I am convinced of it after today. I was finally able to get to the range with the M&P 15-22 that I bought a few weeks ago, and holy crap is that thing fun!
I actually bought this gun for two reasons. First was to save on ammo. .223 has came down in price considerably, but it's still expensive compared to Back in the Day. While .22 LR is up as well, it's nothing compared to .223. (Things are even worse when I haul out the M1A or an M-1 Garand; I'm spending money like Obama, but I don't have a printing press. I shoot them very sparingly these days.)
Second was to shoot in my club's tactical match, since they run a rimfire division. My son and I both like to shoot in it, and with entry fees and ammo that's about $100 for a Saturday morning. Gets a bit steep after a while. With .22 rifles, it's more like $40, saving even more on ammo. As I told an unbelieving Mrs. Freeholder, the gun will pay for itself in less than a year. (I got rolled eyes for that one.)
She may have been right. As much fun as I had this afternoon, the .22 LR bill may expand to make up for the .223 savings.
Out of the box, the gun shot a bit low and to the right. A few clicks on the rear sight (on the M & P 15-22 the rear sight has controls for both windage and elevation, unlike the standard AR) got that sorted out at 25 yards, which is where I decided to zero for the matches. After that, it was off to the bays to play a tune on the steel.
And found out very quickly what an utter pleasure this gun is to shoot. At 15 yards I was double-tapping 8" circles as fast as I could acquire the first sight picture and squeeze the trigger twice. The recoil is so negligible that the sights really just don't move much. 25 yards took a bit more doing, but I think with practice I can get as fast as I am at 15. I'm thinking a vertical grip might be worth a try for that.
I have heard that these guns are ammo sensitive (as many .22s are said to be), but I was shooting good old crappy Remington Golden Bullets and it did fine. Never had a misfire or misfeed attributable to the ammo.
The only criticism I have is the 25 round magazine. It seems to be a bit finicky about how the last round goes in and seats. One you learn what the presentation of the round should look like you're able to be sure that's how it winds up, but until then I had a number of failure to feeds on the first round. Without a second magazine, I don't know if this is a bad mag or just the way they work. I did experiment with loading 24 vs 25 rounds, but didn't see much difference. I'm going to have to get some more magazines and see what I can figure out.
I've found a new favorite .22 semi. When my son shoots it, I may have to go get another one.