By Mark Houser
I’m not a gear review guy, but I felt compelled to write this because I’m certain many of you are in the same place I was a few months ago: You want to buy a suppressor, but you haven’t pulled the trigger yet. You, quite fairly, find the legal process confusing, intimidating, invasive, or, at the very least, annoying.
Setting all that aside, you’re also unsure about which suppressor you want — and, considering the $200 you’ll be spending on the tax stamp alone, you really don’t want to choose poorly. It’s not as if you can simply drive down to the local gun store and exchange your silencer for a different one if you’re unhappy with your original purchase.
I’d hate for anyone to go through the hassle and expense of purchasing a silencer only to be disappointed at the end of a months-long Form 4 wait. Conversely, I don’t want anyone to delay a suppressor purchase because of uncertainty. You shouldn’t assume that what’s legal today will continue to be legal indefinitely — get your can, while you can!
If you want a silencer expert’s review of Advanced Armament Corporation’s Aviator 2, you should look elsewhere — that’s not me. However, if you’re wondering whether someone like you would be satisfied with an Aviator 2, read on.
The Aviator 2 is a relatively large .22 caliber silencer, with a length of 6.4 inches. However, thanks to its predominantly aluminum construction, it’s extremely lightweight, coming in at only four ounces. This weight is, for all practical purposes, totally unnoticeable, even on a small pistol.
With a diameter of only one inch, it’s also quite slim. I was able to use the standard-height sights of my M&P 22 Compact without issue.
The suppressor comes with a nylon belt pouch, a disassembly tool, and a manual. All are perfectly adequate for their respective purposes.
Ease of Use
The suppressor screws directly onto your firearm’s barrel with standard 1/2″ x 28 threading. Please note that the Aviator 2 is for .22 LR firearms only. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s compatible with, say, a .22 WMR rifle or an AR-15 simply because the threading fits — it’s not built to handle anything but .22 LR rimfire ammunition. You can see an Aviator 2 destroyed by a 5.56mm rifle here.
Such simple direct-thread attachment makes it easy to swap the suppressor between your various threaded-barrel .22s. A few times, I noticed slight loosening of the can. I only recall this happening with my M&P 22 Compact, and not with my other test firearm, a T/CR22 rifle. I suspect this was operator error (a failure on my part to screw the can down tightly enough). In any case, it wasn’t a big deal — I’d simply check to confirm that the suppressor was still screwed tightly against the barrel after every third or fourth magazine.
Functionally, the suppressor didn’t meaningfully change anything about the operation of either firearm on which I used it. All suppressors increase back pressure and fouling, and the Aviator 2 was certainly no exception in that respect.
My guns were visibly dirtier for having used the can. However, after a few hundred rounds, neither firearm had been sufficiently fouled to compromise its reliability.
The Aviator 2 offers outstanding noise reduction. While some may view the length of the Aviator 2 as excessive, that length undoubtedly is a big part of the can’s effectiveness. Holding other dimensions constant, more length equals more volume, which means more room for baffles and more space into which the propellant gases can expand. The Aviator 2 is listed with an impressive decibel reduction of 41dB.
With subsonic ammo (and most .22 ammo will be subsonic when coming out of a relatively short-barreled pistol like my M&P Compact), I perceived the ring of my steel target to be louder than the shot itself. The shot was reduced to merely a soft “pop,” far below the threshold of hearing damage. It reminded me of shooting a pellet gun. You can see and hear me fire a few shots here.
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Purchasers of silencers are often cautioned against expecting too much sound reduction. Pedants sometimes insist that these devices are “suppressors, not silencers, because they don’t truly silence guns — they merely suppress them.” There’s some truth to that — a suppressed 5.56mm AR-platform rifle, with typical NATO ammo, will still be loud enough to necessitate hearing protection.
But that point can be overstated. A .22 caliber firearm, with subsonic ammunition, equipped with an Aviator 2, is very quiet. You won’t be disappointed with the sound reduction performance, even if your expectations are very high.
A final note on performance: any point of impact shift was trivial, and shot-to-shot consistency was excellent. With the suppressor equipped on my T/CR22, I was able to shoot single-hole groups at 25 yards.
Disassembly and Cleaning
Rimfire .22 cans needs to be cleaned periodically — aside from the process of acquiring a suppressor in the first place, this must be the most unpleasant part of owning one. AAC recommends cleaning the Aviator 2 after every 500 rounds (or every 1,000 rounds, if you invest in a special sold-separately disassembly tool).
Disassembly is simple, but not necessarily easy. After unscrewing the end cap, you will likely need a dowel or similar tool to push the baffles out of the tube. Even after only 200 –300 rounds, some of nine baffles were stubbornly stuck. And while it may be more my perception than reality, the light weight of the aluminum lends a sense of fragility to the suppressor — I was anxious about applying too much force.
Once the suppressor has been broken down into its separate components, cleaning them is fairly straightforward. The manual recommends solvent and a plastic brush (I used a toothbrush). That works well, but cleaning each of the separate components is nonetheless is a tedious, time-consuming process. The Aviator 2’s many baffles contribute to its excellent performance, but each baffle requires individual attention when cleaning the suppressor.
After cleaning, the baffles need to be carefully stacked. Then, the tube is dropped over the stack. Finally, the tube is flipped over and the end cap is screwed back into the tube. Again, this process is simple, but not exactly easy. It takes care to ensure that the baffles do not become misaligned at any point.
This sort of cleaning process may be par for the course for rimfire silencers. Having said that, it’s the only aspect of the Aviator 2 that I found somewhat disappointing. Simple is good, but simple and easy would be better.
All in all, I’m thrilled with the Aviator 2. As silencers go, it’s inexpensive, yet its performance has greatly exceeded my expectations. Using it is simple, intuitive, and requires no real changes to the way that you use your firearms. (Unless you’re the guy that never cleans his guns — you’re going to have to start doing that.)
The Aviator 2 makes the experience of shooting not only more pleasant, but safer as well: the risk of hearing damage reduced, and quieter guns also make communication with other shooters easier. That’s a quality that I especially appreciate as an instructor. I look forward to getting more suppressors that I can enjoy with my centerfire guns, but the Aviator 2 definitely satisfied my need for a dedicated .22 LR silencer.
This article was originally published at marklivesthings.medium.com and is reprinted here with permission.