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  1. #1
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    S&W M&P 15-22 (pic heavy) Serious Practice Tool – or just a fun plinker?

    Product Description: AR-15 Style Rifle manufactured by Smith & Wesson chambered for the 22 Long Rifle Cartridge. Styled after their M&P 15 Series of Black Rifles, it has a sixteen inch barrel and I measured a one in fifteen inch twist rate; their web site states 1:16”. The barrel is available threaded or un-threaded. According to Smith&Wesson’s web site, the MSRP is $569.00. At 5.5 pounds it is light compared to a stock carbine, and this may affect handling characteristics during some drills.

    I started this project as a way to be able to practice carbine drills inexpensively. I looked at 22LR conversion kits. Price was acceptable, but the good ones were in the $200 range, or more. And, a downside to that option was the 22LR residue in my AR barrel. So I decided to look at complete units as an option.

    I had an opportunity to pick up one of the new model M&P 15-22 Rifles with the threaded barrel at what I thought was a reasonable price; $429 and four spare magazines at $15.95 each.

    The unit looked good as received:





    The bird cage appears to be a stock USGI A1 Flash Suppressor. If that is true, the barrel is threaded ½ by 28 and should take any after market devices; including sound suppressors.



    The “captured” take-down pins work the same as on a standard AR Platform, so I took the upper receiver off and cleaned the barrel, breech face, and bolt face. The lower receiver fire control internals looked clean, well lubricated, and appear to be steel USGI (semi auto) parts, with the exception of the selector. It is a nylon or polymer part that looks like a “normal” AR-15 selector.



    The sides of the lower receiver are a little wider than a stock AR Lower and the trigger/hammer pins to not come flush with the sides of the receiver. I’m not sure if any of the anti-walk pin sets would fit; but those are probably not necessary on a 22LR. Pin spacing mic’s out to be the same as an AR-15 lower receiver and aftermarket “drop in” trigger groups should fit if anyone wanted to make that investment for the 15-22. I lubricated everything “as usual” and reassembled the rifle.

    The lower receive will NOT accept AR-15 magazines. The factory magazines have a twenty-five round capacity, and are easily disassembled for cleaning or maintenance. Shown below from left to right are – follower and spring, “load assist” button, magazine body, floor plate and the push-button piece for removing the floor plate.



    The lower receiver and 6-position mil-spec buffer tube appear to be injection molded of a nylon or polymer resin, and are formed as a single piece. The buffer tube is hollow and has a Smith&Wesson logo rubber plug in the outside end. The receiver end is solid. A carbine style adjustable buttstock is installed.





    The trigger guard is flared slightly for gloved use, but is integral with the lower receiver. It is molded as a single piece, so you won’t be able to add the MagPul Enhanced Trigger Guard. I also don’t think I will be able to replace the pistol grip. The screw used to secure it appears to be an allen or socket-head bolt, and looks like the factory deliberately rounded out the inside so it can’t be removed. I am going to send S&W a note on that one, just to be sure.

    The upper receiver and handguard (separate pieces) are also formed of the same nylon or polymer resin and have an integral picatinny rail. They are not “T” marked, but slot spacing is correct for rail mounted accessories. The sights are both removable, and while they do not fold they are acceptable for use with a red dot sight. The rear A2 Style Sight, at a minimum, would need to be removed if a scope is to be used.





    The front sight is a square post with the four-detent style adjustment:





    On the handguard, I installed a ladder rail cover on each side, and four of the Magpul XTM panels on the bottom for ergonomics. Those, along with trying the fitment of the VLTOR EMOD Stock almost makes it look like a real carbine:



    After cleaning I took it to an indoor range that has 25 yards as the maximum distance. I had a variety of ammunition with me, as I had read some interesting stories about the first few off the production line. I chose to zero with CCI Mini-Mag solids, and after 4 left clicks and 6 up clicks it was printing about one half inch low at 25 yards. Almost exactly at the six o’clock hold position. That zero should be fine for any iron sight work I choose to do.

    I had one failure to feed in the very first magazine. That may have been me. I took a front bench rest for the zeroing portion of the range session, and was putting pressure on the magazine with my front hand while shooting that initial magazine. The picture below is a composite of three shots of the same jammed cartridge. Left-most is a slight down angle showing the dented nose where it jammed into the upper portion of the chamber entrance. Middle image shows a side view with the dented nose and the bend in the case. Right-most view is the dent caused by the bolt riding the case while attempting to chamber.



    I ran another 250 rounds through it off hand using the CCI Mini-Mags, some 20 year old Winchester Wild Cat shells, and some Super-X. All were plated, and none were hollow points. Even with my old eyes, it kept a two to two and a half inch cluster around point of aim. No other failures of any type were seen during this range session.

    There is a gun show coming up February 6th and I will probably end up with an inexpensive red dot sight on it for practice.

    Now back to the original premise, “Is it a serious tool for practicing carbine drills, or just a fun plinker?”

    It is definitely a fun plinker. People at the range wanted to line up to shoot it. But the jury is still out on it being a serious practice tool. It is very light and has a heavy trigger; the advertised 7 pounds is not far off. With the EMOD stock on it, it handled fairly well and came up from a medium low ready (range shelf on each line) to “on target” very quickly but I could not do target transitions laterally.

    Until the ground dries up, and I can get out to work some very basic drills, I will only say the S&W M&P 15-22 definitely has potential.

    I will update this thread as the project progresses, and will include opinions of others that have an opportunity to shoot the M&P 15-22.

    I hope this has been informative, and thanks for taking the time to read it.
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  2. #2
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    Exceptional work, Jerry!

