Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 ORC

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (actually, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, in the Republic of Texas) Uncle Sam issued three things to me that I still remember as vividly as yesterday’s chili. The first was a pair of clunky, clumsy, heavy, hokey chukka boots. The second was – no lie – a pith helmet. The third was a black rifle.

I’ll never forget those boots because they pinched harder than my six year old cousin. Lynne could pinch like a lobster on steroids, but she had nothing on those boots. I’ll also never forget that ridiculous USAF-issued pith helmet. I didn’t care that it was 110 in the shade. I didn’t care that only things between me and heatstroke were salt tablets and my head cover. I hated that lame hat. I wanted to look sharp, like an Air Force recruit should. Instead, I looked like Ramar of the Jungle (That’s Ramar on the right below, holding his .300 Weatherby brontosaurus rifle. Note that Ramar’s faithful manservant, Rex the Wonder Idiot, is shouldering the .22).

However, the absolute worst kick in the nuts I ever got from the USAF was that M-16. Like any other teenager, I enlisted to save America and blow shit up, and not necessarily in that order. But instead of the heavy ordnance I craved, the USAF handed me a tin and plastic made-by-Mattel tinker-toy of a peashooter. Hey, I already had a “synthetic” rifle back home, a .22 Remington Nylon 66. What I wanted was a real rifle made of real American hardwood and real Pittsburgh steel that shot a real bullet and kicked like a donkey.

I would have been overjoyed by a rifle like the Garand that my old man carried as he personally invaded Fortress Europe and saved the universe from fascism, which he did all by his damn self. I certainly was not overjoyed to be shouldering a glorified squirrel gun that maybe could save the world from, what? An attack by angry bunnies?

My second impressions upon handling the M-16 were even worse than my first impression upon viewing it. The rifle rattled like an old Fiat and was a lot less powerful, even with the “hot” 5.56 military ammo. Was it accurate? Hell, no. I was a good shot with a real rifle, but I barely qualified with the M-16. I could drop a round through a keyhole at fifty yards with my well-used Remington plinker. With my M-16, every third or fifth shot keyholed.

Our TIs (the USAF had “Technical Instructors,” not Drill Instructors) lauded the “ballistic wounding effects” of the 5.56, and believe me I was tempted to test the theory on one or two of them. But every tenth shot went the way of Apollo 13, so I’m not sure I could have put a round between the TIs buttons even if I’d chosen to try. I’m pretty sure that some rounds that I fired on the range are still in near-earth orbit and if they ever come down, somebody in San Antone is gonna be screwed.

To be fair, I admit that full-auto fire with the M-16 was totally cool even though I only got to shoot a single burst. Also, I never suffered any jams, unlike my friends who were slogging through rice paddies, cleaning their rifles with shoelaces and thirty-weight. But even for us well-equipped recruits, cleaning the M-16 was a bitch.

It remains my personal belief that Eugene Stoner lived up to his last name while he was inventing this rifle. I mean, nobody but nobody who hadn’t spent all his adult years shotgunning ganja could possibly have developed a rifle with so many carbon-hiding, soot-catching, impossible to reach nooks, crannies, cracks and crevasses. Which gave my TIs ample opportunity to cause me more grief than a Dear John letter if they found so much as one flyspeck of crud anywhere near my rifle. Which they always did. Stoner, you were either a mad genius or the spawn of Satan, or both.

After a single day with the M-16, I asked myself the same question that haunted enlistees throughout the entire Vietnam era, namely, “did I really give up my student deferment for this bullshit?” Then I remembered that the USAF went to war with B-52s and bombs the size of Trailways buses, which was very reassuring. Also, I must say with a touch of pride that not one single Viet Cong managed to cross the Rio Grande on my watch.

Slow-forward over four decades and there I was with my hands cuddling my very own Smith & Wesson M&P15 ORC. A gift from my sweetheart, it’s a traditional, typical civilian AR-15 style clone of a military M-16 clone of the original AR-15 civilian rifle. You follow me? So how does it compare with the M-16A1 I fired way back when?

