Yes, we know she has her finger on the trigger after firing her first semi-auto rifle at a "Zombie Shoot", this young lady was very excited. We corrected her finger on the trigger habit.
Yes, we know she has her finger on the trigger after firing her first semi-auto rifle at a “Zombie Shoot”.  She got caught up in the excitement and we corrected her finger on the trigger habit. (photo courtesy John Boch)

I love my Smith & Wesson M&P15-22. It’s a fun little gun and new shooters love it as well. It looks cool and shoots great. It’s accurate enough to shoot a Rifleman score during an Appleseed AQT (Appleseed Qualification Test). The adjustable stock makes for a better fit for young people or those of small stature. The non-existent recoil is very beginner-friendly as well.

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Seems as though others haven’t had such good experiences of late with the gun, though. I’m an Appleseed instructor-in-training and this was dropped into my lap.

From Project Appleseed, the national rifle marksmanship (and American heritage) training organization:

Date: September 14, 2016
To: All Appleseed Instructors
Subject: TEMPORARY BAN ON SMITH & WESSON M&P 15/22 USE AT APPLESEED

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, THE USE OF SMITH AND WESSON M&P 15/22’S AT AN APPLESEED IS HEREBY BANNED UNTIL SMITH & WESSON FORMALLY INVESTIGATES THE PROBLEM AND ISSUES AN OFFICIAL CORRECTIVE ACTION. THE AOC WILL NOTIFY THE CADRE WHEN THIS BAN IS LIFTED.

The AOC has received a rash of reports regarding safety issues with the Smith & Wesson M&P 15/22, including a shooter getting injured as a result of an out-of-battery discharge (see reports below).

As responsible Instructors, we have a duty to maintain safety at our events. If we know a rifle to be potentially unsafe, we shouldn’t allow it on the line at all.

At this time the least risk course of action would be to exclude the Smith & Wesson M&P 15/22 from future events until Smith & Wesson formally investigates the problem and issues an official corrective action.


REPORTS TO BE AWARE OF:

Bowie, MD: A shooter (RHS) firing a M&P 15/22 with Remington 22 Thunderbolt Ammo had an out of battery discharge. A Metal Fragment hit the arm of a shooter next to her (LHS) in her right arm. She, did not realize that she had been hit with fragments at first and continued to fire until blood begin to pool (time est. 11:10am) feeling only a warm sting. Instructors rendered first aid applying a compression type bandage to stop the bleeding. Shoot boss suggested that she go to local hospital or emergency clinic. She was able to drive herself to the hospital. They took x-rays of the area and found a fragment deep in her arm. Hospital suggested that she see an Orthopedic surgeon or her Doctor on Monday to have the object removed but surgery should not be required.

Casper, WY: This past weekend we had a student show up with a 15/22. She had been using it pretty regular, since she had also attended our recent boot camp. After about 8 sets of squares, she began to notice the malfunction. Upon careful observation, it was noticed that as she reset the sear the rifle would discharge. We called cease fire and immediately removed this rifle from the line, and replaced it with a loaner.

Once off line, it was field stripped and upon inspection, found that not only was it firing at reset, but also when the safety was engaged. Further inspection found that the trigger pin and the hammer pin were both loose. They both had moved about 1/16th of an inch to the right. Just enough to be loose on the left side of the receiver. The pins were gently hammered back in and function checks performed. After about 3 sets, the hammer pin slid out again.

The rifle was reassembled and tagged out, student was told that 1) the rifle needed to be seen by her gunsmith; or 2) (my recommendation) sent back to the manufacturer for repair/replacement.

Michigan Senior Instructor: The SI wanted to shoot an AQT with his 15/22, but he needed to verify the zero. Another instructor volunteered to take the rifle over to another range, put it on a bench, and confirm zero. While shooting the first string, after pulling the trigger, the extractor shot out the ejection port along with the case and the extractor spring. The case was retrieved and it was observed to be split down the side, indicating that the rifle fired out of battery. Fortunately, the instructor was alone on the range, and no one was injured. The rifle was sent back to S&W, and it was repaired and returned. A copy of one page of the manual was enclosed, highlighting the need to keep the rifle clean and only use certain types of ammunition, insinuating that the problem was operator error, not a design flaw. The Senior Instructor sold the rifle shortly thereafter.

