MAE Phantom .22LR fully suppressed rifle.
Shortening a .22LR is no problem and is actually beneficial, but there is another way of achieving a handy and low-noise rimfire rifle.
The alternative is to go down the fully suppressed rifle route.
Full suppression is usually defined as the whole barrel being covered by an external shroud with internal baffles.
It also incorporates some form of barrel porting to reduce the muzzle velocity and achieve maximum noise level reductions. I use an original Sako SSR rimfire that has this system.
It is superbly quiet. MAE (formerly PES moderators) from New Zealand has being producing a similar rifle for years but it is usually based around the Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rimfire popular with our Kiwi friends.
JMS Arms sent me a new bolt-action version, called the Phantom, that will certainly prove popular here in Britain.
It is the quietest and shortest .22 I have ever shot.
Barrel and sound moderator
Wisely, MAE has chosen to use a CZ rimfire as the basis for the Phantom. The CZ has a reputation not only for accuracy but also the mini Mauser action has a proven track record for reliable performance.
If you factor into this the cost of the donor rifle and the conversion work, £595 seems a realistic price for the Phantom. The stock is unchanged with only the barrel channel being opened up to accommodate the suppressor shroud.
The action, too, is untouched but is refinished in matt black to complement the suppressor?s finish. I have reviewed the CZ .22 rifles before so I will concentrate on the moderator, which is where the work is.
The barrel is shortened to just over 12in with a new crown and recessed muzzle forming a step, where the first in a series of seven baffles is located.
Each baffle is made from stainless steel and forms a simple yet effective chamber within the barrel shroud. The shroud is threaded at both ends and is 0.90in in diameter, slipping over the barrel, which has been re-profiled and threaded at the receiver end to secure the shroud.
There is a series of ports towards the receiver end of the barrel that vent the expanding combustion gases directly into the enclosed rear chamber of the shroud.
The remaining gases are released from the muzzle and then through the seven baffles, which extend 4.25in in front of the muzzle before exiting the end cap.
At this stage there is little energy left and the resulting meagre report is nearly non-existent. It is an incredibly efficient design, which allows maximum noise reduction with an overall length of only 34in.
All testing for velocity and accuracy was conducted where the average temperature was 2°C above freezing. The speed of sound decreases as the temperature drops. Therefore, one of the readings for the Lapua Hollow Point (1,065fps) was supersonic in these conditions.
For comparison, I shot five Eley subsonics from a 22in Sako Quad barrel and the average figure was 1,037fps. This indicated a drop in velocity with the Eley ammunition and the MAE fully suppressed system.
The drop was from 1,037fps to 866fps and was achieved by the porting arrangement. All the standard subsonic ammunition dropped in velocity from more than 1,000fps to 883fps, 889fps and 848fps for the Winchester, CCI and Lapua respectively.
At these velocities the muzzle report is so suppressed as to be insignificant and is quieter than any muzzle-suppressed rimfire. This is the essence of the design. However, with this comes a foible. If the velocity drop is too much you will find that at around 850fps or less the heavier 40-grain bullets become less stable and can result in a larger variation.
This was seen particularly in the test targets where five-shot groups from the Eley, Winchester, CCI and Lapua subsonics showed a small vertical stringing. It is of no real consequence as the accuracy was superb from all four subsonics tested.
The Eley consistently produced groups of only 0.44in at 30 yards ? one enlarged elongated hole. But this is the reason why I tested some Lapua Hollow Point ammunition, as at 1,250fps it has a higher initial velocity than the subsonic brand. When shot in the Phantom its velocity was reduced by 214fps to 1,036fps.
This has some advantages over standard subsonic loads. It is still subsonic but the rifle is producing velocities that normal subsonic ammunition achieves without the ported barrel, thus you have more energy on tap. It still achieves a spectacularly quiet suppressed muzzle report.
Moreover, because the ammunition is shooting at just below the subsonic/supersonic threshold, the velocity spread is diminished and thus accuracy improves.
The Lapua Hollow Point shot consistent and unbelievable 0.26in groups time and time again with all shots touching in a concentric circle.
This is my choice of ammunition for the MAE, as it is for my own Sako SSR suppressed rifle.
To show the velocity change effected by the system I shot some CCI CB longs, which is low velocity ammunition. It shot at an average 536fps velocity from a 29-grain bullet to achieve 18.5ft/lb energy.
That is FAC-rated airgun performance and perfect for very short-range vermin control. Noise levels with the CBs was non-existent only a hiss, really.
JMS Arms has a test range so skeptics can try before they buy. You will not be disappointed.
I also shot some hyper-velocity Stingers that usually shoot at more than 1,500fps from standard barrels. They averaged 1,346fps from the Phantom. Their accuracy was average. I cannot, however, see a need to shoot this style of ammunition.
The advantages of a fully suppressed system are obvious, not only from a noise level point but also for its effect on the overall length of the rifle.
The MAE Phantom is the quietest rimfire you will ever shoot. Being a bolt action it is totally reliable and, having a CZ action, spare magazines are cheap and available in five and 10 shots.
It is hard to find fault with it.
The only proviso is that it is necessary to clean it regularly to remove any dirt and moisture from the barrel shroud. However that?s standard practice for all moderators.
Ideal for pest controllers, farmers, gamekeepers, forestry contractors or sportsmen, the MAE Phantom can be packed away conveniently and it is short enough not to be a problem if lamping from a vehicle or on foot in the woods.
When you consider a CZ .22LR American is priced at approximately £300 and the Phantom costs only £595 proofed and including the barrel, moderator and stock, it is excellent value for money.
Contact JMS Arms on 01444 400126 or 07771 962121