Comparisons

The old M-16A1 had an impractical carry handle and practical iron sights. The sights worked fine with my acute teenage vision, but if I had to depend on iron sights now I’d probably chew a hole through the berm before I chewed through a target.

The handle of the M-16 served no useful purpose except giving the TIs a reason to bust our agates if we used the handle for its avowed purpose. In contrast, the ORC is a flat top with a Picatinny rail on the receiver and a shorter Pic-rail on the gas block, so it lacks the iconic M-16 look. And that’s not all it lacks.

The OR in stands for “Optics Ready,” which really means “bring your own sights, bub, ‘cause with this rifle you get squat.” No irons, no scope, nada. The “C” in ORC stands for “Compliant,” which probably means that one can purchase this evil black rifle in the various People’s Republiks that dot the American landscape.

While I may not able to get much mileage from iron sights, I think they should still be included in the deal. Thus, I suggest the S&W change the name to “Optics Ready Complaint.” Hey, S&W, slap on some BUIS. Pretty please.

The M-16A1 had a slow twist rate, either 1:14 or 1:12, which was probably the reason for the bullet’s “spectacular wounding effects” and also the historic inaccuracy of the early models. The M&P’s twist rate is 1 in 9, which led me to believe that, with the right ammo, it might shoot a little straighter despite its 16 inch carbine barrel.

The M&P has a chromed bore, gas key, bolt carrier and chamber. The M-16 had nothing chromed, probably because the bean counters running the Pentagon didn’t want to spend an extra sixteen cents on chrome when they were spending so much money on Purple Hearts.

The fixed stock of the old M-16A1 never seemed to fit me right. Of course, length is less relevant when the stock is adjustable. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts, shooters are stuck with fixed or pinned stocks because adjustable stocks are evil. Flash hiders and suppressors are evil, too, so you won’t find them screwed onto the muzzles of Massachusetts-legal rifles. Oh, well.

At least the A2 stock of the M&P, with its standard 13.5 inch length of pull, suits me just fine. Plus, it has that little Captain America Secret Decoder Ring Compartment in the stock where one can hide one’s stash. Of cleaning supplies. For the field. Or even a spare car key. Or a little note that says, “if found, please return to . . .”

What’s New Year’s Eve without fireworks? Boring, that’s what. So, carbine in hand, I scavenged a cheap, uh, inexpensive Tasco scope, clamped it to the rail, slipped into some chukka boots that actually fit and headed out to the outdoor rifle range to blow some stuff up and relive my misspent youth.

Shooting Impressions

After the scope was boresighted, I fired a magazine of American Eagle 55 grain FMJ .223s – they were on sale – using the standard break-in protocol of cleaning and letting the barrel cool between shots (not very difficult in the dead of winter). The target was set at 100 yards. Weather conditions were chilly and blustery, and except for a little fun and gun with Farago last month, I haven’t shot a rifle in over 43 years. I was expecting a big fat whiff of M-16 déjà vu, but what I got was this nice ten-shot group.

Now, I recognize that there are hot shooters out there who can place ten rounds into a mouse’s rectum at 1000 meters, but I’m not one of them. So I was very pleased with the out-of-the-box accuracy of this carbine and expect that as we get to know each other, the groups will become tighter and more centered on the red.

The fact is, the M&P15 ORC is a good shooter, although perhaps not spectacular. The trigger is heavy and it’s not exactly pure silk, but I sensed neither creep nor grit. It perfectly serviceable. I like a little take-up on a rifle trigger, but the M&P ORC had a bit more than a little. It’s a typical S&W trigger, middle-of-the-road, neither good nor bad and cost half a star. Reset was quick and positive.

Recoil was a touch more than expected. It was a tad loud for an AR, which I kinda liked and certainly got the attention of the 7.62X39 shooters around me.

The C-Products magazines feel tinny, but they work. The stock was comfy, at least for me. Short- or long-armed shooters may have complaints, and you may need a different stock if you’re storming your neighbor’s home in full body armor, but I have no complaints stock-wise.

Cleaning the Bitch

Ah, there’s the rub. Did Stoner actually design the AR’s guts to be the same color as soot? I mean, was it an accident, or did he screw us on purpose? Like most gas-impingement ARs, the M&P gets dirty. If you are a clean-gun freak like me, you’re going to need a bore snake, lots of patches, cloths, picks, brushes, bottles of exotic solutions and magnifying glass to get this rifle white-glove clean.

