Time has been good to the sound suppressor. As inflation has reduced the impact of the $200 transfer tax that must have been stunning when introduced in 1934, they’ve become much less cost prohibitive. Changing public perception also helps, as more people now view the suppressor as a considerate tool for quiet practice and less of a James Bond assassin’s tool. And while they do have other benefits, such as evening out the cycling on some weapons with marginal functioning, in the long run, that’s perhaps their greatest utility for civilian use: being able to practice quietly. Fortunately, suppressors go well with another item that’s become much more accepted in the last 20 years: the AR.
While there will always be those who try to shape perception of the “black rifle” in order to push a political agenda, those who shoot it know the AR is popular because it’s light, reliable, accurate, easy to manage and, until recently, relatively inexpensive. It’s also modular, and as more shooters have come to appreciate the AR platform, the availability of dedicated .22 LR uppers, and even entire rifles, has exploded, with standalone .22’s offered by Smith & Wesson, Colt and others. This makes for cheap practice and training, while still providing crucial familiarity with the weapons platform. The .22 caliber has made the AR inexpensive—now let’s make it quiet.
The Idaho-based Gemtech has produced muzzle-mounted .22 LR suppressors for many years, including the company’s bread-and-butter Outback and Outback II “cans.” The G5-22 is among its latest, and is geared towards use on AR and other centerfire-based rimfire rifles. Essentially a scaled-down version of the .223 G5 suppressor, the rimfire-only G5-22 is about 6.5 inches long, significantly larger in diameter than Gemtech’s usual .22 cans (1.38 inches instead of the nominal 1 inch usually seen on .22 cans) and uses a quick-attach “QuickMount.” As is the current trend, the G5-22 can also be completely disassembled for cleaning by the end-user.
No doubt, the larger size of the G5-22 does create more interior volume, which can’t hurt suppression, but its primary purpose in life is to more closely approximate the appearance of a .223 can than the slim lines of a .22 suppressor. A mild aesthetic irritation, no doubt, but a pencil-thin can on the end of what otherwise looks like an M4 is a little odd looking, and the G5-22 cures this. Even with the suppressor removed, the purposeful-looking mount looks like it means business. Threaded internally at ½-28 tpi, which is the standard thread pitch for a .22 suppressor (as well as for the muzzle brake on a .223 AR), the QuickMount flash suppressor screws in place. It should be held in place with a dab of blue Loctite, with no torque value specified for the installation.
In spite of the fact that the G5-22 uses a standard thread pitch, the correct thread dimensions are listed in the back of the user manual that comes with the G5-22, and they deserve your attention. The dimension most likely to need modification is the length of the threaded portion, which should be no longer than 0.4 inches, which is well shorter than many factory muzzle threads. Otherwise, the mount will bottom out on the end of the muzzle, as opposed to up against the unthreaded shoulder of the barrel, which is where it needs to be in order to have the most solid mount possible. Since you’re blowing a piece of hot metal through a baffled tube at the speed of sound, things like solidity and alignment matter, so make sure your muzzle is already threaded correctly or have it tuned up by a competent machinist who specializes in such things.
The good news is that while the QuickMount itself is quite short (shorter than a standard flash suppressor), it is long enough that the suppressor doesn’t fully overlap it when it’s being installed, so the barrel diameter behind the mount can be any dimension at all (even significantly larger than the mount), and it will not interfere with the suppressor.
Once the mount is in place, the suppressor goes on easily and movie-quick. Slip the rear of the can over the mount, lining up the two tabs on either side of the mount with the slots in the rear of the suppressor, then slide it backwards, against the spring tension you’ll feel. Rotate it 90 degrees counterclockwise until it snaps forward. And it’s done. It takes a lot longer to read that sentence than it takes to perform. Removal is in the reverse order.
Should you wish to take the G5-22 down for cleaning (which the manual notes isn’t especially necessary and should be accompanied by an über-careful choice of solvents), the process is also quick and easy to accomplish. While a takedown tool came in the box with my test sample G5-22, it’s not completely necessary. After removing the suppressor from the gun, slip the pilot stud of the takedown tool down the muzzle end of the can and line up its three protrusions with three of the six holes drilled in the muzzle of the can. Once the tool is seated on the muzzle end, grasp the rear (which Gemtech calls the “mount housing”), and turn the tool, unscrewing the front end cap from the body of the suppressor. The mount housing at the rear of the suppressor is screwed to the central core, which contains the baffle stack and screws into the front cap, and passes through the unthreaded outer tube. Once you unscrew the end cap, the baffle stack/mount housing assembly (which is snugged up to the outer tube with an O-ring) can be pulled out of the outer tube from the rear.
To free the baffles from the inner core, use a coin (I used a penny; Gemtech recommends a nickel) as a wrench to unscrew the forward-most baffle, and the others will slide out of the front. Both disassembly and reassembly will be easier with a length of wooden dowel (under 0.75 inches to take it apart and 0.25 inches to get it back together). I managed both tasks without one, but lining up the longer cone baffle at the rear would have been easier with one. Aligning the front end cap with the inner core is also a little bit of a trick, but it’s manageable—just take your time.
To test the G5-22, I installed it on an M4-style dedicated .22 upper from Model 1 Sales and shot it side by side with Gemtech’s Alpine suppressor, which I put on a dedicated upper from Tactical Solutions. Also user-serviceable, the Alpine is a traditional muzzle-mounted suppressor with the more customary inch-or-so outside diameter. Mounting the QuickMount was as described—unscrew the flash suppressor, screw the mount on—but since the threads were a little longer than the required 0.4 inches, I had to use a spacer behind the mount until I can have the threads cut back to the correct length. Push, twist, and the can was on and ready to fire. The Alpine, of course, was threaded on by hand.
There was surprisingly little difference in sound between the two, and what there was is hard to quantify. Both suppressors were quiet, as you’d expect, but the G5-22 seemed to have a slightly different tone. It generally seemed to be a little deeper than that of the Alpine, but that varied with the loads I was shooting. While the G5-22 is necessarily a touch heavier than most .22 cans, the weight difference between the Model 1 upper and the lightweight one from Tactical Solutions makes it hard to lay that at the feet of the G5-22.
All in all, the G5-22 performed as advertised; it has zero first-round pop, goes on and off quickly and without the perpetual risk of cross-threading that comes with a screw-on suppressor, takes down easily without specialized tools, and looks like it belongs on the muzzle of an AR. For those who want to use one suppressor on multiple guns, including handguns, the smaller Alpine is a better choice, and doesn’t require you to purchase a different mount for each gun. But for a suppressor that will be left on a dedicated AR or other understudy .22 rifle, and for those who appreciate the quick-detach feature of the G5-22, it fits the bill beautifully. For more information, visit gem-tech.com or call 208-939-7222.
EDITOR’S NOTE: At press time, RF learned that G5-22 production was ending. Stepping into its place is the new G-CORE rimfire suppressor for 2014, and future models are in the works.