M&P15 Piston - Opinions? - MP-Pistol Forum

M&P15 Piston - Opinions?

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Old September 24th, 2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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M&P15 Piston - Opinions?

Hey all!

I've got the itch to buy my 1st AR rifle and just stumbled upon a supposedly new, unfired, M&P15 PS Ca Compliant for $799 - a savings of nearly $200 off the lowest online price I can find. I've researched the pros/cons of DI vs Piston systems - just wanted input as to whether the S&W M&P Piston was a good running system or if I should pass on the deal.

Thanks
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Old September 25th, 2014, 07:23 AM   #2
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I was not aware that S&W is building piston ARs. They have been direct impingement in the past.

The price you listed is a good price for a piston AR.

M4carbine.net has a number of Industry Professional and other very knowledgeable members who can give an informed answer to your question.

Whatever you choose you will enjoy your Modern Sporting Rifle (AR15).
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Old September 25th, 2014, 07:59 AM   #3
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S&W has been producing piston AR's for a while now. Their system seems to work well and the price point is better then with most manufacturers.
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Old September 25th, 2014, 10:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bob Hostetter View Post
S&W has been producing piston AR's for a while now. Their system seems to work well and the price point is better then with most manufacturers.
Thank you for passing along this information. I appreciate it and perhaps others will benefit as I have.

If I buy another AR it may well be piston driven.
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Old September 25th, 2014, 10:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave707 View Post
Hey all!

I've got the itch to buy my 1st AR rifle and just stumbled upon a supposedly new, unfired, M&P15 PS Ca Compliant for $799 - a savings of nearly $200 off the lowest online price I can find. I've researched the pros/cons of DI vs Piston systems - just wanted input as to whether the S&W M&P Piston was a good running system or if I should pass on the deal.

Thanks
I own 7 rifles in the AR Platform. All of them are reliable and shoot well. The rifles that I own are:

(1) Two LMT (Lewis Machine & Tool) CQB-MRP Piston operated rifles in .556,
(2) A Sig 716 Patrol piston operated rifle in .308,
(3) A Colt Model 6940 gas operated rifle in .556,
(4) A DPMS Oracle gas opeated rifle in .556,
(5) A Rock River Arms Elite Operator gas operated rifle in .308, and.
(6) An M&P 22

I personally prefer my piston rifles for the reason that they are much easier to clean and maintain. That being said, here is my opinion regarding both platforms:

Piston Rifles run cooler, are easier to clean and maintain, and may be more reliable in extreme conditions as you to do not get as much crud in the receiver/bolt area (all of mine have been completely reliable, however, I have no desire to bury them in swamp mud for moths to test this theory).

Direct Impingment Rifles run hotter, are more time consuming to clean, and as such, in my opinion, are more difficult to clean and maintain, it has been said that they are more accurate as they have less moving parts and less recoil. In comparing the recoil between the two, DI rifles probably have less recoil which in my opinion is negligible. My DI Colt is ever so slightly more accurate than my LMT’s, but not enough to make any difference whatsoever as a combat rifle. From a rest, my Colt will shoot ½ inch 3 shot groups at 100 years with my 4-16 power scope on it. My LMT’s will shoot right at one inch and maybe a little over with the same scope. All have Geissle 2 stage match triggers on them. My Rock River Arms direct Impingement Elite Operator will shoot3/4 to 1 inch groups at 100 yards with its factory trigger (the trigger is probably just as good as my Geisele). My Sig 716 Patrol in .308 shoots 1.5 in groups at 100 yards. I have not upgraded the trigger on the Sig, nor have I tried a number of different brands and bullet weights in it. It has about a 7 pound combat trigger which may account for why it does not shoot as well.

The bottom line is that all AR’s shoot better than my old eyes can see. The only AR that I have personally seen that did not have reasonable accuracy was an old Colt H-Bar that my Gunsmith was getting ready to re-build and re-barrel. It would literally shoot no betger than 8 inch groups at 100 yards. The rifling was noticeably worn and my gunsmith estimates that the rifle had many thousands of rounds through the barrel during its life.

All other things being equal, were I to have to choose between a Direct Impingement and an Piston Operated AR and could only own one or the other for the rest of my life, I would go with a piston rifle. There are numerous others on this forum that would choose the old tried and true DI rifles. I just don’t care for all of the extra elbow grease required to clean a DI rifle and the small variation in accuracy is not enough to make me choose otherwise.