When you get your rifle back to your work bench after a day of shooting, you will notice that it smells like a wet cigar. I’m not talking Cuban cigar, either. Think DeNobile. You will want to get rid of that smell.

Fortunately, break-down is cake. Push the two pins holding the upper and lower together and you’ll have two separate parts. Cleaning the lower takes moments. Then go to work on the upper. Snake the bore until it sparkles. That’s the easy part. The bolt assembly, with its little hidey-holes inside and out, is a PITA to clean and it’s where you will spend the most time. Get into the habit of using latex or rubber kitchen gloves or you’ll have the hands of a chimney sweep. Or, you can be a slob and just shoot the hell out of this rifle because it will still work whether or not you are scrupulous, or so I’m told.

Conclusion

The S&W M&P15 ORC lists for a bit more than a grand, but the dealer price will be less and maybe a lot less. Shop around, because at the usual actual typical price, it’s a solid performer. Affix a decent scope or red dot sight, and this rifle will shoot better than you. What more can you ask for?

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber:  5.56 NATO / .223
Barrel Length:  16″
Weight (unloaded):  6.25 lbs
Length (overall):  35″
Action:  Semi-Auto
Rifling:  1/9″ RH

Barrel Material: 4140 steel

Receiver Material: 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower
Stock:  Pinned M4
Rails:   Picatinny rail on A3 flat top upper and short rail on gas block for mounting iron front sight
Sights:  None
Magazine:  C-Products 10 rd.
Finish: Hard Coat Black Anodized

RATINGS (out of 5 stars)

Style * * * *
If you like the looks of AR rifles, you’ll like the looks of this AR rifle since it looks like almost every other AR rifle. If you want something that looks completely different, don’t buy an AR or paint yours pink.

Ergonomics * * * *
No surprises. The controls are exactly where you expected them to be.

Reliability * * * * *
No problems even with cheap Russky .223 ammo, which I fed to this AK-killer just for the irony of it.

Customization * * * * *
C’mon. It’s an AR, so your choices are as unlimited as your wallet. New uppers, lowers, rails, sights, lights, lasers, apple corers, you name it. However, I recommend against accessorizing with diamond drop earrings or lavender pumps. Those would be too, too déclassé.

Overall * * * *
This isn’t a competition rifle, but it’s certainly more than capable of alternate dispute resolution or varmint hunting.

57 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 ORC

  1. avatarIGB says:

    Seem to be a lot of AR’s out there now. Were all these varieties made for the Obama hullabaloo and then the music died? They all look exactly alike so I suppose each must have a unique selling point. Not sure what this ones selling point is unlike the LWRC.

  2. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    Ralph, I got the same boots, no PH (because I was there in the winter, thankfully) and we did not get to keep our M16′s. They stayed at the range. Also, by the time I got there they had those suckers shooting .22 lr’s.

  3. avatarTyler D. says:

    I paid $700 OTD for a new-in-box M&P15 ORC a little over a month ago.

  4. avatarBrett Solomon says:

    There is some darn good writin’ here. Nice job.

  5. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    This one reminds me of my Colt sp1 (with all the bells and whistles), which is one of my top 3 favorite guns. I could buy 6 or 7 of these if I ever decided to part we my baby, (not even a slight chance in hell of that ever happening despite all the enticeing offers for her) so I’ll just have to save my pennies to buy this one.

  6. avatarJamie says:

    I’ve owned this rifle for 3 years and have put 6,000 rounds through it without one problem. I mainly use it for coyotes,prairie dogs and target shooting. It can routinely smoke Pdogs @ 2-250 yds and yotes @ 300. I lube it up about every 400 rnds and give it a thorough cleaning @ about 800 rnds. Usually shoots 1” or better groups W/HSM 50 grain Vmax and 1-1.5” W/Ultramax 55 grain sp. I like the Vmax better because it shoots flatter & faster. I bought it @ Budsgunshop.com for $800 w/$50 mail in rebate, good AR @ a reasonable price.

