A warning was issued recently to the Appleseed Instructor forum. The popular 15-22, made by Smith & Wesson, is temporarily banned from Project Appleseed events nationwide after issues involving out of battery discharges occurred at numerous events.

The following email was sent out to Appleseed instructors regarding recent reports of potentially dangerous malfunctions:

To: All Appleseed Instructors
The AOC has received a rash of reports regarding safety issues with the Smith & Wesson M&P 15/22, including a shooter getting injured as a result of an out-of-battery discharge (see reports below).
As responsible Instructors, we have a duty to maintain safety at our events. 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.
Bowie, MD: A shooter (RHS) firing a M&P 15/22 with Remington 22 Thunderbolt Ammo had an out of battery discharge. A Metal Fragment hit the arm of a shooter next to her (LHS) in her right arm. She, did not realize that she had been hit with fragments at first and continued to fire until blood begin to pool (time est. 11:10am) feeling only a warm sting. Instructors rendered first aid applying a compression type bandage to stop the bleeding. Shoot boss suggested that she go to local hospital or emergency clinic. She was able to drive herself to the hospital. They took x-rays of the area and found a fragment deep in her arm. Hospital suggested that she see an Orthopedic surgeon or her Doctor on Monday to have the object removed but surgery should not be required.
Casper, WY: This past weekend we had a student show up with a 15/22. She had been using it pretty regular, since she had also attended our recent boot camp. After about 8 sets of squares, she began to notice the malfunction. Upon careful observation, it was noticed that as she reset the sear the rifle would discharge. We called cease fire and immediately removed this rifle from the line, and replaced it with a loaner.
Once off line, it was field stripped and upon inspection, found that not only was it firing at reset, but also when the safety was engaged. Further inspection found that the trigger pin and the hammer pin were both loose. They both had moved about 1/16th of an inch to the right. Just enough to be loose on the left side of the receiver. The pins were gently hammered back in and function checks performed. After about 3 sets, the hammer pin slid out again.
The rifle was reassembled and tagged out, student was told that 1) the rifle needed to be seen by her gunsmith; or 2) (my recommendation) sent back to the manufacturer for repair/replacement.
Michigan Senior Instructor: The SI wanted to shoot an AQT with his 15/22, but he needed to verify the zero. Another instructor volunteered to take the rifle over to another range, put it on a bench, and confirm zero. While shooting the first string, after pulling the trigger, the extractor shot out the ejection port along with the case and the extractor spring. The case was retrieved and it was observed to be split down the side, indicating that the rifle fired out of battery. Fortunately, the instructor was alone on the range, and no one was injured. The rifle was sent back to S&W, and it was repaired and returned. A copy of one page of the manual was enclosed, highlighting the need to keep the rifle clean and only use certain types of ammunition, insinuating that the problem was operator error, not a design flaw. The Senior Instructor sold the rifle shortly thereafter.
Michigan Instructor: “Back before I was more familiar with this model, we had a malfunction of the Extractor during an event – it simply fell apart during a course of fire. I took it to Williams and they said it needed to go back to S&W. To save time I just bought a new extractor, springs and dowel pins and replaced them myself. Tested it and it worked fine, that’s until it malfunctioned again after several hundred rounds down range.
As the old saying goes “two is one and one is none” – I had purchased several extractors, springs and dowel pins – replaced it a second time and it worked fine all up until I had a “Run-Away…” Luckily I had the muzzle pointed down range as it spit out the balance of 30 rounds down range without the need to have a finger on the trigger….
I contacted S&W and they sent me a repair tag and shipped it back to them. Upon its return I noticed that they replaced the hammer, sear and all the springs were replaced with “Blue” springs. The rifle performed well the after that but I never brought it back to an Appleseed. It now sits in the vault as an expensive club.”
Montpelier, VA: I’ve witnessed out-of-battery firing and squib from M&P 15/22’s twice but never from a 10/22.

While no one is certain of the exact cause, we are sure the team over at Smith & Wesson is on top of this and investigating the situation thoroughly. In the meantime, please remember to wear eye and ear protection and follow proper range etiquette.

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5 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson 15/22 Banned from All Appleseed Events After Accidents

  1. I’ve always read when building an AR in 22 cal or 9mm, the use of anti walk trigger and hammer pins was required. This insures the problem indicated does not occur. This is common knowledge on the building forums. Something about these two calibers in the AR platform causes the pins to walk. It is a relatively cheap part and easily installed.

  2. I have an AR in 9mm. It doesn’t have anti-walk pins and, after hundreds of rounds through it, I’ve never had a trigger pin move on me. It’s probably something you want to evaluate on a rifle by rifle basis. It DOES seem like an inexpensive fix for the ones described above, though. Obviously it won’t help with the bolts that self-dissemble, but it will keep the FCG where it’s supposed to be.

  3. Who do I need to get my problem solved. Love my M&P rifles. I have a M&P 15-22 proformace center. Haven’t had a chance to fix it yet. I had a out of battery discharge. A 12 year old kid was shooting with adult supervision. I walked up with a new mag for the next shooter. All I saw was smoke. I grabbed the gun and checked the kid. He’s fine. It blew my extractor out and not really sure where to go next. I just want it fixed. I love the gun. Where should I go next

    1. There saying wrong ammo still have all my paper work on the gun and the only ammo it said not to use was cci-stinger. At the time of failure I was using federal

  4. Guns are machines. No machine is perfect nor do they operate without malfunctions. I’ve worked on everything from nuclear submarines to M60A3 tanks, and they all have their issues.

    I love my S&W M&P in 5.56. Great gun from a great company. The only issue now is how fast S&W investigates the problem and corrects it.

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