It’s not secret that smaller, low pressure calibers like the .22LR get filthy. Unfortunately a suppressor is the perfect tool for catching all that filth. How important is cleaning? How difficult is that task?
When owning a suppressor also means coughing up a $200 infringement tax to the federal government you want to ensure you are making a solid investment and that your suppressor will last a lifetime. Most centerfire rifle cans are good to go right out of the box and will require little maintenance. However pistol calibers, low pressure rifle rounds such as subsonic 300BLK, and especially rimfire .22LRs are among those that should be cleaned frequently.
We informally tested how dirty rimfire suppressors could get this spring at our youth Marksmanship Camps. Bowers Group donated 9 suppressors to the cause so we could shoot completely silent. We fire an average of 3,000 rounds a weekend, we hosted 5 camps, and use up to 8 suppressors. That’s around 2,000 rounds of Federal Automatch 22LR (we are switching to CCI Standard this fall) through every suppressor. Since Bowers Group will re-core their suppressors for just $20 I figured I really don’t have to worry about cleaning them. But at the end of season I decided to see how bad the USS22s looked and at least do my best to maintain them. I was both impressed and surprised.
If you caught my video on the Gemtech Outback/GM22 you’ll remember I had an unpleasant cleaning experience with that suppressor. The original design called for it to be stripped and cleaned every 150 rounds or it would permanently freeze up. Obviously that is pretty ridiculous in a .22LR since most of our range sessions last well beyond that.
As the attached video shows, I was pleasantly surprised how easily the Bowers USS22 disassembled after 2,000 rounds of neglect. I fully expected the baffles to freeze to the walls of the suppressor forcing me to shoot until the can got loud or threw shots off due to the bullets striking fouling in the can. However it was very easy to disassemble and to clean most of the gunk off with only water. After this I gave each baffle set a few hours in my ultrasonic cleaner to get the majority of the fouling off. They weren’t as clean as new, but plenty clean enough for the upcoming fall season.
The point of this is to make sure you purchase a rimfire silencer that you can clean and from a company that will support you if you have any trouble down the line.
Shoot straight, and shoot quietly.