  7. avatarJeff says:

    Just a heads up, I picked up the M&P 15 standard model with sights from Academy sports with 30 rnd mag for 599.00. Be on the lookout for deals in places you wouldnt normally expect em

  8. avatarBK says:

    M&P 15 flat top with standard front post sight and 30 round mag. for $650 at (hard to believe) Gander Mountain. The flat top with rail front sight mount was about $1000, but they had a like new used one for $750. My other AR’s are lead laden match rifles. I may just have to pick one of these up for my new 4 wheeler rifle so I don’t keep shooting up all my high dollar 30 carbine ammo. Heck, it will give them more to talk about at the hunting club any way. They’re still whispering about my bedded, burlap wrapped, 4 X 15 powered, M1A “deer rifle”. Very nice review, Ralph. Informative and just plain fun to read. Thanks!

  9. avatarClint says:

    Damn good review Ralph. Know it’s a few months old at this point, was cruisin the web lookin for some real world insight on the m&p 15 and sure did the trick. Gonna be lookin for a good deal on one and add it to the gun safe, thanks

  10. avatarbullydog says:

    Love your review very entertaining and relate-able thanks

  11. avatarneilinnc says:

    I was a direct commision Army JAG, and the M16s we fired were 30 years old at least. After about 10 minutes, they cancelled the qualifcation because of the double and accidental firing. We did get to shoot an M-60 machine gun, but the girls set the woods on fire with tracer rounds and we had to give up on that too.

  12. avatarKratsuli says:

    Fine review. Thanks for your humorous, enlightening thoughts. I talked to my local gunsmithy, and he recommended one of these if I was in the market for an AR. $700 or so. Non-people’s republik type options. Full clip of 30, etc.

    Thanks again.

    Bobby

  13. avatarKenny says:

    The only down fall of the ORC 15 is that Smith & Wesson has absolutely no concept of customer service. The rifle is great, and as accurate as the M-4′s I fooled with in the army. However, some of us “NEED” to customize our rifles. Smith and Wesson, at least when I bought mine, wasn’t even making or selling BUIS. Even Jerry Miculek, the S&W sponsored king of all things that go boom, competes with an MP 15 and uses all third party upgrade and custom parts.

    For this reason, and due to the friendly and awesome customer service that I recieved, my next AR purchases will be a bushmaster. Quality and accuracy aside, when I drop my limited fun-money on a new fire stick; I want the manufacturer to treat me like it was the most important sale they have ever made. Bushmaster did this even though I bought a competitor’s product. I was educated by a friendly sales associate not only on the types of add-on’s that would make shooting my rifle more fun, but on the one’s that offered the most bang for the buck.

    • avatarGrover says:

      Have you looked at the new Bushmasters…the upper and lower recievers are carbon fiber. It really makes me wonder how long can you expect them to last knowing that carbon fiber can get brittle with heat and vibration. Just a Thought!!

      • avatarNorquist says:

        Um, Grover- your post asserts the all new Bushmaster receivers are carbon fiber and that’s all you have to choose from. If you had bothered to pay full attention to their current product line you would know that was not the case. Bushmaster still makes their regular stuff out of good old forged alloy per usual. Stop with the pantywadding already.

        If you have the coin and want to try something different, then buy a carbon model. Want the traditional tried & true stick with the regular. Come what may it’s great to have choices. Modern hi-tech autoclaved pre-preg carbon fiber is incredibly strong material. Much lighter than any aluminum alloy, yet stronger than steel. Get your facts straight Grover.

        Bushy makes as good a piece of milled alloy as any of the others. In fact Bushy actually makes those pieces of milled alloy for some of the others. The simple fact is there ain’t gonna be no difference between anything you get from anybody these days, because they’re all just great big machine shops with CNC mills running the same identical CAD blueprints. However gun snobs will be gun snobs, and they will foolishly shill for their favorite brand and denounce the rest and nobody can talk no kind of sense into them anyhow.

        If we were all deathly afraid to try new things out we’d still be living in caves, wearing bear pelts, and eating raw meat. And there would be no firearms to speak of period.

