On the Range with Smith & Wesson’s M&P15T & Crimson Trace’s LiNQ System

An ideal home defense AR-15 should be lightweight, modular, decently accurate and equipped with a light, laser, and a red dot sight. Smith and Wesson’s new M&P15T with M-LOK and Crimson Trace LiNQ System, perfectly fits these requirements, and I recently had the pleasure of testing one.


  • Type: Gas-operated semiauto rifle
  • Cartridge: 5.56 NATO/.223
  • Capacity: 30 rds.
  • Weight: 6 lbs., 11.4 oz.
  • Overall Length: 32 in.
  • Barrel Length: 16 in.; 1:8-in. twist
  • Trigger: 6 lbs., 8 oz. (tested)
  • Sights: Folding Magpul MBUS (front & rear)
  • Features: Crimson Trace LiNQ System
  • Handguard: 13-in M&P Magpul M-LOK
  • Finish: Armornite Finish
  • MSRP: $1,499
  • Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson

SPECS –Crimson Trace LiNQ

  • Patented Instinctive Activation™ laser system operation button is found on the front of the pistol grip
  • Windage and Elevation Adjustments
  • Battery Life: 2 Hours
  • Secure singular closed system
  • The Crimson Trace® LiNQ™ has four modes of operation; Light and green laser together, Green laser only, Light Only, Laser and strobing light modes

Examining the Internals of the M&P15T

Before field testing, I disassembled the M&P15T to assess the build quality and run a dry patch down the bore.  After separating the upper and lower receivers of the M&P15T, I removed and disassembled the bolt carrier group. The bolt was stamped “MP” which means it was magnetic particle inspected. The gas key was staked. THE inside of the bolt carrier where the gas rings interface was chromed. The extractor spring had the black insert and was augmented with a Crane O- ring.

The M&P 15T had M4 feed ramps on the barrel extension, and after re-assembly, I noted very little play between the upper and lower receivers. I was also delighted to see that the castle nut on the receiver extension was staked.  The trigger on the M&P15T broke at 6.5 pounds, which is typical for a factory AR-15 trigger. The M&P 15T was equipped with a nitrided thin profile barrel and featured a mid-length gas system.

The low-profile gas block on the rifle was not pinned to the barrel but attached by a series of small Allen screws. The 13-inch M&P Modular Free-Float M-LOK Rail System was attached to the barrel nut by three large Allen screws, and appeared to be well designed and would be easy to remove and reattach for maintenance.

The 4-1-1 on the LiNQ

A unique feature on the M&P 15T is the Crimson Trace LiNQ. The Crimson Trace LiNQ is composed of a light and laser module that is wirelessly activated by a proprietary AR-15 pistol grip. The light and laser can be activated by a pad on the pistol group, or by a pad on the back side of the actual light/laser module. The Crimson Trace LiNQ has four modes of operation; light and green laser together, green laser only, light only, and laser and strobing light mode.

Accuracy Testing

Accuracy Testing was done at the Founders Ranch shooting range outside of Edgewood, New Mexico.  Targets were set up at 100 yards. The  M&P15T was shot in the prone position off a Harris bipod. For testing, I used a Bushnell HDMR 3.5 x 21 first focal plane rifle scope. I swapped out the factory buttstock for a B5 SOPMOD Enhanced buttstock because the B5 SOPMOD provides a better cheek weld and a longer length of pull.

Read About Whether Your Rifle is More or Less Accurate with a Suppressor.

The M&P15T setup for accuracy testing at 100 yards.

For testing I used: Hornady MATCH 75-grain BTHP, Federal GOLD MEDAL MATCH 69-grain BTHP, Barnes RANGE AR 52-grain OTFB, and even though I detest steel-cased ammunition and don’t recommend it, Tula Ammo 55-grain FMJ. From the pictures and infographic, you can see the results.


If you are going to use this rifle for law enforcement or home defense, pin the gas block and avoid steel cased ammunition. As an armorer, the two most common problems I see with the AR-15 are loose gas blocks and failures to cycle due to cheap steel cased ammunition.

The Crimson Trace LiNQ light/laser module has a push button that allows activation of the light and laser if the grip button fails. The push button can also toggle between modes of operation.

I would mount the Crimson Trace LiNQ light/laser module at the 12 o’clock position. This will ensure that the light and laser will never be obstructed when shooting around, or over cover since the light and laser sit in the same plane as the optic. Setting up the Crimson Trace LiNQ at the 12 o’clock position allows access of the push button on the laser/light module, making it truly ambidextrous.

The pad on the Crimson Trace LiNQ pistol grip requires very little force to activate the light and laser. Holding the pad down for long periods of time would not cause unnecessary fatigue to the end users hand. The pistol grip has a manual switch to deactivate the pressure pad if necessary.

