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The Ruger 10/22 is an American icon. For many reasons, it’s one of the best .22-caliber rifles on the market. It’s affordable, economical to operate, accurate, easy to maintain and durable. It comes in an array of models; nearly every shooter can find one to suit their needs. So, how could you possibly improve on this legendary rifle? Gemtech had an idea of how: It created the integrally-suppressed MIST-22, a replacement barrel for the bull-barreled version of the Ruger 10/22.

We’ve all seen enough action movies to know suppressors are where it’s at:

The black-clad hero methodically assembles his rifle under cover of darkness, finally screwing something on the muzzle—a long tube; the magical piece of equipment that will ensure his escape once he hits his target. With careful aim and breath control, the shooter zeros in on his quarry and begins his slow trigger press … a “thwip” issues forth from the rifle. The target drops, and the tension rolls in heavily. Did anyone hear? All in the vicinity are none the wiser. The silent sniper disassembles his deadly device and skulks away into the night, unseen, unheard.

Anyone who has had practical experience with suppressors knows the tried and true thwip sound bite has been used for years … it’s not an accurate depiction. Surprisingly, you can’t take an enormous bullet, run it through an extended tube and have it come out the other end whisper-quiet. This is yet another example of the firearms myths often perpetuated by Hollywood.

COMPONENTS

I had some experience with suppressors—enough to know they had limitations—but I was keen to see how quiet a .22-caliber round could be. Ruger cheerfully sent the 10/22 for my interrogative journey. In particular, I was given a beautiful model. The 10/22 Target Tactical provided me with a couple of bonus features.

First, the rifle had the prerequisite bull barrel (not just any Ruger 10/22 will accept the Gemtech MIST; it must be a bull barrel). This 16.12-inch, hammer-forged beast sports a 1:16 RH twist. It also has a recessed crown and a black, spiral finish on the exterior. The barrel is heavy: When holding the rifle, the beefy barrel pulls the muzzle down noticeably. Literature says the gun weighs 6.88 pounds, but my scale came in at 7 pounds, 4.8 ounces. Trigger break was consistent (3.5 pounds).

Despite the tactical appearance, the 10/22 is definitely at home on the range.

Second, it came with the black Hogue overmolded stock that has a synthetic, rubbery surface, making it great for  locking the rifle into the shoulder before a shot. The Hogue stock’s rubbery finish feels wonderful, giving a good grip—but it also picks up dirt and debris. This, in conjunction with the matte spiral finish on the barrel, gives an overall impression of darkness. This isn’t a black that shines when you put light on it, though. No; it eats light. Just shy of going full ninja, the black is broken up by a couple of tasteful Ruger badging elements done in silver. The side of the bolt, just behind the charging lever, is brushed silver and has RUGER lightly engraved on it. The grip cap at the bottom of the pistol grip reveals Ruger’s eagle symbol—again, done in silver.

“The Ruger 10/22 is an American icon. For many reasons, it’s one of the best .22-caliber rifles on the market.”

It’s tempting to mount some large glass on a .22 in order to see the holes a little better at any kind of distance. I stuck with something that seemed like a reasonable, yet quality, approach: the Burris Droptine 2-7×35, specifically designed for .22-caliber. With a focus set at 50 yards and the reticle calibrated for .22 LR, the Burris was the perfect match for the mission.

MISSION PARAMETERS

The bull barrel the Ruger came with is a beautiful barrel. It seemed a shame to take it off and replace it, but the benefits of a quiet shooting experience loomed before me. I arranged with my local FFL dealer to receive the Ruger and the 10/22 MIST from Gemtech. The rifle was easy. The barrel, being an integral suppressor, is an NFA item and required a bit more paperwork. However, overall, the process wasn’t difficult. I worked with my FFL dealer, Mike Rister, to navigate the NFA process; his tutelage was key. There were forms, fingerprint cards, passport photos, copies to make … . Finally, everything was submitted in December of 2016. However, I didn’t receive my tax stamp until early September.

An American icon, the 10/22 has been around since 1964. Here, it is shown with the Gemtech MIST-22 integrally-suppressed barrel installed.

In the interim, Liberty Firearms Institute was kind enough to allow me to shoot the gun with the Gemtech in-house while I waited for my tax stamp to arrive—I just couldn’t leave with it. My plan was ambitious: I shot six types of ammo with the original bull barrel, collecting numbers on accuracy, sound and velocity. I then installed the MIST and repeated the whole process again.

