Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Review

| September 5, 2009 | 77 Comments

?My interest in purchasing an AR plinker spiked (no pun intended) during the 2009 SHOT show held in Orlando last January. It was exciting to see new offering by SIG and other manufacturers.?

I was ready to place my SIG order early on, but after several months and no clear release date, I decided to simply add my name to a waiting list. During the interim I?d become less patient and begun looking at alternative AR rimfire rifles that were currently available in the marketplace.

Tactical Solution?s and Spike?s build excellent dedicated AR rimfire rifles and uppers, but I didn?t want to invest that much money into a plinker, nor did the conversion kits interest me. The GSG5 and GSG AK-47 are pretty neat, but for some reason they don?t appeal to me enough to purchase one.

A process of elimination narrowed down my remaining choices to the Colt line (I like the OPS) and S&W M&P. I?ve read enthusiastic reviews about both and they seem to be an immediate hit with shooters who have purchased them. I had the opportunity to handle both manufacturers models at a local gun shop however they?re quiet pricey in our area. Based upon my inspection, reviews and owner feedback in several online forums, I decided the M&P was the most suitable for my plinking needs, and well under my budget, even after accessorizing. My Colt and S&W comparison information (PDF file) can be viewed coltsw

My price comparisons suggest that it?s a good deal less expensive ($150-$175) than the Colt, weighs less, has more functional AR-like controls, the trigger group can be changed if desired, has a removable bolt assembly (for easy cleaning), and is manufactured in the USA by a company that stands behind its product.

So, about two weeks ago I contacted my dealer, Donna at DB Flanagan?s Gun Shop, and requested that she give my spot on the SIG 522 waiting list to a deserving soul. I placed an order for the M&P15-22, which she located very quickly for me. If you?re a SIG fan you may know Donna (MississippiGal) from over at the SIG forum. She?s terrific to work with and very competitive with pricing on many brands.

The M&P arrived last week. When you pick it up it feels solid, but it?s also relatively light given the polymer upper and lower receiver, and quad rail. The quad rail and buffer tube for the adjustable stock are not removable. It?s my understanding that the stock can be replaced with any mil-spec variant.

I?ve also read that future variations of the M&P may include a threaded barrel. If you decide that you want to thread this one, the removal procedure is different then you would encounter on a standard AR. There?s more information here.

As with all new arms, I prefer to fieldstrip and clean them prior to shooting. If you own an AR you?re already familiar with the simple breakdown procedure. The only difference in the process with the M&P occurs at the very end of the sequence. With a standard AR you slip the bolt carrier group and charging handle out of the receiver. With the M&P15-22, you slip the bolt ASSEMBLY and charging handle out of the receiver. The functional charging handle appears to be polymer with a metal latch, and is shorter than the handle found on a standard AR.

It?s very easy to clean the bolt assembly once it?s removed from the upper receiver. And with the assembly removed, like a standard AR, the barrel is much easier to access and clean from the chamber end. I use an Otis Cleaning System with flexible cable on almost all of my pistols and rifles. If you prefer to use something like a boresnake or traditional cleaning equipment, they should work fine too.

Bolt Assembly & Charging Handle


I decided to install a few parts I had on hand from an old AR build and add a few new accessories I ordered while waiting on the rifle to arrive.

Boone Packer Tactical Quick Adjust Sling
ERGO Sure Pistol Grip
ERGO Low-Profile Rail Covers
Ergo Rail Mount Sling Swivel
Primary Arms Red Dot Optic (M4)
ProMag VFG
ProMag AR15/M4 buttpad

Aftermarket Grip & Fit Information

If you plan to replace the OE grip you?ll need a long-reach 3/16? Allen wrench to remove the mounting bolt inside the grip. I utilized a ball-end 3/16? long-reach Allen wrench that came with my Knoxx Spec Op Stock for my Remington 870 which worked quite well.

I decided to replace the OE pistol grip with an Ergo Sure Grip I had on hand as shown in the photos. Once installed, I discovered that the upper portion of the grip (at web of hand when holding grip) does not snug up tightly to the lower receiver like it normally would on a standard AR15. Instead, there?s a small gap between the receiver and grip. It?s not too noticeable unless you know it?s there, nor is it a hindrance when handling or shooting the rifle. The gap does not affect the installation in any other way; the grip is held firmly in place once installed.

