I fired the M&P15T on the last day of June here in Tucson. The thermometer had already topped 110 degrees when I started setting up at the bench. The only relief that I had from the heat was the sporadic burst of wind that would cause my target stand to rock and coat my sweaty body with fine dirt and grit.
I fired all groups from a cement bench using a Caldwell rifle rest for support. The hardest part of the accuracy test was timing my shots as gusts of wind caused my target stand to sway. I used one-inch pasters for targets and set the very tip of the AccuPoint's chevron at its bottom.
As you can see from the accuracy chart on this page, the S&W M&P15T possesses tremendous accuracy for a carbine. I'm sure on a calm day, with a scope of greater magnification and the possible addition of a match trigger, that I would have been able to shrink these groups even smaller.
The gun has a definite appetite for 62-grain and 69-grain ammo. S&W uses a 1:9-inch twist rifling in the M&P's chrome-lined barrel. The barrel also has the step-down profile for attaching a grenade launcher and an A2 flash hider.
Given the relatively short-range mission of the patrol carbine, I also wanted to test the M&P15T with a reflex sight.
Trijicon offers a pretty neat reflex sight called the TriPower that features a triple illumination system that ensures the shooter always has an aiming point regardless of the light condition. Like the AccuPoint, the TriPower has a fiber-optic light gathering system at its top to power the aiming point during daylight. In darkness, the aiming point of the reflex sight is powered by Tritium.
One problem that nearly every non-magnification reflex sight suffers from is aiming point washout when shooting from a dark room into brilliant sunlight. Trijicon solved this problem by adding a battery pack to the sight, which can increase the brightness of the aiming chevron. The TriPower has a 30mm tube, and I used a new Tactical Multi Mount from Al's Custom. It features a quick detach lever that makes mounting and removing the reflex sight as easy as flipping a lever.
The reflex sight is designed to be used with both eyes open and this is where the shooter's speed will come from, especially on target-to-target transitions in multiple-target scenarios. I used the TriPower in a variety of light conditions and found that it was always easy to find the red aiming chevron—even when shooting from a dark vehicle into bright light.
Not Reinventing the Wheel
The S&W M&P15T is a good, solid tactical carbine. It possesses a great degree of accuracy and there were no stoppages during my evaluation.
Smith & Wesson didn't take any chances on the M&P15, nor should they have. They did not redesign the gas system or make any changes to the buffer parts or feel the need to reinvent anything. Any of their parts will interchange with any other quality AR-15 pattern gun manufactured to milspec. That means that all of the accessories currently being produced for AR-15 and M-16 rifles and carbines will work fine with the S&W carbine.
Generations of law enforcement officers have come to trust and rely on the guns from Smith & Wesson and the new M&P15T should be no different. For more information on S&W's new line of tactical rifles check out their Website at www.smith-wesson.com.
Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.
THE BENEFITS OF A FOREGRIP
SureFire was kind enough to send me a M910A Millennium Vertical Foregrip to use with the S&W M&P15Tactical. It uses two thumb set screws and attached easily to the rifle's Picatinny foregrip.
The foregrip has pressure pads on either side, and either will activate the xenon/halogen gas-filled lamp to produce a blinding 225 lumens of light. There's another switch that can be activated for constant "on" and still another switch that will disable the light to prevent accidental light emission during movement and also keep the light off when in storage, saving the expensive batteries. There's another pressure pad toward the rear of the light mount. Activating it with your thumb will turn on the two small low-output LED lights that are perfect for saving night vision, yet provide enough illumination for navigation. The running lights on my vertical foregrip are blue, but they are also available in red, infrared, and white.
I never realized just how much the vertical foregrip aids in control until I actually tried one on an M-16 a few years ago. After that, I was sold on this accessory. My time between shots on controlled pairs was reduced considerably and my scores improved. Using the foregrip also encourages the shooter to pull his or her elbows in. Combining this accessory with tactical lights makes a lot of sense to me. It's an expensive piece of hardware, but I think that once you try it you won't be able to live without one.
M910A Millennium Vertical Foregrip
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