I think I’m addicted to .22LR shooting because it’s so pure. You get all the benefits of any other type of shooting, but without the distractions of excessive noise and recoil. I’ve also found that the .22LR is an incredible platform for seriously discreet, and immensely fun, shooting.
While most standard .22LR ammo is naturally subsonic, a couple of companies have taken the “quiet” of .22LR plinking to new lows, but I mean that is a good way as I’m talking about new lows in terms of noise.
I thought it might be fun to share some experience with some of my favorite non-traditional, and supremely quiet, .22LR ammo.
CCI has been quietly introducing a number of “quiet” .22LR loads. One of the newest is the Suppressor 22LR line. By making the bullet heavier, now 45 grains, the company rates this at 970 feet per second. Of course that varies with the gun as barrel length makes a big difference in actual velocity.
This particular load, in both lead and copper plated versions, is intended for small game and features a hollow-point designed that expands at lower velocity. It also uses a cleaner burning powder to help prolong intervals between suppressor cleanings. It’s also formulated to properly function in semi-automatic rifles and pistols.
I got my hands on a few boxes from a special run of 45-grain copper plated. It’s the same as the standard version, except for plated bullets. The standout feature of this load is that, unlike standard .22LR ammo, it’s well below the supersonic threshold, but will still function reliably in semi-automatic pistols and rifles.
The Quiet-22 line is not specifically designed for suppressor use, although there’s no reason you can’t use it with a silencer. It’s purpose in life is to be quiet without a suppressor to the point where hearing protection is not required. The company claims that there is a 75% reduction of perceived noise from standard .22LR ammo. While I have no way to measure that, it certainly is quiet.
The 40-grain copper plated hollow point breaks into three sections on impact, so it’s perfect for small game and varmint control. The 710 feet per second rated velocity provides plenty of quiet, but does not generate enough energy to cycle semi-automatic guns. There’s your tradeoff. It’s hearing safe with no need for a suppressor, but physics being physics, you’ve got to pay the price somewhere.
I shot this one into a Clear Ballistics 10% gelatin block to see what happened. Even at the much lower velocity from my Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact with a Silencerco Sparrow suppressor, the projectile immediately fragmented into three separate chunks of equal size when it hit the gel.