We use a variety of rimfire rifles at our Youth Marksmanship Camp program. From single shot Savage rifles (check out the Rascal!), Henry lever actions, Volquartsen Custom rifles, H&K MP5s and of course the S&W M&P 15-22s.
The M&P 15-22 is several of the campers favorite rifles. Of course the first reason probably being because it’s an AR15 style rifle and it just looks cool. But as a range instructor I appreciate it the most because of it’s ergonomics and reliability. At this past camp we had several issues with our stock Ruger 10/22s and it was frustrating for the campers, but once again, our M&P 15-22s ran great.
Ergonomics are important when working with youngsters. It helps a lot to be able to fit the rifle to their size. Adjustable stocks do just that. No matter the size we can adjust the length of pull and have a solid fit for them. When we shoot semi-automatics we are sticklers on using the safety sectors, and as we all know AR15 type safeties are easy to reach.
As I go over in the video, we did have a quality control issue when we first received the rifles and one of the parts (probably subcontracted by S&W) where missing and it caused issues with the hammer pins to walk out. But that was completely resolved. In thousands of rounds we actually broke both of our firing pins. S&W seemed quite surprised but sent new ones to us at no charge. And finally, the only other issue is that we wear the magazines out. The rounds begin to point straight up out of the feed lips and need to be replaced. The good news is that I have found magazines as low as $12 so it’s not a huge expense. And we probably use our rifles a good bit more than others. I have also upgraded both extractors to the Volquartsen exact edge extractor and can’t remember ever having a FTE issue since then.
While the M&P 15-22s are very reliable, their accuracy isn’t impressive. They seem to walk about a 2″ group at 25 yards with our quality Meopta Optics. They aren’t worth the investment of a magnified scope, a red dot or iron sights is what they tend to be worth.
Nevertheless, they are a great training rifle and fun at the range. You do need to wipe the .22LR crud off of the bolt rails occasionally to ensure proper function, but in the end they have served us well. I highly recommend them for a fun and reliable training rimfire. PSA always has the best deals on the M&P 15-22: https://snp.link/13d4e2cd