination of the Realtree® APG HD® camo finish and the black accents of the barrel, magazine and sights gives the rifle some real eye appeal.
  • Although there is an extensive use of polymer materials in the the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Rifle, I'm surprised at how sturdy/stiff the rifle feels.  I believe this camo version also removes the "black polymer look" and gives an even more positive impression of the rifle. 
  • The rifle weighed in at 5.2 pounds which is about a pound lighter than is major competitor in the rimfire market.
  • The combination of light weight and 6 position adjustable stock makes this rifle a great choice as a youth rifle for young shooters.
  • One year Limited Warranty per the instruction manual and a Lifetime Service Policy after the warranty period has expired provided you turned in your Product Registration Card within 30 days of purchase.  See the Instruction Manual for more details.
  • The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Rifle and 10-round magazine are very easy to disassemble and reassemble and requires no tools during the process.

Pro/Con?:

  • The 10-round magazine is probably more appropriate for this hunter (camo) style rifle and S&W probably made the right choice, but I wish it had come with a 25-round magazine for serious plinking.

Cons:

  • One thing that I was surprised at was S&W did not include an exploded view and parts list for the rifle.  Personally I feel that this should be standard in all firearm instruction manuals.

 

Bottom Line:

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.


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