The Evil Princess’ grandson is in town for a shooting visit.  At 18, he has made a commitment to join the Marine Corps.  He signed up having fired a real gun exactly twice in his life, having grown up as a city kid in one of our nation’s most anti-gun municipalities.

We started him off on Friday, working from the bench to start the hard-wiring between trigger finger, eye, and brain as to what he should see and feel to make a perfect shot. By the end of the day, he was shooting palm-size groups from offhand at 25 yards, and sub-two inch groups in “position-shooting.”

What he had in his hands was my Smith & Wesson Military & Police 15 in .22 Long Rifle. With exactly the same manual of arms as an M4 or M16 (except that it lacks the ability to turn the fire control switch to full auto.)  Today he went to an Appleseed event with his grandma, to which he’ll return tomorrow.

That little M&P15 .22 is, I think, an important rifle. It allows young folks to learn marksmanship with the kind of platform they’re likely to be running as their primary small arm if they ever enlist in our nation’s armed forces.

Today, he was one of six or so out of thirty who shot a qualifying score on the Appleseed’s preliminary run with their AQT, or Army Qualification Test. And he did it with the standard iron aperture sights that my friends who are Marines tell me he’ll start with in Marine Corps Basic, shooting against folks who mostly had optical sights.

It appears that the little Smith & Wesson rifle was worth its space in the gun rack. The first of the week, he’ll graduate to 5.56mm, and the Beretta M9 service pistol.


  1. Mas,

    Thanks for the kind words, sorry I missed meeting you at GRPC but I did get to talk to the Evil Princess for a few minutes. This was just before said grandson’s Appleseed excursion.

    Very glad it went well and that he shot a Rifleman’s score on the AQT.

    Please pass along our thanks to the future Marine for his service!

    Appleseed Instructor and BHM subcriber!

  2. Appleseed and the rise of the AR15 style knock off .22 are both significant and good things.

    But I want you all to be aware of what I consider to be a better alternative than the M&P1522. Its made by CMMG, I got one recently. Its about $100 more than the S&W but it is made out of REAL AR parts. Real receivers, real fire control parts, real everything except for the .22LR barrel and bolt.

    I really love mine. Between that and my accurized 10/22 I’ve got everything I need for semi-auto .22s

  3. Mas,

    You could not have given this young man, and future marine, a more valuable gift. I look forward to the day when you report that he has finished at the Expert level at his boot camp rifle range.

    Semper Fi little brother (well…OK, Grandson).

  4. An ex-Marine, strike that, a Marine once told me “hits count, all else is petty annoyance”. Training like this may one day save his life and the lives of others so you have done an immeasurable service to him and perhaps others. Thank you and thank you to the young man for his service.

  5. Wow, that kid couldn’t have it any better with you guys and the Appleseeders training him. Thank him for his service for us, will you? What a nice blog posting to start out the week . . .

  6. I’ve been contemplating the purchase of one of those AR platform .22’s myself.

    Tell Erik (if that’s him in the photo) to keep his eyes open and his butt down. Good luck and God Bless Him!

  7. The S&W MP15-22’s are a great gun to start off a young’un. My grandson (14) can shoot a 1″ circle at 70′ with mine, using the original peep sight it came with. He loves it, thinking he’s in the Marines at that age. Congrats Mas, on a great job with the grandson.

  8. Mas, I always thougt of you as honest…the Evil Princess is a grandmother ???….refuse to believe it. 🙂

    SEMPER FI to a future Devil Dog.

  9. Congratulations to the young man on his Rifleman patch, and a hearty and sincere “Thank You” for his pending service.

  10. Good wishes much appreciated. To clarify, he didn’t quite make the Rifleman’s patch — ya gotta shoot Expert for that — but he did make a qualifying score. Going for the Rifleman patch is now very much on his short term goal list, though!

  11. Well congradulations to the Evil Princess’s Grandson on his first Appleseed shoot, and good luck in his chosen career.

    I recall previous Appleseed threads; IIRC there were some doubts about the relevance of shooting a small bore rifle at a bullseye target over a known distance to hunting, or self-defence or battlefield shooting.

    However such are the basic fundamentals of marksmanship.

    And any programme which teaches people, young people especially, the reponsibility which goes with safely handling firearms, and the self-control and discipline with goes with accurate shooting is all to the good, even if they never handle a firearm again.

  12. Great starter plan, Mas! I expect he’ll do as well with the other tools, as he has a master tool-user to show him how. May he never need them, but if he needs them, he’ll know how! That’s what my Gunner’s Mate son found out recently; train enough, and you go on auto-pilot. I only hope he doesn’t have to do so too often.

  13. As an Appleseed instructor and AR shooter I was sorta suspicious about the S&W M&P in .22 when I first got my hands on one. I thought it was a bit pricey for the chamber. Then I borrowed one and put it through its paces and a few AQTs and came to exact same conclusion. It is a very fine training tool for the very reason you mentioned. The owner had struggled with the Rifleman score but we worked with him and earlier this year got a letter saying he had scored Expert while in Basic Training for the Air Force. Seemed that little M&P did its job pretty well.

  14. Mas, I always enjoy your articles, but this one takes the cake. What a fine thing you’ve done for this young man and this nation. I can’t wait until my granddaughter and 2nd grandson are old enough to do the same with them.

    To the Grandson: Semper Fi, young man, and God Bless you, from a 20 year man (19 years Expert Marksman; TNT Team Designated Marksman)

    TSgt B

  15. I’d like to point out that while a “dedicated” .22 AR is nice, a .22 conversion kit is nothing to scoff at, either. I bought one from CMMG for less than $150, and in the 3 years I’ve had it I’ve never looked back. It can shoot minute-of-chipmunk out to 30 yards, which is more than adequate for most peoples’ .22LR needs- plus I can carry it everywhere my “real deal AR” goes without having to carry two rifles; a caliber swap is still literally just 5 seconds away.

    Oh yeah, and I will never forgive S&W in particular for their internal locking system idiocy- so that plays into my choices as well.

    In any case- great idea, setting him up for success like that! The Marine Corps will certainly make a man out of that city boy, and you’ve made it just that much easier for him. I would be glad to see a follow-up to his story, once he’s gone through training.

  16. A point I consider significant enough to post about:

    At an Appleseed event, he wasn’t shooting “against” anyone – optical sights or iron. He was shooting against his own limitations, with his own capabilities. It’s a test, not a competition. Everyone may (and must) succeed on their own merits.