        • avatarGrover says:

          Norquist…I am going to come short of calling you a dumbbutt but I want you to know. When I got my Sport, I took it a Colt AR15A3 H-Bar and A Brand new Bushy Patrolman out to our private range to see how my “cheap” AR compared. Function wise they were all the same not a single problem. Accuracy wise the Colt and the Bushmaster were not even in the same class. I happen to know that Bushmaster makes rifles that are not the carbon series. I almost bought one but am very glad I didnt. I run a small business selling some AR aftermarket parts, mostly Mil-Surp. I know that some of the Poly/Carbon fiber rifles have a serious problem with their 1913 Picatinney Rails being out of spec. So bring your Bushmaster and lets have a shoot off….you win and I will apologize and shut up, I win you do the same!!!

        • avatarNorquist says:

          Grover – I don’t care who makes what. It’s the shooter not the rifle. If you shot worse with the Colt & Bushmaster you either did it on purpose, or by error.

          Since the sunset of the AWB, everyone and their grandmother have gotten into the Black Rifle business. Smith & Wesson, wishing to cash in on the wave of patriotism in time of war/fear of terrorism coupled with everyone’s renewed right to own a proper unhandicapped AR-15, rushed to market with their own line of Black Rifles right along with granny. Lacking the tooling and production logistics capable of producing their own milled parts in the beginning they subbed out to Stag and Bushmaster, who were among only a handful of mil-spec producers at the time. They have since moved their production in-house, but I maintain that all these rifles are virtually identical regardless of where it’s made. If the devil truly does lie in the details as the old saying goes, then S&W owners are definitely up the creek without a paddle in my view. Prior attempts by them at producing an autoloading pistol that functioned properly leads me to say this. With that said, a good old Model 29 is at the top of my list for a nightstand piece.

          They are all the same folks. As long as it’s got a chromed bore, a properly staked gas key, and a cold hammer forged barrel it’s gonna go bang and make you happy. That describes 95% of the product out there.

  14. avatarGene says:

    Bought an M&P 15 OR from Gander Mountain in August. First trip to the range and about 50 rounds, the pin holding the trigger assembly slipped out to the left and the gun wouldn’t fire. Put the pin back in. Shot about 20 more rounds and the same thing happened. VERY disappointed. Gander Mountain traded me for a new one. Second copy the pin slipped out again and wouldn’t fire. Put the pin back in. Had three straight misfires all within 40 rounds. Returned my second gun for my money back. Horribly disappointed with the M&P15. Looking for another maker.

  15. avatarChux91 says:

    I just bought one today at Cabella’s and the price was $699. While checking out, one of the sales associates mentioned that on Black Friday one of these S&W M&P’s will be priced at $599. I had to laugh when he was telling me about the crowd & how busy they are that day and how all the guns that get sold going out of the stockroom and then the store and what happens when one customer sees another get two of something he was just told had been sold out for hours. Glad I missed that madhouse!! They’ll be having many other sales there too so if you can handle the crowds you’ll get one of these at an excellent price. Good luck….IF you’re going out shopping that day you’ll need it!!!

  16. avatarcopsoldier says:

    I got one with a Troy Industries pop up rear site, front quad rail, and six, yes 6 each thirty round mags for a grand. Put a Tasco World Class 9×39 on it from Amazin.com for another 60 bones. Tack Driver!!!

  17. avatarGeorge says:

    I have had my S&W ar15 for about six months now. Haven’t had any problems at all. Paid 600.oo and change mounted a Nikon Pro Staff BDC on top and it became a nail driver at 100 yards. Being a former Law Enforcement Officer this thing is top shelf. Very pleased. Also great write ups Ralph keep up the good work.

  18. avatarCHOPPERGIRL says:

    At $599, the MP-15 should of been almost a decent buy (I like the S&W build quality), but at $900+ that they are now (2012), I would not consider this a good deal… at all. You have to think, with the Vietnam War long over, and the ubiquity of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of M-16/Ar-15′s mass produced for the US Army as one of the longest running guns in history, decommisioned ones should be cheap as dirt in the US. You should be able to pick one up for $250, $300 max. SHOULD, that is. These things must be piled in heaps in warehouses somewhere, waiting to be dumped on the civilian market or pawned off on some South American dictatorship

    All the funny slams he says in his little write up are valid. Its not really a great gun, other than its easy to break apart and simple in operation… there are a ton of crannies and crevices to clean and they are all colored… black (unless they start to make a camo or pink version, if they make them, like the MP 15/22).

