Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II Review

The Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport is a cheap AR-15, and it's also one of the best discount rifles in USA gun stores.

Last updated February 15th 2024

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Smith & Wesson M&P-15 Sport II Review

  • Price: $670.00
  • Barrel length: 16 inch
  • Weight: 6.5lb
  • Capacity: 30 rounds

Pros

  • ✓ Great price
  • ✓ Big brand quality control
  • ✓ Classic AR-15 layout

Cons

  • ✗ Plastic handguard
  • ✗ Gritty Mil Spec trigger

The Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II has become THE entry level rifle thanks to its solid performance at an affordable price. , Its reputation for reliability and quality, coupled with a price that’s hard to beat, makes it the default choice for both new and experienced shooters.

Until recently the S&W was engaged in a brutal war with the Ruger AR-556, and it was losing. But post Covid, the Ruger has crept up in price and the M&P has taken the lead on price alone. There’s not much to choose between them, but this is cheaper. That put the S&W over the top and made it the best entry-level AR-15.

Our Hands-on Test

In our hands-on experience, the M&P Sport II impresses with its reliability right out of the box. The rifle handled a variety of ammunition types without any hiccups, showcasing its versatility. The ergonomic design, typical of the AR platform, offers an adjustable stock to fit various user sizes and shooting styles.

However, the rifle’s Mil-Spec trigger feels a bit gritty, and the lack of heat shielding in the handguards may lead to discomfort during extended shooting sessions. Despite these minor drawbacks, its performance, particularly with heavier bullets, is commendable.

Test Scores

Price: 4/5

The S&W is affordable, but doesn’t sacrifice too much quality to achieve that according to us and other gun reviews. This is a great value package for an AR-15 in this price range.

Accuracy: 4/5

This semi automatic rifle performs really well in carbine drills, and you can group shots within an inch at 25 yards. The rifle works better in terms of accuracy with heavier ammo and with 75 grain ammunition on board, this is a surprisingly accurate rifle.

Reliability: 5/5

We didn’t have a single failure to feed or issue in hundreds of rounds. Mass production techniques mean the quality control and reliability are pretty much baked in to a rifle like this. This is one of those budget rifles that doesn’t save money by cutting corners. S&W just keeps to the same basic recipe that Eugene Stoner laid out in the 1950s, with the application of modern manufacturing and the economies of scale.

Capacity: 5/5

The Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II comes with a 30-round magazine and it’s an AR-15, you can fit larger mags or just velcro 7 mags to your chest and switch them out like everyone else. Well some people…

Weight: 4/5

The semi-auto rifle weighs just 6.5lb and that is seriously impressive. You can spend well over $2,000 to get a rifle this light from other manufacturers, but here it’s a result of simple cost cutting measures. The aluminum receiver, plastic handguard, partial rail and simple stock all help turn this cheap rifle into a lightweight AR-15.

Ergonomics: 4/5

The AR-15 is a tried and trusted recipe with more than 60 years of quiet refinement. The Smith & Wesson M&P Sport uses the most user friendly and accessible version of the classic AR design and everything just works. The 6 position stock gives an adjustable length of pull and the plastic handguard is comfortable, intuitive and easy to shoot. The handguard does get hot pretty quick, but that only matters if you’re shooting hundreds of rounds and you don’t like waiting around.

Features: 3.5/5

It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the premium rifles, which is kind of the point. It does have a decent dust cover and forward assist. We would love to see an M-Lok free float handguard, but then it would cost more. There are versions with M-Lok attachment points, but they tend to cost slightly more…

Value: 5/5

There are cheaper rifles, and there are more expensive rifles that are better. But this is priced absolutely perfectly for an entry level AR-15 that doesn’t skimp on quality, but does do without some features. You get a reliable, dependable, reasonably accurate rifle at a price that’s just too good to ignore.

Technical Highlights

The M&P15 Sport II features a 16″ cold hammer forged barrel made from 4140 steel, offering durability and a 1:9″ twist rate suitable for a wide range of bullet weights, although it is tuned to heavier amo that packs a bigger punch. It retains a classic AR-15 aesthetic with a six-position adjustable stock and a polymer buttstock.

Optional Versions and Specs

Variants include models with different handguards, including M-LOK compatible options, and versions equipped with or ready for optics, allowing for customization based on user preference.

You can upgrade to the S&W M&P15 II Tactical, which comes with a better handguard, new stock, MBUs thrown in and more. It’s way more expensive, though, and goes head to head with more serious opposition. The M&P Sport makes total sense at the entry-level price, but the line gets less compelling as it gets more expensive. Until you hit the Performance Center rifles.