Michigan Instructor: “Back before I was more familiar with this model, we had a malfunction of the Extractor during an event – it simply fell apart during a course of fire. I took it to Williams and they said it needed to go back to S&W. To save time I just bought a new extractor, springs and dowel pins and replaced them myself. Tested it and it worked fine, that’s until it malfunctioned again after several hundred rounds down range.

As the old saying goes “two is one and one is none” – I had purchased several extractors, springs and dowel pins – replaced it a second time and it worked fine all up until I had a “Run-Away…”  Luckily I had the muzzle pointed down range as it spit out the balance of 30 rounds down range without the need to have a finger on the trigger….
I contacted S&W and they sent me a repair tag and shipped it back to them. Upon its return I noticed that they replaced the hammer, sear and all the springs were replaced with “Blue” springs. The rifle performed well the after that but I never brought it back to an Appleseed. It now sits in the vault as an expensive club.”

Montpelier, VA: I’ve witnessed out-of-battery firing and squib from M&P 15/22’s twice but never from a 10/22.

Have any of you had similar issues with a M&P15-22?

63 Responses to Appleseed Bans S&W M&P15-22s

  1. I never understood the need for a dedicated .22LR AR platform when drop-in kits exist that let you use your existing rifle with all the accessories at a fraction of the cost.

      • LOL. You were joking but as a resident of California on the Left Coast (for a few more years until we retire and seek liberty anyway) it is not that humorous when you have to live it. In fact it is a sad state of affairs.
        All that aside, I am glad I bought a Sig Sauer 522 instead. Works and works and works.

      • Well, pwrserge’s rifle MIGHT be evil, but that’s not the reason I have a dedicated .22 AR. Using a conversion bolt assembly can cause various problems with centerfire ARs, including:

        – Excessive chamber fouling (due to gas blow-back around the chamber insert) than can harden and cause extraction problems with centerfire ammo (you have to scrub it regularly to keep it from building up).

        – Build-up of lead and powder granules in the gas tube, which can completely plug the tube, requiring it to be replaced (I saw this happen regularly in the USAF when we used .22 adapter kits in the M16/M16A1 rifles; unless the rifle was taken out and fired with 5.56mm ammo at regular intervals (about every 500-1000 rounds of .22 LR ammo), the gas tube would be plugged or restricted so much that the weapon would not cycle until the tube was replaced.

        – Poor accuracy. The twist rate of the 5.56mm/.223 barrel is a poor match for the .22 LR bullet, and it is difficult to get decent accuracy out of a “.22 drop-in kit” converted AR.

        – Broken hammer pins. The rotary-bolt action of a normal AR moves the bolt carrier and bolt much more slowly due to the unlocking action. A blowback action transmits a sharper unbuffered impact straight back to the hammer on firing, and this will eventually cause breakage of the hammer pin. This has also been observed and confirmed in blowback 9mm ARs.

        – Zeroing problems, due to the vastly different velocity and point-of-impact of .22LR vs 5.56mm/.223 ammo, and the slow, looping trajectory of the .22 at longer distances.

        Many of these problems can be avoided by buying a dedicated .22 upper assembly, with the bolt built-in to work with a dedicated .22 LR barrel. Accuracy is much better, you can dedicate a sighting systems to the different cartridge trajectory, no gas system to foul. If you want to use your AR to shoot .22LR, get a dedicated built-for-.22LR upper.

        • We had useful results using drop-in .22LR adapters in M16A1’s to use for subcaliber tank training. Who knew Dynamit Nobel made .22LR tracer? Any particular one didn’t fire more than 50 rds in a day before being cleaned and the range of engagement was sell within 100m for the most part, akshully w/i 25m most of the time. Parallax was more of an issue than accuracy of the ammo.

        • M16A1s for tank training? Did that mean someone thought it was a good idea to engage a tank with the full-caliber 5.56mm M16A1?

          And I think we even have domestic companies making .22 LR tracer nowadays. I’ve seen it in both green and red variations; I’ve got some of the green, and it works well. I forget who made it, though…

        • Wow, you were way ahead of me. I was going to point out the twist rate problem, but I didn’t know about the other problems. Kudos.

        • I never used the .22 subcaliber device, but I’m not surprised to hear that was a thing at one time.

