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SLR Rifleworks Aero: fly, little suppressor, fly.

When I was a kid, our family used to vacation in Florida. To a 10-year-old, the heat and humidity was no big deal. Today, I view the state as one big sauna. But, a sauna that produces some exemplary suppressors. Located in Titusville, SLR Rifleworks makes, among other rifle items, the Aero suppressor.

It is a rimfire-use can, but it is built to be bomb-proof. The external tube is made of seamless aluminum, 6061 extruded, then machined to length and final dimensions. The front cap, the least-stressed part of a suppressor, is made of 6061, but it is turned from bar stock, and both it and the tube are given the proper Type III hardcoat anodizing, and finished with the same nickel acetate sealant that your properly-made AR receivers get.

Inside, the little can is a lot tougher than you'd think a rimfire can needs to be. The rear cap is also turned, but it is made of 4140 steel, and then parkerized. The baffles are made of stainless steel. All of this makes for a rimfire suppressor that is a bit heavier than most, but if you are worried that a mere six and a half ounces are going to throw off the balance of your rifle, you really do worry about inconsequential details.

The baffles are interesting in design. The five of them are a "pig nose" design, in that they have integral cups as spacers, and stacking disks on the bottom edge, as standoffs. Each baffle also has vent holes behind the standoff disk, and a turbulence slot cut into the edge of the entrance hole on each of the baffles.

Completing the set is a plain old cylinder of stainless, which creates the blast chamber. The design acts to minimize the contact of hot gases and the powder residue they transport, with the interior walls of the aluminum tube. The only places the gases can reach aluminum is through the vent holes, in the stem-like area of the wine glass-shaped baffle. This works to keep maintenance easier. Since the powder residue is mostly contained by, and collects on, the stainless surfaces of the baffles, you are less likely to end up carbon-welding your rimfire suppressor into a solid chunk.

The end caps are slotted for a disassembly tool, and SLR Rifleworks did a spectacular job on that. The disassembly tool is simply a small block of Delrin, with four ribs machined into its surface. The ribs fit the slots cut into the ends of the end caps. To disassemble the Aero, you simply hold the suppressor in one hand, the block in your other, and turn. If you have neglected maintenance and find that the tool isn't big enough, you simply get a bigger handle for it; a vise. Clamp the block in your vise, then press the end cap against the block ribs, grab with both hands, and use all of your upper-body strength to unscrew it.

I would suggest that if you find you have welded your Aero shut you spend a few days or a week soaking the end cap in Kroil, and get some lubricant penetration to assist you. But if you need to exert that much leverage, the tool is up for it.

Threaded onto the muzzle of various firearms, the Aero is a sleek and business-like addition. It does not blend in exactly, but the look is not jarring. I tested it on three firearms; my .22 conversion AR, built up of CMMG conversion, a dedicated CMMG .22 LR barrel, and fitted to its own upper receiver. The second rifle is my crusty old Ruger 10/22, which I used a couple of decades ago for the Chevy Truck Challenge and Second Chance. It features a Butler Creek full-diameter barrel in a Ruger stock. While it is not a smallbore-level performer, it isn t far behind, and can be quite surprising. I had the barrel threaded for a suppressor recently, and the re-crowning that came with it improved the already excellent accuracy. Third was my Ruger 22/24, factory-threaded for a suppressor.

On the CMMG, the one-inch diameter of the Aero makes it an obvious addition to the muzzle. But, that is accepted as normal for ARs, so no big deal. On the 10/22, the butler Creek barrel is three-quarters of an inch, and the Aero is a smoother transition. And the same goes for the Ruger 22/45. Also, being one inch in diameter, the Aero does not stick up enough to block the sights of the Ruger 22/45.

For accuracy testing, I tried different ammunition with each of the firearms.

For the CMMG, I dug into the ammo locker and found some CCI Suppressor ammo. Out of deference to the iron sights mounted on the CMMG, I tested this combo (and the Ruger 22/45) at twenty-five yards. Hmm, I clearly have to get optics on this rifle, as it punched one-hole groups at twenty-five yards, with and without the Aero. And the point of impact did not change. Quiet? The biggest noise I heard was the bolt clacking back and forth, and as it so happened, the clink of the 100-yard gong. I had accidentally lined up my 25-yard target with one of the 100-yard gongs, and got a tinny little "plink" on each shot.

In the Ruger 22/45, I elected to use Gemtech subsonic ammunition. OK, if you want to introduce a new shooter to firearms, and maybe even to firearms with suppressors, you could do worse than this combo. Extremely quiet, accurate, and since it is a .22 LR, no real recoil, if you can't get them hooked on shooting with this setup, they just are not going to bite.

Last up was the 10/22. This I fed American Eagle subsonic, and this was even quieter than the CMMG. In part, because there was less metal clattering back and forth (just a matter of the design of the 10/22) and that metal was clattering inside of a glass-bedded wood stock. Once I had an idea of the accuracy it could produce, I figured I'd give it a real test. I set the target out at 50 yards, and with the ancient Redfield Tracker 4X scope that dates back to the Reagan Era, I shot a full ten-round magazine of the American Eagle un-suppressed. I then screwed on the Aero, and immediately fired another ten-shot group. The two groups were so coincidental that there was no way to parse out which shot came from which set of ten, and the resulting twenty-shot group was impressively small.

One added bonus of such robust construction (besides the quiet) is durability. The Aero is full auto rated for 5.7X28, which means it will shrug off any lesser cartridge you care to use it on. It laughs at the small ,17s, so .22 Magnum is no big deal, and even if .22LR comes back down to pre-panic prices, I'm not sure you could afford enough of it to put wear on the Aero. Unless you fail to clean it, of course. Then you're on your own because I'm not helping you. Todd Gardner, head honcho at SLR Rifleworks might take mercy on you, but then again, he may be too busy making even more of his excellent suppressors to do more than tell you what I'd tell you; "Get a bucket of Kroil, and soak it for a few weeks." After all, other customers want their suppressors, why should they wait because you neglected cleaning?

In all seriousness, the single biggest source of customer complaints, with nmfire suppressors, is directly due to lack of maintenance. Unscrew your suppressor and scrub it up, every 500 rounds or so, and you'll be happy.

SPECIFICATIONS

SLR RIFLEWORKS AERO, .22 LR

OAL                            5.2"

Net length                     4.7"
added to firearm

Diameter                       1.0"

Material                       Aluminum, 6061 T6, 4140 steel

Weight                         6.5 oz.

Finish                         Black, hard-coat anodized

Calibers available             .22 LR, .22 Mag., .17 HMR,
                               .17 Mach II, 5.7X28

Full-auto rated                Yes

Mount system                   Direct-thread, 1/2"x28
available

MSRP                           $249
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Author:Sweeney, Patrick
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Oct 20, 2015
Words:1355
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