One of the highlights of the NRA Annual Meeting is the (now) traditional American Suppressor Association shoot. This year, the range day opportunity to shoot a boatload of suppressors all at once took place at the famous Knob Creek Shooting Range. You’ve probably heard of Knob Creek – that’s where folks have that annual machine gun shoot that includes crew-served weapons, lots of tracers and explosives, and for all I know, the occasional Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Anyway, at this year’s event, I happened to stop at the Gemtech station first, by pure chance and stumbled on some quiet coolness. New for 2016 is the Integra silenced AR upper receiver. These units are ready to go uppers with an integrated barrel and monocore suppressor. As you can see by the photos, the suppressor only extends a hair or two past the end of the handguard. As the total package results in a 16.1-inch “barrel”, you only need one Please Uncle BATFE tax stamp for the suppressor. The suppressor tube is welded onto the gas block, so the body is a permanent part of the barrel, thereby avoiding any short barrel rifle restrictions.
Don’t let the “permanent” part of my description make you nervous, though. See that square hole in the fiery end? Just stick a socket wrench driver in there and you can remove the monocore guts for cleaning and maintenance – it’s only the outer tube that stays attached to the barrel.
I had the opportunity to shoot both versions of the upper, the 5.56mm and the 300 Blackout. One word: fun. Both are hearing safe with the 5.56mm model measuring about 131 dB at the shooter’s ear and the 300 Blackout ticking off 128/129 dB using subsonic ammunition.
While both caliber options measure out to 16.1 inches, the internals vary just a bit. The 5.56mm model has a 10.5-inch barrel while the 300 Blackout uses a 10-inch barrel, but has a ½-inch longer suppressor core so things balance out to the same overall length.
The units come as an upper receiver, barrel, integral suppressor and hand guard. However, the bolt carrier and charging handle are not included. If you plan to use an existing 5.66mm AR-15, then no biggie – just use the bolt, carrier and charging handle you already have. If you intend to build a fresh rifle with the Integra upper receiver and suppressed barrel, you might consider checking out Gemtech’s 5.56 Suppressed Bolt Carrier. This nifty gadget is designed to bring suppressed bolt operation down to unsuppressed cyclic speed so you have less felt recoil, reliable operation and less wear and tear.
Gemtech is officially launching the Integra uppers at the NRA AM meeting now, but it will take until late August or early September before you see them on store shelves. Manufacturer Suggested Retail price is $1,999. The word is that Silencer Shop has an exclusive on these for a while, so get on their mailing list for updates.