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[Review+Video] Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II

One of our most recommended starter AR-15s, we hands-on review the Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II for reliability, accuracy, bang-for-the-buckness, and more.

    There’s a ton of budget AR-15 options…and it’s hard to sort out what’s good and what’s not so good.

    Thankfully, we got time on our hands and a lot of ammo so we’re going to find out!

    S&W M&P Sport II in a stump
    S&W M&P Sport II 47 strawberries long

    Up next is the Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II…one of our favorite recommendations for a starter AR-15.

    If you want to check out the awesome video, take a look at it below — don’t forget to subscribe to the Pew Pew Tactical YouTube Channel!

    Table of Contents


    The Rifle

    Smith & Wesson is a classic American name in firearms with a huge catalog of arms offered right now.

    S&W 686+
    S&W 686+

    Including a wide range of AR-15 style rifles.

    The M&P Sport II is one of their more budget offerings, but don’t let that be a knock against it!

    S&W M&P Sport II shooting
    pew pew

    Johnny got his hands on one of the slightly nicer models of the Sport II though from GunPrime and for the price, these are a killer deal right now.

    A flattop receiver and a Picatuny gas block leave the rifle ready for any optic set up, but included in the box is a Crimson Trace Red/Green Dot optic — mount and battery included.

    For a package that is literally ready for the range out of the box, you’re getting your money’s worth.

    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    The Specs

    • Model: M&P 15 Sport II
    • Caliber: 5.56mm NATO/.223
    • Safety: Manual Safety on Lower
    • Barrel Length: 16″
    • Overall Length: 35.0″
    • Action: Gas Operated Semi-Auto
    • Stock: 6-Position CAR
    • Grip: Polymer
    • Weight: 103.2 oz / 2,925.7g
    • Barrel Material: 4140 Steel
    • Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
    • Frame Finish: Matte Black
    • Barrel Twist: 1 in 9, 6 groove
    • Purpose: Home Protection, Hunting, Recreational Shooting

    Range Report

    It has to be said, there isn’t really anything that stands out about the Sport II — good or bad. It’s a very basic mil-spec AR-15.

    Smith & Wesson made it well though, during the review there was only 1 failure to extract and that isn’t unreasonable for very cheap ammo through a brand new rifle.

    The trigger is mushy and gritty, but since it’s mil-spec… we expect that.

    Everything else about the controls is spot on and functional. While still nothing to write home about, they work.

    And are of course easy to upgrade.

    S&W M&P Sport II controls

    A simple 6-position adjustable stock makes the Sport II able to fit just about any body type, something to consider if you’re going to be sharing the rifle among family/friends.

    S&W M&P Sport II stock
    S&W M&P Sport II butt stock

    An interesting choice from S&W is to forgo the A2 front sight on this model and instead provide a flat-topped gas block with Picatinny rail on it.

    S&W M&P Sport II front sight
    While we might not recommend it, a second red dot is an option!

    This is great if you’re looking to add your own backup iron sights, like from Magpul.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Combo with the provided red dot and you have a solid system.

    Crimson Trace Red/Green Dot

    Likely not an optic you’ve run into much, Crimson Trace is fairly new to the optics market but has an established and impressive lineup of laser sights.

    Crimson Trace is owned by American Outdoor Brands, the same parent company that owns Smith & Wesson, Thompson/Center Arms, and others. So it makes sense why we find their dot on a Sport II.

    S&W M&P Sport II Crimson Trace Red and Green Dot
    Crimson Trace Red and Green Dot, roughly one big strawberry in size

    Much like the rifle itself — the dot just worked.

    It doesn’t have many features other than the ability to choose between red or green dot, but it holds up to recoil and gives you an accurate ability to aim.

    Why Green?

    Without getting too into the weeds about science and biology, the short version is that the human eye sees a LOT more shades of green than we do any other color. Like, a LOT more.

    Aftermarket Glock Sight
    Green has been popular in night sights for decades. A bright color catches the eye.

    This makes green optical dots much easier for our eyes to acquire and use, especially when we’re under stress.

    However, electronically making a green dot takes a lot more power while red takes very little. That’s why red dots were red for so long, so we could get as much battery life out of them as possible.

    Trijicon MRO Green Dot Color Demonstration
    Trijicon MRO Green Dot Color Demonstration

    It’s only been in the last couple of years that battery tech has been good enough to allow the use of green dots and still have a respectable battery life.

