It’s been almost two years since I moved back to Washington from an 11-year hiatus in California. The instant 10% “raise” due to the lack of a state income tax was great, but the real moving present to myself was a suppressor. It took me a couple months to get everything squared away here, then another 10 to actually take possession of my new toy once I wrote that $200 check to the ATF. It’s no exaggeration to say that I then spent the last eight months looking for a .22 LR load that will reliably cycle the action of a semi-automatic rifle and remain subsonic. Despite the scarcity of .22LR these days, I was able to find and test a handful of loads…and none of them worked. They were either too weak to cycle the action, too non-standard to cycle the action, or powerful enough to cycle but therefore reliably supersonic. Enter American Eagle’s “Suppressor” ammo . . .
My LGS actually got a ridiculous amount of the .22 LR in and a handful of the other calibers as well. I snagged a brick of the .22, with fingers crossed that it would actually run (I’m also the proud owner of a full brick of Aguila SSS, Sniper Subsonic, that my bolt gun will have to enjoy all on its own), and a box of the 124 grain 9mm.
Before we get to the shooting results, let’s recap the selling points of this ammunition:
- Subsonic. The crack made by a bullet breaking the sound barrier is actually really loud. When you have a good, silenced setup, it just ruins everything. I kid you not, it’s the difference between sounding like a staple gun and sending a loud sonic boom whip crack noise echoing along the bullet’s path as it flies downrange. This .22 LR is supposed to remain subsonic even out of a 16″ barrel. Basically any bulk .22 has been reliably subsonic from a pistol for me, but all of it was supersonic from a rifle.
- Clean, fast-burning propellants. Less fouling in your silencer. Less blowback. Possibly less noise. Federal did say that all of these loadings are using unique propellant blends. (not Unique, just unique)
- Total metal jacket (TMJ) bullets in centerfire and fully copper plated in rimfire. Less lead fouling, residue, and vapor.
A couple of weeks ago Jim Barrett reviewed the .45 ACP offering in this product line. I must agree that, in .45, it’s at least partially a marketing ploy as standard .45 is always subsonic anyway. The remaining question is how cleanly this stuff actually burns compared to other offerings, and how much you may be willing to pay for that.
It’s interesting to see a 124 grain bullet in a 9mm subsonic offering. Subsonic nine is usually the domain of 147 grain pills. In fact, American Eagle’s standard 124 gr loads run right around the speed of sound and would be reliably supersonic out of my CZ SP-01 (especially w/ the suppressor, which adds about 2% to the velocity). Despite a bit of worry that lighter powder charges here might lead to cycling issues, I experienced none. The ammo fed, fired, and ejected (with proper authority) every time. It was subsonic. It was quiet. No complaints.
That said, it runs a few bucks more per box than American Eagle’s standard (red box) 147 grain rounds which, as far as I can tell, is just as quiet and has worked great for me in the past. I’d have to shoot a whole lot of both to see if this Suppressor branded stuff is cleaner. I’m sorry to say I can’t really afford that these days. I also have no complaints about fouling with the normal AE, though. In the 9mm loading I’m also leaning towards Jim’s .45 ACP conclusion, which is shoot standard subsonic ammo without the additional marketing and save yourself some cash.
But – and this is a really big but – I’m sold on the .22 LR. I have finally found a round that runs flawlessly in my semi-automatic rifle (and pistol) and remains subsonic. I’m pretty tame about it in the video above, but the truth is that I’m extremely excited about this. I’m also quite interested to see if the clean-burning claims are true. Especially in .22 LR, as it is normally so freakin’ dirty. I greatly prefer copper-plated bullets like these as well — I hate the lead smears on my fingers from loading your typical waxed lead rounds.
The overall quality of this Suppressor ammo also seems to be higher than most other Federal- and American Eagle-branded bulk .22 I’m used to. I have yet to find any wiggly bullets that will wobble in the case or spin around freely. These seem to be crimped or otherwise held in place very well. They all look externally consistent.
Since that initial outing proved this ammunition runs for me, a trek to the woods was in order to put it over the chronograph and up the round count a bit:
Okay, wow. This is some of the more consistent .22 LR I’ve shot. The box claims 970 fps and my 15-shot average was 971.1. Standard deviation of only 10.6 fps. It runs reliably, it’s safely subsonic, and it seems to be loaded with some degree of care. Somehow I forgot to put the rifle in a rest and verify the accuracy, though. My offhand plinking all went according to aim, but I’ll have to add an update to this later with a couple of 5-shot group tests.
To hedge the above praise just a bit, there was one failure — a dud primer. I shot 100 rounds the first time out and found one round with no primer. It got two solid strikes with deep dents in different places on the rim, but was a no go. This is definitely far from abnormal in the .22 LR world, but it still isn’t ideal. Now I’m 250 rounds in and it’s still one dud primer. I’ll keep a mental tally running, and I certainly do have more of this stuff to play with now!
MidwayUSA’s price on a brick (that’s 500 rnds) of American Eagle Suppressor .22 LR is $28.49. More than we were paying two years ago, but in-line with today’s prices. I feel like it’s hovering somewhere between “bulk” and “premium” (e.g. CCI Mini-Mag) in quality and that the pricing is fair for this offering in this market.
.22 LR: Strong “buy” rating. If it ran my extremely dirty and gunked up Remington 597 reliably, I will assume (no promises!) that it’s going to run your 10/22, S&W M&P 15-22, Mossberg, Savage, etc. also.
9×19: Meh. Perfectly good stuff, but costs more than other perfectly good stuff.
Last weekend, for a TTAG exclusive that will run this week, I tested out a brand new cleaning product to the market ahead of the company’s press release. Thankfully I have a dirty can and a few very dirty firearms to test it on. Now that I have a sparkly clean can I can run a couple hundred rounds of this Suppressor .22 LR through it and make an educated assessment of just how clean it actually is compared to your standard bulk stuff, of which I’ve shot enough to have a mental baseline of what to expect. That’ll have to come in an update later, along with the accuracy testing.
Typical dealer prices are more like $35 (brick of .22), $18 (9mm), $30 (.45), $25 (.300 BLK, 20 rnds).