My head spun with the information this process produced, but there are some interesting takeaways from combining the Ruger and Gemtech.

ACCURACY

I shot at a distance of 50 yards, which seemed like a reasonable range, considering the ballistic characteristics of a .22 long rifle. I used five five-shot groups to determine average measurements. I can easily report that the bull barrel that came on the Ruger 10/22 was more accurate than the Gemtech (see the performance data sidebar).

The Gemtech MIST-22 barrel (top) and the standard bull barrel of the Target Tactical (bottom)

In sum, with the bull barrel, the average group of all the ammunition was 1.04 inches. Using the Gemtech MIST, the average of all ammunition was 1.81. Later, when I dismantled the MIST, I was able to understand why this might be. The original barrel is solid, heavy and lends the bullet the benefit of its entire length. The MIST is roughly the same length—17 inches—but only about 5.25 inches is actual barrel used to burn powder and channel the flight of the bullet. The second half is open and shrouded in shields that are meant to capture and redirect the gasses that propel the bullet’s flight.

All in all, this is a marginal difference at 50 feet, and it’s still easily within the small-game range of a typical target.

“…there are some interesting takeaways from combining the Ruger and Gemtech.”

THE SPEED OF SOUND

I had no illusions about what the Gemtech might accomplish, but I learned that pairing the barrel with the right ammo will net the best results. Within the sound-deadened walls of the indoor shooting range, I fired all the various ammunition through both barrels. There was a direct correlation between sound and velocity. The decibel meter, a BAFX3370, placed roughly 2 feet away, gave me my sound readings. A Caldwell G2 chronograph measured the flight speed of the projectiles. It soon became obvious that fast meant loud, and slow meant quiet. The standard velocity rounds such as Winchester rated an average of 118.3 dB and 1,408 fps in the bull barrel. They were lowered and slowed to an average of 112.1 dB and 1,325.2 fps, respectively, in the Gemtech.

This is an impressive feat, but the sounds were still sharp—nothing you would want to spend a day shooting, despite the reduction in noise and speed. The best benefits came with the Gemtech paired with Gemtech  ammunition. The Gemtech ammo averaged in at 100.3 dB and 988.2 fps. Just under 100 dB seemed to be the magic comfort zone where the hearing protection could come off.

Subtle badging pays homage to Ruger’s storied history.

Above that, I could hear the sonic crack! of the bullet. Below that, I only heard the cycling of the weapon and then the hit on the target. Granted, the .22 has never had the pop of a .308 or the force wave of a .50-caliber. But lining up the scope and squeezing the trigger became even more recreational without ear muffs, which are always a compromise between losing your hearing and enjoying your sport.

WHAT TO MAKE OF IT ALL

Experientially, I learned a great deal through this process. I only had one failure to feed, although this was caused by an aftermarket extended magazine. The MIST had a definitive effect on the gases it was dispersing. Higher-velocity ammo got pushed out of the muzzle better, but slower stuff had me momentarily wafting in the vapors. This is an experience that would not even be an issue outside.

Representatives at Gemtech suggested removing the tube after every session to keep it from getting stuck. As I cleaned mine (exceeding that recommendation), the threads were a bit tight but finally relented (the MIST  captures a lot of sediment that eventually coats the internals). After a thorough cleaning of the baffles and threads, it was ready to shoot again.

The overall setup on the Target Tactical is a moody black with an occasional flare of silver. The optic used is the Burris Droptine, an affordable line of quality optics.

The Burris scope provided a level of performance I have come to expect from the company—which is to say, excellent. The optic provided clear images and allowed me to see my hits at 50 yards with 7x power. It’s a second focal plane scope, and the Ballistic Plex reticle was simple enough to give me accurate hits; but it also had three holdover dots, had I felt more adventurous. Shooting a .22 long rifle is a relatively simple affair, and the uncluttered reticle was a joy to use. It’s a durable scope: Being banged around from shop to gunsmith table to range, the scope held established zero and is a heck of a value at roughly $130 retail.

Adding the MIST-22 changed several things about the 10/22: First, the gun was nearly 2 pounds lighter. The accuracy suffered a little but was a fair trade at the distances I shot. This combination creates a fun, shoot-all-day situation that won’t damage your hearing or wallet. I did not feel emboldened to join the CIA as a fixer, but taking those hot, sweaty ear muffs off was worth it all. It’s really hard to emphasize how liberating it is to have your hearing returned to you, particularly in a situation, such as hunting, where situational awareness is so important.

