.22lr (.22 long rifle) is the most common ammunition in the world, and .22lr firearms are some of the most common guns in America. With an estimated 10 BILLION cartridges produced since its inception, there is a good chance you have a 22-caliber lever action or pistol sitting in your gun safe right now. These firearms make some of the best suppressor hosts and are a great entry point into the world of NFA (National Firearms Act) items. If you have been on the fence about adding a suppressor to your gun safe or have been thinking about how to get involved with silencers, one of the .22s in your safe might make the perfect platform to start with. We're often asked by customers, "Why suppress a 22?" There are a handful of reasons why a suppressed 22 might make sense for you:
22LR is cheap to shoot and easy to find on shelves.
Most 22LR ammunition is subsonic, making it excellent for suppressors.
Rimfire suppressors are typically inexpensive compared to centerfire.
Suppressed 22 pistols are excellent training analogs.
You can achieve "Hollywood quiet" results.
Rimfire – Metallic cartridges with a protruding rim containing a primer compound; these are not reloadable and often use small, low-pressure charges and projectiles. Examples: .17 HMR, .22 Long Rifle, .22WMR.
Centerfire – Modern cartridges using a replaceable primer in the center of the case head. These primers allow for better ignition on larger powered charges and allow for large/heavy projectiles. Examples: .223/5.56, 9mm, .308 Win.
Hollywood Quiet – A term often used to describe a silenced firearm replicating the often dramatized, near-silent sounds of suppressors in movies.
National Firearms Act Items – The National Firearms Act of 1938 regulates silencers, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices, AOWs, and Machine Guns; this is why tax stamps and Form 4 transfers are required for the listed items.
Point of Impact - This is where the projectiles are hitting, contrary to where you are aiming. Adjusting your sight so that your crosshairs and impact holes are in the same place on the target is called "zero."
Rimfire suppressors are purpose-built to silence a 22 firearm. .22lr is a unique cartridge to suppress effectively; first, it is very low pressure, does not use much powder, and is slow moving compared to its centerfire counterparts, making it easy to reduce the gunshot's signature (flash and sound). Second, the low pressure also means low heat, allowing rimfire suppressors to use lightweight materials such as aluminum and titanium. As a result, you can attach a silencer and barely notice the weight on your firearm. Some .22 silencers weigh just a couple of ounces.
However, .22lr uses a lead bullet, highly gaseous powders, and dirtier priming compounds, meaning the suppressors collect lead and carbon much faster than centerfire models. To combat the lead and carbon build-up, .22 suppressors use unique designs which allow them to be taken apart and cleaned easily. You might see the term "user-serviceable," which means that you can take apart the for maintenance. Don't let this discourage you. The cleaning process is simple and only takes a few minutes every few hundred rounds; check out our video and blog about cleaning suppressors for more info.
The best reason to get a suppressed 22 pistol is that they're just plain fun! It's near-impossible not to smile as you pull the trigger and hear a faint "ting" in the distance as you hit a steel plate. Suppressed rimfires are also great for saving money while you train on the range and can be great tools for getting new shooters involved.
There are few things more fun than loading up a magazine of subsonic ammo, hearing nothing but the firing pin as you pull the trigger, and a quiet "thud" down range as the bullet impacts the berm. Silenced 22s are a great way to get out on the range and have fun without breaking the bank on ammo costs. They may not be the most tactically viable firearm in your collection, but we wager that a suppressed 22 might put the biggest smile on your face when you take it out on the range.
Getting a 22 with a suppressor can be a great way to train in shooting handguns without dealing with higher ammo costs and more recoil than your primary pistol. You can match your grip and sight picture to your everyday carry handgun; for example, the Glock 44 is a 1:1 match of the Glock 19, and the Ruger 22/45 uses the exact same grip angle as 1911-style handguns. USPSA Grand Master Hunter Constantine told us, "I use .22LR for a cheaper alternative to training with 9MM. I shoot over 50,000 rounds of 9MM annually, which puts a considerable dent in my wallet. By shooting .22LR, I can shoot at a fraction of the cost." Utilizing these suppressed pistols allows you to train for about ¼ of the price, lets you focus on fundamentals instead of recoil, and will protect your hearing while you're practicing on the range.
If you are trying to introduce new shooters to firearms, a suppressed 22 pistol is one of the best platforms. These guns have almost no recoil, are incredibly quiet, and are very light, making them ideal for getting people comfortable around guns. Silenced 22 pistols are also great for folks who are sensitive to recoil.
Hunter Constantine training with the Ruger MK IV SSH
What is the Best 22 Pistol to Suppress?
The best suppressed 22 pistol is the Ruger MKIV; it is renowned for its reliability, both suppressed and unsuppressed. The Ruger Mark series is the most popular 22 handgun ever made for good reason; it's smooth to shoot, customizable, and will make you smile from ear to ear every time you pull it out of your range bag. We like the MKIV so much that we teamed up with Ruger to make our own suppressor-optimized version, the Silencer Shop Host (SSH). The SSH comes out of the box, ready to be suppressed. It uses a 3" cold hammer forged barrel threaded in 1/2x28 for use with 22 silencers and has a Picatinny rail ready to mount your favorite red dot sight.
Other great options include the TaurusTX 22, Glock 44, and Smith and Wesson M&P22. These three 22lr handguns are designed to emulate their larger 9mm/.40cal siblings, but with reduced weight, recoil, and ammo costs. Note: you may have to get aftermarket threaded barrels to attach a silencer to some of these models. If you want more reps with your EDC pistol, getting a silencer and a 22 variant is an easy way to train without breaking the bank.
A novel suppressed 22 pistol to add to your arsenal is the Trailblazer Firearms LifeCard, one of the most compact suppressed pistols available. This folding pistol with a threaded barrel is slightly bigger than an Altoid's tin and is a great pocket pistol. The LifeCard is also extremely quiet due to its locking breach eliminating port noise or action noi
Attaching a suppressor to your firearm can result in a point of impact (POI) shift, just like attaching any other muzzle device. You should re-zero your firearm for use with a suppressor, but once it's dialed in, your group sizes might improve. Silencers often help maintain better accuracy due to decreasing recoil. However, because rimfire cartridges are dirtier than centerfire rounds, 22 lr suppressors require regular maintenance to ensure the accuracy you are used to. If you're cleaning the suppressor every few hundred rounds, your suppressed 22 pistol or rifle should hit the bullseye every time (as long as you do your part).
.22lr is one of the most ubiquitous bullets on the planet, and .22 lr guns are some of the most commonly owned firearms in the country. These weapons are excellent for use with a suppressor and are the perfect place to start your silencer ownership journey. So if you want to improve your handgun shooting skills or a good old-fashioned fun gun to plink on the range with, think about adding a suppressed 22 to your collection.