    AC
    Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here. -- Captain John Parker, Lexington, 1775.

  3. #3
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    Thanks AC - this is a fun one so far.
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  4. #4
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    Very nice review.

    As far as your question about it being a serious trainer, I personally don't think that any .22 can be as good as a 5.56 because of the differences in recoil. Doing doble taps with a a 5.56 is much different than with a .22.

  5. #5
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    A very nice review and nice pics. Thanks!
    What can one man do? You never know until you try.

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    I'm curious to find out what S&W says about your grip screw. Numerous guys over on ARFCOM have swapped them out for others and haven't said anything about the screw being stripped.
    They do require the AR-10 gapper to use the MIAD grip with the extended backstrap.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the comments – much appreciated.

    I strongly agree that Double Taps are just one of the potential problem areas that will arise. How much abuse will the magazines take – dropping during reloads, will handling a light 22LR magazine cause fumbling with a heavier 556 magazine, malfunction creation and clearing drills are also among some of the other areas where there will be gross differences.

    I guess where I think this might have some benefit is muscle memory; and the thoughts below would not work in a formal class for obvious reasons.

    With another shooter, build a scenario – number and location of targets, barricades, cover, etc. Determine how you want to run the drill. Walk through it with the 15-22 slowly. Work the drill several times with critiques after each trial. When you have the drill defined the way you want it executed; pick up the speed a little. After you feel you have mastered the drill – bring out the 556 and run it again – multiple times. Make note of any equipment differences that affect performance, and adjust accordingly.

    Then, build another scenario and start over.

    What are the benefits?

    Saving a couple hundred rounds of 556 during a practice session may, or may not be considered a plus.

    Saving wear and tear on your primary carbine, especially if you only have one, is also very subjective. It is a tool to be used and repaired as required to keep it functioning.

    Wear and tear on an old man’s body is another consideration for some of us.

    It really comes down to individuals weighing the pros and cons. Agreed, there are many down-sides to using any 22LR for training in this environment, but there may be a few pluses as well. I am going to give it a try and see how things work for me. Only time (and honest evaluations) will tell. I plan to take good notes and will try to objective and honest in my evaluations. It has to be a benefit, or scrapped.

    In the end, the 15-22 may end up being just a fun plinker. We’ll see.

    Again, thanks for the comments. I like this board, and I respect the ones that run it.
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  8. #8
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    I have yet to hear anyone say their shooting has gotten worse from shooting .22lr. The reenforcement of the basic fundamentals and increased trigger time, regardless of recoil differences simply can't hurt, so long as you remember that follow ups and double taps are going to be different.
    The upside of course, is that you can afford to put lots of rounds downrange, and if you're one of those who shy away from higher recoil and sharp noises (which is many more than they want to admit), the lower recoil and somewhat quieter noise will be much less of a distraction, allowing you to concentrate on body positioning, breathing, sight picture, and trigger squeeze.

  9. #9
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    I would compare shooting the M&P 15-22 to swapping out the slide on your 1911 with a Kimber .22LR slide (or other mfr)--fun to shoot economically and good for sight picture and hold, which makes it good for practice. It's also good when walking the farm looking for varmint to shoot when you don't need something much bigger to kill with.
    - Federalist22

  10. #10
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    Well done review sir and outstanding photos. Thank you.

  11. #11
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    Great review Jerry. I have two M&P 15-22's and have a ton of fun with them. I received a few AFGs a few days ago and plan on attaching one to one of the M&P's and try it out.

    Note: I've attached MOE grips on them with no problems.

    Also, Love the photos!
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  12. #12
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    Great review.
    Apparently they're available overhere in Euroland too. So it might be worthwhile to check them out before going for that Colt/Umarex 22LR M4 clone.
    Just one question: will the Black Dog & CMMG 22LR mags fit?

  13. #13
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    first, awesome review.

    I just bought one of these yesterday and put 90 rounds through it with a total of 5 malfunctions. All were identical failures to feed which left the round sticking up vertically from the magazine when stripped. They all displayed the same kind of dented case as what you show above. Most of these malfunctions came within the first five rounds of the magazine. I fired one full magazine loaded to 15 rounds without any malfunctions.

    I initially did not clean or lube the gun at all. After a single malfunction on the first magazine I pulled out the bolt and lubed it lightly with Slip 2000 EWL 30. This appeared to have no impact on the malfunctions and one could even argue that malfunctions increased from one per mag before lube to two per mag after lube. All ammo fired was CCI Minimag 40 grain round nose.

    I'm going to try to get to the public range this weekend and get it sighted in and the malfunctions worked out.

    I put one of the cheap Primary Arms red dot sights on their throwlever mount on the gun but I did not zero it or the iron sights.

    Also, that stupid plug in the end of the receiver extension freaked me out. It fell out of the gun and at first I thought it was just range trash until I saw the S&W logo on it. Any reason to keep it?

    Question though, what the hell is a "double tap"?
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  14. #14
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    Black Dog and CMMG mags won't work. It's a proprietary mag. On the plus side, they're 18 bucks a pop as opposed to 35 (Colt M4 .22 mag). Also, the mags can be taken down and cleaned easily.

    Unlike the Umarex, the bolt catch works! It field strips just like an AR (the internals look pretty much the same minus the fact that there is no gas block and yada, yada. )

    rob: I think the plug at the end of the extension is for you to add in a 1 lb. weight for training purposes (to make it a bit more heavy like real M4/AR styled rifles). Or maybe it's for M&Ms.
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  15. #15
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    What I mean by double tap is two rounds on the same target in rapid succession.

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