Gemtech had the new barcodes in place well before the ATF approved the process.

I saw prices for the MIST-22 in the $400s online, although its MSRP is $599. The Ruger Target Tactical (as tested) can be found in the $450 to $480 price range.

PERFORMANCE RESULTS

Ammunition

Groups @ 50 Yards

Velocity

Average

Smallest Average Slowest Fastest
Remington Standard Velocity

0.78

0.53 1,037 1,027

1,049

Armscor 36-grain High Velocity Hollow Point

1.02

0.84 1,255 1,226

1,304

Winchester 40-grain Hyper Velocity Hollow Point

1.37

1.26 1,409 1,390

1,440

Federal 40-grain Copper-Plated Solid

0.82

0.56 1,207 1,195

1,220

CCI 40-grain Mini-Mag Copper-Plated Round Nose

1.24

0.8 1,193 1,177

1,243

Gemtech 42-grain Silencer Subsonic

1.00

0.88 1,018 998 1,028
Average

1.04

0.81 1,187 1,169

1,214

NOTES: Groups are measured in inches and are three five-shot groups at 50 yards. Velocity is measured in feet per second (fps) and from an average of five shots.

AMMUNITION WITH GEMTECH BARREL

Remington Standard Velocity

1.63

1.30 978 960

1,002

Armscor 36-grain High Velocity Hollow Point

1.69

1.28 1,193 1,165

1,225

Winchester 40-grain Hyper Velocity Hollow Point

2.11

1.59 1,325 1,290

1,357

Federal 40-grain Copper-Plated Solid

2.13

1.81 1,125 1,104

1,134

CCI 40-grain Mini-Mag Copper-Plated Round Nose

1.60

1.10 1,134 1,112

1,165

Gemtech 42-grain Silencer Subsonic

1.69

1.00 988 976

1,017

Average

1.81

1.35 1,124 1,101

1,150

NOTES: Groups are measured in inches and are three five-shot groups at 50 yards. Velocity is measured in feet per second (fps) and from an average of five shots.

 

COMPARATIVE SOUND VOLUME (dB)

With Standard Barrel

With Gemtech Barrel

Average

Slowest Fastest Average Slowest

Fastest

Remington Standard Velocity

114.4

113.5 114.9 102.4 101.8

102.8

Armscor 36-grain High Velocity Hollow Point

116.1

112.4 118.3 109.8 108.8

111.1

Winchester 40-grain Hyper Velocity Hollow Point

118.3

118.0 118.6 102.1 101.2 103.4

Federal 40-grain Copper-Plated Solid

114.8

108.3 117.1 109.3 107.7

110.0

CCI 40-grain Mini-Mag Copper-Plated Round Nose

116.5 

115.7 116.9 102.8 98.8

107.7

Gemtech 42-grain Silencer Subsonic

109.7 

103.3  114.4  100.3  97.7 

101.4

Average

115.0 

111.9  116.7  104.5  102.7 

106.1

NOTES: The ambient noise was 68.4 dB. Readings are measured from five consecutive shots.

 

RUGER TARGET TACTICAL

SPECIFICATIONS


CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle
ACTION TYPE: Semiauto
BARREL: 16.12-in., hammer-forged, bull barrel/MIST-22
MAGAZINE: 10-round, detachable rotary magazine
STOCK: Hogue black, overmolded
WEIGHT: 6.88 lbs.
OVERALL LENGTH: 34.5 in.
ACCESSORIES: Weaver rail
MSRP: $499

 

GEMTECH MIST-22

SPECIFICATIONS


(Integrally-Suppressed Barrel for Ruger 10/22)

CALIBER: .22 LR
MOUNT: Ruger 10/22 V Block
SOUND VOLUME: 102.3 dB (using subsonic ammunition)
LENGTH: 17 in. (full assembly); 11.75 in. (suppressor)
WEIGHT: 1.38 lbs.
DIAMETER: 0.92 in.
MATERIALS: Aluminum
FINISH: Black Isonite
RATED: Full auto
MSRP: $599

CONTACT INFORMATION

GEMTECH

RUGER

ARMSCOR

BURRIS

CCI AMMUNITION

FEDERAL

LIBERTY FIREARMS INSTITUTE

REMINGTON

WINCHESTER AMMUNITION

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.