Outside of Hollywood, the purpose of a firearm suppressor is to reduce the volume of a gunshot to below the threshold of causing immediate hearing damage. While chasing the lowest decibel ratings is the norm for newcomers to silencer ownership, experience eventually takes most shooters in a different direction: a quest for the smallest, lightest can capable of sub-140 dB at the shooter’s ear.
In the world of rimfire suppressors, Bowers Group made a splash with their Bitty, a can so small it fits in a standard .22 LR ammo box. Despite this, it’s hearing safe (sub-140 dB) on most .22 LR host guns and it’s even rated for use with 5.7×28, .22 WMR, .22 Hornet, .17 WSM, and more.
Getting some trigger time behind the itty bitty Bitty has been high on my list for quite some time now. Thankfully Silencer Shop was happy to loan me not only a Bitty but a handful of mini rimfire cans so I could play with and compare them all.
Now, that previous photo isn’t exactly “fair” as three of these suppressors are modular. One extremely modular. Seen above is the Bitty and Aeris in their only configuration with the Erector, Oculus, and Halcyon in their longest.
Additionally, the Q Erector (reviewed here) is capable of being run even shorter than seen in the rest of the photos here, with its end cap installed directly onto its blast baffle as above. I chose, however, to compare the Erector to the other shorty suppressors in its smallest configuration that’s still hearing safe on a pistol: two to three added baffles.
Same lineup (Bitty, Aeris, Erector, Oculus, Halcyon), but this time focused on the suppressors’ diameters. All of these manufacturers claim their suppressor is 1-inch in diameter except for Rugged’s 1.06-inch stat for their Oculus. Okay. I reckon AAC’s doing a little rounding.
The three modular suppressors are not modular to the same degree.
Q’s Erector is comprised of nine, individual aluminum baffles that can be added in any quantity to the blast baffle. The owner can therefore fine tune the length, weight, and suppression requirements for the job at hand.
Rugged’s Oculus is a two-piece design in about a 60/40 split. The larger part is always used as it contains the threaded mount for affixing the can to the host firearm. To run the suppressor in short config the user puts the end cap on this larger ‘half’ and doesn’t use the front module at all. To run the suppressor in long config the user attaches the shorter module to the longer module and puts the cap on the end of the shorter part.
AAC’s Halcyon works in exactly the same way as the Oculus, but adds the ability to switch mounts should you have a rimfire gun with something other than 1/2×28 threads.
As-measured weights on these suppressors were as follows:
• Bowers Bitty: 2.47 ounces
• Tactical Solutions Aeris: 3.07 ounces
• Q Erector: 0.85 ounces (shortest) and 2.75 ounces (longest)
• Rugged Oculus: 4.52 ounces (shortest) and 7.02 ounces (longest)
• Advanced Armament Halcyon: 4.59 ounces (shortest) and 6.1 ounces (longest)
The Q Erector is so light it isn’t even noticeable on the end of a pistol. Except for the 17-4 stainless blast baffle it’s all aluminum, and relatively thin aluminum at that.
While Q will apparently warranty it for use with any caliber that fits, an all-aluminum build traditionally limits the user to the lower-powered rimfire options. It also limits cleaning options, as aluminum typically should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic tank and won’t hold up to rough scrubbing and scraping like the stainless steel and/or titanium builds of the other suppressors in this roundup.
All of these suppressors are lightweight, though, compared to anything in the centerfire world. With the exception of the Oculus and Halcyon in their longest configurations, everything here is so lightweight that it really isn’t noticeable on a pistol or a rifle.
Blindfolded and limited to simply hefting the gun, I’d be extremely hard-pressed to tell a naked pistol from one with, for example, the short-configured Oculus on it. I mean, maybe if it were a tiny, polymer-framed pistol with an alloy slide rather than my CZ SP-01 with Kadet Adapter seen in these photos, but it’s a weak maybe.
So, in determining a favorite I found myself more concerned with how they look than how much a scale says they weigh.
Seen above is the Bitty again. It’s only 2.8 inches long.
TacSol’s Aeris. This little guy comes in at 3.0 inches in length.
Q Erector in its shortest [typically] hearing-safe configuration. It’s about 3 inches long with two baffles and the end cap added.
The Erector fully erected. A very impressive 7.6 inches.
Rugged Oculus in short mode. Just 3.25 inches long.
Oculus in full-length config. That’s 5.25 inches.
AAC Halcyon in short configuration: 3.4 inches long.
And, finally, the Halcyon in long mode: 5.2 inches.
I also tested all of these suppressors in every configuration on a rifle — my CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready — but didn’t photograph it all.
On the range, with every suppressor in its short mode (where applicable) and the Erector in its +2 baffles mode, identifying the quietest one of the bunch was a toss-up for me and my shooting buddy. It ultimately came down to calling it a wash between the Rugged Oculus and AAC Halcyon. The Erector with a third baffle added put it into consideration but it still felt slightly louder or, perhaps, just slightly higher-pitched so it seemed a skosh louder.
This isn’t to say the itty guys were far behind, because they weren’t! On the pistol both the Bitty and Aeris were only ever-so-slightly less comfortable to the ears than the other suppressors in their short modes. And again that could be tone as much as actual decibels. On the rifle, with subsonic ammo it was all so quiet it didn’t matter and with supers the story was the same as everything mentioned above.
Now, none of these (in short config) are what you’d call “quiet” on a .22 LR pistol. They’re all rated to do the job of not leaving you with hearing damage, but the noise isn’t necessarily comfortable in all environments and to all people.
For that — for a noise level that anyone would say “yes, that’s quiet” and practically nobody would feel any level of discomfort — from a pistol you’ll have to run the modular suppressors in their long configurations (5+ baffles added to the Erector).
As the smallest thing going that’s hearing safe without requiring wipes or being run wet, the Bitty is awesome and super cool. It’s amazing that it’s also rated for up to 5.7×28. But other suppressors in this roundup check those dB reduction and use ratings, too, while offering meaningful modularity.
Though I know everyone expects and loves when comparison reviews end with “they’re all winners” and “now you have the info to choose what’s best for you,” I’m just going to come right out and say I prefer the Rugged Oculus here.
Not only did it sound the best, but it looks fantastic, it’s rated and legit warrantied for everything you could do to it, and it offers the kind of modularity that makes sense: a short mode that meets hearing-safe requirements and still sounds good, and a long mode that’s Hollywood quiet.
Despite opening this article with a generality that I still [generally] agree with — experience leads suppressor purchasers towards the shortest and lightest option that meets hearing-safe levels and the required durability level — I didn’t end up liking the Bitty the best. Rugged’s offering just provides more than enough additional utility that I think it’s well worth it, and, ultimately, the weight difference wasn’t a practical consideration. Yeah, the maths say it’s 80-percent heavier but, sheesh, that’s only two ounces and it simply didn’t matter.
A big thanks to Silencer Shop for loaning me these suppressors so I could test them back-to-back and provide my input to y’all. Nobody in the industry makes suppressor purchasing or ownership easier than Silencer Shop! Give them a call or check the resources on their website if you have questions.