Silencer Shop Authority: Rugged Suppressors Oculus 22 Review
If there’s a crowded portion of the suppressor market, it’s undoubtedly the rimfire/.22 caliber segment. Often viewed as “gateway drugs” to the world of quieter shooting, .22 silencers offer the least bang for the buck (no, literally the least noise) and they’re also often cheaper than centerfire suppressors. Thanks to these factors, there are dozens of competitive options out there; yet innovative companies impressively keep coming up with ways to bring people back for more rimfire goodness, usually by squeezing out incremental performance boosts, offering more features/adaptability, or by making cans that are lighter than most of us would think possible. All in all, every silencer manufacturer is expected to have a .22 suppressor (or three, I’m looking at you, AAC) in their lineup.
With all of that in mind, Rugged Suppressors’ near two-year absence from the rimfire segment was always conspicuous. Yes, they’re a relatively new name, but the folks behind the brand surely aren’t. After all, Rugged’s Henry Graham is often credited with popular designs like SilencerCo/SWR’s Spectre and Warlock suppressors so he clearly knows how to build a top-performing .22 suppressor. Still, the company spent most of its first two years building out its rifle and pistol offerings – which wasn’t necessarily a bad idea given the high quality of their past releases.
Rugged’s Oculus 22 was the company’s New Year’s baby of sorts. It’s Rugged’s first take on a .22 silencer and is already one of the most popular options on the market. Does it live up to the hype? Thanks to the folks at Silencer Shop, I had the chance to take a closer look.
You know those little model tents that you sometimes see in camping and outdoors stores – the ones that are supposed to serve as representative examples of the full-size ones that are for sale? The Oculus is kind of like those. It isn’t literally a mini Obsidian, but it’s darn close and it definitely looks the part. At just a hair over 5.25” long, the Oculus is a lot shorter than the 8.75” Obsidian. Removing the ADAPT module at the front of the can brings it to an absolutely tiny 3.25”. The shortened Oculus is so small that it compares to some .30 caliber brakes and flash hiders. For comparison’s sake, it’s roughly the same size as the booster on my Zastava M92 and the AK-74 muzzle brake on my Arsenal SLR-104.
The adaptability of the Oculus is incredible, but the can does have what I consider to be a significant downside: it’s heavy. The full configuration is 7.1 ounces, which may be second only to the Bowers USS in terms of .22 caliber heavyweights. Even shortened it’s still 4.5 ounces. No one can earnestly say that the Oculus is a light suppressor. It isn’t all that noticeable in the short configuration and on a rifle, but the long format is especially prominent on a handgun.
|Rugged Suppressors Oculus 22|
17-4 Stainless Steel
7.1 oz, 4.5 oz
Materials & Design
The Oculus’ weight can entirely be blamed on its construction. The suppressor is 100% 17-4 stainless steel. It’s a member of a very exclusive club of all-steel .22 silencers and I think that group is small for a reason. For most shooters, that sort of durability just isn’t necessary in a suppressor that’s likely to be used exclusively with .22 LR. 5.7x28mm users will likely feel differently as the Oculus is rated up to that round. The suppressor also supports full-auto .22 LR. More specifically, Rugged has “belt-fed rated” the Oculus. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun to use this suppressor on a belt-fed rimfire machinegun. The upside of the all-steel construction is that you can use just about any sort of cleaner – chemical or otherwise – with the Oculus, though some will damage the finish. Speaking of that, the Oculus is topped off with a black Cerakote paint job.
Modular suppressors are the current hotness and Rugged is somewhat of a pioneer in the space. Though Griffin Armament was the first US manufacturer to introduce a select-a-size can with their Revolution series pistol suppressors, Rugged was the first to bring size adaptability to the rifle realm. Aside from SilencerCo’s odd Osprey Micro, the Oculus is the first rimfire suppressor to offer similar modularity.
Shortening the Oculus is very easy. Simply unscrew the front ADAPT module and move the front cap from the extension to the silencer’s main body. As soon as the front cap is removed, the five baffles (four full-size and one short) inside the ADAPT module can be dumped through the tube’s front (they’re captive otherwise and cannot be removed through the male-threaded rear of the unit). Similarly, with the ADAPT unit and front cap off, the second set of five baffles inside the main tube can be pushed out the front.
The Oculus’ baffles are conical and very similar to those found in all of Rugged’s suppressors. Like the Obsidian’s these feature skirts to shield the can’s outer tube from debris and lead buildup. The baffles also lock together to further seal the tube and facilitate easy disassembly. Each baffle features a small scalloped port, or mouse hole, at the bore which helps to redirect gas and enhance performance. Rugged’s Henry Graham has told me in the past that keeping the ports aligned is important critical to maximizing the can’s capabilities. Fortunately, he has made that easy by designing keyed flats into the base of each baffle that force proper alignment. The baffles also key into the suppressor’s body for guaranteed return to zero.
