The new S&W M&P Sport is the rarest of items—an affordable AR-15 rifle with excellent reliability and overall performance.
The M&P 15 Sport is an entry-level AR-15. However, in this case, the rifle features a proven, quality lockwork and first-class features. The package is basic—a black rifle with a single Magpul 30-round magazine. There is no quad rail, but it does come with a modified GI-style handguard. If you wish, the flat top receiver offers a place to park an optical sight. The rails are marked for easy repeatability if you remove and wish to remount the sight.
If you look further, you find a rifle with a properly staked carrier key riding with the bolt assembly. Most AR-15s and other parts-guns do not have a properly staked carrier key. The rifle does not have a forward assist lever or dust cover. With modern loads, the forward assist may be redundant; there is little that cannot be done by racking the bolt with the cocking handle. The barrel is of good steel and coated with Melonite. I have used several Smith & Wesson pistols with this coating and have no complaints.
Both the bolt carrier and carrier key mentioned earlier are chrome plated. The barrel is stamped one turn in nine inches, ideal for most .223-caliber projectiles. The rifle is a flat-top design. The rear sight is a modern aperture that folds down and pops back up with ease. The front sight is the standard AR-15 adjustable post.
The forward handguard is an improvement on the GI type. It works fine for most shooting styles. I found the stock does not limit challenging firing sessions and hitting the target quickly. The rear stock is the modern AR-15 adjustable type. It works as well as any other. This is no base rifle and it is not primitive-grade. It is simply a quality rifle of a proven type with fewer features.
I have a tenacious memory for test subjects and the S&W AR-15 performed as well as any I have tested in the reliability department. I react to a badly performing rifle in the same manner I react to a bad odor—I turn up my nose and avoid it. The M&P 15 Sport is a good performer with endurable furniture. I am familiar with the type and so were those that fired the rifle, so there was no profane fumbling. The rifle is a good example of the type of firearm that will protect your home and keep you from becoming among the silent harvests of the Grim Reaper.
I began the test-fire by adding a number of Magpul magazines to the single unit supplied. (They are downright cheap at the moment—perhaps you should stock up.) The rifle was lubricated well. The initial magazines were loaded with HPR 55-grain FMJ loads. I finished off several partial boxes of mixed loads from several makers without a glitch. I locked the bolt to the rear, inserted a loaded magazine, dropped the bolt, and began the test program. The rifle continued to fire well over 300 rounds without a single glitch.
The trigger is smooth and crisp, typical of factory trigger actions at about six pounds. The rifle handled well in short-range high-speed drills. The combination of a combat-size rear aperture and post front sight resulted in good hits from 25 to 50 yards on demand. The day was clear, but a high wind had sprung up. Just the same, the rifle never failed to connect when the sight picture was valid and the trigger properly stroked.
It doesn’t take long for a group of interested shooters to create a pile of brass with the AR-15 rifle. The rifle is light on the shoulder and pleasant to fire. This is America’s rifle, and the black rifle is associated with home and family, as well as with many pleasant range trips. This S&W will do the business.
I fired enough FMJ ammunition to qualify the rifle’s combat accuracy. I also fired a quantity of the HPR 75-grain loads. The function was excellent, as expected. I added the Hornady 60-grain TAP load to the mix. Function followed the same pattern. Firing from a solid-braced barricade at 50 yards, I was able to secure several two-inch, three-shot groups with the rifle. The loads used were the HPR 75-grain load, the Hornady 60-grain TAP and Hornady’s 55-grain FMJ training round. There was no provable difference in accuracy. The truth be told, this is as good as the author may manage an iron-sighted rifle at 50 yards. The rifle is clearly accurate enough for use against pests and varmints to 100 yards or more. With a quality optical sight, accuracy increases.
The S&W M&P 15 Sport makes the grade. This is a reliable and well-made rifle from one of the most respected makers. For personal defense, hunting and recreational use, the rifle has a lot of merit. The M&P Sport gets a clean bill of health.
What are your thoughts, opinions or experiences with the M&P Sport? Share them in the comment section.