Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15-22

My first gun. Where to begin? Because of my age, it couldn’t be a handgun. Thanks to a low tolerance for PITA parties and ongoing RTFM issues, it had to be reliable. Money? Money was too tight to mention (although I just did). I eventually put the Smith &Wesson M&P15-22 in my sights. Friends who owned the cheap-to-fire .22 caliber AR sang its praises like Maxim describing Bar Rafaeli . . .

Before pulling the trigger on the rimfire AR, I commuted to my local gun store for extended fondling and familiarity. I boned-up online, and then researched the gun in a farrago of forums, YouTube videos, review sites and official websites. I put my cash down and picked up my M&P15-22 after a mandatory two-day wait.

Thus began my inevitable descent into firearm addiction.

The 15-22 made it home unmolested. You know those cool Springfield XD cases that remind you of a spy movie? The 15-22′s cardboard box goes completely the other way. It has that Sam’s Club “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap” vibe; which is no bad thing provided the gun does what it’s supposed to do. NRA come-on, manual, laughable lock, 25-round mag, gun. Now how much would you pay? Wait! Don’t answer . . .

Thanks to the United States Air Force (your tax money hard at work) the AR platform and I are BFFs. The 5.5 pound Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 is slightly lighter than a 5.56 M4 but not so light that you wonder if the Smith is the “nothing” to which the “It’s NERF or nothing” tagline refers. The M&P15-22′s polymer construction is solid as you wannabe, with only a slight slight wobble with the stock. [ED: Wobble baby wobble baby wobble.]

In my case the 15-22 dances with an A1-Style compensator (1/2 x 28″ thread). If that’s not for you, you can compensate for the compensator with a variety of aftermarket attachments. How about a suppressor that make the 15-22 quieter than a mute librarian? Just don’t forget to say hello to the ATF.

The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 comes with adjustable/removable front and rear sights. Like with all railed AR platforms, you can pimp your gun until it’s disappears in doo-dads. Unlike its 5.56 cousins, you can customize your more-or-less recoilless rifle on the cheap. Example given: Airsoft replica red dot/holographic sights. My rifle sports a $80 EOTech knockoff and a $125 quick detach 3x magnifier. Neither loose their zero, even when I’m bump firing.

The 15-22 breaks down like a Diva stuck in the middle of a rainstorm. Remove two pins and the body splits in half. The buffer’s built into the bolt and doesn’t travel into the buffer tube. The trigger assembly is solid. Cleaning the .22 caliber Smith AR is so quick and easy you will actually do it on a regular basis without complaining.

Now the fun part: range time.

The weather: clear with a very light breeze. Ammo: 36 gr, CPHP Federal Ammunition. Target: a 2¼” steel spinning target set out at 50′. After zeroing the M&P’s iron sights benched, I took careful aim and fired a full 25-round magazine. Every round found the target. As you’d expect, recoil was almost as mild as an ant fart (don’t ask me how I know). Follow-up shots were quicker Michael Moore making his first trip to the buffet. Or is that his second?

I fired the next few mags standing. I rapid fired five full mags and landed almost every round on steel. I was about 200 rounds in when I had my first series of malfunctions. Over the span of two magazines I had four stovepipes. I had a misfeed two mags later. I attribute the malfs to the 15-22′s break-in period. At the end of a two-hour shooting session I’d shot my way through 550 rounds with only the previously mentioned malfunctions.

Other than that, the rifle ran like a dream. And since then as well. I’ve put another thousand rounds of different ammo brands through the gun without so much as a hiccup. No issues. Nothing.

That’s no small thing. .22 caliber AR’s are notoriously finicky. While there are advantages to the problem: shooters using a .22 AR to train for a full-size firearm get hands-on experience dealing with malfunctions—there’s a limit to how many clicks even the most determined tacticool type wants to hear. The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 leaps over this bar like Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones jumping over a playa.

Smith & Wesson have come a long, long way in terms of quality control for their AR products; they’ve brought production back in-house to excellent effect. Still, we’re talking about a $450 plastic fantastic—sorry ”high strength polymer upper and lower receiver equipped” rimfire AR. A buyer should clean and run their M&P15-22 with a large variety and quantity of ammo to see what works. If problems persist, Smith has terrific customer care. FWIW.

The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 has exceeded my expectations on all fronts. It’s set the standard for the firearms to follow. Which sucks. How will I ever find another cool-looking firearm that’s so much fun to shoot that doesn’t break the bank in terms of price of entry or running costs? I think I need a bigger income.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: .22LR
Barrel: 1 in 15″ twist, carbon steel
Barrel Length: 16″
Overall Length: 33.75″ extended, 30.5″ collapsed
Weight: 5.5 pounds unloaded
Action: Semi-automatic
Finish: Matte black
Capacity: 25+1
Price: MSRP $519 (~$459 street)

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Accuracy:  * * * * *
The 15-22 was surprisingly consistent, regularly hitting 2¼” steel targets at 50′ while standing and dead-on while benched.

