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Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II: The Best Budget AR-15 Rifle?

Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II
Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II is A Reliable AR-15 Rifle for Under $800: I won’t lie to you, I’m a little bit of a snob when it comes to AR-15’s, but I’m still tentatively recommending the Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II. I like fancy ARs and place a whole lot of value on them almost entirely because of what they stand for. They represent freedom, security, and will be the tool that keeps a tyrannical government in check. I want my rifle to be the best it can be.

In reality, not everyone can afford something like that but everyone should be able to own an AR-15 without going broke. That’s why I’m recommending it if you’re on a budget. Keep reading to find out everything the Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II has to offer.

Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II: Just the AR-15 Basics? 

The Sport II is as basic as it gets. You have all your standard parts like a mil-spec fire selector, trigger, pistol grip, sights, charging hand. You get the picture. Think of an AR-15 and you’ve got a solid idea of what this is. You, unfortunately, won’t be getting a quad-rail, MLOK, or KeyMod handrail, but that can be easily swapped out. It’s not an issue at this price point. It operates like any other AR-15. It’s not smooth or high-quality, but it works. That’s what matters.

My main focus when trying to get the best bang for my buck (with a rifle) is reliability. Whether you’re looking for a self-defense rifle or just something to shoot at the range, reliability is key. Jams are never any fun. I’m happy to report that the Sport II works like a charm. It chugged through several different types of ammunition without issue, except for a failure to extract. I’m gonna chalk that one up to the break-in period. Now, I can say that this gun runs fine in optimal conditions. Would I trust it when I’m crawling through dirt? Maybe not so much.

With a proper optic on this rifle, accuracy was average. It’s not a laser, but most guns never are. It still has the potential to be a really solid shot out past 100 yards though. I was hearing the lovely ping of steel every time I pulled the trigger. For this test, I slapped on an appropriately budget optic, the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8 LPVO, which performed fantastically.

I do have some recommended additions if you want to turn this thing into a “duty” rifle though. If you swap out the handrail, you’ll need a flashlight. This way you can always ID targets or even blind them. A decent optic is non-negotiable. Don’t go cheap on this. Spend at least $300 if you can swing it. And of course you need something to hold it, so pick up a sling. Slap these items on your M&P Sport II and you have a half decent battle rifle.

Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II: Worth the Money? 

You might be asking yourself “why is he only tentatively recommending this?” There are absolutely better rifles for the money out there, but you can’t really beat a price tag of under $800 MSRP for an AR-15. If you have the cash, spend it on something that’ll last forever and perform smoothly. The Sport II isn’t that but it’s the door into the pinnacle of self-defense and that trumps not having anything.

Richard Douglas writes on firearms, defense, and security issues. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at the National Interest, 1945, Daily Caller, and other publications.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.