          I have used TPGID (Tank Precision Gunnery Inbore Device) – which allows you to fire 35mm projectiles from a Gepard AA Gun through the 120MM M256 Main Gun on an Abrams. It required emplacing a barrel insert, loading 35mm rounds into a (really awkward and hard to load) “cartridge” and a modified firing pin. The ballistics were close enough to M830 HEAT that you just set the ammo selector to HEAT. We used TPGID a lot at Grafenwohr, Germany because it was cheaper than firing 120mm for the prequal tank ranges. No idea if it is even still in service.

          Tank rounds are expensive, so there’s an incentive to find ways to get “live fire” training without using actual training ammo.

    • Personally, i’ve never liked having kits to convert one gun to different calibers. It makes financial sense but I like having the ability to have a rimfire and a center fire in service at the same time.

      Gives me an excuse to buy more guns.

      • Agreed. I’ve had a couple 22 conversion kits that just sat in the safe while I used actual 22 pistols or rifles. Why field strip a pistol and half-ass the function (they usually don’t lock back on empty, such as with the 1911 conversion kit I had) when I could spend just as little on a decent/dedicated 22 pistol?

        • Wierdist one was the “Ace”? A conversion kit for the 1911 that was a .22 but supposed to mimic the recoil of the full .45 round. Something about a “free floating” chamber. We never got that thing to run right.

    • Because its nice having a dedicated platform and not having to either 1) sacrifice an AR to be .22LR all the time 2). constantly switch out uppers/bolts/etc. on your AR. I think I only paid $375 for a “special edition” olive drab 15-22 anyway, which is more than reasonable.

    • Reliability.

      I tired a couple of the major AR-15 conversion kits and uppers. None ran consistently. Some will run ok, if you buy the right ammo. But the S&W 15-22 ran circles around those kits, even with iffy ammo that none of the conversion kits would even run, the 15-22 was just are reliable. And with the good ammo that the kits ran ok on, the 15-22 runs like a top.

      • I’ve done two appleseeds with a drop in kit, two days each. No problems at all with it. Cheap bulk ammo, CCI, Winchester, and some Remington, nothing match grade. Generous amounts of Slide-glide and a quick cleaning the night between shoots was all it needed.
        I’ll agree on the accuracy problem though. Especially with the Winchester ammo.

    • “…drop-in kits exist that let you use your existing rifle with all the accessories at a fraction of the cost.”

      Not a “fraction of the cost” if you factor in the cost of acquiring the “existing rifle,” which you had to pay for unless you got it as a gift (and somebody else paid for it), and is usually a whole lot more than for a 15-22.

  2. If the company can’t fix the problem after Casper, WY does that fine a job of analyzing, they should just fold up the tent. OTOH, a “senior instructor” discovers a firearm he owns is dangerous, so he SELLS it?

      • In other words “dumped his dirty (or formerly dirty) laundry” on some unsuspecting owner. That’s BS.

        8 days ago I purchased an MP15-22 specifically for use as an AR trainer and for kid use at an Appleseed last weekend . Very accurate (sighted in) out of the box. A rather disappointing story. I specifically was shopping for the SW rather than the similar Mossy and psuedoColt which, apparently, are unreliable POS. Prices of the SW finally have dropped.

  3. I work at a LGS and indoor range. We have a S&W M&P 15/22 that has had at least 10,000 rounds through it and has never had a problem. Other than cleaning, the only thing we have done is replace the magazine once. Our in house gunsmith has repaired more Marlin Model 60s for throwing extractors than I remember.

  4. I’ve owned 2 different 15-22s and shot upwards of 2000-3000 rounds out of them. I have only experienced malfunctions of the bolt not cycling all the way when it gets really dirty. No safety issues at all, just some cycling issues after shooting it suppressed for a while and letting it get grimy. These have been great rifles for me and they work well with a suppressor.

  5. Mine doesn’t have 10k rounds on it, but close to 5k. I love it and have had zero problems with it other than keeping track of it as people love to borrow it. I’m also around a lot of shooters and heard no complaints of this nature.

    My only complaint is that the mags only hold 25 rounds, which go way too quickly.

    Appleseed sees a lot of shooters and rifles and this was the first I’ve heard of systemic problems with the gun. I’m not sure what S&W is going to do that will make the Appleseed leadership happy, so I think it will be a long time before anything changes with regard to this ban.

    John

  6. I’m too cheap to buy an M&P 15-22.

    But, on the other hand, my Marlins (60 and 795) have never given me any trouble like that.

  7. Some of the early S&W AR .22 rifles had functioning problems; several folks at my range blew case heads, and a couple sent their extractors into orbit, never to be seen again. S&W fixed everything up for those folks, and some of us had to “tweak/tune” the ejectors to get reliable functioning, but other than those early problems, the later ones I’ve seen seem to be very reliable.

    Most, if not all semi-auto blowback .22 actions have the potential to blow case heads if they are fed dented/damaged ammunition, or if they get too dirty. There simply isn’t anything in most .22 rimfire action designs to prevent firing if the bolt is slightly out of battery (not fully closed), as they are unlocked designs, staying closed during firing only due to the mass of the bolt and the pressure from the action spring and/or hammer. If the action is not fully closed, the case head is left unsupported, and on firing, the case head WILL burst, showing anyone nearby with brass fragments, some tiny, some not-so-tiny.

    This is one of the reasons that eye protection is so critical for EVERYONE on or near an active firing line. .22 case brass fragments usually aren’t heavy/fast enough to kill you, but they’ll darn sure blind you.

    • I had to do the same tweaking to get the ejector to function properly but otherwise it’s been an awesome little rifle and stone cold reliable.

  8. Wasn’t there a teaser article hereabouts asking what “responsible gun ownership” is? I think it kinda looks like this, at least in part.

    I don’t know another hobby / practice where the people self-police so vigorously, especially around safety. (So let’s take their guns away, because only what is monitored and directed may be permitted.)

    • Diving is pretty close. At least with serious divers. There’s always Open Water chuckleheads on vacation that expect to be taken care of though.

    • Ham radio operators are pretty amazing at self policing the frequencies they use. Sometimes even direction finding serious offenders.

      • Then there are, of course, the ‘Frequency Nazis’ in my area. Typically OOWG (Obese Old White Guys) who have nothing better to do with their pathetic lives than send you a postcard in the mail saying you were .0000000001 Hz off frequency and you should stop transmitting for the rest of time. Grabbers of the radio world. Like most grabbers, useless POS.

  9. Well it was manufacturered in Massachusetts. It came from Massachusetts ! Massachusetts has Left-wing Gremlins like AG Maura Healy, and RINO gov. Charlie *The Barker * Baker….So, I’d say yes….Those Rifles have Gremlins….

  10. “Through our testing, Smith & Wesson has also found that there
    are several brands and types of .22LR ammunition that do not
    perform consistently or reliably. Consequently, Smith & Wesson
    DOES NOT RECOMMEND that the following brands or types of
    .22LR ammunition be used in your M&P15-22 rifle:
    • Remington Golden Bullet • Remington Thunderbolt
    • Remington Target 22 • Winchester Wildcat
    • Any and all sub-sonic brands and types”

    Page 11 Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 Owners Manual. It also includes several specific recommended brands on page 10.

    https://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore/SmWesson2/upload/other/S&W_M&P_1522_Rifle_Manual_09-01-2013.pdf

    Maybe the Appleseed people need to read the Owners Manual provided for the arm by Smith and Wesson.

    Anti-walk pins can be installed in a few minutes.

    Remington Thunderbolts are somewhat cheap and poorly made. I only use them in bolt action 22’s.

    I have never had any issues with my M&P 15-22. Great and fun little rifle.

    • I do not give a damn what I fire out of any of my Rugers–EVERYTHING simply cycles & works correctly–I also have zero issues with Thunderbolts; not a single malfunction over many 1,000’s of rounds–I have had several brands of firearms & got sick of stupid problems that should not happen–eventually sold off anything (except a pump shotgun; Ruger never made one) that was not a Ruger–my many multitude of Rugers have caused ZERO issues & are not ammo picky at all–this applies to rimfire rifles & pistols plus center fire rifles, revolvers , and pistols–Ruger has spoiled me for any other brand

      • Ammo is not a constant; it changes over time. Raw material suppliers change, new loading machinery is added, machine operators retire. Maybe a few corners are cut, here and there.

