When I began this odyssey into firearms, Ruger was the exemplar of conservative. While they were at the forefront of manufacturing technology and metallurgy, Ruger designs looked backwards. Back then, that was what a lot of shooters wanted.
Now? Not so much. If, when I was first learning how to mount scopes onto M-77 hunting rifles, you had told me that there would be Ruger-branded and made ARs, polymer-framed striker-fired pistols, and sniper rifles, I'd have asked what you were drinking. Ruger suppressors? Getouttahere!
And yet, here we are. It was something we could have predicted (and hey, I had) some time ago, once we realized just how many Ruger firearms came right out of the factory already threaded for suppressors. What took them so long? Ruger did their due diligence, as they have with all their designs, to make sure it is not just good, but great, and even a serious contender for the best.
The Silent-SR (which is an obvious pun on silencer) is a rimfire suppressor that has all the tricks, and promises to crush your wallet on ammo costs.
Ruger starts with a titanium tube as the outer shell. Ti is light, strong, corrosion-resistant and a royal pain in the keister to machine. But the end result is a tube that they can make small in outer diameter, thin and strong, and will hold the internals. The internals are a baffle stack, which in the modern era of monocore stacks, might seem like a step back. But Ruger makes the baffles out of stainless steel, and that is another bonus.
A stainless baffle stack, as made by Ruger, is a thinwall design, which keeps the end result a light suppressor. At a mere 6.3 ounces, the Silent-SR is not the lightest rimfire suppressor to be had. But the cost of paring more weight than that gets steep indeed.
If Ruger had made the baffle stack out of Ti, for instance, to try and shave an ounce, or an ounce and a half off of it, I could see the price going up by half again, or even doubling. That's too much cost for me to entertain the thought of taking an ounce of weight off of an already lightweight suppressor.
By making the baffles out of stainless, Ruger also can then easily make the mount out of stainless, and that increases durability. We all know someone so strong they could cross-thread a titanium or aluminum mount onto a steel barrel, but we also keep our fun and expensive toys away from those ham-handed people. Trying to keep steel mount threads, and use Ti baffles adds complexity to the design, and sacrifices some of the weight savings Ti promises.
The front cap is also stainless, while the rear cap is aluminum. The front cap takes the impact of the gases and powder and bullet particles coming out of the muzzle and suppressor. It has to be tough to take the brunt of each shot.
The rear cap just has to keep the tube closed, so Ruger made it aluminum to shave a bit of weight. They could, they did, and it works.
The baffle stack is an interesting approach in design and manufacturing. One potential problem with rimfire suppressors is the incredible filth of rimfire ammo. The cleanest ammo is barely better than blackpowder, for residue created.
If you are not careful you can easily carbon-weld a rimfire suppressor into a single piece of metal. The buildup of powder residue and lead seizes the baffles to the tube. Blast through a brick of rimfire, fail to clean, and you might not ever get your suppressor apart again.
Ruger solves that problem by machining the baffles to such tight tolerances that they snap together. Each baffle has a pignose and a ring behind the skirt that creates the chambers in each baffle. The open skirt of each baffle snaps into the ring at the back of the one ahead.
They snap together so firmly that once together they stay assembled, and you thus find reassembly much easier. A lot of baffle-stack designs have the baffles loose enough that when you go to slide the stack back into the tube, any slight jostle causes one to go out of alignment, and the stack stops. Grrrr.
The tight snap also seals the baffle stack from powder and lead, and keeps it from getting between the stack and the outer tube, plus you get a stack that can easily be pressed out of the tube for cleaning.
The pignoses? Those are to create noise-canceling turbulence. You can, if you wish, deliberately misalign them when you assemble, to maximize the turbulence, and thus the sound level.
But the difference between aligned and all misaligned is often less than a noise meter can determine, and isn't worth the hassle. Snap them together any way you want to.
The baffle closest to the mount differs from the others. It does not have a pignose. The first baffle is there to create the initial expansion chamber, and a turbulence-creating design is of no help there.
In order to make sure the first baffle is always the first one in the stack, Ruger has machined the snap ring of that baffle, and the mount, to a slightly different diameter than the others.
You cannot assemble the first baffle anyplace in the tube except as the first baffle. And it does not matter what order the other baffles go in, as long as they are firmly snapped together. They are not numbered, it matters not a bit which order they go in.
To assemble and disassemble the Silent-SR, Ruger includes an end cap wrench. This is a simple molded plastic knob that you slip onto the end, and turn to disassemble.
Does the tube direction matter? Yes. If you look at the mount, you'll see two interesting features. One is the rubber O ring that seals powder and gases away from the rear cap. This keeps you from inadvertently carbon-welding the rear cap in place.
Also, you will notice there are ridges machined into the end of the mount. Look inside the tube. You'll see that looks like an interrupted thread back there. This is not meant to work like an artillery breechblock, but rather to provide clearance for the ridges you see.
What this means is when you go to unscrew the SilentSR from your rifle or handgun, you can't inadvertently unscrew the tube from the mount. The grooves and the ridges interlock, and turning the tube turns the mount.
Without those, grabbing the tube and wringing it off the firearm might just unscrew the tube from the mount, leaving the mount on the firearm, and dumping your baffle stack into the dirt.
Ruger, having laid the groundwork for their SilentSR introduction, does not lack for firearms on which to mount it. They list eight models on the web page that will readily accept the Silent-SR, and we have to imagine that there will be more on the way.
