The name Smith & Wesson is almost synonymous with firearms for some enthusiasts and many non-gun owners alike. That legend grew out of its ability to design and produce a fine line of revolvers and later pistols, but the same attention to detail and quality goes into its rifles. That fact hasn’t gone unnoticed, because the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II was 2020’s top-selling semi-automatic rifle among all retailers on GunBroker.com.
The climb to the top was a roller coaster, although the 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.-chambered modern sporting rifle came out strong at third place the year it was introduced—2016. Since then, it’s held sixth, third and fifth place, finally capturing the crown last year and never leaving the top-10 after it hit the shelves.
It’s an improved version of the company’s original M&P 15 Sport, a 2006 introduction missing a few features gun owners prefer. Lack of a dust cover was one, and there was no forward assist. They’ve been added, along with other touches, but the budget-friendly price remains. Depending on options selected, MSRP runs between $748 and $814.
The 4140 steel, threaded barrel on each has a length of 16" and its six-groove rifling is 1:9". Weight is 6.5 lbs, it measures 35" in length, although that’s somewhat deceiving because the rifle comes with a six-position adjustable polymer buttstock. Magazine capacity is the AR-15 standard 30 rounds, although it ships with 10-round versions when purchased in a state with restrictive regulations.
The most expensive model comes with an M-LOK compatible handguard and a Crimson Trace CTS-103 red/green dot optic. Weight goes up to 6.9 lbs. You can also choose one that’s optic-ready, or upgrade from the basic handguard to the M-LOK version or combinations thereof.
With the Smith & Wesson name and quality built in—backed by the company’s Lifetime Service Policy—along with the modern sporting rifle’s popularity, it’s little wonder the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II claimed top honors in 2020.