Hope this helps.
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Old September 25th, 2014, 01:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Keeter1911 View Post
I own 7 rifles in the AR Platform. All of them are reliable and shoot well. The rifles that I own are:

(1) Two LMT (Lewis Machine & Tool) CQB-MRP Piston operated rifles in .556,
(2) A Sig 716 Patrol piston operated rifle in .308,
(3) A Colt Model 6940 gas operated rifle in .556,
(4) A DPMS Oracle gas opeated rifle in .556,
(5) A Rock River Arms Elite Operator gas operated rifle in .308, and.
(6) An M&P 22

I personally prefer my piston rifles for the reason that they are much easier to clean and maintain. That being said, here is my opinion regarding both platforms:

Piston Rifles run cooler, are easier to clean and maintain, and may be more reliable in extreme conditions as you to do not get as much crud in the receiver/bolt area (all of mine have been completely reliable, however, I have no desire to bury them in swamp mud for moths to test this theory).

Direct Impingment Rifles run hotter, are more time consuming to clean, and as such, in my opinion, are more difficult to clean and maintain, it has been said that they are more accurate as they have less moving parts and less recoil. In comparing the recoil between the two, DI rifles probably have less recoil which in my opinion is negligible. My DI Colt is ever so slightly more accurate than my LMT’s, but not enough to make any difference whatsoever as a combat rifle. From a rest, my Colt will shoot ½ inch 3 shot groups at 100 years with my 4-16 power scope on it. My LMT’s will shoot right at one inch and maybe a little over with the same scope. All have Geissle 2 stage match triggers on them. My Rock River Arms direct Impingement Elite Operator will shoot3/4 to 1 inch groups at 100 yards with its factory trigger (the trigger is probably just as good as my Geisele). My Sig 716 Patrol in .308 shoots 1.5 in groups at 100 yards. I have not upgraded the trigger on the Sig, nor have I tried a number of different brands and bullet weights in it. It has about a 7 pound combat trigger which may account for why it does not shoot as well.

The bottom line is that all AR’s shoot better than my old eyes can see. The only AR that I have personally seen that did not have reasonable accuracy was an old Colt H-Bar that my Gunsmith was getting ready to re-build and re-barrel. It would literally shoot no betger than 8 inch groups at 100 yards. The rifling was noticeably worn and my gunsmith estimates that the rifle had many thousands of rounds through the barrel during its life.

All other things being equal, were I to have to choose between a Direct Impingement and an Piston Operated AR and could only own one or the other for the rest of my life, I would go with a piston rifle. There are numerous others on this forum that would choose the old tried and true DI rifles. I just don’t care for all of the extra elbow grease required to clean a DI rifle and the small variation in accuracy is not enough to make me choose otherwise.

Hope this helps.
Wow, this is not my thread but I really like your comprehensive answer.

Your Colt shoots lights out! What ammo and twist rate are you shooting?
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Old September 25th, 2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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OK - now I'm confused...

Anyone heard that S&W is discontinuing the Gas Piston M&P15's? Looking on their website, unless I'm blind/dumb, I see no models with the gas piston system listed. If you search for M&P15 PS or M&P15 PSX, you get archived results saying "No longer in current production". A search of the old S&W stock #'s on Slick Guns turns up stock on both rifles for sale at different online sellers.

If S&W is giving up and no longer is going to manufacture the Gas Piston rifles, I'm not so sure I want to buy one of the discontinued ones.

Anyone know anything about this?
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Old September 26th, 2014, 10:57 AM   #8
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Well, called S&W this morning & spoke to Pat in CS. She confirmed that they are no longer producing Gas Piston M&P15's. When asked why they chose to cease production, the answer I got was Poor Sales.

I then asked about future Warranty/Parts support for owners of the product. Pat stated warranty service was lifetime but that replacement parts would be subject to availability of remaining stock. She made the statement that down the road, if the rifle was unable to be repaired due to parts being unavailable, S&W would "probably" replace the rifle with something comparable.

In light of this information, I have decided not to purchase the M&P15 PS I was considering and instead get an AR with the original Direct Impingement gas system.
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Old September 26th, 2014, 02:17 PM   #9
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The fad of the piston AR is just about over, you will probably see a lot of manufacturers cutting back on the amount of piston rifles they are producing.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 04:51 PM   #10
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Guess I am a little late to the party, but I will still give my $0.02.