        I’ve shot a lot of Thunderbolts over the decades with no problems, but the last bulk box I bought was absolute crap. Leaded-up a .22 pistol barrel so badly that it started keyholing shots at 10 yards, with less than 50 rounds through the pistol since the last cleaning. That batch was simply HORRIBLE ammo.

      • My Bull Barrel Ruger MK II pistol hated Thunderbolts and would not feed them reliably. Upon examining the cartridges I found about 20% had heads that were literally loose and wobbled. On a few you could pull the head off with your fingers. That experience was 25 years ago, so apparently Remington has improved their quality control. Glad you have had good luck with the T-bolts, and Remington currently claims the Thunderbolt is their best selling .22LR of all time. Smith & Wesson found what they found. You will find thousands of people who love their S&W M&P 15-22’s and have had no issues with them, as has been my experience. My brother has a Ruger 10-22 rifle and I have found it to be an outstanding, reliable shooter. I would rate the Ruger and the S&W as equally good choices. As always, YMMV, as will mine.

        • My 22-45 or my Marlin 60 won’t reliably feed 36 gr. hollowpoints of any kind I have found. CCI MiniMags 40 gr. solids work fine.

        • That’s an interesting issue because the shape and size of the bullet should be very much alike between a 36 gr hollow point and a 40 gr solid point. Might be an OAL issue with the cartridges. I use HP and SP bullets and different weights interchangeably and the only issue I encounter is slight changes in point of impact vs. point of aim requiring a minor sight adjustment now and then. So, I have never measured the two types/weights of cartridges against each other. Have you tried CCI Velocitor (if you can find them)? They are 40 gr plated lead hollow points. Winchester makes a 40 gr hollow point in their Super X line, as well.

        • It is a simple physics issue. 10 percent more bullet weight means 10 percent more force on the bolt during recoil. My bolts aren’t forced back hard enough to strip the next cartridge from the mag. I haven’t tried 40 gr hollowpoints but I am guessing they would work.

        • If S&W can not make a firearm that uses some of the most popular ammo on the market, they are a bad joke. Scrap & Worthless is one of the several brands that I will never use again; glad I decided to abandon them.

      • I have never owned a Ruger 10/22 (4) or Mk Pistol (2) that would feed reliably. I love Ruger revolvers and my American Rimfires. The only failures my SW 15-22 has had were due to bad primers with Remington and Winchester 22LR.

        I switched to the Buckmark for my 22 semi auto pistol and kept my 15-22 for my semi auto 22 rifle.

        • I do not have any 10/22’s or Mark Series that do not feed any type of round reliably. I also have yet to experience any bad primers on Win or Rem ammo, & you are talking A LOT of ammo.

      • Great, 10/22 will mostly fire crap ammo and the bullet will hit the earth somewhere (the AF bombing standard). Are you popping off rounds like a 10yr old or practicing/training marksmanship? My goal is to train kids to SHOOT not waste $/rounds.

        When Ruger puts something on a 10/22, other than the cheapest POS prehistoric sights possible, THEN I’ll purchase another (that would be a set of peep sights equivalent to TechSights). Having to spend $70 above the cost of a $200 rifle to add TechSights is BS. Major reason my most recent .22 was an MP15-22 (has standard sights and AR format).

        • Never just rattle of rounds. Every shot is for a precise hit. Can CONSISTENTLY hit the CENTER of a golf ball from 50 yards using Rem TB’s no less. Have done tests where I use 10 or more different brands and types of ammo in an evening (have my own range) and not have to adjust for POI. None of my Rugers are ammo picky whether it is a rimfire rifle or handgun; center fire rifle or revolver; or center fire pistol.I also do not clean them very often, but trying to improve on that. I also use most of my guns to teach others how to shoot that have little or no prior experience on my own dime. Every person has left a happy camper and a good marks person (quite a few women, they are better students and shots than most males).

    • If anti-walk pins are so easy to install then why don’t they come standard? A shiny new rifle fresh from the factory shouldn’t require immediate modification to function safely.