It is my understanding that the gap is also an issue with the Magpul MOE grip. This suggests there may be some slight differences in the M&P15-22 and standard M&P15 design.

If you wish to simply avoid the issue with the gap use a grip that does not have a backstrap, such as a Hogue or Tango Down Battle grip.

Primary Arms Red Dot M4 Information

The Primary Arms Red Dot M4 is popular with members of the AR forum. The red dot works well and is under $100 delivered. An AR rail mount is included, it co-witnesses with the irons, runs on one AA battery, offers 4 reticules, including a 2MOA dot. The company provides excellent customer service.

I wish the quality of the photos were better, but unfortunately I don?t have the best camera and it rained and or was mostly overcast and cloudy all weekend.


Range Session

My primary goal on this first outing was to test the reliability of the rifle with different types of ammunition and to sight-in the irons and red dot. Given the limited time I had to shoot this weekend, determining accuracy was only a secondary concern.

There were no compatibility issues with the quad rails and accessories (red dot, grip bi-pod, rail covers and VFG) I mounted. Although the rails are polymer they appear to be sturdy.

The backstop is approximately 60? on this range. Even at that distance, with my older eyes, precision shooting can be challenging with open sights or a red dot. Of course, this isn?t a target rifle, but we all strive to shoot the best we can.

During this session I shot approximately 75-100 rounds of each of the following:

CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN HV (0030)
CCI Standard Velocity 40 grain LRN (0032)
Federal 36 grain CPHP (550 VP)
Federal Champion 40 grain SP (510)
Federal Auto-Match 40 grain SP (AM22)
Winchester Super-X 40 grain HV (X22LR)
Remington Gold Box 36 grain HP

When I pulled the trigger on the M&P15-22 the first few times it was an odd feeling. I felt somewhat bewildered and disappointed. If you own or have ever shot an AR15 you?ll understand what I mean. With the real deal you have the expectation and satisfaction of some healthy pushback and recoil. That?s not the case with the M&P15-22; there is minimal pushback, recoil and report.

The good news is that you won?t feel bad for very long. As you continue shooting your disappointment will turn into glee when you realize how much fun you?re having and how little money you?re spending on ammo. You?ll still be standing at the firing line long after the shooter next to you runs out of centerfire ammunition and heads home.

The trigger pull is perfectly adequate; no better or worse than what you would expect to find in a standard USGI equipped mil-spec trigger group, however if desired, the fire control group can be upgraded.

After sight-in, I shot offhand for a little while with open sights. Later in the session I mounted the red dot and grip bi-pod (shown in photo) and shot off of a bench, standing up. Although the magazine is long it did not present a problem shooting off the bench in this manner.

Rapid fire is not allowed at this range so I fired one round approximately each second or two until I emptied the magazine. Interestingly, during the session I inadvertently bump-fired the rifle two or three times with 2-3 round bursts. That was kind of cool and no one seemed to notice or at least no one said anything.

Range Session Results


Cumulatively, I expended approximately six hundred rounds and experienced zero issues with the rifle.


The proprietary 25-round polymer magazine appears durable and of good quality. It functioned perfectly as long as you followed the loading (one round at a time) instructions outlined in the manual.

Once you?ve loaded it a few times the process goes quickly, but I must admit, after reloading this many times during one session my thumb and index finger became a little sore while holding down the load assist button exposed on each side of the magazine follower.

The magazine bolt hold back feature worked fine. Each time the magazine expended the last round the bolt held in the open position.

Spare magazines were not available when I purchased my M&P, but my dealer backordered two for me for $46, including shipping. At about $20 each they?re very reasonably priced and also available through Smith & Wesson.

I understand that 10-round magazines will be available soon to meet compliance issues in states that do not allow hi-cap magazines for about the same price. (8/29 update on 10-round mags. S&W reports they will not be available to for at least 3 months.)

Ammunition Reliability

With the exception of Remington Gold Box all of the ammunition functioned without issue. I had at least one round of Remington GB in each of 4 magazine reloads that failed to fire and had to be manually ejected. I wasn?t surprised given my past experience with it and its mediocre performance.