Smith & Wesson M&P Performance Center rifles are another breed entirely. Expect to spend more than $1,600, but you’ll get a much more accurate shooter that people take into competitive shooting sports every weekend. As well as hand fitted receivers and barrel, everything from the materials to the charging handle have come in for an upgrade. At long range, or during a mag dunp, you’ll feel the difference.

Key Reasons to Buy

  1. Exceptional value for money.
  2. Proven reliability with various ammunition types.
  3. Versatile design suitable for a wide range of shooting activities.
  4. Backed by Smith & Wesson’s Lifetime Service Policy.
  5. Lightweight and user-friendly, ideal for both new and experienced shooters.


What the Experts Say

Experts from various firearms platforms, including Pew Pew Tactical and The Truth About Guns, have praised the M&P Sport II for its reliability, affordability, and solid performance. They highlight its position as a top-selling semi-automatic rifle and its ability to deliver consistent results in various shooting scenarios.

Police units tend to order a lot of these rifles, too, thanks to their versatility, reliability and how easy to shoot they are. Smith & Wesson also gives them complete deals on rifles, S&W M&P pistols and even ammunition and knives.

So again it knows how to leverage the power of a big brand to work with the purchasing power of the police in terms of discounts and gun deals. It’s just another way that S&W can gain a competitive advantage over the smaller companies, pump more money back into the product and protect its position as the best budget AR-15 manufacturer.


Key Rivals

When compared to its competitors, the M&P15 Sport II stands out for its balance of price and performance. Rivals like the Ruger AR-556 and the Aero Precision models offer similar features but often at a higher price point,

Rock River Arms is another manufacturer right in this price range that you might want to consider. That’s a slightly edgier, smaller brand, but the S&W M&P Sport is a safer bet with its lifetime guarantee and mass production grade quality control. You could also save money with the Palmetto State Armory Freedom M4 too.

Check out other budget AR15 rifles here.

Known Issues and Problems

The main issues highlighted by users and gun reviews include the gritty Mil-Spec trigger and the quick heating of the handguards without metal heat shields. These are minor compared to the overall value and performance of the rifle.

Is it California Legal?

This is available in configurations compliant with California’s restrictive gun laws, ensuring that shooters in the state can legally own this versatile rifle. You can buy a california legal featureless rifle with a fin eliminating the pistol grip and no thread on the barrel

Company Profile

With a long history of firearm manufacturing, S&W has solidified its place in the market with the M&P15 Sport II. The company’s focus on quality, innovation, and customer service has made it a respected name in the firearms industry

Horace Smith and Daniel B Wesson founded the company in 1852. From humble beginnings in Norwich, Connecticut, the company swiftly carved out a reputation as one of the best gun manufacturers in the world. S&W recently moved to Maryville Tennessee, but the focus hasn’t changed.

Starting with the Volcano rifle, the company found its calling with the Model 1 revolver. That marked the beginning of e the modern era of handguns.

Over the years, it has been at the forefront of innovation, introducing firearms like the Model 29 .44 Magnum, made famous by the “Dirty Harry” films, and the M&P series catering to law enforcement and civilian markets alike. Their product line extends beyond revolvers to include semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and ammunition.

The biggest names in the line up right now include:

  • S&W Model 629 – The classic 6 shot revolver.
  • S&W M&P – The pistol line up ranges from the Shield Plus sub-compact to the full size polymer pistols with 5 inch barrel and potentially a compensator if you opt for the competition gun with the full S&W Performance Center treatment.
  • S&W Victory – The classic 22LR target pistol.
  • SW1911 Model E – One of the best 1911s on the market.

Conclusion

The Smith & Wesson M&P-15 Sport II is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable, affordable AR-15. Its solid performance, backed by Smith & Wesson’s reputation and customer service, makes it a standout option in a crowded market. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or new to the AR platform, the M&P15 Sport II offers a perfect blend of affordability, reliability, and performance.

Full Specification

  • Name: Smith & Wesson M&P-15 Sport
  • Action: Semi-Automatic
  • Stock Type: 6-Position Adjustable
  • Muzzle Type: A2 Flash Hider
  • Magazine Capacity: 30
  • Caliber: 223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO
  • Twist Rate: 1:9
  • Barrel Material: 4140 Steel
  • Receiver Material: 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Barrel Length: 16 inch
  • Overall Length: 35″
  • Weight: 6.9lb

Author

  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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