It’s All In the Hands

I am a right-handed shooter. As a result, I have trained my hands to perform very specific tasks in regard to running my firearms. For example, my right index finger runs the trigger, and my right thumb operates the safety. My left-hand thumb activates light switches in the form of a tail cap or pressure pad. Operating a light switch with my right middle finger was not intuitive, and when my brain told my middle finger to depress the pad, my trigger finger instinctively wanted to move as well. It took a few repetitions to rewire my brain, but once it did, the system as a whole was simple and very easy to adapt.

The Crimson Trace LiNQ system allows an end user to operate an Ar-15 one-handed.  For example, a right-handed shooter would operate the trigger and safeties with the right hand and use the left for operating lights and lasers. If an end user were to sustain physical damage on their left hand, operating a light or laser would be very difficult. With the Crimson Trace LiNQ, mechanical safety, trigger, lights, and lasers are operated with one hand.

The Crimson Trace LiNQ requires a CR2 and CR123 battery to run. Find a rifle stock that allows you to store extra batteries as well as the adjustment tool that Crimson Trace includes to zero the Crimson Trace LiNQ.

How I would personally set up the M&P15T with M-LOK and a Crimson Trace LiNQ..

Lasting Impressions

Smith and Wesson’s M&P15T with M-LOK and Crimson Trace LiNQ System is a fantastic piece of kit and was a joy to test. The M&P15T is a lightweight, smooth handling rifle that would be perfect for law enforcement or home defense. My only ding against the rifle was that the gas block was not pinned. Although this is something that is easily rectified. The Crimson Trace LiNQ was fascinating and well thought out. Crimson Trace made a very innovative product, and I hope they develop an IR light and laser version of this product.  I may be outfitting one of my Ar-15’s with the Crimson Trace LiNQ shortly, and I do not think you can go wrong with these products.

To learn more about Smith & Wesson rifles, click here.

For more information about Crimson Trace products, click here.

To purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P15 on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Tommy Barrios January 8, 2018, 4:32 pm

    Another comment I wish to make is the best home defense weapon I have seen, that is from an from over penetration POV, (unlike an AR-15 or other high powered rifle) is a short shotgun with low brass bird shot like number 8 or 9!
    If you prefer a pistol make sure your not going to hit someone else unintended from over penetration, this can be solved by using subsonic ammo with soft point high expansion bullets! (yes they do exist)
    BTW a .22 revolver with short hollow points is just as effective as any other caliber and without the over penetration issues!
    Remember we are talking very short distance Home Defense here, elsewhere carry the big caliber high expansion meat mashers and loads!

  • Tommy Barrios January 8, 2018, 4:11 pm

    I have come to the conclusion that if you need a laser to know where you are pointing a gun then you don’t need be carrying or using a gun especially in a life or death confrontation!
    Lasers (unless they’re infrared) give away your position (even then they can be spotted with a cell phone)!
    Yes I know they look cool, especially in the movies, the movies are NOT real life shooting situations!
    Learn to shoot in low light and darkness and know where your barrel is pointed instinctively, also you never know when the laser will fail or the batteries run out!

  • Ernie January 8, 2018, 11:15 am

    Why would u need or want a visible laser on a home defense gun..? And for the other two comments on the ar15 being a bad choice, I don’t know what kind of information they are going on but please disregard there uninformed opinions. The ar15 is a great choice if set up right. Hand gun rounds will over penetrate and kill neighbors too.. sorry 1911 guy

  • Tom Urbanski January 8, 2018, 9:13 am

    Duh. If you think you can even see the sights on your gun during while being attacked by a criminal, you’re probably someone selling range time and ammo. Oh, and a 3 foot long gun is not all that “nifty” to work around hallways and rooms in a house.
    And, (I hate to offend anybody by mentioning this), but even if you hit someone with that .223, it will pass out the other side of them, go through the wall behind them, and possibly kill your loved ones on the other side of the wall — or the 7 year old kid sitting on the couch next door watching cartoons.
    Promoting an AR-15 as a home defense gun is ridiculous and “criminal” as it relates to “negligence”.

    • Steven Nelson January 8, 2018, 10:22 am

      Agreed !!

    • Norm Fishler January 8, 2018, 10:43 am

      I have been telling those just getting started with assembling a home defense arsenal for years that if one wants a long gun, there is no better place to start than the WWII M1 Carbine. Light, handy and easily maneuverable inside, it is the perfect ladies gun as well. Yes, it does have penetration issues as well, but not nearly as much. Stick with the WWII era rifles, avoiding those made during the 50s, 60s & 70s; mostly unreliable trash. I consider the AR 15 for home defense as foolish in an urban, suburban or inner city environment.

    • Tommy Barrios January 8, 2018, 4:13 pm


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