June 13, 2019
13 years ago I tested one of the first S&W prototype ARs. At the time I was frankly surprised to see S&W introducing a design championed by their old rival, Colt. 13 years down the road it’s obvious they made the right decision. ARs have done very well for them. Not only that, but their offerings have grown from two models to a diverse line. While S&W currently has a number of fine offerings, if I was looking for a 5.56x45mm AR, their M&P15T Tactical with M-LOK would be my pick.
Why the M&P15T Tactical? Simply because it’s a solid piece with almost everything I’d need and nothing I don’t. It’s ready to rock out of the box. As you’d expect, this model features a flattop upper receiver which facilitates easy mounting of day/night optics and iron sights. The bolt carrier riding inside has a properly staked gas key and was marked MP for “Magnetic Particle” inspection. Fit to the front of the receiver is a lightweight contour 16-inch barrel machined from 4140 chrome moly. This features a one turn in eight inches rifling twist and 5R rifling. Rather than being chrome-lined the barrel features S&W’s Armornite finish on both the interior and exterior of the barrel to prevent corrosion.
The barrel features a Mid-Length gas system and is fitted with a low profile gas block. At the muzzle S&W fits their distinctive looking flash suppressor. The patented design is longer than a GI A2 flash suppressor, and a bit better looking in my book. It adds a distinctive touch to make this model stick out from the A2 birdcage crowd. Surrounding the barrel is a fairly light aluminum free-floating handguard. At 13 inches in length it extends well past the gas block, providing plenty of room for mounting accessories. Three bolts lock the handguard securely in place while two extensions interfacing with the upper receiver prevent rotation. The top of the handguard features MIL STD 1913 rails while M-LOK slots are cut into it at 3, 6 and 9 O’clock. The handguard is heavily slotted to both reduce weight and aid barrel cooling.
The upper receiver pins onto a standard looking lower receiver. However, if you take a closer look you’ll notice in place of the GI folding trigger guard is an integral piece. The trigger guard is part of the receiver forging and contoured to provide a bit of extra space for gloves. A single-stage trigger is standard and the rifle’s controls are all standard in size and location. Nothing fancy here.
Peering inside the receiver extension I found a standard weight buffer. A six-position collapsible M4 stock is fitted along with an A2 pistolgrip. Moving to the top of the rifle you’ll note Magpul MBUS folding sights are standard. Included with the rifle is a 2-inch 1913 rail section which bolts easily into an M-LOK slot. Plus, the rifle comes with one of Magpul’s popular 30-round PMAGs. This model measures 36.6 inches in length and weighs a very handy 6.7 pounds. All in all it is a very good looking piece.
Rather than testing it as is though, I decided to add a few accessories. I started by mounting a Mid-Evil Industries Gen 2 360-degree rotating fore grip. Next I added a swiveling Harris bipod with a LaRue QD mount. I also fit a LaRue RAT stock in place of the M4 piece for some of the testing. For an optic I went with Nikon.
I selected Nikon’s new M Tactical 3-12x42mm with Mil adjustments which I attached using a Nikon mount. This is a recent model from Nikon and is built on a 30mm tube, has large finger adjustable turrets, .25 MOA adjustments with 25 MOA per full turret revolution and side parallax adjustment. If you prefer, it is also available with Mil adjustments. It features smooth zooming from 3x to 12x and comes with a “cattail” for fast magnification changes. A European style fast focus diopter is standard. The Rear Focal Plane reticle is MOA based and features marks for ranging and elevation/windage corrections. Best of all, this new model has an MSRP of just $399.95.
From the bench the S&W M&P15T Tactical M-LOK performed very well. While the trigger is heavier than I would prefer, breaking at approximately 6 pounds, the rifle shot well. Best accuracy was obtained using Black Hills Ammunition’s 77-grain Match which averaged a very respectable .9 inch at 2,695 fps. Hornady’s 75-grain Match averaged 1.2 inch while Wolf Performance Ammunition’s economical 55-grain FMJ steel case load averaged 3 inches. Cases feed smoothly, extracted and ejected without issue.
Next I got to work shooting prone from the bipod at 400, 450 and 500 yards on steel. Here the Nikon performed well providing a bright image with accurate color rendition and very good resolution. I dialed for elevation and held off for wind and had no problems with the turrets. As to be expected, recoil is very mild and I was able to make rapid hits at these distances.
From shooting prone I moved to shooting offhand and then kneeling and finally sitting on a man-sized steel target at about 280 yards. The S&W proved very comfortable and I really enjoyed this portion of testing. I finished up by cranking the magnification down to 3x and running some drills at 50 and 75 yards doing some snap shooting. All in all the S&W M&P15T Tactical M-LOK performed very well. If you are looking for a solid piece its MSRP is $1,189.S&W M&P15T Tactical M-LOK Specifications
Operation: Direct gas with rotating bolt
Barrel: 16 inches, 4140 steel with Armornite finish
Rifling: 1 in 8 inch twist, 5R rifling
Feed: Detachable box
Overall Length: 36.6 inches
Weight: 6.7 pounds
Sights: Magpul MBUS
Finish: Type III hardcoat anodized
Black Hills Ammunition
Wolf Performance Ammunition
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