The new Smith and Wesson M&P15R is a rifle chambered in 5.45×39. S&W developed this new AR variant due to the rising costs of .223/5.56 NATO ammunition. The 5.45×39 cartridge was developed for the AK-74 rifle in the early 1970s. Few guns in made the United States are chambered for it, and consequently, surplus ammo is comparatively cheap. The 5.45×39 is not interchangeable with the 5.56×45 NATO (or .223 Remington) cartridge which is the standard cartridge AR-15 platform rifles.
The M&P15R features a chrome-lined 16″ barrel with a 1:8″ twist, M4 style post front sight, and a six-position collapsible stock. The rifle comes with one 30-round magazine.
A “mil-spec” upper is also available for people who already own an AR, but would like to shoot 5.45×39. The upper comes with a 30-round magazine and a bolt carrier assembly and should drop right onto any mil-spec AR lower.
The M&P15R has a suggested retail price of $1146.00 and the upper alone has an MSRP of $751.00. Street prices should be significantly less.
From the Smith and Wesson website:
With the ever increasing cost of 5.56mm and .223 ammo, Smith & Wesson is pleased to announce the M&P15R Rifle (along with the new Upper Receiver Assembly). This new rifle is chambered for the less expensive and abundant 5.45 x 39mm cartridge. The rifles come with a flat-top receiver and the M4-style post front sight ready to accept the optics of your choice or a back-up iron sight. Also included is one 30 round magazine built specifically to accommodate the 5.45 x 39mm round.
May 2013 Update – It looks like this rifle and upper are no longer offered by Smith and Wesson. Although the gun would not have been a major part of the company’s business, I thought the gun was selling well. Perhaps the recent run on guns forced S&W to focus on the 5.56 NATO guns. Regardless, the Smith and Wesson M&P15R is a thing of the past. If you have one, you might want to hold onto it.