Since Dr. John Mathews founded the company in 1979, SureFireâ€™s (then Laser Products) corporate focus has been on police and military end users with an ever-growing segment of switched-on civilian clients. Over the years, some products and product lines have moved in the direction of the recreational shooter or self-defense practitioner, but for the most part, SureFire has directed their resources and products toward the professional end user. This dedication to the armed professional has also carried over to its suppressor line. Heavily used in the War on Terror, there was the impression that SureFire cans were scarce on the civilian side. That wasnâ€™t technically true, but sometimes fighting perception is a pretty tough battle.
SureFire has recently set its eyes on the sporting side of the suppressor market. The sporting line of suppressors is called the SF Ryder line, and the first offering, the SF Ryder 22-A, should be hitting store shelves right around the time you read this. The SF Ryder 9, SF Ryder 45 and SF Ryder 40 are expected to follow sometime in the next year or so. Understanding that there have been past issues with expected ship dates by an enthusiastic consumer base, SureFire has already manufactured several thousand of the SF Ryder 22-Aâ€™s and strategically partnered with several distributors across the country to ensure that these rimfire suppressors will be readily available when launched.
At less than 5.4 inches long and weighing a scant 3.1 ounces, the SF Ryder 22-A has had the benefit of prolonged development and T&E processes. Seen as a prototype back in 2011, the SF Ryder 22-A has been continuously refined throughout its development, and several key components barely resemble earlier incarnations. The baffle stack, for instance, has been completely redesigned and now consists of five separate baffles that are clearly numbered and fit together snugly, utilizing the proprietary (and patented) SureFire â€śpig noseâ€ť baffles and an indexing tab interface. The aluminum baffle stack is also Mil-Spec Type 3 anodized with a red tint, which not only hardens the surface of the aluminum but also serves as a visual indicator for cleaning.
After disassembly, simply scrub until you see red, then you know itâ€™s good to go. If youâ€™ve done much shooting with a .22-caliber suppressor, you know that the carbon and lead buildup can be a nightmare, sometimes serving to fuse the pieces together and requiring a mallet and elbow grease to disassemble. The SF Ryder is shipped with a disassembly tool, which fits into the base of the suppressor and holds everything in place, allowing the user to thread a supplied wrench into the end cap and apply the necessary torque to disassemble the can.
The tube itself has been milled with a series of flats, imparting a hexagonal shape to the middle portion of the tube. This gives the SF Ryder line a very distinct profile while also allowing the user to easily grasp the tube for assembly/disassembly. This process may sound somewhat complicated, but in application, it is really easy. It also allows the user to disassemble the SF Ryder even when it goes several thousand rounds over the recommended maintenance schedule â€¦ not that I would ever do that, except in the name of performance testing. I actually did pull the can apart and give it a decent cleaning at about 2,000 rounds.
The end cap needed very little extra torque to remove â€” an increase of maybe 10 percent more force over what the perfectly clean suppressor that I had as a comparison needed. Once the can was apart, the baffle stack came apart easily, and I was able to brush off most of the carbon and lead of each baffle and then reassemble the can in fairly short order. The large numbers and index tabs make reassembly both Marine- and policeman-proof, and Iâ€™m happy to say that the suppressor worked as it was supposed to after I was done cleaning it.
For shooters who own or have had the opportunity to run .22-caliber rifles and pistols with cans attached, you can appreciate the fun factor when shooting rimfires suppressed. If you havenâ€™t, you are truly missing out on one of the most family-friendly activities involving firearms.
Accuracy testing was actually difficult, not because the guns and suppressor werenâ€™t up to the task, but rather because I was having so much fun that my trigger finger wasnâ€™t up to the task. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed like I couldnâ€™t just slow down. As soon as the front sight (or red dot) got anywhere on the target, that trigger was getting drawn. Thanks to those â€śpig noseâ€ť baffles, the 117- to 118-decibel rating makes it so quiet to shoot that ear protection isnâ€™t necessary and you can hear the little .22-caliber slugs smacking into the targets.
Personally and professionally, I spend so much time with my work guns and gear that itâ€™s easy to forget why I fell in love with the shooting sports in the first place. I was able to turn in some decent groups with a Walther P22, the CMMG .22 AR platform and a really cool Zev Industries .22-caliber Glock conversion. Groups were serviceable enough to show that the SF Ryder had no measurable effect on either group size or group location as compared with its original configuration.The groups with and without the Ryder ended up overlaying each other regardless of which gun I used.
I was a recent guest at the SureFire super-secret ninja range in California. There I was able to actually learn how engineers record and measure sound to ensure consistency from shot to shot as well as from suppressor to suppressor. Without giving too much away in regard to Mil-Standard testing, I was able to â€śstep upâ€ť into the shooting platform that was built to the specifications of a government customer and shoot multiple firearms with and without the SF Ryder attached. An acoustic engineer (yes, itâ€™s a real job) arranged an array of microphones around me and went about monitoring the strength of the sounds around me while recording every shot. After a string of rounds were fired from each firearm type, I was able to see the acoustic profile of each shot on a computer at the engineerâ€™s station. The results were impressively consistent from shot to shot. In fact, to my uneducated eye, the comparisons on the display appeared identical.
Suggested retail on the SF Ryder 22-A is south of $500, with actual street prices being a bit lower than that. SureFire has priced the unit to be competitive in this growing segment. Based on the amount of research SureFire has invested, as well as the applied technology and materials used, the SF Ryder 22-A represents a tremendous value. If you live in a free state that allows suppressors, I highly recommend this unit. Itâ€™s light, quiet, affordable and, most of all, fun.