For those who caught it I started writing up a couple of weeks ago about my 15-22 Adventure. I’d given up on my first buy a Sig522 SWAT and was going out looking for greener pasture in the form of a Smith and Wesson 15-22. Well, that day has come… And passed. So now I can actually tell you a bit about it.
I’ve ran just over a thousand rounds through the 15-22 since picking it up from Alex over at Blue Fieldsports (www.bluefieldsports.co.uk). Around 700 rounds dry, straight from the box on a practical range day at Silverstone Shooting Centre (www.silverstoneshootingcentre.co.uk). The other 300 rounds on two club nights indoor on the 25 Metre range.
The rifle has so far performed flawlessly. So flawlessly actually I’ve been running one or two drill rounds in my magazines to get some practice dealing with stoppages on the indoor club nights. The gun just runs, and runs. The light weight of the rifle makes it an absolute doddle to get up into the shoulder and the MagSwell from Dan over at 3GN-UK (www.3gunnationuk.biz) makes slapping a magazine home into the magwell reliable and consistent, even with me being relatively new to the platform.
For those of you who don’t know much about the platform (Where have you been hiding?) the Smith and Wesson 15-22 is a US made semi-automatic rimfire firing the widely available .22LR. This is without a doubt the most popular calibre here in the UK due to its accessibility, price, low recoil and quite simply the amount of places that you can shoot it. The rifle is coming in at anywhere between £575 up to £700 for the base ‘Sport’ model. Blue Fieldsports where I picked mine up from have them available for Firearms UK Readers for £600. A price I was quite willing to pay to have the type of professional service you will receive from the guys over at Blue.
The ‘Sport’ model features a 10 inch M-LOK handguard (the type of fitment for any attachments you want to add) and includes Magpul MBUS folding sights, some M-LOK Rail and a 6 position adjustable stock. The rifle is almost entirely made of Polymer. Which is essentially posh-plastic. It’s tough stuff and certainly up to the task. You can get centrefire rifles and pistols made from the same stuff which fair just fine so no reason the dinky .22LR would have any negative effects through a polymer body.
Does it feel the part? Perhaps not. Being polymer instead of aluminium though it’s incredibly light weight. So lightweight that even my 50kg fiancé wants to have a go with it, certainly not what she thought when she picked up my straight pull AR15 which weighs about the same amount as a double-decker bus.
So yes it’s light. Yes its plastic. Yes it feels a tiny, tiny bit like an airsoft gun. But does it really matter when you’re having this much fun?
Does it really matter when every time you pull the trigger the rifle goes bang, a case cleanly ejects from the side and the next goes straight into the chamber without the slightest hiccup. Should we really care what it feels like when it works this well? In truth I’ve got the Sig which looks better, feels more solid, has a metal upper receiver that weighs a tonne. It feels exactly how a good rifle should, but it doesn’t work even half as well as the Smith and Wesson does. So what’s the point of all those good looks when all you get when you pull the trigger is a ‘Click’ and not a ‘Bang’.
The fact of the matter is after shooting it for a day I’ve completely stopped thinking that the Polymer is a negative. It isn’t. If you look to the US, shooters are drilling holes in receivers, pistol grips and stocks to try to drop weight off their competition guns and yet here we all are complaining that a gun is too light. It’s just as heavy as it needs to be, and it’s no worse for it.
Moving past the weight and onto something that matters, does it shoot straight? Well the simple answer is yes. The most complicated answer is “It really depends what you call straight?” Over the course of the day I shot it at targets from 10 metres out to 100 Metres. It will hit all of them. It just might not hit the ones at 100 metres quite as consistently. On anything between 10 metres and 60-70 metres you can be quite confident of ringing steels every pull of the trigger and between the two of us on the range we did that day in, day out. We only started to run into problems when we tried to push much past that. Granted we weren’t shooting bench-rest but at 100 metres standing or kneeling we were getting groups around the 20 centimetre mark which meant you weren’t guaranteed a hit every time on the steel plates. Not a huge dilemma as I don’t think the rifle was ever really designed for it, but something to note if you were buying this to use as a 100 metre game-getter.
If you’re doing what the rifle is made for, running around target to target shooting practical mini-rifle, shooting a bit of gallery or just enjoying it on your local 25 or 50 metre range this package excels. I honestly believe the Smith and Wesson 15-22 is better than anything else I’ve shot at this price point. Even I am sure as good as a lot of rifles at a much higher price point.
Please swing by for the Part 3 next month where we’ll be looking at a few of the possibly modifications you can do on the 15-22 (Hint: THERE IS A LOT.) and a few of the go-faster bits I’ve started to collect to begin building this into the lightweight race gun it’s surely destined to be.
Additon by Dave- Just to add to Harry’s experience with the 15/22, This is the rifle I own and I have to concur it runs brilliantly. I had initial issues using winchester ammunition but after putting a few hundred rounds through the rifle it seems quite happy to use anything. I think an initial case of it just needing to losen up a little from brand new which now functions flawlessly. A great platform and I look forward to the next installment to see exactly just what modifications can be had.