Ruger’s .22/45 and Silencerco’s Sparrow suppressor combine to take rimfire pistol shooting to a new level of cool
When I was a kid, “silencers” were supercool. Every self-respecting spy had one, and we all knew they just couldn’t be real spies if they didn’t.
Some years later, after giving up on the idea of being a spook myself and going into regular, old, mundane non-spook law enforcement as a career instead, I did have the opportunity to borrow a 9mm MAC-10 equipped with an early /huge/ Sionics suppressor from a Class III dealer I knew. I discovered two things that day: Full auto fire was fun, and Hollywood had, sorry to say, lied to us. The suppressor did not cause the gun to go /phttt/, but instead, /crackkk/.
Interesting, entertaining and informative, but after reflecting that I’d never have any use for a suppressor on the job, and centerfire pistol shooting was already expensive enough practicing without a can, I decided suppressors were neither practical enough nor fun enough to bother with.
Things stayed pretty much the same for the next 30 years—until the 2011 SHOT Show, when I came across Ruger’s new .22/45 pistols with barrels threaded for suppressors. Ruger was introducing two versions: one with tall fixed-iron sights (steel, actually) and the other with a rail for mounting optics instead. Both had 4.5-inch bull barrels, muzzles threaded at 1/2×28 and a knurled thread protector cap.
Obviously intended for the increasing market segment that’s willing to jump through the federal hoops required to own a suppressor, the pistols made a brief impression, as did other new products at the Ruger booth. However, the following day, the product display at the Silencerco exhibit caught my eye, and I stopped to look at its suppressor approach.
Hmm … .
For those not familiar, the .22/45 is a polyframed version of the classic Ruger .22 autopistol introduced in 1992. It is built to mimic in general layout some of the aspects and features of the popular 1911 .45 ACP pistol. These include a grip angle unique to the model, magazine release in the usual 1911 low spot behind the trigger, slide lock/release in the usual high spot behind the trigger, and a thumb safety in the left side of the frame, approximately where the 1911’s thumb safety is positioned.
The current .22/45 iterations also incorporate a loaded-chamber indicator in the left side of the tubular steel receiver opposite the ejection port and a magazine disconnect to save you from the temptation of shooting a foot (yours or anybody else’s) with the mag removed.
In the past year, I’ve returned to the rimfire roots that got me started in shooting for fun long ago, and after acquiring a sample of the new threaded version, I found I liked the pistol more than I’d expected to. I still prefer steel over polymer and don’t need the internal key lock, but I have to admit that the short bull barrel, grip angle, horizontal serrations on the front of the grip area and coarse checkering on the rear, along with the genuine replaceable (not molded poly) wood grips on the model since 2010, all added up to a fun gun to shoot.
My “sighted” version is drilled and tapped for a scope mount, but I don’t like handgun optics and avoid clutter on a gun that’ll see holster use.
If you have an aversion to a poly-framed rimfire, this is a good time to say that Ruger uses DuPont Zytel, a glass-filled nylon formulation the company says is stronger and more durable than other polymers. Also, since all the heavy action of cycling is contained in the tubular steel receiver, the lower gripframe itself isn’t considered either a high-stress or a high-wear component. The mag button is steel for a steel-on-steel lockup, and the alloy trigger pivots on a steel pin that does not itself pivot in the frame. In general, the pistol uses steel where steel is needed.
Durability shouldn’t be an issue, and Ruger says it chose this model to offer for the suppressor market specifically because of its similarity to the 1911. Customers who shoot the 1911 extensively tend to like the way the 22/45 feels in the hand, and even those who don’t often find John Browning’s deliberately chosen grip angle a better fit in shooting. In addition, the lighter weight gripframe is definitely a factor when adding more ounces with a suppressor. The $425 suggested retail is a bargain.
Story and photos by Denis Prisbrey