Gun Digest

M&P15T II: Smith & Wesson’s Next Gen Tactical AR

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Slimmed down and dolled up, Smith & Wesson's next-gen M&P15T II improves on an already solid model.

Where Is The M&P15T II upgraded:

Smith & Wesson, America’s foremost revolver maker? Few would argue the long-running Massachusetts concern is definitely in the race for the title, producing some outright classics over the years. But the manufacturer has proven a nimble firearms company, turning out a slew of notable non-wheelguns that have more than earned a niche in the marketplace. Perhaps one of the most underrated is the M&P15 line of AR-style rifles.

Over the years, the long guns have earned the reputation as being among the best entry-level options available, offering shooters a Spartan, but a very reliable system. The M&P15 Sport II is legendary in this regard. However, the company offers the entire gamut of AR-style rifles, at nearly every price point, and recently revamped its popular mid-line model. Meet the M&P15 Tactical II (M&P15T II). Maintaining the same solid engineering as its predecessor, the M&P15T, the new model offers a few nice upgrades that most shooters should welcome.

Among the most appreciated, a relatively sane price tag. With an MSPR of $1,372, the gun remains very competitive in its class, while bringing plenty to the table.

Slimmed Handguard

So what do you get with the next-gen M&P15T II? Most obvious is an improved handguard system, much more in line with most shooter’s expectations nowadays. Aside from boasting a full-length Picatinny rail, ample M-Lok slot real estate for accessory attachment and free-floating the barrel, its whisper-thin. Not that the version on the old model was a bear, but the new 13-inch aluminum handguard should prove much better at facilitating a forward c-clamp style grip and trimming the gun’s overall weight.

M&P15T II's slimmed down handguard.

Getting A Grip

Typically talking pistol grips elicits yawns. However, Smith & Wesson has done something fairly intriguing in the area, incorporating a grip modeled after its M&P pistols. It’s not only a dead ringer with its fairly aggressive pebble texturing, but also that it includes four interchangeable palm swell inserts. Yeah, it’s a bit gimmicky on the surface, but does potentially have some performance-enhancing capabilities. More so than just comfort, the inserts possibly could optimize finger position relative to the trigger, cutting down on placement time.

Trigger Time

To that end, Smith & Wesson has vastly improved on the M&P15T II’s trigger, outfitting the carbine with a flat-faced switch that has a fairly nice break. Certainly better than the typical mil-spec trigger, which can even be found in this class of gun. Ergonomically, the trigger finger is easier to situate on a flat shoe, but the design also tends to make the pull weight feel less than it is.

Just link M&P pistols, the S&W AR has interchangeable palm swells on its grip.

The AR’s Odds And Ends

As to other notable upgrades, the rifle boasts a Magpul CTR stock, rubber buffers in the lower for a tighter fit and less rattle, front and read Magpul MBUS flip-up sights and Radian Raptor-LT charging handle. Smith & Wesson has made all the M&P15T II’s controls ambidextrous—save the mag release—which not only makes it lefty friendly. It also improves its handling for shooting weak side, a skill many shooters have recognized the importance of in recent times.
Finally, and common in S&W rifles, the gun has 5R rifling, which theoretically reduces bullet deformation and makes the bore easier to clean.

Parting Shot

The M&P15T was a popular AR option, if for other reason than the bang shooters got for their buck.
Smith & Wesson doesn’t appear to have mucked up this winning formula with the M&P15T II.
Improved for modern shooter’s tastes, the rifle maintains its two most important assets—relative affordability and effectiveness.

Model M&P15T II Specs
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO/.223
Capacity: 30+1
Safety: Manual Safety on Lower
Length: 36.9 inches
Front Sight: Folding Magpul MBUS
Rear Sight: Folding Magpul MBUS
Action: Gas Operated Semi-Auto
Stock: Magpul CTR Carbine Stock
Grip: M&P with Interchangeable Palmswell Grip Inserts
Barrel Material: 4140 Chrome-Moly Vanadium Steel
Barrel Twist: 1:8˝ Twist, 5R Rifling
Barrel Length: 16 inches
Weight: 6.7 pounds
MSRP: $1,372

For more information on the M&P15T II, please visit

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