Where our handlers grew up, if you didn’t have a Ruger 10-22 and a few banana mags topped off with .22LR, you were probably being raised by hippies or sissies and you weren’t allowed to watch Thundarr the Barbarian. Ruger still makes a good rifle, but .22s now are for more than plinking. In addition to being a fun, satisfying shoot, they’re a great training tool for working fundamentals and just getting some range time in. To that end, a weapon built from the ground up to function like an AR (as opposed to an AR with a conversion kit dropped in) is a Very Good Thing. The best one we’ve shot yet is, hands down, the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22.

The 15-22 comes in a number of different variants (including MOE) and is most enjoyably serviced by a 25-round magazine with a happy ending. You can get them with A2-style front sight posts, adjustable A2-style rear sight, single stage trigger, two-stage match trigger, Hogue over-molded grip, optional barrel shroud, folding MBUS, 6-position adjustable CAR stock, fixed stock, threaded barrel with A1 compensator…pretty much however you want it. They can be bought in black, FDE, Realtree camo and Christian’s favorite, Pink Platinum1, and of course you can always rattle can it.

We first encountered the 15-22 at the S&W Writer’s Blast a while back, shooting alongside writers like Mas Ayoob, Rich Grassi, Leroy Thompson and our our personal crusty old shooter-writer heroes Wiley Clapp and Jim Shepherd. Pretty much everyone’s reaction was the same as ours after the bolt locked back on the first magazine. Damn. This is a nice little rifle. Jim put it most succinctly when he said something to the effect of, “This thing is accurate to within a minute of prairie dog right when it comes out of the box.”

Since that time, we’ve run three different M&P 15-22s on several different ranges, shooting several thousand rounds of ammunition. We’ve only had one malfunction the entire time. Ammunition included Winchester Super-X 40 grain , Federal Auto-Match 40 grain SP and endless boxes of that stuff you buy from Wal-Mart 330 rounds at a time (whatever it is…CCI?)

Fun as they are to shoot at targets, cans and balloons tethered behind RC cars (try it sometime; great way to shoot moving targets), it is our contention that the 15-22’s rightful place is on the line as a training tool. It’s inexpensive to run and a great way to reinforce muscle memory. There are at least three police departments we know of who have ordered enough 15-22s to put one on every point across the line, specifically for that reason (ammunition costs undoubtedly factoring into that decision).

Obviously it’s not going to be exactly identical to running .223 or 5.56. You won’t have the recoil, so you’re going to recover faster from each shot. You won’t have any appreciable muzzle climb. Though your weapon accessories will work, your LBE won’t be a perfect fit for the mags. There’s virtually no muzzle blast or flash and reloads are going to be a little different just because of the magazines—but not enough that you couldn’t do a skillion mag changes or malfunction drills for less than you spent on bbq at lunch. You’re still going to want fire standard drills and qual courses with regular ammunition, but consider spending some time with one of these in between.

Anyway, we’ll close with a video of our friend Matt, from S&W. He can be relied upon to cheat at everything from Chutes & Ladders to Strip Poker, but he doesn’t lie about guns. Pay no attention to the fact that he looks like an OWS protestor; he’s a solid guy who knows guns and likes to shoot.

We’re the Mad Duo, and we approve this message.

1That isn’t really Christian’s favorite. We just wanted to see if he still checks in once in a while.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam December 2, 2011 at 5:08 am

Love mine! great cross trainer. I've put over 1,000 round with one malfunction and that was because the crap ammo i bought.

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Go Navy! December 2, 2011 at 5:39 am

I don't the the MP15-22 but my GSG 5 (not the new GSG522) is great MP5 training tool. No isssue with GSG 5 with thousands of rounds down right. I do agree…shooting .22 is not the same as 5.56 (no recoil). But it does forces muscle memory.

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jrexilius December 2, 2011 at 5:53 am

"several thousand rounds of ammunition. We’ve only had one malfunction the entire time."

You answered my primary question. Reliability usually sucks with .22 conversions.

I'd been considering an airsoft for manipulation and other drills. This seems like another good training aid.

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Go Navy! December 2, 2011 at 6:22 am

jrexilius: I don't have an AR .22 because I already have an AR that's why I went with GSG 5. Otherwise, I would have gotten an AR .22. I may still some day. GSG also make AK and 1911 in .22 as well. I think the .22 is a viable option as a training tool. But again, you lose the real effects of recoil management. MP 15 -22 is a good product. I have heard of the initial ones jamming alot but I think they have it worked out now.

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n00b December 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

Question: what are the pro's/cons of a drop-in conversion kit? Would something like this be superior to that?

Forever curious,

n00b

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rick December 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

I have the colt and love it.

wont shoot the cheap wax coated 22lr ammo.. eats everything else.

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Go Navy! December 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

n00b: I heard some reliability issues with the drop in upper receivers. These .22s are relatively low cost. The M&P15-22 sells for $469, GSG 522 sells for $399 and Mossberg AR .22 sells for $299. These are the prices in the midwest area where I am at. This way you don't have to switch out the Upper receiver. I saw they actually made a .22 FN SCAR as well. (not made by FN. I think it's made by a company called ISSC?) I think .22 makes more realistic training aid. Now they just need to make a .22 SAW or .22 M240B…..

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gunslinger6 December 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

Go Navy!- I have seen the .22 SCAR you are right it is ISSC that makes it. You made me LMAO with the .22 SAW and .22 M240, those would be fun to go to the range with and cost effective.

