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Savage MKII Mako, Tac 65, and Aguila Subsonic .22lr

Category : Rifles, Shooting Gear Review, Tactical

A while back I decided that a suppressed .22lr would be a fun addition to my collection.  Not being one to settle for the bare minimums, I decided to build a well thought out package that would be as quiet as possible, pleasing to the eye,  and accurate as well.  There are a pile of .22 rifle and pistol makers, a much smaller pile of .22lr suppressor makers, and just a few producers of subsonic .22 ammo.

For the rifle, I had to choose from a bolt action or semi automatic.  As being quiet as possible is a factor in my decision making, I choose to buy a bolt action.  Semi automatic .22’s are plenty accurate, but are not nearly as quiet due to the excessive noise that the bolt creates while cycling.  This reduced the available number of rifles to choose from considerably, as bolt action .22’s are not as popular as semi auto’s and there is a bare selection available.  Since I wanted a good looking rifle when I was finished (yes, I have been accused of being a “mall ninja” from time to time)  I was looking for the most wildly designed rifle that would catch the eye.  I searched Remington offerings, CZ, Marlin, Ruger, and Savage.  Savage makes several models of the Mark II with the accutrigger, of which I am a big fan.  After reviewing all the rifles that I found at Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and local smaller gunshops, I decided on a Savage Mark II with bull barrel,  accutrigger and polymer stock.  As I was filling out the form 4473 and completing my purchase, the proprietor mentioned the new Savage model that just came out, he had one delivered that morning.  He seemed eager to talk about it, so I watched as he opened the shipping box and pulled it out.  As soon as it cleared the cardboard, I was stunned.  Now THIS is what I have been looking for!  It was a Savage MAKO, which is a super fancy Mark II with heavy barrel, accutrigger, and a very good looking laminated thumbhole stock with sharktooth looking cutout’s.  I quickly forgot the rifle I was purchasing, and purchased this new MAKO instead.  At $360, it was much more expensive, but this mall ninja was able to quickly justify the additional expense.  Time to find a suppressor.

My experience with suppressors so far consisted of a TMSA type 5 multi caliber 22-308 stainless steel unit that weighs a couple pounds, and a GemTech SOS45 .45 acp suppressor.  The package that I wanted to build would need be useable in the field, so I decided that I would get a dedicated .22 suppressor that was small and lightweight.  My multi caliber suppressor works very well, but would make for a very front heavy rifle, hard to shoot  offhand.  The only class 3 gun shop in my area is Impact Guns in Boise, Idaho.  They were having a sale on Tactical Innovations Tac65 suppressors ($199), that was a quick and easy decision.  Too bad the NFA branch of the BATF is not as quick at making decisions. What took me 20 minutes to purchase also took me 5 weeks to get approval from the BATF for possession of this suppressor.

For a scope, I mounted an older 4-16 Eagle Eye that has been switched to more guns than John McCain has switched political paradigms.  As the scope is fairly generic, it and the Republicrat’s are not being reviewed in this article.

While waiting for the NFA approval for the suppressor to arrive, I spent some time testing out .22 LR subsonic ammunition.  Most .22LR ammo is supersonic coming out of a rifle length barrel, which somewhat negates the whole reason to have a suppressor.  Shopping for this subsonic ammo was a chore- I searched all gun shops in the Boise area and was only able to come up with 2 different types.  The two types available were Remington and Aguila.  I bought several boxes of each and tested them for accuracy.  The first was Remington.  The Remington subsonic was a complete disappointment.  I could tell right away that the consistency was not there, even before I checked the targets.  There was a big difference in sound between shots. Some were loud, some were quiet. One even plopped out and hit the dirt in front of the target.  Average shot groups at 50 yards were about 8 inches, with the occasional flyer that opened it up to a foot. Previously testing this rifle, I know that it will shoot less than 1 inch groups at the same range with good factory high velocity ammo. Next (and last) was the Aguila SuperExtra subsonic. Right away, I could notice the difference. Each shot sounded the same.  After getting it sighted in, the consistency really became apparent. At the same range, this ammo produced groups that averaged about 2 inches, with no flyers.  Searching around the internet for the best deals, I bought several bricks of this ammo.

The call from Impact Guns came on a Saturday afternoon.  My approval paperwork was in!  It was just a couple hours until Impact closes, and I live about 70 minutes from the store.  The good news was that I had plenty of time to get there.  The bad news was that I had family visiting from out of state. If I didn’t go now, I would have to wait until Monday to pick up the suppressor.  “Who wants to go out to dinner in Boise? My treat!”  I said, feeling clever.  Driving to dinner, I made a small stop at this gun shop where I had this “part on order” for a while.  I could not tell you what the dinner conversation consisted of.

After arriving home late that night, and we were all settled into the couches in my living room, I excused myself so I could go outside and do my chores.  Straight to the gun room I went, (in my shop) nearly shaking with anticipation and excitement.  Those of you that have a suppressor of your own know what I am talking about, that moment when you screw it on and shoot it for the first time….

I loaded the first clip, went behind the shop (I live in the remote Idaho desert) and pulled the trigger for the first time.  Nothing happened; I heard the firing pin fall, but no gunshot.  I must have forgotten to chamber a round.  I retracted the bolt and was surprised to see an empty case tumble to the ground. “Oh… wow!”  I fired the rest of the clip in awe.  Before bed, I thought it would be a good idea to go out and “check and make sure” I turned off all the lights in the shop. Heh..heh..

As far as practical usefulness, I use this rifle to hunt ground squirrel’s (Sage rat’s). I get a lot more shooting in, now the little buggers rarely duck their head when I shoot.  They don’t hear a gunshot so they don’t sense danger.  This adds a whole new element to the shooting world for me.

As a side note, I have since purchased a Ruger 22/45 .22LR semi auto pistol.  I then purchased a Tactical Solutions threaded barrel for it.  While it is very quiet with the suppressor attached, the real bonus to this pistol is that most all .22LR ammo is subsonic in a short pistol barrel.  This makes it very cheap to shoot as opposed to buying specialty Aquila ammo for the rifle.

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