The Smith and Wesson M&P 15 is one of the leaders in next-generation rifles. Read on and find out why.
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Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Rifle
M&P 15 Assault Rifle
— Smith & Wesson Corp. (@SmithWessonCorp) January 14, 2016
The versatility of the M&P 15 shows in the application and competition that shooters see. With the endless applications of the AR-15 in today’s world, it can be easy to switch interest on purpose-built rifles.
Chances are, if you’re considering an M&P 15 it’s either one of your first AR’s or you just need an easy-to-use varmint rifle. Check out this Smith and Wesson M&P 15 review as you read on.
Varmint Rifle Definition: A small-caliber rifle usually 5.56mm caliber used to hunt small game.
Out of the Box
Unfortunately, most of the time there is going to be some quality tradeoff when looking at budget AR’s. Smith and Wesson’s build quality comes through for us in the latest M&P 15 line.
Smith and Wesson’s 5.56 M&P 15 is one of the top offerings in the ‘out of the box’ AR-15 market. Building on the success and feedback generated by the M&P 15 Sport, the next generation now has both a forward assist and dust cover.
Why it took so long is somewhat baffling to me. Although, it could be part of a product rollout to give the customers more options.
These stock AR-15s have all the power and features needed by most owners. While it’s tempting to opt for a Picatinny rail handguard, the modified GI handguard keeps handling simple, and mounting holes if you must have some type of accessory mounted to the barrel.
The Picatinny rail on the upper receiver does exactly what it needs to do. It provides a platform for your optic of choice.
Though, it won’t be difficult to find Smith and Wesson M&P 15 upgrades for gun owners to enjoy.
Out of the box, it does come with a polymer MBUIS pop-up peep sight. Before depending on an optic, it is always best to familiarize yourself with the iron sights should the optic fail for any number of reasons.
We’ll go into more depth on shooting, maintenance, and build quality today. We’ll also expose some strengths and weaknesses of this budget conscious AR-15.
Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 // a fine weapon. pic.twitter.com/DXdEEIrncg
— AWR Hawkins (@AWRHawkins) September 27, 2013
This particular Smith and Wesson M&P 15 tactical has been in use as a training rifle by Atlas Defense for over a year now. In that time, about 5,000 rounds have been fired through it by 20+ clients.
Most first time shooters are impressed with the efficiency of the buffer system and compensator. This allows for very accurate follow-on shots.
The lightweight and stable design also come into play when carrying it for long distances. This is also noticeable around obstacles as encountered in the competitive environment.
This volume of use made us aware of some non-catastrophic stoppages, usually attributed to a buildup of carbon or ammunition.
The included Magpul magazine has remained functional throughout the months of use. The receiver also took any variation of AR magazine we jammed into it.
As with any AR magazine, we strongly advise against overfilling or maxing out a 30 round magazine. After 28 rounds, the extra spring tension created by the 29, 30 and 31st rounds on the follower only compounds the likelihood of a stoppage like a double feed upon putting the rifle into battery.
Ease of Use
Manipulating the rifle and adapting it to the shooter is very ergonomic and intuitive. The adjustable 6 position buttstock can accommodate shooters of most sizes.
To decide what length is for you, simply place the buttstock on your upper arm at the elbow. After that, make a 90-degree corner with your upper and lower arm.
Usually, this is easiest to do with holding the rifle straight up. From there, adjust the buttstock so the pistol grip naturally settles into the webbing of your firing hand.
Just like fitting your firing hand high and tight into the beaver tail of a handgun, your grip should always be high and tight.
The photos below illustrate how to find the ideal placement. Sizing a 6-position buttstock to you. From the left, you can see that fully collapsed, the buttstock does not make contact with the upper arm.
The middle photo illustrates the ideal length, just enough to settle the buttstock into your upper arm. Finally, the mark on the firing hand in the far right shot indicates where the pistol grip should be settling in.
With the stock too far extended, the firing hand cannot fully engage the pistol grip.
Next, to an AK, the M&P 15 is one of the easiest firearms to field strip. Removing a single retaining pin breaks the upper and lower receiver apart shotgun-style for quick access to the bolt, buffer, and trigger assembly.
Depending on how heavily each user shoots the M&P 15, regular maintenance will keep the rifle running smoothly every 250 rounds and especially before long-term storage. Of all places to keep clear of carbon, the chamber and bolt especially are areas that can cause stoppages.
This happens if excess carbon and dirt build up around them. Breaking down the bolt is also very user-friendly and forgiving to the beginner.
Overall, the M&P 15 is made of high-quality materials and coatings, resulting in Smith and Wesson’s lifetime warranty on the rifle. The only problem this particular M&P 15 came across as a nut that worked itself loose in the pistol grip after about 3000 rounds.
This could have been caused by any number of factors and didn’t affect the overall cycle of operations. Retightening the nut was all that’s necessary to solve the small problem.
After several hundred rounds the barrel does build up some heat and smoke. However, your hands stay protected by the handguards.
This was not a mil-spec barrel, and I would have bought it had I known it was an option. The M&P 15 eats any magazine you feed it.
Check out this video of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 by SmithWessonCorp:
Overall, if you are looking for a reliable 5.56/ .223 AR-15, this is a great choice. Backed by Smith and Wesson’s reliable build quality, I would recommend this firearm from hunting to home defense.
If you decide that you want to start collecting AR’s, this is also an acceptable gun to part out. With the seemingly endless combinations of Smith and Wesson M&P 15 accessories and upgrades, there is bound to be a setup to accommodate whatever job you may have for it!
What do you think of Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.