The target below has five 7.5? outer rings. Each outer ring has a number eight (black) 3? inner ring. The lower rings were used to sight in the red dot and open sights. This is one of two targets that I used during the range session.

I did not clean the rifle during the range session however when I did get to it later in the day not surprisingly it was very dirty. I also decided to disassemble and clean the magazine which was quite simple with the instructions outlined in the manual.


M&P15-22 Specifications

SKU: 811030
Model: M&P15
Caliber: .22LR
Capacity: 25 Rounds
Action: Blow Back Semi-Auto
Overall Length: 33.75″ Extended, 30.5″ Collapsed
Stock: 6 Position CAR Stock
Sight Radius: 15.5″
Barrel Length: 16″
Barrel Twist: 1 in 16″
Weight (No Mag.): 5.5 lbs.
Trigger Pull: 7 lbs. (approx.)
Upper and Lower Material: Polymer
Barrel Material: 4140 Steel
Finish: Matte Black
Front Sight: Adj. A2 Post
Rear Sight: Adj. Dual Aperture


It?s a terrific little rifle for the price, reliable and plenty of fun to shoot. I think it would be a very good investment for any parent who wanted to introduce a child to shooting sports. The tactical look has that cool factor that most kids enjoy and there isn?t much more fun then shooting with your kids or family. Or, you can just purchase one for yourself like I did and invite your dad along.

This review written and authorized by EAJ702 over at thefiringline forums.

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77 Comments on "Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Review"

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  1. WWJII says:

    I got mine 2 months ago. Cleaned it up and went shooting. I fired about 250 rounds of Winchester and Federal 36g hollow points (WalMart Bulk ammo). I had a 3 Fail to feeds, 3 Fail to eject, and 2 fail to fires. I did the quick fix on the ejector and took it out yesterday and thoroughly cleaned the magazine. I fired 400 round of the Federal and about 100 of the Winchester. Absolutely no problems! As others have pointed out, be very careful about loading the magazine properly. I did load a couple up with 20 and fired as fast as I could. Again, no failures. I really love this little firearm.

  2. Bob says:

    Can you write about the accuracy? What was the farthest you fired and what kinds of grouping did you get?

  3. Redwingfan says:

    Just picked up my new model with flash suppressor. very impressed with accuracy, feeding and ejecting. I used all brands including federal and Remington hollow points NO PROBLEMS. If you are hesitating with your purchase, don’t, I am 100 % satisfied

  4. Ron Roth says:

    I got a chance to shoot some of the non-recommended ammo and Rem. target, thunderbolt, and Win. wildcats all worked fine, but Rem. golden bullet did not. 17 of 20 loads tested worked in this gun. The open sights on the gun I sent back were virtually right on, but the new gun ran out of down adjustment and most of it’s left adjustment to put the bullet on at 50 yds. If I could have combined the two guns it would have made one good gun. It is what it is, I guess.

  5. AkInfidel says:

    I purchased our M&P 15-22 a few months ago. Since then I have witnessed my stash of .22LR diminish from over 12,000 rounds down to about a 1,000. Need to stock pile again! This is an awesome gun. A great companion to my M-4. With the bulk Federal 36 grain it will keep 5 shots under .75 inch at 50 yards. Really pleasantly surprised!!!! It shoots almost as well as my tricked out 10/22! Functions flawlessly with all ammo brands an types except Remington Golden Bullet.

  6. justin says:

    This is a great little rifle. However I did send mine back to smith and wesson after the first trip to the range. I started with cci minimag to break in the bore. I had several rounds FTF.
    Once i got the gun back from S&W they had replaced the mag, replaced the spring in the charging handle and a spring in the trigger assembly. It was obvious what had been altered as the new springs were Blue. I fired 500 rounds through it yesterday with 0 ftf. Using a red dot scope i was striking a 12 inch x 12 inch plate 170 yards out with 90% accuracy.
    I?m very happy with this little rifle.
    Even the fella with the .50 Barrett 82A1 in the stall next to me asked after it. I gave it to him to try and he gave me 2 rounds at the 400 yard plate with his.

  7. Kenny Matthews says:

    Need to remove barrel to thread it. How?

