SMITH & WESSON M&P15 VTAC II 5.56mm

Viking Tactics and M&P markings are boldly displayed on the…

Viking Tactics and M&P markings are boldly displayed on the right sight of the lower receiver. For greater precision, Smith & Wesson chose to install a Geissele Super-V trigger, which was crisp, predictable, and had a sharp reset. Its average pull weight was just over 5 pounds.

The M&P15 line of rifles was a bit of a surprise to me when Smith & Wesson first offered them. An associate had once opined that if he had the money, he’d have purchased Smith & Wesson and begun with a line of AR-15 rifles. At the time, the field wasn’t so crowded and there was pent-up demand from the Clinton Gun Ban. Since then, anyone who has access to shop space and an instruction book can and has assembled parts. Meanwhile, S&W has delved deeply into the AR-style rifle by pulling some outside ideas in, like the Adams Arms piston system, and by making their own components, thereby using more of the expansive manufacturing space they have available.

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Aside from sights and a light, the S&W M&P15 VTAC II comes with everything you need—even a sling and light mount. Shown with a Trijicon 4×32 ACOG with Docter sight, SureFire Scout Light and Atlas bipod.

In any event, S&W is unquestionably a major player in the AR market, continuing to expand their listings of product as well as market share. It seems that the current trend is to get “someone” to design an AR for you—the more Special Operations experience in the designer’s background, the better off you are. One such venture was the S&W M&P15 VTAC rifle. A collaboration between noted Army Special Operations SGM Kyle Lamb and S&W, the VTAC made use of some of the best parts available at the time from JP Enterprises, SureFire and Lamb’s own Viking Tactics (VTAC). It was immensely popular. Apparently, they felt things had changed enough in the field of components to advance the ball further down the field with a new edition, the VTAC II.

Gun Details
To start with, the new rifle would utilize a different gas impingement system than the original carbine, a so-called “mid-length” gas system. Around for years, many generally avoided it for the lack of handguards to cover such a system. Besides, the original gas system works, right? Well, it can. It’s rough on extraction for one thing. It’s an abrupt system. When you have components best used in the 20-inch rifle format used in the 16-inch-and-less carbine format, you end up with short-lived parts and failures to extract, especially as operating temperatures increase.

My first AR carbine used a mid-length gas system. I didn’t know any better. People who shot it “oooed and ahhed” over how “softly” the system shot. It was simply a better system for the 16-inch gun—better balanced in operational cadence and gas flow. The mid-length VTAC II features a 16-inch barrel made from 4150 CMV steel with a 1-in-8-inch twist rate. S&W’s 5R rifling came from their Thompson/Center acquisition.

The idea of 5R rifling is to use five lands and grooves instead of the traditional six lands and grooves. In addition, the sides of each land are cut at a 65-degree angle versus the 90-degree angle on standard rifling. In effect, this causes less bullet deformation and fouling. With 5.56mm rounds, the heavier bullets require a faster rate of twist, hence the one turn in 8 inches of the VTAC II.

The barrel, bore and chamber are all Melonite treated. S&W has been testing Melonite barrels with the intent of destroying them. So far, the Melonite barrels are still going. The barrel is covered by the VTAC/Troy Extreme TRX handguard. It’s light and reasonably skinny. The venting/lightening holes are elongated in the horizontal plane from the muzzle to the buttstock. For mounting goodies, Picatinny rail sections can be mounted in the cooling slots. The top rail runs the length of the handguard. The M&P15 VTAC II comes supplied with a pair of mounting rails.

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Smith & Wesson outfits the VTAC II with a Troy Extreme TRX handguard and Viking Tactics’ own Light Mount for true customization.

Smith & Wesson also anointed the new VTAC II with a new flash suppressor. This one was made to direct blast and sound forward, away from the shooter, while cutting visible flash. The VTAC II also comes with the Vltor IMod six-position collapsible stock. Coming from a great name in the modern sporting rifle market, the stock extends the rifle to a maximum of 36.75 inches and collapses it to 33.5 inches.

The M&P15 VTAC II is shipped with a Geissele Super-V trigger installed. A premium trigger I’d never gotten to try until now, I’d heard military types praise the Geissele trigger even on rifles used in the rigors of battle. The supplied trigger was firm and had a sharp reset. It was clean, grit-free and allows for precision. My Timney trigger pull gauge showed an average trigger pull of just over 5 pounds for 10 tries.

Viking Tactics also designed the Low Profile Sling Mount (LPSM) that comes with the VTAC II. As the name implies, the LPSM hugs in close and prevents another snag point. It’s made for the Heavy Duty Quick Detach (HQD) swivel. The HQD snaps in, and the mount limits its rotation. The LPSM attaches to the Mil-Std-1913 rail.

Since Kyle Lamb markets a sling, it is a natural item to supply with his branded rifle. The sling is the padded two-point tactical sling, made for carry comfort and quick adjustment. The VTAC light mount is also provided, as well as a 30-round PMAG magazine. The light mount has an insert for lights the size of the SureFire Outdoorsman. For larger lights like the G2, you’ll have to remove the insert to install the light.

Load Comments
  • commander. dr. bob

    Excellent review. Carry on Gentlemen. C. D. R. Dr. Bob. Matthews