This weekend, H&H Gun Range had their annual expo. I shot a lot of guns from a lot of manufacturers, but if I don’t focus a little here, this post will get way out of hand. Therefore, I’m going to focus on S&W and my dealings and impressions of a brand-new rifle in specific, and a related story.
I get the feeling that the relationship between H&H and Smith & Wesson is a pretty tight one. This year, S&W sent quite a few goodies, and they sent some high-profile representatives including competitive shooter Mike Plaxco and President and CEO Michael Golden.
From their table, I took the opportunity to test fire several models. I shot the M&P340 to see if it felt as punishing as I remembered. It did not. I may have to add one of these to my shopping list. I shot the five-inch .460V and the four-inch .500 Magnum, as I can almost never turn down the opportunity to shoot a big, big bore Smith handgun! I’ve definitely got one of those on my list. I’m leaning in the .460 direction, but I may be swayed before all is said and done. They also had a Model 952 that I had to try out. That is one sweet little 9mm!
Still, the belle of the ball had to be the brand-spanking new M&P15-22. I just received an email from S&W that this gun would be hitting the market next month. Imagine my delight at the opportunity to try it out before then! In preliminary reading on the gun, I was a little skeptical about the plastic receiver, and the engineering detours from the original Stoner design – such as the blowback operation.
Although I was concerned on how the polymer would make the gun handle as opposed to the real thing, I had no worries about its strength or durability for running .22lr. Shooting the thing really made me a believer. Because the plastic receiver is so much lighter than an aluminum-based gun, the recoil of this .22lr feels remarkably like firing .223 out of a heavier gun! The controls are exactly the way they should be. The only eerie difference in controls has to be the necessarily shorter pull on the charging handle. I will have to say that the mag release and bolt charging control were a little stiff. I don’t know whether that was due to the fact that I was shooting a prototype demo, or that the plastic receiver has more grab to it than hard-coated aluminum, or because it was a brand-new gun in need of a good break-in. One way or another, the controls were still adequately operable for their purpose.
Beyond the obvious, this gun is easy to use and very accurate! The magazine is shaped and sized like the real thing, but does have the button dealie to pull the .22 double-stack down as you feed fresh cartridges in. Releasing the bolt gives that satisfying ‘snap’ that we all learn to love on an M16 variant. With its 1:16-twist, match-grade barrel, this sucker is as accurate as you will ever need it to be. Including iron sights and a magazine, this baby is a relative steal at the rumored street price of $500.00! DO WANT!!!
I really enjoyed operating it, and may need to get one of my own, but I think my son may have liked it even more. I accompanied him onto the firing line so he could try her out. I put his target out to about twenty yards and watched him handle this gun as he has my AR on previous occasions. He fired ten shots at his target and I coached him to clear the gun and drop the mag as I reeled in his target. Once it got close enough to see bullet holes, this is what I saw:
That would be a 2-inch spread at the widest point (not including one flier that is out of the above frame)! We came back out of the range and I had him show his target to the S&W guys. Mike Plaxco said that it was the best target he had seen all day. He was so impressed, he gave my son a hat.
A little later, we had the opportunity to meet Mike Golden. He was also impressed with my boy’s marksmanship. Here are the two of them with Miles Hall, the range owner:
The next day, he did equally well on the air-gun range. We are thinking of putting him in some junior marksmanship classes. I know his technique can be improved, but there are some things that you just can’t learn from Mom and Dad’s advice. Some things just take a coach.
1) I don’t have nearly enough money for all the guns I want.
2) The M&P15-22 is one sweet piece. Everybody ought to have one right next to their Ruger 10/22.
3) I am one very proud dad.