Interested in an AR? Consider a S&W M&P 15-22, if you’re new to guns

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Bill Rogers, founder of Rogers Shooting School, featured on the cover of an educational DVD

by Rob Kay

When I began writing a DIY series on building your own AR 15, I was under the assumption that anyone who would undertake this type of project would first have the requisite experience in handling firearms. In retrospect, I should not have assumed this is the case.


This notion was spelled out very clearly to me by Bill Rogers, founder of the well respected Roger’s Shooting School in Ellijay, Georgia. When I asked him to provide some tips on purchasing an AR for a first time buyer, he came back loud and clear with advice that I believe should be passed on to readers.

The upshot:  If you’re a first time gun owner, captivated by the idea of owning an AR 15 rifle, it’s probably not a good idea to buy one straight away.

Rogers, who has over 40 years of shooting competition experience under his belt, believes it’s much better for a first time gun owner to first acquaint himself (or herself) with a humble .22 caliber rifle.

Why?  His main concern is that  the 5.56 round, which is typically what the AR 15 employs, is simply too dangerous and not appropriate for a first time buyer.

Says Rogers, “In the hands of a novice, a 5.56 rifle round is capable of killing someone in another house 200 yards away.  This does not mean that I believe the first time buyer should not be legally allowed to buy such a rifle but I would recommend that the novice invest in something that he or she can afford to learn how to become skilled before buying such a rifle. We typically do not buy a Ferrari and give it to our 18 year old son just after he gets his learner’s permit. In flying we do not start the student  with a $1,000,000 high performance Aerobatic airplane. I grew up in a household where everyone in that household was skilled at shooting.  We shot weekly.  95 percent of our shooting was with .22 rim-fire guns or shotguns.  We rarely shot high power rifles but we had a great deal of respect for them.”

With 5.56 ammunition currently on the order of a dollar a round–if you can even find it all–a .22 is also a heck of a lot more economical to shoot.

Consider the S&W M&P15-22

Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22

The .22 rifle has been wildly popular for decades and comes in a host of configurations including bolt action, pump, lever action, and semi-auto.

If  you’re really hooked on getting a gun that looks and feels like an AR 15 (but still shoots a .22 LR bullet) he highly recommends the S&W M&P15-22.

Says Rogers, “I own or have tested all of the other .22 LR, AR type rifles and the S&W is the best. With the CCI .22 Tactical round (which can be purchased in Hawaii) it is extremely reliable.  I have one that has just a crowned barrel, (no flash hider) that with good ammo shoots as good as a $1000.00 Anschutz rifle.”

Rogers also likes the rifle because it can be customized to “accept most any accessories designed for the AR rifles.”

He explained, “You can install custom triggers, bolt releases, sights, slings, stocks and etc.. For a first time buyer the shooter can shoot almost 10x as much for the same cost.”

Retail price for a M&P15-22 is around $500…if you can find one!

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us directly at

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.
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  1. I'm thinking for a long time to buy myself a weapon after a burglar broke into my house 3 months ago. Many of my friends suggested me to choose an AR-15 riffle, that will definitely scare off the thieves. I will visit tomorrow the local GunProPlus store and check out the prices.

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