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Rifles have proven their usefulness as self-defense and law enforcement tools time and time again.

Finding an AR-pattern gun with just the right equipment is important. Fortunately, Smith & Wesson offers a broad range of rifles and likely has one to satisfy your requirements.

One of those guns, the M&P15T, will meet the needs of many people. Frankly, this is the gun I wish I had when I was still pushing a patrol car around my district. While no tool is ever perfect, the M&P15T is certainly well equipped for police work and has a great reputation for reliability. These same features make it great for home defense as well.

On top, Smith & Wesson has outfitted the rifle with Magpul MBUS sights. I’ve used these sights on a number of rifles and have always found them to be reliable. The rifle also has a Picatinny rail on top of the receiver that allows for the addition of an optic. The folding MBUS sights are a great complement to glass.

Duty-Ready 5.56mm

The M&P15T has a 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-8-inch twist rate. At this rate, most common bullets will be stabilized for accurate fire. I currently keep Hornady 55-grain TAP loads in my own home defense AR-15, and the M&P15T was very accurate with them. Likewise, it did very well with heavier 69-grain OTM MatchKing bullets loaded by Gorilla Ammunition.

Smith & Wesson has fitted the gun with a free-floated, quad-rail handguard. Although thicker than some of the newer KeyMod and M-LOK handguards, the quad-rail makes it very easy to add accessories like the Streamlight TLR-1 HPL. This weapon light is exceptionally bright, providing 775 lumens of illumination, and exceptional reach with 48,000 candela. For anyone carrying this rifle on duty or for personal protection, a white light should be mandatory and the TLR-1 HPL is well suited to this role.

A single 30-round Magpul PMAG magazine is included with the rifle. All standard AR-15 magazines will work with this rifle and drop free without issue. Smith & Wesson also offers a version of this rifle with a fixed, 10-round magazine for where required by law. These artificially reduced-capacity rifles are equipped with the “bullet button.” Pricing remains the same on both versions of the gun.

Smith & Wesson built the rifle on 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receivers. These parts were hard coat anodized, and both the bolt carrier and the gas key are chromed. The barrel has a Melonite finish to prevent corrosion. I have several Smith & Wesson guns with a Melonite finish and can unequivocally state that it works very well to protect the metal from corrosion.

Range Test

Living in what may be the high water mark of firearm manufacturing, it is not surprising to find that most companies’ stock production guns run flawlessly from the factory. Combining modern manufacturing technology with the relatively debugged AR-15 platform means that Smith & Wesson should be producing guns that perform well on the range. I found this to be true when I took the M&P15T out for testing.

The M&P15T’s accuracy was very good when shooting off of a sandbag and using the Magpul sights. Using the 55-grain TAP load from Hornady, I managed a best group of 1.25 inches. As I mentioned earlier, other loads, such as the 69-grain load from Gorilla Ammunition, were also accurate. With glass instead of iron sights, I suspect I could have tightened these groups up even more.

All bullet styles and load lengths fed fine in this rifle. In addition to the provided PMAG, I ran the gun with a number of different magazines, including aluminum Brownells magazines and polymer mags from Troy Industries and TAPCO. None of the magazines showed any signs of causing a problem.

With the quad-rail handguard, the gun was slightly heavier than other AR-15 rifles I have recently shot. Even so, the weight of the gun is less than 7 pounds, and the rifle is well balanced and pointed well. If rested on an improvised rest like a backpack, the weight will do nothing but reduce the felt recoil.

If you are looking for a solid-performing AR-15 rifle equipped with a quad-rail handguard, the M&P15T should be on your short list of models to consider. In my testing, the gun ran well and experienced no malfunctions. Add to this that the finishing work on the gun was excellent and I think this rifle would satisfy the needs of many shooters.

The only potential drawback that I found with this rifle is that the quad rail is somewhat bulky and heavy when compared to other types of accessory mounting handguards. However, as many people are looking for an AR-15 with a quad rail, this is better described as a feature, not a drawback. If the features of this rifle meet your needs, I unreservedly recommend it.

For more information on the M&P15T, visit smith-wesson.com or call 800-331-0852.

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