I bought a M&P 15PS soon after they came on the market. I still own it and would not trade it for 2 Colts. It is by far the best rifle I have ever owned and has been flawless for the 3 1/2 years I have been shooting it. Most negative comments about the piston operating system are made by people who have never held one, much less shot one. The added weight argument makes me chuckle because my piston cap, operating rod and spring weigh in at an enormous 6 ounces! An added light, laser, or bi-pod weigh a whole lot more.

It's true S&W has discontinued the PS production, but I have a hunch that it will be temporary because more and more major manufacturers are coming out with their own piston rifles. Just pick up one of the recent gun magazines and you will see their ads for their new piston rifles.

This DI / PS debate has gone on forever, and will likely continue to do so. I really don't care as long as the rifle goes BANG when the trigger is pulled. I do know that I will continue to shoot my piston gun and smile when my neighbor is cleaning his fouled up BCG on his DI gun. I can clean my gun in 15 minutes tops.

As for accuracy this is my latest target at 100 yards using my Bi-pod and an EOTech XPS-2. The 3 outside of the red circle were shot with my iron sights.


Last edited by Arizona Smithshooter; October 6th, 2014 at 05:51 PM.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 05:22 PM   #11
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I'm glad you're liking yours and that it's proven to be reliable & accurate. I just found it unsettling that S&W had discontinued the GP system rifles otherwise I'd of bought one. Instead, I'll be picking up a new Windham Weaponry SRC next weekend as my first AR!
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Old October 7th, 2014, 01:39 PM   #12
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I'm glad you're liking yours and that it's proven to be reliable & accurate. I just found it unsettling that S&W had discontinued the GP system rifles otherwise I'd of bought one. Instead, I'll be picking up a new Windham Weaponry SRC next weekend as my first AR!

One thing I've found with the piston over the DI is the people that actually own them love them. The ones that have never shot or owned one are the ones that don't like them. I own both and have yet to have problems with the pistons. What bothers me is they are proprietary against other model makers unlike "most" of the other DI MSR's.

Last edited by MaddMax; October 7th, 2014 at 01:41 PM.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 06:20 PM   #13
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The fad of the piston AR is just about over, you will probably see a lot of manufacturers cutting back on the amount of piston rifles they are producing.
That seems to be the case. Ruger just announced their AR-556, a DI gun is now available. Their first "AR", the SR-556, a piston gun, is still listed but I expect it's days are numbered.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 08:08 AM   #14
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I have both available to me and from a purely recreational perspective there is very little difference. However the trend in both the tactical and competitive environment is to use the absolutely lightest AR/M16 platform possible and this leaves the piston guns at a noticeable disadvantage. It is much easier to get a very light DI gun then a piston gun.

I hear a lot about the advantages of the piston system but these advantages rarely prove out in the field. Yes the receiver runs cooler but the heat is just moved to the forearm/front sight area. You don't have to spend as much time cleaning the BCG but you have to use that time to clean the piston/cylinder area. And there are just more moving parts which is never a good thing when reliability can be a matter of life or death. Even thought it is marketed as new technology it really isn't, it is the same basic system as the Garand and M-14.

If you just want something to plink with either system will serve you well although you will generally pay more for a piston gun. If you want something for serious work I would have a hard time recommending a piston platform.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 01:57 PM   #15
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1. The trend in both the tactical and competitive environment is to use the absolutely lightest AR/M16 platform possible and this leaves the piston guns at a noticeable disadvantage. It is much easier to get a very light DI gun then a piston gun.

2. You don't have to spend as much time cleaning the BCG but you have to use that time to clean the piston/cylinder area.

3. And there are just more moving parts which is never a good thing when reliability can be a matter of life or death.
Not trying to beat a dead horse, but I want to comment on the three points you stated.

1. My piston cap, piston rod and spring weigh 6 Ounces on my scale. How can that be considered "a noticeable disadvantage"??

2. The area on my gas block, piston cap, and Magpul forend are cleaned with a rag and Hoppes 9 in about 5 minutes, much quicker than a dirty bolt and BCG on a DI gun....I've cleaned both.

3. There is only one moving part, the piston rod itself, and I have never seen or heard of one breaking on any Forum or anywhere else.

As for accuracy, the target I posted above speaks for itself. Having shot a DI gun back in the late 60's, I would have much rather had my piston gun.

As for the future of the piston rifle only time will tell, but there are more choices now from more manufacturers than when I bought mine.
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