  19. avatarCHOPPERGIRL says:

    The other thing is, if there is a war (or of a conflict) in an amagedon type situation, by the end of the war there are going to be tons of M-16s lying about scattered everywhere on the dead bodies of soldiers. Maybe not at the beginning of the conflict, but definatly not before long, and definately near the end. You should be able to pick up an M-16 by the side of the road. Just look at pictures of Stalingrad, or Vietnam, and you see no shortage of discarded weaons lying about for the the taking.

    In fact, you’ll wonder why you ever spent $1000 on a gun in peace time, when they are as common as soldier boots during war time. You’ll wish instead you had spent your $1000 on $1000 worth of bagged rice (1000 pounds), stored in a water proof spider hole underground, than on a crappy AR-15 rifle you could pick up anywhere. Or other such supplies.

    The sad thing is for most people today its a huge long stretch to save up $500 for a little 15/22 caliber rifle… just for plinking and home defense… and an AR-15 at $1000 is totally out of the question. I mean, you can buy a car for that kind of money, and a car you can use to take yourself back and forth to work. A gun… well… in peace time, is damn near useless. It stays in the closet for the most part where it should.

    • avatarGrover says:

      ChopperGirl…what happens when some big bruiser and his buddies come and take your 1000lbs of rice away from you? Just a thought!

      • avatarNorquist says:

        Um, Grover- she’s got a point. By the time the big bruiser and his buddies find out she’s got 1000lbs of rice, it will be 850lbs and she will have picked up 2 ARs, 3 AKs and six Glock 19s from all the dead preppers laying about. Oh yeah and the bruisers will be starving and weak at that point, i.e. easily dealt with. She might even feed ‘em and gain a couple of friends out of the deal. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with sharing.

        My imagination and scenario envisioning skills trump yours. Grover I’m going to stop short of calling you an idiot, but you certainly are a nuisance. You can’t eat a rifle.

        • avatarGrover says:

          Norquist….yep I am a nuisance. Say what you want, while I am sitting here with my rifle guarding my 65 bird flock of chickens, we also have turkeys, ducks and geese. our 1 acre garden and seed bank plus our goats and cows. Even have a mule to pull a cart for when the gas runs out. I have a water well with a windmill on it. I would imagine that you might not have thought all of this out. What we dont can or eat ourselves gets sold at the local farmers market but will be able to be traded if need be. I am sorry but I wasnt talking about being self sufficient I was just talking about the gun. For some reason you think it will be safe enough for someone without a firearm to go rummaging around to find one or trade one from the preppers. The latter may happen because all you can store will run out. If you dont have the ability to replenish your supplies you will run out of trading stuff pretty quick and then what do you do to survive. I just know that both my wife and myself are very capable with all of our firearms and I pity the poor person who comes to take what isnt theirs! So keep on thinking you have it all figured out or start figuring it out for yourself. I personally dont know any preppers, however I do know people who have a self sufficiency plan in place.

        • avatarNorquist says:

          Grover – I’m sure the girl isn’t against having a heater of some ilk to get the job done with. But as I said you can’t eat a rifle. Food would be the more immediate requirement, guaranteed. Hardware can be simply taken if needed badly enough, just like your chickens. One requires food to power one’s body, as such is the fundamental need above all else. Having nearly starved to death personally I can fully attest that I shall not ever wish to repeat the experience. And remember this Grover, while I’m glad you sit at the prow of plenty and I can sleep better now that you have publicly revealed your stash, one old man with a rifle ain’t gonna cut it if a group of hungry raiders come a callin’. Even if you are Rambo himself I hope you have hoarded a lifetime supply of vitamins and a Superman cape along with your chickens because I have a sneaking suspicion you will gravely need them.
          When the SHTF and you can’t dial 911 no more, it’s going to take a lot more than firearms & chickens to survive in the ensuing living hell that would certainly prevail. That’s why I built my spaceship. Who needs primitive projectile weapons when you have one of these.

