For a cynic, the introduction of yet another AR-pattern rifle these days could be met with a sigh of indifference. As with the popular M1911, the AR has become so iconic a part of the firearms community that in recent years it seems new models or variants are introduced every week.
Nonetheless, indifference would be a very unwarranted response. This growth in the market is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, resulting in a broad variety of models at a range of prices for just about every consumer. And this expansion should come as no surprise. As with the M1911, the AR has an impressive pedigree of lengthy military service (in its M16-pattern configuration and variations), lending the platform a great deal of credibility in the minds of American shooters and hunters.
Even with the variety of makes and models of ARs available, the entry of one particular manufacturer into this market in 2006 made everyone stop and take notice. That company was Smith & Wesson, and the rifle was the M&P15, a semi-automatic styled after the U.S. M4 carbine and chambered in 5.56×45 mm NATO/.223 Rem. Although S&W might at first glance seem to be an odd fit for an AR, it actually makes a lot of sense. With a history dating back to 1852, the company has a long and storied tradition of producing arms for the uniformed services, providing tough and reliable handguns to members of both the law enforcement and military communities since its earliest days.
Full story: Smith & Wesson’s M&P Goes Long