Ergonomics:  * * * * *
It’s the little brother of the beloved AR carbine and has all the features of its more powerful sibling. The picatinny rail will accept any of the accessories that make your .223 rifle shoot well.

Reliability: * * * * *
I’ve only had one misfeed and four stovepipe jams in over 1500 rounds. With a .003% fail rate, this rifle definitely maxes out on the reliability scale.

Customize This: * * * * *
Being a .22 AR with a rail system, it can accept the gajillion or so accessories.

Overall Rating: * * * * *
The price is just right for this system. For those looking for a dedicated .22 AR platform gun, you’d be crazy not to consider an M&P15-22.

 

53 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15-22

  1. avatarHawkman says:

    This was my second rifle. I bought it’s big brother first (M&P 15 Sport) so after a much research and based on the positive review done on this website for it’s value and quality. Later I happened on the M&P 15-22 and I found out that my research might not have been as complete as I thought! This is a great rifle. Light, accurate (at least for me), inexpensive to shoot and it looks just like it’s 5.56 cousin! Both rifles are well made, but the 15-22 is the rifle that sees the most rounds through it. THE AWB in Connecticut is a pain for accessories, but the rifle was worth every penny spent. Thanks for the review!

  2. avatarAir Force TSgt says:

    Fantastic rifle, I have nothing but good things to say about it. I also think it is the most reliable tacticool .22 made right now.

  3. avatarcrosswiredmind says:

    I have both the M&P 15-22 and the CMMG Quebec (now called the M4-LE .22). While I like my M&P, I love the CMMG. It has a really real lower, which I have used with 5.56 and 300 BLK uppers. The CMMG has a far superior trigger out-of-the-box. It also weighs more, and I see that as a good thing. That being said, the M&P is a bit more accurate.

  4. avatarspymyeyes says:

    thank you for the excellent review!

    I have been looking for a good/great 22, and you just sealed it for me.

    I bought a M&P 9mm for my very 1st pistol and fell in love with the S&W brand because of the excellent preformance of that pistol compaired to others that I have since fired with a compairable failure rate to what you just did and I have fed my pistol every kind of 9mm ammo that i could find over the past 2 years.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

    I tell everyone I know at my gunclub about your site and have linked your articles to my friends many times becuase of your high standards and honesty.

    The people who comment here are very knowledgeable and for the most part, friendly with just a few trolls.

  5. avatarJoseph says:

    In the early 70′s I bought a Remington Nylon 66. Since then I’ve put lord-only-knows how many rounds through that gun. I once went about 1000 rounds without cleaning. It finally got so dirty that the bolt would sometimes not fully close, resulting in a misfire now and then. I cleaned it and it returned to its fully-reliable mode. Other than that, I’ve Never had a failure to feed, extract, or eject. Just makes me wonder if quality control is a thing of the past, because I don’t believe in a “break in period” for firearms. Every one I’ve ever had worked right out of the box or got sent packing asap.

    • avatarPete says:

      I have to say I am in complete agreement with your observations. I still have my ’66 (for 36 years) and she still shoots true.

  6. avatarjwm says:

    if you want an accurate out of the box 22 find a winchester wildcat. even with a cheap scope it’s a match lighter.

  7. avatarRalph says:

    I commuted to my local gun store for extended fondling and familiarity. I boned-up online

    I understand getting all hot and bothered after feeling up this terrific little rifle, climaxing in this outstanding review, but an online boner is nothing to brag about.

  8. avatarcmd says:

    It is on my list to get. I bought a 10/22 Takedown instead. A buddy of mine has one and really enjoys it.

  9. avatarracer88 says:

    Congrats and enjoy. I love, love, LOVE my M&P 15-22. It just can’t be beat for range-time fun. Mine has been utterly reliable until I tried to feed it Winchester 555 bulk ammo. That stuff is CRAP! It didn’t work well in my Ruger SR22 Pistol, either.

    My M&P 15-22 feeds Federal Champion like shit through a goose . (I had to add my own simile… it seems you like them!). ;)

    I put a Primary Arms red dot clone on mine for about $80. Works very well.

    • avatarracer88 says:

      Oh… got the MOE version. :)

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      The low-end Winchester “bulk” ammo is probably the worst .22LR ammo ever made. Period.

      • avatarJim says:

        You’re right. I just got the MOE version and LOVE the rifle! We were shooting at a splatter target at 100 yards with the iron sights. This is my first Tactical gun and I couldn’t be happier. I was happy that I could hit the target at this distance! I was shooting CCI standard velocity rounds through it all day. The only time I had a misfire, (two of them), was when we loaded my nephew’s Winchester 22LR in the Mag, otherwise, clean shooting. I am going to run some Federal through it my next trip to the range.

  10. avatarWiebelhaus says:

    Seems a bit bias being as it’s your first and it gets five stars all the away across….Maybe the rifle is that good but this a too much like fanboyism, I bought it, research it, feel in love with it and bought it so it MUST be the best of the best right? right?.

    • avatarracer88 says:

      Haha… you never forget your first, eh? ;)

      If you look around the interwebz, though, you’d see nearly universal praise for the 15-22. So, this review is a bit of a redundant, “I love it, just like everyone else!” It really is a great .22LR rifle. Is it the “best of the best?” I can’t say. I do enjoy shooting it more than the venerable 10-22. But, I haven’t compared it to any other .22LR rifle.

    • avatarOODALOOP says:

      While you’ve got a point Wiebelhaus, it actually is the best of the best of the best, sir! I’ve run ARs with .22lr BCGs, the Mossberg AR, the Umarex AR and a billion semi-auto & bolt action .22lrs, and the M&P 15-22 is not a classic .22lr jammomatic, it is very to handle for an 8 or 88 year old and with it being so close to mil-spec, I’d say that it probably has more options and upgrades available to it than a 10/22. I know that when we have range night at my place, it’s usually the first gun to get grabbed and definitely gets the most rounds through it among the 30 or so other firearms available. Add a few bits and do-dads (like a JP trigger spring kit and a EOTech) and it’s amazingly accurate to 100 yds and takes any ammo I’ve thrown at it. Life gets even better when you add a can to the end of it. Of all the firearms I have, the best bang or the buck has definitely been the M&P 15-22.

    • avatarPatrick Shockley says:

      Yes, this was my first but that was a few years ago. Since then I have owned many more guns and have applied what I have learned about firearms to this review. At the time I felt the rifle was near perfect and after shooting other .22 rifles I stand by my original thoughts.

  11. avatarFletch says:

    I love my M&P15-22, but this rifle is the best example of the grave injustice that is the California high capacity magazine ban. I don’t mind the 10 round mags on handguns as much. I just buy smaller, more concealable guns since I have an LTC. Take that gun grabbers. (yes there is such a thing as a CA license to carry) The M&P15-22 just begs for high capacity magazine. Mag dumping 10 rounds of .22lr just isn’t enough. I need at least 25 or really the 75 round drum. If I could have a full auto firearm, this would be it.

    • avatarleft coast says:

      I thought this a cool gun, so more money for an.556 AR would be even better but Since I live in California it would have to have a fixed 10 round magazine so I don’t go out and shoot mass quantities of puppy s and little kids. I was born in California and love my state but we have been screwed by politically correct trend setters minding everyone’s business.

  12. avatarAndo says:

    Small review nitpick, reliability rate is 0.3% not 0.003%
    5/1500 x 100

  13. Ordered 4 M&P 15-22 25 round mags Tuesday and they were in my mailbox Thursday, clear across the country!!! Thank You for the GREAT SERVICE, I will be back.

  14. avatarJoe Grine says:

    Hitting 2¼” steel targets at 50′ is about as impressive as the sun coming up in the morning. Tell me that you can hit 5 dimes in a row at 50 yards (150 feet) with it, and you will have an impressive gun.

    • avatarspymyeyes says:

      @joe,

      if you watch the video (or fast forward to the end of it) the youtube links for more videos in the same player, there is a guy who shoots his steel target at 250 yards with the video camera running and no breaks in the film to prove it.

      very impressive with his 15-22!

    • avatardrew says:

      I have a remington with a Tasco scope I can do that with. With the right scope I have faith the M&P will do that and then some. Going to laser bore sight mine at 150 yards with a high rise scope mount to allow for open sights sighted at 50 yards. Thats how my Remington Speedmaster is set up. I can open sight mid range and scope it long range and it is dead on. That should have me covered :D

  15. avatarMatt says:

    I went into my LGS today to buy some ammo. While I was there I thought I’d have a gander at an M&P 15 22. They had one, it felt really cheap to me, to light and brittle feeling. Right next to it sat a Colt M4 22, all metal and feeling like a real M4. I walked out with it for $350…couldn’t pass that up. Look forward to getting it out on the range.

  16. avatarPeter says:

    The MOE version for me in FDE, because I live in the desert.
    This thing is FUN. I must say that the trigger is very good with a crisp release and a short reset. I wish all AR triggers were this good out of the box.
    Out the door with this and a brick of .22 for a tad under 600 dollars may have been some of the best firearms money that I have ever spent. The Magpul parts alone are close to 200 dollars with a six position stock, folding MBUS sights and pistol grip all from Magpul.
    I did have to clean it after a couple of bricks but only because I felt a little guilty about it. So far it is utterly reliable with various ammo brands although I do only use high velocity stuff in it.
    Sadly, I think that this may have replaced my Marlin 39A as my favorite rimfire rifle.