As proven as the baffle design is, my thoughts on it are mixed. There’s no question that the baffles are effective. I’ll talk about that more in a bit. They also do a good job of keeping the outer tube clean. My only problem with them is that the lead is now left to build up in-between each baffle. That’s not a big deal in my similarly-designed Octane 45, but .22 LR is really, really dirty and the Oculus is far smaller than the Octane. As such, the Oculus’ baffles seem to stick together far worse. Yes, a screwdriver can be used to pop them apart, but each baffle is small enough to make that challenging. Fortunately, they’re all made of 17-4 stainless and can be ultrasonically cleaned if need be.
The threads at the rear of the can’s main body are standard ½-28. Unlike some rimfire options, they do not require a spacer to work on longer threads present on .22 rifles.
I know everyone is wondering, “how does it sound?” Well, I won’t keep you waiting. The Oculus sounds fantastic. The full-length configuration sits safely among the quietest suppressors on the market. In some ways, it actually surprised me. That’s not to say that I expected a poor performance, but the at-ear experience is better than I thought the design could produce. For reference, I used Aguila SuperExtra Standard Velocity and CCI Standard Velocity ammunition in my testing.
Keeping with the full-length format for a moment, this configuration really shines on a pistol. Space-saving advantages make it tempting to use the short setup on a handgun, but that comes at a pretty substantial performance penalty. The full-size Oculus was an absolute joy to use on my Walther PPK/S .22, enough to be one of my all-time favorite silencers on that gun (and I’ve tried quite a few cans). My experience is supported by Silencer Shop’s testing, which found the Oculus to be a 117 dB (125 dB at ear) suppressor on a pistol. The short configuration isn’t quite so friendly. It’s still easily hearing safe, but it’s noticeably louder. Again, using Silencer Shop numbers, the shortened Oculus metered at around 128 dB. My standard issue ears thought the perceived difference felt more like five or six dB.
The other thing the Oculus had going for it, at least on my PPK, was that it added backpressure. Now, most people rightly despise the added gas blowback generated by suppressors as it often makes them louder at the shooter’s ear and kicks back a lot of debris. However, the blowback from the Oculus made routinely problematic ammo like the SuperExtra much more reliable in my pistol. Relatively low-power standard velocity and subsonic loads that sound great with a suppressor sometimes lack the “oomph” to consistently work in semi-automatic firearms. It appears that the increased slide speed with the suppressor mounted made all the difference with the Aguila.
Where short rimfire suppressors really shine is on rifles and the Oculus dominates here. If you’re looking for best-in-class types of performance from the can, the long configuration is unquestionably competitive. However, I strongly preferred the shortened format for use with my SIG 522. Removing the ADAPT module surrenders around five dB of suppression at the muzzle, but the at-ear performance loses nothing. In fact, the Oculus might actually be quieter from the shooter’s perspective when shortened. On top of the outstanding sound performance with this setup, the fact that the Oculus is barely larger than a common flash hider or muzzle brake makes it incredibly maneuverable. Things might get a little cloudy if you ask me to pick an overall favorite in the .22 caliber silencer field, but if I had to pick a dedicated suppressor for my SIG 522, the Oculus would absolutely be it.
The Oculus’s first round pop (FRP) or lack thereof is fantastic. As with any suppressor, the first round through a newly attached Oculus is a bit louder than subsequent ones. Trapped oxygen inside the core reacts with rapidly-expanding gasses behind and around the bullet to make a loud pop. The first round or two usually expends that oxygen, allowing follow-ups to be a little quieter. With the Oculus, the FRP is just barely noticeable. Numbers-oriented enthusiasts should expect roughly two to three dB of FRP with the can. That’s very good by any standard and I think the small blast chamber is to credit.
Manufacturers like Rugged often emphasize the importance of keeping the baffles (or baffle ports) consistently aligned when using their suppressors. It’s a piece of advice that I’ve long understood, but largely ignored. After all, my SilencerCo Specwar has slightly misaligned baffle ports and it doesn’t negatively impact my shooting. However, something interesting happened when testing the Oculus. Adding the shortened silencer had virtually no effect on my groups. If anything, it tightened them ever so slightly. However, if I then carelessly attached the ADAPT module without checking the alignment of the forward baffle set with the rear stack, I found that my groups nearly doubled in size. We’re talking a matter of an inch or so at 50 yards, but the effect was repeatable. When reassembling the Oculus after cleaning, I would recommend that owners check the to ensure that the baffles inside the ADAPT unit line up with the ones in the main body.
Rugged Suppressors’ new Oculus is a superb all-around silencer. It offers the flexibility of two different lengths along with highly competitive performance and surprisingly good at-ear sound quality. The only weaknesses that I managed to identify with the suppressor are its relatively heavy weight and the sometimes-sticky baffles that can be difficult to pry apart. These are minor quibbles when put into perspective and they’re outweighed by the Oculus’ showing in other areas. I still can’t get over how much I liked the short configuration on my SIG 522.
An information security professional by day and gun blogger by night, Nathan started his firearms journey at 16 years old as a collector of C&R rifles. These days, you’re likely to find him shooting something a bit more modern – and usually equipped with a suppressor – but his passion for firearms with military heritage has never waned. Over the last five years, Nathan has written about a variety of firearms topics, including Second Amendment politics and gun and gear reviews. When he isn’t shooting or writing, Nathan nerds out over computers, 3D printing, and Star Wars.