A check at the sporting goods department at your local big box will serve as a barometer of the current state of the sport of shooting. Guns and ammunition are flying off the shelves at a rate that no one has ever seen before. All types of ammunition have increased in cost and the availability of many calibers is severely limited. This has caused many to rediscover the .22 LR cartridge to get our shooting fix. Interestingly, top-of-the-line shooting schools are advising their students that they will allow the use of .22 LR conversion kits in service pistols and black rifle platforms. Another problem some shooters are up against is finding range times or a place to shoot. This has resulted in a significant increase in the sales of .22 suppressors.
In the past, shooters would purchase a quality .22 suppressor that was a sealed unit. While it started out very quiet, the buildup slowly filled the baffles and degraded the sound suppression capability of the suppressor. While soaking the suppressor in various solvents helped, there was no means to clean a sealed unit thoroughly. Several companies have recently designed user serviceable suppressors where the end cap is threaded to allow the baffle core to be removed for cleaning. This was a significant step in the industry, but not one without its own problems. Dirty and prolonged shooting from .22 ammunition leads to a heavy buildup of powder, lubrication and lead. This buildup and residue tended to become trapped between the core and outer tube, making disassembly difficult. In some cases, it would even cause damage to the outer tube.
Silencerco is a new name to the suppressor market. Silencerco came about when two, life-long friends decided to invent a better mousetrap. Silencerco’s design solved the problem of cleaning a removable baffle core while protecting the outer tube. The 22Sparrow suppressor features a Monolithic Baffle core that is machined from a single piece of 7075 aluminum. The core is made up of ten modified M-type baffle chambers. Using high-speed photography to study the gas flow within the baffles, Silencerco was able to optimize the design through some subtle changes in the geometry of the baffles. The Multi-Part Containment design is a two-part sleeve that interlocks around the baffle stack to contain the lead and carbon debris inside the core. The core and half tube assembly is then inserted into the outer tube threaded onto the end cap. This tube within a tube design allows for easy disassembly and cleaning, even after 1,000 rounds.
The 22Sparrow is 6.13 inches in length, 1.062 inches in diameter, and weighs 4.7 ounces, making it ideal for both pistols and rifles. According to factory information, the 22Sparrow offers a 40-decibel (dB) sound reduction in a Walther P22 using CCI Standard Velocity ammunition. The test was conducted at an altitude of 6,200 feet at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. My evaluation of the 22Sparrow was limited to several range trips, so my observations are subjectively based only on field use.
A state-of-the-art suppressor deserves an appropriate host. Tactical Solutions was kind enough to loan me a Ruger 22/45 with one of their excellent Pac-Lite uppers. The Pac-Lite is a high quality replacement upper for the Ruger MK series of pistols. Each upper is manufactured from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum. Available in five colors, it features a fluted or non-fluted match grade barrel and rails mounted on the top of the receiver and under the barrel. The rear sight is integrated into the top rail and paired with a fiber-optic front sight. Factory threading for attaching a suppressor or muzzle break is another option. The Pac-Lite upper takes a simple MKII and turns it into a high-tech race pistol.
I wanted an electronic red dot sight for the Ruger, and the Aimpoint Micro H-1 proved to be the ideal choice. The H-1 is a commercial version of the combat-proven Micro T-1. Designed for the hunter and sportsman, the H-1 shares the same housing and electronics as the T-1. It lacks the night vision settings and is only rated for 15 feet of submersion. The H-1 is 2.4 inches in length and weighs a mere 3 ounces. The advanced circuitry provides 12 brightness settings and the single 3-volt CR2032 lithium battery has a run time of five years of continuous run time on a daylight setting. This is a lot of sight in a very small package, and it is gaining popularity with hunters and shooters alike. Finally, I added an older SureFire X200 to the barrel rail to give the Pac-Lite a low light capability.
On the range, the 22Sparrow was compared to two premium suppressors from major competitors. Both the Ruger/Pac-Lite and a Walther P22 were used during several trips to the range. Ammunition included CCI Standard Velocity 40-grain solids, CCI Sub-Sonic 38-grain hollow points, and Federal bulk pack 40-grain plated solids. Those who shot the 22Sparrow found it to be equally as quiet as the two competitors, but with a slightly different tone. After some 500 rounds, the 22Sparrow was disassembled and the baffle core and half tubes were cleaned using a powder solvent and a copper brush. The interior of the aluminum half tubes bore an outline of the M-baffles enabling tubes to be indexed back on the core in the same position.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit with one of the company’s founders. When I asked him about future projects he referred me to the website. It lists the 22Sparrow and a suppressor named the Osprey. There are no details listed on the Osprey except an expected release date of summer 2009. After signing a non-disclosure agreement, I was given a preview to the Osprey project. I can assure you that the Osprey, and other future projects, will use the same forward thinking mindset as the 22Sparrow. Harris Publications has been promised an advance preview in the near future.