Smith & Wesson wants owners of its M&P15-22 rifles to stop shooting them immediately.

What prompted this very unusual step by the Massachusetts-based firearms manufacturer? The answer is a potentially dangerous manufacturing flaw in the bolt of these rifles.

According to a release by Smith & Wesson, the company identified two recently produced M&P15-22 rifles with bolts in which the breech face counter bore depth was not within manufacturing specification. This has resulted in situations where the firearm can discharge multiple times without the trigger being pulled.

The M&P15-22 is a semi-automatic rifle that fires the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It can take detachable magazines (the standard capacity is 25 rounds), incorporates the MAGPUL M-LOK system, comes standard with a six-position stock (in most states), and weighs less than five pounds.

According to the Smith and Wesson website, the suggested retail price for a standard M&P15-22 Sport is $449.00.

While this rifle bears a passing resemblance to the M4 carbine and M16 rifle, it should be noted that when functioning properly, this rifle operates no differently from the Ruger 10/22 or Remington 597, firing one shot every time the trigger is pulled.

A look on the website reveals 14 separate models of the M&P15-22 available – and all rifles manufactured before February 1, 2019 are affected by the consumer alert.

Smith and Wesson took steps to address this issue, giving owners of these rifles one of two options.

First, they have provided instructions that can enable an owner to check the bolt themselves with a gauge that Smith and Wesson will provide for free. A link to an instructional video is available at MP15-22SafetyAlert.com.

Second, owners can ship the bolt from their M&P15-22 to Smith and Wesson at no cost for inspection and, if necessary, replacement.

The company notes that this condition has only turned in in a small number of recently-manufactured M&P15-22 rifles, but they have asked all M&P15-22 owners to check their rifles.

Those who have questions can contact the company via email at MP15-22SafetyAlert@smith-wesson.com or via phone at (800)713-0356 from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday.