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Project Appleseed Bans Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Rifles

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Project Appleseed has temporarily banned the use of Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 rifles at Appleseed events. Appleseed claims that the popular rimfire rifles experienced at least four serious malfunctions at Appleseed shooting events.

Appleseed workers and instructors have reported potentially dangerous malfunctions including out-of-battery fire and uncontrolled fire. The shooting society said they will keep the ban in place until Smith & Wesson formally responds and addresses these problems. At least one participant has been injured due to malfunctions, though the injury was not life-threatening.

Project Appleseed is dedicated to teaching marksmanship and American history at camps across the country. These camps are open to shooters of all ages and offer some of the best, affordable training to beginning and experienced shooters. The organization sees a lot of different models of rifles at their events — it’s alarming for Appleseed to call out and ban a specific firearm.

“As responsible instructors, we have a duty to maintain safety at our events,” reads the official Appleseed statement. “If we know a rifle to be potentially unsafe, we shouldn’t allow it on the line at all.”

“At this time the least-risk course of action would be to exclude the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 from future events until Smith & Wesson formally investigates the problem and issues an official corrective action,” it continued.

The M&P 15-22 is an entry-level rimfire rifle chambered for .22 Long Rifle. Externally, the gun looks and functions similarly to an AR-15-pattern rifle. It’s an inexpensive alternative to bringing an actual AR-15-style rifle to an Appleseed shoot due to the lower cost of ammunition. Campers can expect to shoot well over 1,000 rounds at many Appleseed events making the lower-cost M&P 15-22 a wallet-friendly option for users who want practice with something similar to their ARs.

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An out-of-battery malfunction occurs when a firearm discharges a cartridge before it is loaded into the chamber. Without the support of a chamber or breech the cartridge can rupture and fragment and send those fragment flying.

At a Maryland Appleseed shoot, one participant was injured when an M&P 15-22 next to her had an out-of-battery malfunction. A small fragment of the ruptured case was lodged in her arm.  It took a doctor’s visit to remove the fragment. While the damage was minimal, the potential damage from out-of-battery fire is still high even with rimfire guns.

In Michigan, an Appleseed instructor’s own M&P 15-22 suffered an out-of-battery malfunction. The instructor was not hurt but the rifle was disabled. The instructor sent the rifle back to Smith & Wesson for repairs. Smith & Wesson repaired the rifle but said that the malfunction was caused by the ammunition, not the gun.

Another Michigan instructor suffered a much more dangerous malfunction. According to Appleseed, the second instructor’s rifle had an automatic-fire malfunction which emptied the magazine unwantedly. Uncontrolled fire of any kind is potentially life-threatening and it may put the gun owner at legal risk as well.

For now, Appleseed enthusiasts and hopefuls will have to leave their M&P 15-22 rifles at home. Given the scope of the Appleseed project, Smith & Wesson is undoubtedly investigating the matter.  We’ll update this story as more news develops.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Greg September 29, 2016, 5:59 pm

    Charlie had a great piece of advice to check the safety of the rifle. I will check mine when I get a chance. Should the rifle malfunction would it be best to return in to the store from where it was bought or send it into the manufacturer. It seems if S&W is not taking the issue seriously, taking the rifle to the store and complaining about a known safety issue would cause them to stop ordering the product from S&W. I am sure that would get their attention in a heartbeat.

    What say you?

  • krinkov545 September 25, 2016, 1:07 pm

    Plastic, pot metal, zinc, MIM, and price point usually equals garbage gun. I wrote off the S&W MP-1522 as garbage gun when it was released to the market.

  • Richard Fuller September 23, 2016, 1:48 pm

    Even the NRA stopped printing pictures of guns aimed at the reader some years ago.
    Ads in the right side of your page shows a guy pointing a weapon at the reader.
    That bothers me somewhat.
    Could you follow the NRA’s example and not point weapons at the readers?
    Just saying.

    • Bob Anderson September 24, 2016, 12:14 pm

      Can a picture do you physical harm?

      • Junior September 27, 2016, 10:19 am

        Not if the pictured gun is unloaded. Jajajajaja

  • Tod September 23, 2016, 12:55 pm

    This article needs a good proofread. It’s terrible.

  • Mike Schroeder September 23, 2016, 11:08 am

    I have an early model of this rifle in with S&W right now. I contacted them a few months ago about an out of battery fire. I explained to the person on the phone that I could cause an out of battery fire with my customers rifle, and 2 others of the rack. I was told they never heard of that and would get back to me. Never did so I sent my customers rifle to them to push the issue. We will see what happens. Something has to be done.

  • Charlie September 23, 2016, 9:50 am

    Here is how to test your blowback weapon.
    Place the weapon in ready to fire mode with no round in the chamber. Retract the bolt .100 inch and hold it there. A wooden match stick will hold it open enough. Press the trigger. If the weapon fires (hammer or striker falls) the weapon is unsafe. Marlins will not fire if .050 out of battery, but Ruger 10/22 will fail the test. Almost all AR style 22s fail.

  • Harold Greenleaf September 23, 2016, 9:46 am

    Was the second instructor arrested by the ATF? If memory serves, awhile back I read about a borrowed AR15 that went into automatic mode and the owner was arrested for having an illegal gun.

  • Neal Stephenson September 23, 2016, 6:58 am

    Could this be an issue with poorly made ammunition rather than the M&P? I have put several thousand rounds thru mine with none of these issues, but I only use reputable ammo, CCI, Browning, RWS, Winchester and Remington. I have only seen a few failed to fire.

    • Charlie September 23, 2016, 9:37 am

      If you look in an old GunTest magazine response, and Letter to S&W, you will find that this was pointed out several years ago. S&W REFUSED TO RESPOND. The problem exist in almost all 22 rimfire conversion of AR style rifles. There is no mechanism to time the allowable fall of the hammer as say a Marlin 60, or Winchester 77 has. It is the Beancounter effect. Leave parts out of the design if you can get away with it 99% of the time, or put a cheap component in to increase profits.

  • Lowell Anderson September 23, 2016, 6:54 am

    The S&W M&P 15-22 has been a fickle performer since it’s introduction when it came with a short list of the ammunition that would allow the rifle to function properly. Get a 10-22 and go shooting!

  • Ken September 23, 2016, 5:36 am

    I identified a problem with their design several years ago and tried to contact them about it……they dont care.

    • Roger September 23, 2016, 5:56 am

      It is not that they do not care, it is just that companies will not acknowledge engineering problems to an outsider when it is pointed out to them. Surely they took your input in to consideration.

    • Mike September 23, 2016, 7:23 am

      What did you find, same issue or something else?

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