        • avatarGrover says:

          FLAME DELETED

  20. avatarMbflyjet says:

    Choppergirl….. U have issues

  21. avatarHeath says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed that piece Ralph. I laugh aloud more than a few times, I’ve got a head cold and that made me feel better.

    I’ve got an M&P Sport, I love it. Put an EOTech on it, 13″ Troy Aplha BR, and a few other goodies to make it the way I wanted. VERY solid shooter.

  22. avatarJB says:

    Ralph, well written and enjoyable reading. I appreciate dry humor. Haven’t owned an AR since the 80′s. Custom built several dozen AR15 rifles back then under the Blue Star Arms logo. Got bit by the “black rifle” bug again so I’m looking to purchase a finished rifle or build one from lower receiver up. With a gazillion choices available today in AR platforms the S&W is one of my narrowed down choices. Sounds like your gun laws back east are about as politically motivated and askew as here in California. Thanks for your input and hope this finds you well. Jon – Fallbrook, California

  23. avatarRainman says:

    I enjoyed the comments and article,he kept it real and hummor a fine art a lot of instructors lost some where. I own a mp 15 as well ive hit head shot groups of 5
    out to 500meter useing 5.56 ammo ive also tested in a car front seat fired it threw windshield wear glasses scarf gloves and ear protection fireing threw the same hole hiting life size targets with no problem also used it in a helocopter side
    uh 50 shot moveing targets well with it i then at appox 500ft threw it out the chopper picked it up fired it.. 500ft into trees dirt that is.i think its a keeper

  24. avatarKCB says:

    Did some digging and research into Blue Star Arms in Newhall, Santa Clarita, California. They are now a piece of California military type – civilian version weapons history. AR15 rifles built by Colt, Bushmaster, Olympic Arms, Armalite, Panther Arms, etc. were very popular in California during the mid to late 80′s. Blue Star Arms produced approximately 100 5.56 AR style rifles hand built and tuned by Jon Bart -VP. Only a hand full of BATF licensed gun shops were building custom ARs in the 80′s. Most ARs available at the time were name brand weapons and most models ended up on the CA. AW Ban list. The two main AR rifle models that BSA built were: Blue Star Arms XR15 rifle chambered in 5.56 with a 20″ or 24″ barrel and the XM Carbine with 16″ barrel. Blue Star Arms Match Barrels were broach cut 4150 and a 416F stainless steel barrel was also available. All were 1 in 9 twist. Upper and lowers were 7075 T6 matched together during Bridgeport milling. Triggers were hand polished single stage. Serial number and Blue Star Arms logo were engraved on the lower receiver left side. There were several matches won in the late 80′s at Camp Pendleton Marine Base with Blue Star Arms XR15 Match Rifles. Hope that helps fill in some gaps.

  25. avatarJP says:

    Great piece. I own the same rifle and my experience echoes what you have written. An open question to all: Due to a shoulder injury and surgery I need a sling to hold the weapon steady. Anyone have a suggestion?

  26. avatarJohn Powell says:

    HaHaHa!!

    An edgy sense of humor with a realistic review, refreshing!

  27. avatarGrover Duffield says:

    I bought the M&P15 Sport….it is the best AR style rifle I have ever shot. I have compared it side by side with a Colt AR15A3 and a brand new Bushmaster carbine. My groups are less than half the size of either other rifle. I know it doesnt have the forward assist or the dust cover but the barrel on it the 1-8 5R progressive twist barrel is really accurate. enough so that I installed a 4-16×40 scope and regularly make shots over 200 yards accurately. IMHO a great rifle for the price…check out smithandwessonforum.com M&P15 for more information.

    • avatarNorquist says:

      Grover.

      The reason your groups were better with the S&W Sport versus the Colt & Bushy is the S&W Sport doesn’t have a chromed barrel bore. Chroming the barrel bore slightly diminishes accuracy yet greatly increases service life. Furthermore, chrome-lined barrels don’t rust.

