Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review
Part 6 - Range Tests
August 30, 2011

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review


In the first part of my range tests, I wanted to get an idea on the potential accuracy of the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Rifle.  To do this, I mounted a scope on the rifle that has proven to be reliable over the years.  I installed a UTG OP-1 Bipod on the front for the photo below but used a Caldwell Rock BR Front Rest during the range test.

Figure 1
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

I selected the following target/match grade ammunition for the 50 yard range test.  I wanted a range of affordable ammo for plinking and target shooting.

Figure 2
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

It just so happens that in the Instruction Manual (pages 10 & 11), S&W makes recommendations for and against certain brands and types of ammunition and one of the brands/types I selected (Remington 22 Target) was in the "Not Recommended" group.  The S&W recommendations are below.

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Ammunition Recommendations
Recommended Not Recommended
CCI Standard Velocity
CCI Mini-Mag
Aguila Super Extra Std. Velocity
Aguila Super Extra High Velocity
Federal American Eagle
Federal GameShock
Winchester Super-X High Velocity
Remington Golden Bullet
Remington Target 22
Remington Thunderbolt
Winchester Wildcat
Any and all sub-sonic brands & types

My range test results are shown in the table below.

50 Yard Range Test Results
Ammunition  Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Minimum Maximum Average
Federal AutoMatch 40 Grain Solid (AM22) 2.15 2.04 2.70 2.92 1.82 1.82 2.92 2.33
Federal Premium Gold Medal Match 40 Grain Solid (922A) 0.79 1.22 0.94 1.29 0.98 0.79 1.29 1.03
Remington 22 Target 40 Grain Lead Round Nose (6100) 1.82 1.88 2.13 1.94 0.97 0.97 2.13 1.75 
Wolf Match Target 40 Grain Solid 1.40 0.75 1.17 0.75 0.73 0.73 1.40 0.96
Based on all Groups >  0.73 2.92 1.52 
5-shot groups shot consecutively from a bench at 50 yards.  Temperature ~92° F with a relative humidity ~80%.

Clearly, the M&P15-22 can shoot given the right ammunition.  Both the Wolf Match Target and Federal Premium Gold Medal Match grouped at about 1" at 50 yards.  Considering the cost per round of these two types of ammunition, you would hope they would group better than the other two brands and they most definitely did.  This is the first time I have shot any of the Wolf Match Target ammunition and I'm very impressed with the results and will probably shoot more in the future.  These photos below give you a look at the best groups for the Wolf Match Target and Federal Premium Gold Medal Match ammunition.

Figure 3                                                              Figure 4    
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review   Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

When you consider the larger group sizes of the Remington 22 Target, I believe S&W recommendation is correct for this ammunition and I would also put the Federal AutoMatch in this same "not recommended" category.  Throughout this phase of shooting, I did not have a single issue with the operation of the M&P15-22.  Every round feed, fired and ejected without an issue.


Tactical Sight

After sighting in the sights that came with the rifle, I swapped them out to a red dot sight that I had in mind to use on this rifle.  This red dot sight is the BSA Tactical Weapons Red Dot Sight With Laser (TW30RDLL).  This sight comes with a 1x red dot scope, red laser and 140 lumens flashlight.  I think this feature packed value minded sight makes a great addition to the rifle.

Figure 5
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

After zeroing in the BSA sight and putting hundreds of rounds through the M&P15-22 rifle, I'm very pleased with this shooting platform.  During this part of my range tests I decided to try out another type of .22LR ammunition which I had on hand, Federal 36 grain Copper-Plated Hollow Point (Load No. 745).  I will not speak in detail to the accuracy of this ammo because I struggle with claiming accuracy when using a 1x sight and a 5 MOA red dot.  I will say that I thought the accuracy was acceptable.  Throughout all of my shooting, I never had any failure to feed, fire or extract.  You can see a detailed review of the BSA sight here.

50-Round Drum Magazine

Since it is my belief that all rimfire rifles should have a large capacity magazine for serious plinking, I had to get one of the Black Dog Machine 50-Round Drum Magazines.  I decided to checkout the drum magazine using the Federal 36 grain ammunition because so far I have not had a single failure to feed, fire or extract with this ammunition in my M&P15-22 Rifle.  Another good reason was that it is relatively cheap ammunition.  While loading the magazine for the first time, I must have over rotated the drum while loading and had three skipped slots in the magazine.  I was pleased to find out that if this happens, the magazine drum will continue to rotate when firing until the next round feeds into the tower.  This first full magazine fired 47 shots without any issues.  From that point forward, I was a little more careful loading the magazine and never got another missed round during the loading process.  I shot several full magazines and didn't encounter a single failure to feed, fire or extract.

Figure 6
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Review

After shooting nearly 297 rounds through my M&P15-22 Rifle with the Black Dog Machine 50-Round Drum Magazine, I can say say the rifle and magazine were 100% reliable during my review.  Still at this point I have not had a single failure to feed, fire or extract with my M&P15-22 Rifle for all of my range testing.  You can checkout me shooting a couple of magazines at this Youtube Link or by watching the video below.


For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 

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