Smith & Wesson has had great success with its M&P line of AR-15s, so it was logical for the company to expand the line into rimfires. An AR-style .22 makes an excellent as trainer, providing an inexpensive practice option where you can shoot a lot of rounds while working with the exact same controls your centerfire AR-15 or AR-10 has. And a .22 is a great plinker or small game rifle as well, of course.
The newest in the M&P15-22 family is the M&P15-22 Sport with red/green dot optic, and if you only glanced at it you’d think it was a centerfire rifle. It has a 16.5-inch carbon steel barrel tipped with a standard A2 flash hider. Surrounding this is a 10-inch M&P slim handguard with M-Lok slots and an optics rail that runs the full length and mates uninterrupted with the rail on the receiver.
The receiver incorporates all the standard AR controls—including a functioning charging handle—and a brass deflector. Furniture includes a six-position adjustable stock and standard A2-style grip. The trigger is single stage, and on my sample it broke at five pounds two ounces on average. There’s a little bit of take-up but none of the grit you find on most GI triggers.
As the rifle’s name implies, this rifle comes with an optic, and it’s factory installed on an M&P mount with a single crosswise bolt with the standard 1/2-inch nut. The sight, which Smith & Wesson calls the MP-100, is pretty cool because it provides both a red and green dot. Beginning with the green Off, rotating the dot selector provides a continuously variable (no click stops) intensity on the green four m.o.a. dot until you hit the red Off. Repeat for red. I like this because it allows you not only to vary intensity but also color, meaning you can find the perfect setting for both lighting conditions and target color. It’s powered by a CR1620 battery.
The dot is adjustable via brass windage and elevation turrets; adjustments are 1/4 m.o.a. and proved to be nicely repeatable. The turrets are capped, and the sight features flip-up caps front and rear.
Here are the accuracy results I got. They’re the averages of four five-shot groups at 50 yards from a Caldwell Fire Control rest.
| ||Bullet ||Muzzle ||Std. ||Avg. |
|Weight (gr.) ||Velocity (fps) ||Dev. (fps) ||Group (in.) |
|Eley Force ||42 ||1,164 ||15 ||1.5 |
|CCI Standard Velocity ||40 ||1,054 ||13 ||1.59 |
|Lapua Midas+ ||40 ||1,013 ||13 ||1.68 |
You’re not going to win any Olympic smallbore championships with this rifle, but it’s plenty accurate for training, plinking and even small game hunting at closer ranges.
I live in Colorado, which has magazine capacity limits, so the sample I received feeds from a 10-round magazine. In states without restrictions, the gun comes with a 25 round magazine. The magazine features a polymer body and orange follower. I love orange followers because it makes it so much easier to see whether there are rounds left. The bolt locks back on an empty mag, and mags fall freely when you hit the release, albeit a little slower than you might be used to with a centerfire AR.
I definitely had a fun time shooting the rifle. At five pounds one ounce with sight mounted (empty mag), there’s enough weight so it handles almost like a centerfire AR, but it’s not so heavy a young shooter couldn’t handle it. The handguard is nice and slim, and the M-Lok slots allow you to add all manner of accessories to it—lights, lasers, sling swivels, etc.
At just $469 suggested retail you get a gun that’s ready to roll right out of the box—no searching for an appropriate sight or yanking a sight off one of your current rifles.