  8. Kenneth Mitchell says:

    I’ve had my M&P 15-22 for three days. It became an instant hit with my kids and grand kids. I believe we have ran well over a 1000 rounds through it and have had only FTFs. They all were dud ammo. Two rounds fired on the next try and the the third wouldn’t fire at all. Fantastic rifle for all ages. The collapsible stock is a great asset. I am most pleased with the accuracy and quality of this firearm.

  9. Kenneth Mitchell says:

    In my previous comment I should have said we had only (3) THREE FTFs. Sorry. The way it sounded the rifle never fired alt all. It is an awesome gun!

  10. Andy says:

    I mounted a Nikon 3-9×40 on my 15-22 because I love .22 tack drivers at 50 yards. I have tested serveral brands of ammo am having trouble keeping tight groups. So far Winchester super x subsonics have performed the best. What ammo are you-all having the best luck with as accuracy goes? Thanks!

  11. Alex says:

    Purchased the AR15-22 Sept 2010. Had multiple problems (each magazine) with FTE and FTF ( failure to feed) using 200 rounds of CCI mini-mag and 250 Federal 36 grain HP (550 VP) ammo. Rifle was cleaned and lubed according to manual prior to shooting. Called S&W Customer service and they advised to send the rifle for servicing and adjustment. They will provide free shipping. S&W handling will be 2-3 weeks. The rifle is accurate and fun to shoot. Hope the problems are fixed when it comes back.

  12. Chris says:

    I had my m&p 15-22 purchased as a birthday gift in Oct. of this year. The first time I went to the range to fire the rifle (after I cleaned it) I used the recommended ammo (American Eagle by Federal and CCI Stinger). Not 50 rounds into my session and I had a round from the CCI Stinger fire when the bolt failed to fully return to battery. I was hit by brass from the case. The rim completely separated from the rest of the case. The case itself turn into what looked like the barrel of Elmer Fudds shotgun after Bugs Bunny stuck his carrot into it. This ripped the extractor, firing pin, and all springs from inside the bolt completely out and lodged the bullet about 4 inches into the barrel. I like the rifle but I must warn others to be extremely careful. I got lucky and was not injured but my rifle is going to take two months to be fixed and I am going to very leery about going to shoot it again.

  13. Toddster says:

    The owners manual clearly tells you NOT to use CCI Stingers, because they are just a tad to long.

  14. Matt Kovacs says:

    just purchased a m&p15-22 at a gun show for 400 bucks.while half the way there to the price of a real AR…this one will save you in .223 ammo.the characteristics of this rifle are suprisingly close to the real deal,and it functions flawlessly in my experience.i havent fired even 100 rounds out of it,but it’s grouping is very respectable and i have had no misfires or ejection very pleased to say it is well worth a couple hundred more than a ruger 10/22.same quality with a little more pizzaz!thanks S&W…you’ve suprised me.

  15. WWJII says:


    I replaced the trigger with an Armalite 2-stage tactical trigger. It is much better and the same as my ARs. Interestingly, the gunsmith lost the rear take down pin (later found it). I tried to get a replacement but was told by S&W that they didn’t have a parts list or exploded diagram. They sent me a regular MP15 rear takedown pin. When I put it in it would slide all the way out to the left just by turning the rifle on its side (it would stop as it should for taking the rifle down, but would not stay in place when fully pushed in). I replaced the detent retaining spring with a regular M15 spring. It works very well. It is a little “stiff” when putting the upper back on but hold great. It should get a little easier as it wears. I also replaced the pistol grip with a MagPul MOE grip which fits my hand much better. I have a Sightron 4-9X40 scope on it. I recently tried some bulk Winchester 40 g HV. The groups were not good! It seems to like the Federal Bulk and Target grade. The results of 8 rounds at 50 yds with the Federal Bulk (Wally-World) were 1.194 MOA using a SigthTron 3-9X40 scope and resting the rifle on a sand bag. On another occasion I got 2.0 MOA with the same set-up but Remington ammunition. This is a great little rifle!