      The S&W Sport has a 4140 steel barrel, which must be patched out after every firing session religiously or it will become pitted. Even if the weapon is never fired it must be cleaned & oiled periodically or it will rust inside the bore. Finally, non-chrome bores will shoot out much faster than a chromed bore. This is why the GI rifles all have chrome bores. At some point the gubment decided that chroming was the best compromise between accuracy and battle readiness. One doesn’t always have the time to stop and clean the rifle. Some early M-16s shot out their non-chromed barrels in less than 1000 rounds under sustained full-auto fire! This is unacceptable even for those whom will never shoot a fully automatic rifle. I like my stuff to last.

      For my part I’d rather have a hardy weapon capable of taking abuse than something I have to baby. If that means suffering slightly larger groups then so be it. The difference in accuracy will be negligible anyway. The regular M&P has the chromed bore for $500 more. This is the one to buy in my opinion, or one of the multitudes of other ARs available with chrome-lined barrels, several of which are a better choice than a S&W anyway.

      • avatarGrover says:

        Norquist…again you show your lack of information, there have been tons of technical studies by persons who do not have a name in the game that have shown that Chrome Lining is an old bandaid. Metallurgical advances over the last 60 years have came up with different processes which surpass chrome by a mile. And if you think that you have to “baby” a S&W M&P15 with the Melonite barrel you are so wrong. Melonite is harder than chrome, is inherently more accurate, has m0re lubricity. Basically has chrome lining beat in every catagory. Because our military doesnt want to spent the money to reevaluate gun barrels doesnt mean it is the end all. I am going to post just a few technical studies that prove my point and when and if you can find empirical evidence to disprove my statements bring it on.
        http://www.burlingtoneng.com/melonite.html
        http://www.burlingtoneng.com/wear_resistance.html
        http://www.burlingtoneng.com/corrosion_resistance.html
        http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/08/metal-treatments-ferritic.html
        I have come to realize that you like to post things just to disagree with me. I have studied this and I dont just post things that I have heard from someone else who doesnt have a clue either. If you have the ability to read and comprehend please try to read these technical studies and you will find again that you dont have a clue from which you type!! Have a good day Sir!

  28. avatarNorris Heckwine says:

    Man, you missed your calling. You should consider writing more!

  29. avatarFishburne says:

    I recently bought a S&P Sport with the heavier Melonite treated barrel. It will do just fine. As a former SF officer I’ll tell you the same thing we told our indigs; clean the thing every time you pick it up. I paid $649 for it, added a nice EO sight (I’m amazed at how much better I shoot with 1X optics than I did 40 years ago with iron sights), some mags and 1000 rounds of decent ammo. My intended use is to enjoy shooting, talking guns and telling war stories at the local rifle range. For more info read “One Second After” by Bill Forstchen. It will scare those wadded-up panties right off of you again.

  30. avatarBoris says:

    Mated a DelTon M4 upper to a Plumcrazy C15 lower and ended up with a cheap super light M4 profile AR. Put a generic CTD chicom carryhandle/sight on it and only have 475.00 in the thing. The Plumcrazy has a great trigger and no noticeable wear after 2500 rds and counting. The only issue so far is the bolt hold open has never worked so you always have to use the charging handle. Seems like the tab is just too small to catch the BCG. Annoying, but thats why it was cheap. Zero issues with the DelTon upper, nice accurate barrel. Far as I can tell this is the cheapest AR you can build, and I think its better than one of those 597.00 Walmart Sporticals.

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  34. avatarChris says:

    Ralph, Good read. I just bought a M&P 15 Sport (in Mass) as well… Love it! $599 at Four Seasons in Woburn. Really solid daily shooter.

  35. avatarJack Ennett says:

    When I was shopping for my S&W-M&P, I desired the melonite barrel w/5R rifling. S&W had already switched the Sport from the 5R melonite, to the standard twist and melonite. I bought the current model ‘T’ for $995. The “T” now has the Melonite 5R barrel, the Sport does not. It does have a Melonite barrel, but no 5R rifling, anymore.
    I’ve found people who dis the Melonite process A: Need to do some research. B: They don’t own a Melonite barrel and C: Change hurts.

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