      • I installed the anti-walk pins as a personal preference. Nothing to do with safety. Normally, the AR-15 hammer pin is held in place by a tiny spring that presses into a groove in the center of the pin and keeps it from “walking”. The trigger pin is grooved on one side and the hammer spring holds it in place. You have to put the pin with the groove on the side through the trigger and the pin with the groove in the center through the hammer, making sure you have installed both hammer and trigger springs in the correct direction. If a standard pin “walks” either the tiny “J” spring is broken in the hammer disconnector group, or the hammer spring is installed backwards or the pin does not have the proper groove. The M&P15 22 is correctly assembled from the Factory and the pins do not “walk”. I like to remove the hammer and trigger groups for cleaning and lube every so often and the anti-walk pins make the process easier. YMMV.

  11. Hmm, I have fired thousands of rounds through both my 15/22 and 10/22. I have never had any issues whatsoever. The 15/22 is a lot more difficult to clean and maintain than a 10/22, so I wonder if the parents are properly maintaining these firearms.

  12. I.have an M&P 15/22 I bought 4 or 5 years ago on July 4th weekend.

    It was over 100 degrees and we shot 500 rounds through it. It got so hot, we had red circles on our hands from the heat coming through the handguard. We did not clean it.

    The next day we put another 600 through it same way. No cleaning. We were amazed. No jams, no ftf, no fte, just shooting.

    We have over 6000 rounds through it now and it has never been cleaned. We keep waiting but It dose not fail. Kind of cool. Reason enough to own one.

  13. Love, love, love my M&P 15-22 MOE edition. It’s been flawless and a favorite in my collection. Also, it’s ideal for introducing newbies to shooting… they get to shoot an AR-15-style rifle without being intimidated.

    I was surprised to see this report (earlier today on FB). In all the forums I’ve frequented, including one dedicated to rimfires, I’ve not heard of anyone having an issue with this rifle. Rather, it is widely praised and considered THE AR-15 style rimfire to buy.

  14. I have found solid bullet non hollow point 22 rounds weighing 40 grains work better in all semiauto 22 pistols and rifles and I use nothing else. They do not cause your rifle to fall apart though.

  15. I’ve had both of these issues at one time on mine, and my brothers M&P 15-22.
    The 1st was when my rifle was new. Rifle fired out of battery blowing the extractor out into space somewhere.
    Sent the rifle back to S&W and they put in a complete new Bolt. No problems since with a zillion rounds fired.

    My Brother had a brand new rifle last year that the trigger pin would walk out. Upon further examination we found out that the little bent pin in the hammer that holds the trigger pin in was missing. Sent back to S&W. They replaced the whole trigger group and no problems since.

  16. Shit ammo = failure to go into battery fully
    Shitty maintenance = fouled chamber or FCG
    Shitty ATF = no out of battery safety sear to block hammer

    • Please list the .22 rimfire models you are aware of with the blocking feature (something that will prevent hammerfall when the bolt is .020″ or more from being fully closed, the approximate distance where OOB firing will cause rimfire case failure).

      Centerfire rifles/pistol are completely different, in that the unlocking time allows for very effective preventative blocking of the firing mechanism. .22 rimfires are not the same, especially blowback semi-autos, and there are very few that have effective internal blocking features designed into the action. Even the ones that have this feature can still often be fired OOB far enough to blow a case head.

  17. “The Senior Instructor sold the rifle shortly thereafter”

    Does anyone else have a problem with the SI knowingly selling a dangerously defective weapon?
    What am i missing?

  18. Ban Remington Thunderbolts, in fact all Remington rimfire ammo, from the world, not the S&W M&P 15-22.

    BTW my 15-22 is nicer than most people’s actual ARs, real talk son.

  19. I have an M&P 15-22 MOE and I have 2,000+ rounds thru it. No problems.

    I use CCI AR Tactical ammo and keep the rifle clean though.

  20. I bought m&p 15-22 this year and blew extractor after approx 1500 rounds. It might have fired out of battery, but I didn’t notice. I had a slide fire stock, reverse muzzle brake, and lighter trigger doing something it wasn’t really designed for.

    Sent back to factory and they replaced extractor.

    About 5000 rounds later I had what I thought was leading in the barrel. After several bronze phosphor brush passes, I now believe that part of the barrel is chipped out and I’m going to send back for repair.

    Very accurate and reliable firearm otherwise, and I have no regrets purchasing other than I don’t get enough opportunities to shoot. This is the most likely .22 semi auto I have ever used to not malfunction.

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