  16. Dr. Dave says:

    I bought this excellent rifle on reviews, youtube, and my own inner child who started life with a 22 round in my hand. I absolutely love this economical alternative to my Bushmaster 223, & truly don’t miss the muzzle rise, ‘punch’, & heavier weight at all. Rapid 25 rnd mag dumps ( 8 to 12 seconds) are so much fun, my grandson drools while I show him how it’s done!
    It has performed flawlessly with Federal ammo & the fun is worth every penny. Definitely the best value & most economical fun with a rifle, with my Ruger 10/22 a close second.
    A high quality, plinking fun, and easily cleaned rifle, & I haven’t started adding any ‘goodies’ yet!

  17. glblank says:

    Having some problems w/ misfeeds and stove pipes… what is the “quick fix” to the ejector mentioned above?

  18. CHRIS GREER says:

    Has anyone had an issue with their rifle like this. If so how did u fix it?
    I shot two are three rounds and sounds like it miss fired but the firing pin never touched the bullet. You can reload that bullet and it will fire. This keeps happening over and over.
    Any advise would be helpful.

    Thanks Chris Greer

  19. Matt H says:

    I got this gun bout four months ago. Absolutely love it! I recommend it to anyone. Very fun. Only thing!! Every gun is different.For example, my gun loves federal. It’ll eat em up. But remington shells for some reason will fail to eject some. Maybe five or ten outta 550. Still ain’t bad. Other than variation in ammo its a beast!..

  20. ceasar says:

    i just bought one M&P 15-22, but i just want to know if its alright to use a hyper velocity .22lr ammo? will it not damage the barrel?

  21. lance says:

    How do you remove the stock to install sling clip?

  22. tyler says:

    Hi.we have the S-W MP 15-22.i wanted my rifle to look like the .223 i did.i went to and got the ar 15 3-6 carry handle.the 3-8 mm is to hi. the ar scope mount. fits great.and zeroed in great. TTI full muzzle brake. every thing fit just like the .223. my .22 looks and fires and zeroed just like a .223 and only cost 30.00 with out scope. every one said it will not work it did easy.

  23. tyler says:

    ok #1 ammo i use only walmart ammo FEDERAL 22 Lr. never jams with the blue spring in the rifle. i have run 1000 + rounds in it.every cleaning i use hopps bore cleaner. great shooting rifle. #2 sling clip.go to gun shop get the right sling will unscrew the mount push it open slid it on gun add mount tighten the mount.add sling.#3 ok fireing.see if you have the blue spring.were the upper is.if not that is it call s-w ask for it.
    to get the right parts.

  24. Todd White says:

    I am looking for the front swivel. Where did you buy yours at?

  25. Ron says:

    I bought my front sxling swivel at my lgd. It mounts on the front rail. Works very well. My gun eats a mag of Federal bulk hp in about 2 seconds. What A GREAT GUN. I love it. I made a trade for mine so there was no out of pocket costs. I did order JP springs and took the slack out of the trigger. I am very pleased with the accuracy as a plinker. Buy one and you will love it too.

  26. blake says:

    you dont want a s&w 22lr you want a CMMG because its not made of plastic and its a real lower so you can put your 5.56 upper on it and it will run perfectly. Just add a supressor and you got one bad ass piece just like this guys

  27. Jed says:

    This is he worst gun I have ever had in my life !! 50 round into the newly owned gun the firing pin hit the round before it was in the chamber dectroying the shell casing and blowing the shell extractor , fireing pin , and springs located in he bolt ! I sent it back to s&w they ” fixed it ” I got it back shot it maybe 200 times it was going fully auto bout every 10 shots shooting two or three at once ! Than BOOM it happened Again !! I had powder burns on my arm and neck all the same parts were missing from the gun ! Have no idea where they went ! I called s&w one customer support person told me that they redesigned parts for the gun so hat didn’t happen anymore !! Wtf why didn’t I hear about this before I got hurt !! The second guy told me ya that happens if u don’t keep it oiled well !!! NO THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENS !! The firing pin should never hit the round before the bolt is closed !! I’m serious be super carefully with this gun it will happen ! Oh and shooting federal ammo ! It’s at s&w now I don’t even want the gun back I hope that call me after reading he nasty letter that’s with it ! I hope we can work something out because I won’t ever shoot that p.o.s again !! Ever !! I will burn it to pieces if they send it back !! It’s not worth getting hurt over 420 bucks that I paid for it !! And not impressed with the customer support at s&w either

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