It was soon after testing firing and reporting on the S&W M&P 15-22 in the Tactical Wire that I began personalizing the pistol. Nothing says, “This is my AR pistol,” better than a few custom touches. There wasn’t a lot of money spent, it looks great and the modifications make my 15-22 more efficient.
I installed MagPul sights, an Aimpoint and sling for the original review. The first “new” modification was to exchange grips. The factory supplied grip has a “beavertail,” extra material at the top rear of the grip. For my small hands it’s too large. I installed the Duckbill Tactical Grip. It’s the same shape as the original A1 grip, with an added section that smooths out the transition between the angle of the grip and trigger guard.
Nothing says “custom” like a cool paint job. I’ve always been a fan of the “tiger stripe” camo pattern. I spent a little time with some spray cans, masking tape and liquid frisket – a “stencil” you can paint on and then peel off – which ended with the M&P15-22 pistol sporting a great looking camo job. It’s highly unlikely it will get confused with any other AR’s. Plus, it’s just the thing for keeping hid during those late-night armadillo hunts ‘round our house.
The M&P15-22 pistol comes with an SB arm brace. It’s a great brace. But braces are like stocks, holsters, or sights for your pistol; it’s all about what “fits” you. Plus, I’m trying to set up the M&P to mirror my other AR pistols, which all have Gear Head Works braces. For the S&W I chose their “Tailhook Mod I” brace. It’s machined billet aluminum, and extremely compact.
The problem is that the “buffer tube” on the M&P, simply an extension of the receiver – there’s no buffer or spring – is set up for an adjustable brace. It has extra material on the bottom with the detents for adjustments. I need a smooth end on the “tube” to mount the Tailhook, plus the tube itself is too short to provide me with the same length as with the SB brace. This calls for an “adapt-a-kit.” Turns out that a friend down the road has a wood lathe. I had him turn out a piece that fits inside the 15-22 tube with rear diameter sized to fit the Tailhook brace, and to provide the additional length needed. I painted this up, and secured it using a couple of small button head screws to prevent it from rotating. Perfect solution, and the “kit” cost me nothing.
I had intentions of testing the M&P on the range with some match grade ammo, but wind and rain prevented that from occurring. But, as noted in the original review, it shoots great with range ammo. I have no reason it won’t do very well with match ammo. I also need to add a flashlight, and I’m looking for ten-round mags, which will be much shorter than the twenty-five rounders.
The M&P15-22 is almost all AR parts. The AR’s modularity makes it easy to swap out parts. It’s the “Mr. Potato Head” of the gun world. The AR’s popularity – explosive over the last few years – means there’s plenty of parts available. You can set up your M&P15-22, carbine or pistol, to do whatever you need -- within the .22 LR’s potential, of course. And there’s no better .22 platform to do this with than the M&P 15-22 pistol.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, has a regular column in American Handgunner and makes some cool knives and custom revolvers. Visit Shootrite’s Facebook page for other details.