Smith and Wesson M&P Sport II Review
If you have been thinking about buying a new AR-15, now could not be a better time. Right now in the market, the variety of options has never been higher and
prices have never been lower. Let’s be honest, could you really ever have too many AR-15’s? Why not add just one more to the collection? If you want one of the best AR-15 rifles on the market for the money, this is the one to be looking at.
One of the best entry-level AR-15s on the market right now is the Smith and Wesson M&P Sport II. Smith and Wesson is very well known in the firearms world for producing some high-quality handguns, but their entry into the black rifle market is another home run for the company. This rifle is extremely lightweight, reliable, and so much fun to shoot. The standard rifle comes equipped from the store with a Magpul MBUS rear sight and 30 round Magpul PMAG M3 so it is ready to shoot as soon as you get it home!
In addition to these add ons, the Sport II comes with a forward assist and dust cover that you would find on most quality AR-15s. There are plenty of other rifles in this price range that does not come with any of these added features, only adding to the value that this gun will give you. On top of that, Smith and Wesson offer a lifetime service policy in the event that you should ever need it! You will not get that from any type of budget build AR-15, and it is always nice to know if you ever run into any serious issues, that a solid company like Smith and Wesson will be sure to take care of you. Now, let’s take a look at some of the technical specs:
Cartridge: 5.56 NATO/ .223
Capacity: 30+1 rounds
Stock: 6 position CAR
Barrel Length: 16 inches, 1:9 inch twist
Sights: A2 (front), Folding Magpul (MBUS rear)
Receiver: Aluminum alloy 7075 T6 aluminum
Weight: 103.2 oz
Overall Length: 35 inches
Finish: Black anodized hard coat
General Overview and Details
The great thing about the M&P Sport II is all of the quality that you get in such a great price tag. All of these small details will become much more apparent when comparing it to other “budget” rifles. The upper on this rifle comes equipped with M4 cuts that correspond to the feed ramps on the barrel. Speaking of the barrel, it is not chrome lined but it is finished with nitride on both the inside and outside. Before you decide that no chrome lining is a deal-breaker, just remember of potential accuracy problems with chrome lining. The barrel on this gun is more than durable and capable of handling as many rounds as you want to run through it!
The end of the barrel is of course threaded and comes equipped with an A2-style flash hider. The bolt carrier on this gun has a phosphate finish on the outside, and a chrome lining on the interior, as well as the gas key. The trigger on this gun is excellent for a stock trigger and breaks cleanly at around 4 pounds. The overall fit and finish appeared to be quite good, especially for the price tag. I did not notice any machining marks or blemishes in any of the rifles that I shot.
The Sport II is compatible with most AR-15 accessories and modifications. It does not accept aftermarket trigger guards, however, it does feature an enlarged trigger guard built into the rifle. There are plenty of drop-in modifications available to be attached to the rifle with minimal use of tools. In stock form the rifle can accept accessories including but not limited to; optics, slings, or vertical grips.
Furniture on the Sport II is strictly functional, not fancy. That’s partly why Smith & Wesson is able to offer the rifle at an affordable price. The modified GI-style handguard and grip are basic designs made of polymer. The rifle comes with a six-position, M4-type telescoping stock. Fully extended, the rifle has an overall length of 35 inches and a collapsed length of 32 inches. There’s a single sling attachment point on the butt of the stock and one just forward of the handguard.
Other Details to Note
In order to keep the price of this rifle down low, Smith and Wesson made some design features and decisions to do so. While none of these are deal-breakers by any means, you should be aware of them at least. The first is the handguards. The handguards on this rifle are unlined, meaning that there is no heat shielding. Most shooters will not even know or notice this, but if you plan on doing a lot of repetitive mag dumps, you may want to invest in an aftermarket handguard. In all of the shooting that I have done with an M&P Sport, I have never had any issues with this, even after an afternoon of repetitive shooting.
The gas system on the Sport II is carbine length instead of a mid-length gas system. This shorter gas system can sometimes lead to over-gassing the rifle and cause slightly more felt recoil. While again, most shooters will not even notice, the heavier weight of the barrel also helps negate this as well. Many shooters actually prefer a carbine length gas system, so this may not actually be a bad thing, just something to take into consideration.
Lastly, there have been a few reports from owners of the M&P Sport II that both the handguard and stock have some wobble to them. While this is not a huge deal and does not affect functionality at all, many shooters could find it annoying. I personally have not had any problems with this in testing all of the rifles I have shot personally. These two things can also usually be easily fixed, and you could even replace both parts with upgraded aftermarket parts.
Field Testing, Shooting, and Durability
I have on many occasions shot the M&P Sport II, and can honestly say it is a big upgrade from the original Sport and the best overall gun that you can buy at its price point. The first time shooting the gun, I made the decision to keep it simple. I threw on a simple budget red dot sight and some cheap ammo and hit the range. I tried out multiple different types of ammo, including plenty of steel case to see if I could get any feeding issues. I’m happy to say I didn’t have any problems, regardless of the brand of ammo I was shooting at the time.
Setting up and zeroing the sight was a breeze and a very simple process thanks to the accessory rail at the top of the receiver. Over the course of shooting the gun, and any shooting trips later after borrowing the gun again from a friend, I never once ran into a single malfunction or problem. The magazine release dropped magazines cleanly. The bolt catch operated reliably and had no annoying sharp edges. The safety selector lever operated with just the right amount of resistance and with a positive click when engaged and disengaged. The bottom of the magazine well is beveled to speed magazine insertion. I used a variety of magazines from different manufacturers in testing, and they all worked equally well.
Every Smith and Wesson M&P Sport that I have ever shot, I have been impressed with. It seems as though every friend and family member I have now owns one of these rifles, and the more I shoot them the more I have been impressed with the quality for its price tag. And while I do not own one for myself, I would like to change that. I have personally been saving my money for some other firearm projects, but I think it is time to add another black rifle to my family of guns, and this is the one!
The Smith and Wesson M&P Sport II is simply a quality gun at a great price. It has the feel and build of a mid-tier rifle while being priced as a budget-minded gun. If you can overlook a few of the minor details that were made in order to cut back on costs, you will be very happy with an M&P Sport II. This rifle continues to impress me with its accuracy, reliability, and overall functionality at such a great price. Smith and Wesson as a company have taken “budget” AR-15’s to the next level, and set a pretty high standard for other companies to follow!
-Best price you will find for a gun of this quality
-Everything you need and nothing that you do not
-Dust cover and forward assist added from the previous generation
-Backed by Smith and Wesson’s lifetime service policy
-You may want to upgrade things like the handguard and trigger fairly quickly
-Non-chrome lined barrel (if that matters to you)
-Handguard and stock may have some wobble
Written by Steven Lines
Steven Lines is a hunter and firearm enthusiast from Arizona, USA. He has been shooting and hunting since a child, and also enjoys long-range target shooting and collecting firearms. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.