    If you’re interested in more about green dots, take a look at our Trijicon MRO Green Dot review!


    While everything worked well, it didn’t work perfectly.

    Two issues presented themselves while firing, trigger pins walking, and the rifle overheating.

    Trigger pins walking during fire isn’t super uncommon for the AR-15 platform, but it is annoying. Some anti-walk pins will solve the issue and since this is a sample size of one, we can’t say if you’ll need them or not.

    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    But it is something to keep an eye on.

    If you want to upgrade your trigger AND solve the problem, take a look at the Best AR-15 Triggers!

    Tested AR-15 Triggers
    Tested AR-15 Triggers

    Second up was the fairly poor heat shielding found in the handguard.

    Normally, with a basic plastic handguard like this, there is a metal heat shield on the inside to protect the plastic from the heat coming off of the barrel.

    In the M&P Sport II this metal protection seems to be a bit thin.

    S&W M&P Sport II smoky
    Shes a bit warm

    A big issue?

    It depends on how long your courses of fire are. One option is to get a new handguard, one we highly recommend if you plan on mounting a light on your rifle.

    Best AR-15 Handguards
    Best AR-15 Handguards

    Or wear gloves.

    Editor's Choice Shooting Glove
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Or shoot less.

    But that’s crazy talk!

    By The Numbers

    Reliability: 4/5

    I suspect this number should be a little higher, but for my sample size of one…couple hiccups to deal with.

    But overall it runs great. 

    S&W M&P Sport II shooting in the hills
    S&W M&P Sport II shooting in the hills

    Ergonomics: 4/5

    It’s an AR. Lower your ergonomic expectations. 

    Accuracy: 4/5

    It does what it’s supposed to do. 

    Customization: 4/5

    Most AR’s should be like a 6/5 for customizability. But this one has minimal rail space, and that shorty guard is a buzz kill.

    Upgrade the handguard and then we’ll talk. 

    Value: 4.5/5

    Huge bang for the buck to get the rifle, mag, and red/green dot at an affordable price. 

    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    There’s also other variants out there with included grips, bags, etc…but we like this one since it comes with a red dot.

    Overall: 4/5

    It won’t win you any points on IG because cool it ain’t. But it is serviceable and does exactly what most AR owners need their rifle to do. 

    S&W M&P Sport II side of rifle
    We could have done without the large white M&P but hey


    If you’re looking for a functional, well made, reliable rifle that will leave enough cash in your account for lots of ammo and a sling — the M&P Sport II is absolutely a rifle you should consider. Ergonomics, accuracy, and reliability are good for the price and you can always upgrade.

    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    This is an AR-15 that leaves off all the frills and delivers exactly what you need, a rifle that works.

    If you’re still strictly in the budget category…check out our go-to recommended AR-15 from Palmetto State Armory.

    What are your thoughts on the M&P? What about green dots? Let us know in the comments! For more AR-15 knowledge and a look at the top of the line, check out our Best AR-15s!

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    16 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      PJ Gee

      The price gouge since the article was written really turned me off to GunPrime. Probably the opposite effect that was desired by the callout in the article and advertising. Over 2x the described cost and $400-$500 over other readily available sources. The optics described are going for a budget $99 at the time of reading.

      January 14, 2021 9:03 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Mike A

        I would say it's still a price gouge, but as of 24Jun2021, GunPrime got it down to $686 (with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic). I think it's fair to say don't spend over $600 on an M&P Sport II. But as of today, it looks like S&W just announced the release of the M&P 15T. Idk if it's worth the $1372 MSRP, but I'm interested to see reviews.

        June 24, 2021 12:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      The price is almost 3x this advertises price now. Ouch!

      August 28, 2020 7:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Doc Joker

      I bought an M&P15 Sport II from Gander a few years back. Its been the highlight of my collection. I'm not one to spend big bucks on something pretty. Its just gotta be functional.
      I bought a Primary Arms 2.5x optic, and replaced the handgurds. Thats its. I have rang steel at 601 yards with m855 and m193 rounds consistently with it. A family member has got some bookoo bucks into an ar15, and my little cheapster has consistently outperformed. Used in 3 gun shoots, ranged match, and 2 gun, as well as fun days at the range. Its an outstanding little rifle. Especially for the money.

