Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 .22LR Semi-Auto

This post originally appeared back in May of 2011. I will be posting an UPDATE tomorrow on how my M&P15-22 has performed over the past three years. The original review can be seen HERE. – Rourke

I love the .22LR .

Over the years I have had a variety of .22LR pistols and rifles. From the Ruger Mk II pistol to a Squire Bingham M16R – I have shot thousands of rounds of .22LR and had a ball doing it. Ever since seeing pictures of the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 – I have wanted one.

Well – I finally broke down and bought one. Although I know that the $469 price tag could have bought me larger caliber – more serious defensive-minded firearm – the M&P .22LR was a “want” buy – not a “need”.

I picked up my M&P new from Palmetto State Armory. Bringing it home I was excited to open the box and check it out. My initial impression was one of quality. This gun feels solid and well built. In comparison – it is certainly lighter than my Stag AR. One of the main reasons for this is its polymer construction. The vast majority of the M&P is polymer – including most of the lower as well as the quad rail.

I wanted to check out the internals – which was easy. Breaking down very similar to a regular AR-variant – access to the bolt assembly is super easy. In other words – field striping for cleaning  is simple and requires no special tools. The barrel can be cleaned easily when broken down as both ends are accessible.

Many accessories that can fit on a typical AR can often be fitted for the M&P. I plan to leave mine pretty much stock other than adding a red dot sight. The buffer tube cannot be removed – although other stocks can be fitted onto the non-removable buffer tube (so I am told). Even after market triggers can be dropped into the M&P15-22.

The barrel is fitted with a standard looking “flash hider/muzzle break”. I like it.  Even though it is just a .22LR – it adds to the AR-look and profile.

Sights consist of a fully adjustable rear and a A2-style front post. When I first checked out mine the rear sight was adjusted for windage way to one side. I thought that this could not be right – so I set it centered in the mount. I soon found out at the range that it came from the factory correct after I was shooting WAY to the left. Anyways – I had no issues with the sights and have no desire to change them – other than trying out a red dot sight or two. I like the looks of the Vortex Strikefire red dot. More on my testing in a bit.

Here are some specs from the Smith & Wesson website:

  • Model:M&P15
  • Caliber:.22LR
  • Capacity:25 Round Detachable Magazine
  • Action:Blow Back Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Length:16″
  • Barrel Twist:1 in 15″
  • Front Sight:Adjustable A2 Post
  • Rear Sight:Adjustable Dual Aperture
  • Overall Length:33.75″ Extended/30.5″ Collapsed
  • Stock:6-Position CAR Stock
  • Weight:5.5 lbs.
  • Barrel Material:Carbon Steel
  • Finish:Matte Black
  • Purpose:Recreational

I took the M&P to Georgia to my brothers land to test out. I had purchased a few extra magazines as well as an ample supply of .22LR ammunition. I decided to test the M&P15-22 with CCI Blazer, CCI Mini-Mag HP’s, and CCI Tactical ammo. I planned to test fire by firing 200 rounds of the CCI Blazers –  clean the weapon, fire 200 rounds of the Mini-Mags – clean, then finish with 200 rounds of the CCI Tactical.

Here were the results:

  • CCI Blazer ammo – 1 fail to eject out of 200 rounds. This was around round 160 during the initial break-in period.
  • CCI Mini-Mag’s –     0 failures of any kinds – perfect.
  • CCI Tactical –           0 failures of any kind – perfect

I consider this reliability test fantastic. 600 shots and only 1 failure – and that one failure within the first 200 rounds using cheap ammo – excellent!

Accuracy was just fine and what was to be expected. I did not do a bunch of group tests to show you per ammo type – I just wanted to see if I could hit what I was aiming at. To provide one example – my nephew was shooting an old 12 gauge and I hung up 2 empty shells from a distance of about 30 yards. I was using the M&P and he was using an old target .22 that belongs to his dad. I hit my shell the very first shot. He was impressed – especially after missing his over and over again and then I hit his within a few additional shots.

I had no problems with the magazines or function of the gun whatsoever. Magazines were easy to load, easy to remove and easy to insert. No issues. The controls of the M&P15-22 are….well……just like an AR-15. Magazine release……same. Safety……same. Cocking……same.

One of the advantages of the M&P15-22 over other .22’s is the ability to get used to an AR-type system for a lower cost. Practicing at the range – engaging and disengaging the safety many times over while shooting inexpensive .22LR has its benefits.

The quad rails provide plenty of area to mount lasers, grips, flashlights…..whatever. I like it – but they are not the most comfortable thing to hold while shooting.

My 12-year old son enjoyed shooting the M&P and did really well after a few rounds getting used to it.

Rourke having fun with the M&P15-22

Oh – for all you lefties out there (like me) – I had no issues shooting the right-hand ejecting M&P15-22.

My overall impression of the firearm has been very positive. I am really looking forward to my next trip to Georgia to shoot it again.

Take care all –


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  1. For a long time I have been sort of down on the humble .22 rim fire.

    However I have come to think tho expensive AR style 22rim fires have a legitimate defensive use. With a little effort it would not be hard to obscure the .22 mag characteristics from a distance. (Do something similar with your centerfire ARs..

    At which point in a defensive posture or even on patrol placed in the hands of the least experienced defenders they would minimize the loss of ammo during engagements while increasing the complexity of determining the source of one most effective shooters during engagements or surveillance.


    Your on patrol of your area.. Your in a defensive position, in either case you come under observation..Even a well trained Scout would have to report multiple AR type rifles increasing your projected defensive potential in the eyes of the threat. (A harder nut to crack and hopefully not worth the effort). Even if attacked the attacker could not easily focus on those in your group with center fire ARs increasing your groups chances of survival.

    So there possession benefits by reducing the cost of training while increasing effectiveness and ones defensive posture…generally good things up to and thru a TEOTWAWKI scenario 🙂

  2. Nicely done. Great review.

    I have a couple of the AR15 .22LR adapters intended mainly for emergency use.

    Have a look at the new Surefire silencers for .22.


  3. I’ve got one of these, and I love it! It’s a lot of fun and, as you mentioned, shooting left-handed isn’t a big problem. If only .22LR wasn’t such a pain to find nowadays.

  4. I have more .22 Long Rifle weapons than any other caliber. For anyone into crisis and disaster preparation, they are a requirement. I regret to say that I don’t own any tactical models. I have a Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle and 22/45 pistol, a Henry AR-7, a Marlin 60 with wood stock, plus a Sentinel revolver. I am very glad I started stocking up on ammo a few years ago! Who would have predicted that .22 LR would ever be so hard to obtain?

    • Irish-7,

      Sounds like you are very prepared to have some serious fun…..or reduce the rabbit and squirrel population in your area dramatically.


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