  17. avatarme says:

    I’m glad to hear it’s reliable. Have you shot any groups at 50m or 100m? I should think it would be simplicity itself to mount glass on a flattop AR. That’s why the configuration was created, wasn’t it?

  18. avatarBob says:

    I opted for the Performance Center version. Far better trigger, more accurate threaded barrel. Different grip and stock. Well worth the extra ~$75

    It is a favorite. I use it a lot and plink steel targets at 110 yards. Fun!

  19. avatarTom says:

    Apparently Patrick got his “first gun” before getting to whatever grade where his school teaches percentages. Five failures in 1500 rounds is 0.33%, not 0.003%

    • avatarTim says:

      Well, Tom , apparently you slept through math class, too. If it were .33, that would be 1/3, which in 1,500 rounds would be 500 failures. 5 failures in 1,500 is 3%, which is pretty good.

      • avatarCraig says:

        Well Tim, Tom is correct, .33 is 1/3 as you say but when adding the % sign making it .33% that correlates to .0033

  20. avatarJoshinGA says:

    Fired my 15-22 for the first time today. Used Winchester Wildcat and some subsonic ammo (both on the “avoid” list in the user manual) and it fed perfectly, only problem was with the subsonic the bolt didnt hold open after the mag was empty. Which isnt a huge problem. Best ammo was M-22 by Winchester. Made for large mag capacity auto -loading .22s. 1 FTF out of around 400 rounds. On the whole a fun shooter that gives you an AR experience at a .22 plinker price.

  21. avatarGenevieve Wilson says:

    Bought a S&W M&P 15-22 being that I am a beginner. Seeing all the good reviews I thought it would be a good choice for me.

  22. avatarblake says:

    if you want a real gun check out CMMG http://www.youtube.com/v/RJNhVFGDTYg

  23. avatarjimmyjames says:

    Wow! That video was…underwhelming!

  24. Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth was a amusement account it. Look complex to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence?

  25. avatarJOE MURG says:

    Thanks for the great review. Just picked up one this morning. Cant wait to shoot it.

  26. avatarDon Smith says:

    just purchased my m&p 15-22 put about 250 rounds through it without a hitch. I recently put a nikon P-223 scope ( 8 inch) fits and works great about ( $ 195.00 with mounts) i would reconmend this rifle and scope to anyone

  27. avatargaylen gurr says:

    Recently purchased a M & P 15/22. Out of the box it has an interesting flaw. Whenever the gun is fired the safety cycles from fire to safe. To fire the rifle again
    it is necessary to manually cycle the safety from fire to safe and back to fire. Never seen this before on a firearm. Will return the gun to smith & wesson and see what they can do with it.

    • avatarJoe M says:

      Hopefully Smith&Wesson can fix that flaw for you. I’ve shot about 500 rounds so far without any problems. Very accurate out of the box. I’m very happy with it. I have a Bushmaster 5.56 and a DPMS 7.62 but since the price of ammo went up I decided to shoot 22lr . Now 22lr are hard to find and when you do its not that cheap either. Still cheaper than 5.56 or 7.62 though . I think after you get it fixed you will be very happy with it .

  28. avatarZuke says:

    Nice review. I just happened to check one of these out at a local gun shop tonight and wanted to see what the real world experiences were like before I committed. After reading your review, I think I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Will be a nice complement to my AR.

    • avatarZuke says:

      Well, I picked one up and boy is it a fun little rifle! Everything about it feels like an M4-style AR-15, from the bolt release, the charging handle, the trigger, mag release, and sights, to the disassembly with the same pin locations, etc. I ran 200 rounds of cheap Winchester bulk ammo and it was so much fun… and accurate!

      Can you tell me what the make/model is of your EO Tech knock-off and the magnifier? The iron sights are great, but I’d prefer a red-dot for quicker target acquisition and long-range accuracy.

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  34. avatarmichael says:

    Has anyone compared this rifle to the Mossberg 715T? I am in the market to purchase and am just learning about 22 tactical AR type rifles.

    • avatartommy says:

      the Mossberg ar-15 style rifles do not use the same controls as the ar-15…the m&p is MUCH closer to the feel of an ar-15. the only difference you can notice with the m&p is the lack of recoil and its a bit lighter weight. honestly I find the Mossbergs really tacky. they are pretty much a Mossberg plinkster in a shell that looks like an ar-15.

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  37. avatartodd says:

    I shoot competition steel normally with my tricked out ruger 10/22, I went out and bought the m&p 15-22 for my son to use– on my first time out with the m&p I beat everyone. Great gun

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