      July 30, 2020 5:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      MSgt Buke

      I got a deal on one from a buddy who owns a sportshop in North Dakota. I've had mine for about 5 years and have run thousands of rounds through it with no problems. The only FTFs I've had have been from using cheap steel cased ammo. I put a Vortex Strikefire II on top of it, accurate out to 150-200 yards running XM 193s. If I do my part, the rifle does it's part. It's a blast to shoot, reliable, accurate, what's not to like about it.

      June 24, 2020 8:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      It’s a “get the job done” rifle. I’ve had one for several years now and my main and biggest issue was the handguard heating up, even with gloves on. I upgraded it to a Seekins Precision NOXs 15” handguard, a Streamlight light, Sig Romeo red dot co-witnessed with my iron sights and now I have a great tactical and home defense AR!

      May 21, 2020 6:41 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for the review! I hadn't seen one of the Sport II yet, I've gone off of previous reviews recommending the first revision. As I was reading, I noticed this one had several... points of interest... that most don't. I love reading your articles, but for a beginner, this one might be misleading.
      In the photo the TRS-25 was backwards on the gas block, and lacking a riser. It's also probably not the best place to direct-mount that red dot, even just for temperature reasons alone... I know you say it's not recommended, but why not?
      Also, the polymer MBUS sights should NOT be mounted on a railed gas block. There is a high likelihood the front sight will melt. A metal front sight should be used.

      May 20, 2020 3:27 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I put a lot rounds through issue M4s on active duty, sometimes thousands of rounds/week at schools. Never had a pin walk. Built my first M4 style AR after retiring and had some walking within 300rds. The legs of the hammer spring were sitting at the bottom of the lower instead of on the trigger pin groves. Rookie mistake. No more wandering after fixing or on any subsequent builds.

      May 20, 2020 8:03 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have a Sport II with the fixed front sight and Magpul rear sight. While the stock handguard does lack a heat shield, less punishing strings of fire don't seem to be a problem. I put 80 rounds downrange at steady pace and while the barrel, which is pretty sturdy at .74", was way too hot to touch I didn't notice the handguard being warm. I've only fired about 300 rounds but zero malfunctions. I like to tinker so I don't mind the cheap handguard, I'd rather not pay for something that I will swap.

      I found the stock trigger quite adequate and haven't noticed the pins walking. Maybe Johnny is more observant or maybe I have better luck. The pins certainly seemed secure when I removed them to swap the trigger. There is definitely creep and moderate grittiness but I don't feel like it's a significant hinderance. When you pull it you won't smile and say "wow, that's a nice trigger" but that's another thing that I am happy to replace with one of my preference instead of paying a higher price for the rifle.

      I haven't had the chance to shoot the rifle off a bench so I have no idea how accurate it is. It's more accurate than me but that's not the highest bar.

      The only issue I have had is that when I installed an aftermarket handguard/rail, the barrel nut is not perfectly straight so the top rail is not aligned. I am not sure if this is within tolerance or not but I'll pony up for a wrench and receiver block and fix it soon.

      Overall, I like the rifle. It's bare bones but since ARs are so customizable I'd rather get into one cheaply and then figure out handguard, trigger, etc. I want. The only thing I do not like about the rifle is that I wish the barrel was not so heavy. For the $560 price tag I think the M&P Sport II delivers an excellent value, there's money left over for ammo and customization.

      May 19, 2020 7:27 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I recently purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 MOE SL Semi-Auto in FDE and would like your input/feedback on this particular weapon and possibly even a review thank you.

      May 19, 2020 6:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mike McConnell

      I recently purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 MOE SL Semi-Auto in FDE And would like your input/feedback on this particular weapon and possibly even a review thank you.

      May 19, 2020 5:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Can you please post at least one more time, but use your middle initial? Then try with a suffix, if you have one.

        May 20, 2020 10:09 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I recently purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 MOE SL Semi-Auto in FDE and would like your feedback on this particular weapon even possibly review please let me know thank you.

      May 19, 2020 5:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have one and I really like it. Got into it pretty cheaply, changed out the handguards and added some other furniture. Haven't had any issues with any of the mentioned items but I also am not blowing through ammo in it. I do live in CA but I will definitely be changing the shark fin grip, for another compliant grip.

      May 19, 2020 5:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Riley O'Grady

      MBUS sights are $99 on Amazon. How do I find them for $67?

      May 19, 2020 3:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Time too post

        Wish. Not knock offs

        May 20, 2020 11:45 pm
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