Gear Review: Silencerco Sparrow is worth the wait (VIDEO)

First, a bit of background on this whole process: One of the strangest parts of the NFA Paperwork required for a silencer is the form that asks for you to certify your citizenship.  After providing fingerprints and photographs, there is a separate form that asks if you are citizen.  You fill it out.  And you sign it.  This confused me, obviously.  I’m easily confused.  I filled it out and had someone else sign it.  Why would I be allowed to attest to my own citizenship, and then be asked to sign it myself?

So I screwed that form up.  I doubt I was the first.  The ATF generously highlighted my errors and sent the paperwork back to me.  In all, with the delay, it took close to eight months for the application to clear.   A bit longer than I’d expected, but not as bad as it could be, I guess.

But let’s get to the review

The Silencerco Sparrow makes shooting much more convenient.

The silencer is easy enough to explain.  Inside a hollow tube, baffles deflect the sound waves.  As the bullet travels through the tube, and through the baffles, the sound waves are bouncing around inside.  When the bullet exits the can, the sound waves that follow have been dampened.

The art of the silencer is much more complicated.  The noise reduction is determined by the spacing of the baffles, their angles, the diameter of the hole for the bullet (big enough to ensure the bullet doesn’t strike the baffle, yet small enough to contain the noise).

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And rimfire rounds are notoriously dirty.  And lead bullets, skating through rifled barrels, will spit off little bits of molten lead as they exit the barrel.  This crapola gets caught up inside the silencer and has to be cleaned out regularly, or it can fill up the tube.  Or worse.  The lead can act like solder, and glue the baffles in place inside the tube, making it nearly impossible to take apart to clean.

The Sparrow adds another dimension. It baffles fit inside stainless steel liners that slide inside the tube.  No matter how dirty the can gets, it comes apart easily.

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The Sparrow is remarkably small.  At 5-inches long and just over an inch wide, the can weighs just six ounces.  The extra length adds to the end of a pistol in a noticeable way, altering balance a bit.  But on a rifle, like the Beretta ARX 160 .22, it isn’t even remotely noticeable.  And it will work with multiple small calibers: .22 LR, .22 Short, .22 Magnum, .17 HMR, 5.7×28 FN, and .22 WMR.

On the Browning Buckmark, the extra length feels much more cinematic.  Every gesture with the gun takes on just a bit more significance, like a cigarette in one of those long, thin holders.

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Shooting the Sparrow

And it kills the sound.  I’m still amazed by how effective something this small can be.  With high-velocity rounds, the sound is a pronounced crack.  While you can shoot high-velocity .22 LR without ear protection, it will be loud.  Sub-sonic rounds are really effective.  The quiet ammo (running just over 700 fps) works well, too, but won’t cycle the action on automatics.

The noise is more pronounced on pistols than on rifles.  The ARX 160, with subsonic ammo, was quiet enough that you could hear the bolt cycle.  That was the loudest sound.

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One of the nicest aspects of the Sparrow is its low profile.  The diameter of the tube is small enough that most guns won’t require any modification of the sights.  Most guns that come with threaded barrels have higher sights standard, so it isn’t much to worry about.

I don’t see any appreciable difference in point of impact with the silencer.  The Buckmark and ARX are both highly capable guns, and the Sparrow doesn’t change that one bit.

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For those who want to carry the Sparrow, it comes with a nice MOLLE case.  You’ll need to keep the paperwork with it, so keep that in mind.  That is a hassle, but we do what we must.  If you want a silencer, you will have to jump through all of the hoops to buy one, make it legal, and keep it legal.

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The Sparrow sells for $499, or a bit less.  You will have to work with an FFL who is licensed to handle NFA items.  They’re easy enough to find in most cities.  Many of them will be Silencerco dealers, and may have cans in stock.  If not, you have to get one sent to your dealer.  Before you can begin the paperwork, you’ll need the serial number.

That means you will likely pay for the silencer long before you’ll ever get to use it, as it will stay with the FFL until your paperwork clears and all of the loose ends gets tied up.  But it is worth it.