Plus, it will fit onto any properly threaded rimfire. You need a 1/2x28 thread, and you can use .22 Long Rifle (or Long, or Short) .22 WMR and .17 HMR.
Installing the Silent-SR is a snap. Unscrew the thread protector, screw on the Silent-SR, wring it hand-tight, and get to loading magazines. Removal is just as easy, make sure the firearm is unloaded, and hand-wring the Silent-SR off.
Cleaning is also easy. Hold the Silent-SR tightly in one hand. Press the disassembly tool against the end cap (the muzzle end) and unscrew. Nothing funky or metric here, just normal right-handed threads.
Now use the disassembly tool to unscrew the rear cap. With both caps off, press the baffle stack out the rear end of the tube. Unsnap each of the baffles from the stack in turn.
The last one, the expansion chamber baffle, might prove a bit difficult. Resist the temptation to whack it with something, or use pliers. Yes, it is stainless steel, but it is also a thin-walled delicate precision part.
I have found that gently clamping it in a padded vise, holding onto the mount (the mount is a lot stronger than the open end of the expansion baffle) and then using my fingers to lever the baffle of works every time. There are two words to keep firmly in mind here; Padded, and Gently.
Then you can use whatever solvents and brushes, ultrasonic cleaning, methods you find useful, to scrub the powder and bullet residue off of the baffles.
One interesting detail to note; the open ends of the baffles, where they snap onto the baffle ahead. There are very subtle high spots machined into the ring. They are the contact points, and what snap onto the baffle ahead.
If you take your Silent-SR apart before you have shot too many rounds, and look, you can see the bright spots where the high spots have snapped onto the baffle ring.
This small, and precision-machining detail, is what allows the baffles to snap together, and yet still come apart when you want them to.
Testing the Silent-SR was easy. I just hauled it, and a selection of Ruger and other rimfire firearms to the range, and merrily plinked away. I had no expectation that there would be a change in the point of impact, with and without the Silent-SR, nor was there one.
With subsonic ammunition, the Silent-SR provided the Hollywood "phuut-phuut" noise that all movie suppressors are supposed to deliver. In fact, the impact of the bullet on the backstop was the loudest noise, followed by the bolt clacking back and forth. Compared to those, the noise of the shot was a distant third.
Cleaning was a snap (no pun intended) and putting it back together once clean was easy.
In the suppressor universe, the rimfire suppressor is a hook used to get you deeper in.
Rimfire suppressors are relatively inexpensive. The list price of the Silent-SR is $499, and you will probably not see it discounted. There's too much interest, and too much paperwork, for any retailer to have to discount, to sell them.
Despite the recent price increases in ammunition, rimfire is still the cheapest way to have fun at the range. You'll go through a lot of .22 Long Rifle (or .22 WMR or .17 HMR) showing off to your friends. And then you'll want more.
Which is fully in the plans of Ruger, because if there's one thing you can count on, they want to sell firearms and accessories. Stop with a rimfire suppressor as the only one in the line? Ruger isn't staffed by dolts, they want to own the whole market, so there will be more.
Ruger, by entering the suppressor market after so many others have, had the advantage of learning from the earlier designs.
And, having decades of experience in fine-tuning design and manufacturing, they have a rimfire suppressor that now makes the rest of the field pay attention.
Ruger, the exemplar of conservative? That was in the old days. They may not look it, but they are radical when it comes to being competitive.
To sum things up, once I'd had a chance to try the SilentSR, I told Mark Gurney, Product Manager at Ruger and my media contact, to bill me, because he was not getting this one back. "I can live with that," was his smiling reply. I suspect he's not getting many others back he has sent out for testing. We gun writers may be cheap, but we're not stupid, when something this good comes along, you hold onto it.
Caption: The disassembly tool is a simple plastic cap, but it works like a charm, it turns off the front cap without taking a chance on marring it as a metal tool might.
Caption: Read its name out loud and the play on words becomes obvious. Ruger clearly hopes to take a commanding position in the suppressor market with the Silent-SR.
Caption: Ruger went with a stack of stainless steel baffles, and they snap together or apart for service and cleaning. Only the first baffle has a fixed spot.
Caption: The baffles have a turbulence-creating design known as a pignose. You can line 'em up or not, your choice, it doesn't really matter to the sound reduction.
Caption: The snap rings have high points to create a secure fit, but not allow the baffles to self-weld together, always a potential problem with rimfire suppressors.
Caption: The mount has a rubber o-ring as a gas seal, and the rear cap is aluminum, which can be specified because most of the blast goes to the front cap.
RUGER SILENT-SR Overall Length: 5.37 inches Net Length Added 5 inches to Firearm: Diameter 1.06 inches Material: Titanium tube, aluminum rear cap, stainless mount, baffles and front cap Weight: 6.3 ounces Finish: Ti oxide Calibers: .22 Long Rifle, .22 WMR, .17 HMR Full-Auto Rated: Yes Mount System Direct thread, 1/2-28 Available: Price: $449 CHRONO RESULTS, RUGER 10/22 Weight Velocity eS Sd (grs.) (fps) Federal Suppress- 40 956 59 26.8 unsuppressed Ready .22LR 40 948 62 24.6 suppressed Gemtech Subsonic 40 1000 46 16.8 unsuppressed 40 1015 52 20.7 suppressed Velocity measured by Labradar chrono, set to record 15 feet from the muzzle. Average of five rounds.