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Go Navy! December 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm

gunslinger6: I saw a SAW Airsoft the other day at the gunstore. I thought it would be cool to have that in a .22. I don't think there are linked .22 ammo before. But it would be cool. You can shoot 500 rds for less than $20.

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gunslinger6 December 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Go Navy!- I dont think they have linked .22 before either, but you could spend all day at the range for very very cheap. Could you imagne showing up the range one day and seeing some one just unloading a .22 SAW or 240, I know i woud be like ***

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Lance December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

Looks like a serious challenger against the Ruger 10-22 for a fun .22lr plinker.

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Al T. December 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Key to the S&W M&P 15-22 is ammo selection. I'm closing in on 4k through mine with only a couple of dud rounds slowing things up. Page 10 in the manual has the do's and don'ts for ammo. CCI stuff works and Federal American Eagle. No sub sonic rounds or Remington. I have a RDS by Primary Arms to replicate my Aimpoint. Works great and groups good ammo in less than 2 inches at 50m.

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D2 December 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

One thing I don't see mentioned with these types of fire arms is the use of steel targets that would normally not be allowed with 5.56 ammo. Safe stand off distances with normal rifle rated plates (even the ones that deflect downward) precludes using steel targets at closer distances. Targets only rated for pistol calibers may be usable during rifle training is another advantage. I know the barrel length increases velocity but I don't think it would be more destructive or dangerous than 9mm 40 and 45 cal training distances…any trainers with experience with this?

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fxdidan December 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm

.22 cal. is one of the most deadly cal.'s on the market,gangster's favorite for a round to the back of the head(my Dad worked in funeral home's an even owned one,not many medical examiners back then).He told me once that a .22 round goes round and round in the skull,turning everything to mush,but they can still have open casket.When I go in the woods,I carry 2 glock 19's in a shoulder holster,a Llama .380 in ankle holster and a Phoenix arms .22 target pistol that I carry on my hip.I've shot the colt,s&w,ruger,fn .22 scar,ak 22 and the gsg mp5 .22.loved shooting them all,cheap to fire,used about 3,000 rds. that day,.22 brass covered the ground,looked like a war zone.but we went through 1500 rds of 9,.45,7.62×39,.223,300 mag also.shot 20 diffrernt guns that day,ready to go again

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Jim37F December 2, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Didn't Smith and Wesson just drop one of their M&P model rifles from the Improved Carbine Competition?

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JDsHandsomeSon December 3, 2011 at 5:23 am

On the matter of economical shooting, another alternative is S&W's MP15R in 5.45X39 "Russian". Check the prices on various on line suppliers and you will find the per round cost, including delivery, approaching rimfire territory.

I have one with two or three thousand rounds without a single malfunction and love it. I shoot regularly with a group in two and three gun matches and with merely the iron sights can match, and often exceed, the others in accuracy even with their tricked out ARs with red dots and magnifiers. I attribute it to the gun, not necessarily my marksmanship.

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Ranger-12 December 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I have owned my S&W MP 15-22 since March 2011 also a 5.56 that has a 22 upper conversion kit in it now. I have put about put around 8000 plus rounds through the 15-22 since I have owned it.. We average any where from 1000 to 2500 rounds per month through the 15-22 and the 223 that had a drop in conversion kit and now a 22 upper receiver conversion kit. (The drop in kit started giving us problems) found out that it was the extractor that need some adjustments. We now only used the 22 upper receiver kit on the 223 now no problems with around 500 round so far.

I shoot the 15-22 all the time; I shoot M16A1 series target 25 meter scaled silhouette targets at 25 meters and at 50 meters one target has six silhouette on it and the other one has ten on it I think. The 15-22 give me a very good group on each silhouette considering that I’m 75 years old and had a problem of keeping the sight from weaving right to left on me. I shoot mostly 22LR CCI mini mags in it. I have found shooting hollow points I have some problems with the ammo feeding into the chamber, my next project is shooting the 15-22 at 100 meters and 110 meters and see what it does. We have one range that goes out to 550 yards I don’t think it will work to good at that range. The best thing about the 15-22 is the price of the ammo. I can shoot 3000 rounds for around $192.00 where 500 rounds of 5.56 is $150.00 and still have the same amount of fun. I may have to show down on the amount of ammo I shoot up soon as my secretary has told me to slow some.

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Jeff December 5, 2011 at 4:50 am

To the writer. Where you been? This .22 (One of which I own) has been around since at least 2009. I purchased mine 2/09. There are about a bazillion reviews online of this firearm. Move along, nothing new here.

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Go Navy! December 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

No issues with Remington .22 rounds for GSG5

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Daily Llama March 13, 2013 at 5:52 am

I'm a "lefty" so I built a 22LR Full "Lefty" Upper Half for my fantastic Stag Arms Lower using a CMMG Revolution Upper Receiver – configured for left-side eject – and their W.A.S.P. 22LR barrel in the M-4 profile. What a hoot!!!! Looks like "the real deal" but shoots for pennies!!! Same trigger pull regardless of what Upper I pin to it so it's an incredibly cheap-to-use training tool. Paper targets don't care that they're being tricked ….

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sky April 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm

The Mp-15-22 is so reliable, it could be used as a primary weapon. Slap a slidefire stock on there and you have a legal "full auto" .22, check it out on YouTube. Lets remember; .22 caliber bullets are not just for training, they are also for killing. The US Military has used .22 caliber bullets in several of their combat firearms over the years. When Francis Gary Powers' U-2 got shot down in Russia, he was carrying a silenced .22lr pistol. The .22lr has also seen action in various sniper platforms.

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