Milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, Jack Daniels and Coke — some things just seem to be made for each other. We have an addition to that list: rimfire pistols and suppressors. The former is an excellent tool for schwacking varmints, affordable plinking at the range, and teaching new shooters how to use a pistol; the latter enhances each of those functions.

With a suppressed .22LR pistol, you can control the pest population discreetly without alerting everyone who lives near your property, plink safely without ear protection, and introduce those new shooters to a weapon that’s quiet and less intimidating to use. If you own a rimfire pistol, it’s easily the number-one accessory we’d recommend.

That said, there are still a few drawbacks to installing a suppressor on your pistol. First and foremost is the process of buying one, which involves filling out an NFA Form 4, paying for a $200 tax stamp, and waiting several months for the paperwork to clear. Until America is able to abolish the NFA and its unconstitutional restrictions on hearing protection devices, there’s nothing we can do to avoid this process. The other downside is the fact that the suppressor will add length to your pistol, making it less compact, portable, and discreet — this one is something we can alleviate.

Size Matters

By chopping a pistol’s barrel to a shorter length, its size and balance can be mostly (if not entirely) maintained once a suppressor is added. This has been a relatively common modification for owners of Ruger’s popular Mark IV .22LR pistols, but it requires paying a gunsmith roughly $200 to cut and thread the barrel. The front sight will also need to be relocated if you expect to use the iron sights again. This permanent modification voids the pistol’s warranty, and depending on the length and the quality of the gunsmith you choose, might lead to unforeseen reliability problems.

Another option is to purchase a complete replacement upper and simply swap it onto your Ruger Mark IV lower. A few aftermarket companies offer threaded Mark IV uppers ranging from 3.5 inches to 2 inches, and some include Picatinny rails or micro red-dot mounts as well. However, these uppers can cost $150 to $400, and the shorter variants may not be able to cycle properly with certain types of ammo. They’re also serialized parts, so they must be shipped to a licensed dealer, and you’ll likely have to pay transfer fees upon arrival. It’s still not an ideal solution.

All this demand for a short, suppressor-ready Mark IV did not go unnoticed by the product development team at Ruger. In late 2022, Ruger representatives showed up at RECOIL’s CANCON event in Georgia with a pre-production prototype of a Mark IV 22/45 model with a 3-inch threaded barrel, no iron sights, and a Picatinny rail optic mount. We didn’t know it at the time, but this would go on to become the new Silencer Shop exclusive Ruger Mark IV SSH.

Photo of a Ruger Mark IV as viewed from behind.

Above: This Sightmark red dot offers wide field of view for daytime shooting, and its night-vision-ready brightness settings work well alongside the infrared weapon light.

A Better Host

Ruger and Silencer Shop teamed up to release the SSH, which stands for Silencer Shop Host — it’s a fully warrantied, factory-built platform for mounting your favorite rimfire suppressor. It’s based on Ruger’s existing Mark IV 22/45 Tactical, which features adjustable iron sights, Picatinny rail optic and light mounts, a 4.4-inch threaded barrel, and the classic 1911-style 22/45 pistol grip. For the SSH package, Ruger removed the underbarrel light mount and iron sights, and chopped the barrel down to only 3 inches.

The SSH is available in three finish choices: standard blued finish, flat dark earth Cerakote, or olive drab Cerakote. MSRP is $749, but at the time of writing this article, it’s available directly through Silencer Shop for $559.

The SSH seen in these photos was essentially an impulse buy. I went in to a local dealer, The Shooting Range in Queen Creek, Arizona, for a routine transaction and ended up walking out with an SSH order on the books. Ever since shooting the prototype at CANCON, I had my eye on it, and although they didn’t have the FDE-finished model in stock, they put in an order for one. A few days later, I picked up my new pistol.

Photo of the Volquartsen Competition bolt.

Above: The Volquartsen Competition Bolt includes three recoil springs: reduced power with a dark finish (installed in this photo), standard power with a silver finish, and extra power with a gold finish.

I already owned a JK Armament .22-caliber modular suppressor, so I immediately threaded it onto the Ruger’s short barrel. Since the gun has no iron sights, I also installed a Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M2 reflex sight and headed to the range for some initial impressions. With standard velocity Federal 36-grain .22LR ammo, it ran flawlessly as expected.

My JK Armament suppressor can be configured with up to nine baffles, so I experimented and found that five felt like the ideal compromise between sound reduction and length. This adds roughly 4 inches to the SSH’s 3-inch barrel, leaving it at a very manageable size, and while it’s not whisper quiet, it’s comfortable to shoot without ear protection.

In standard form with a suppressor and red-dot sight, the SSH was a fun little pistol, not too different from its 22/45 Tactical siblings. It didn’t need anything else … but the massive aftermarket support for the Mark IV was too tantalizing to ignore. So, I dove into the realm of upgrades.

Photo of the Ruger Mark IV with a JK Armament modular suppressor.

Above: I paired the 3-inch barrel with a JK Armament modular .22 suppressor. Five baffles is enough to reduce sound substantially, but I can install the remaining four to keep it even quieter.

Building a Space Blaster

The first order of business was to restore something I think Ruger never should have deleted: the light mount. The addition of an infrared weapon light and night vision goggles turns this from a good varmint control weapon into a straight-up varmint assassination machine. Groundhogs and possums will never see what hit them. Beyond that, shooting this pistol while wearing NVGs is a good way to train without blowing money on more expensive calibers. Unfortunately, a 22/45 Tactical factory light mount can’t fit on this stubby barrel, so I had to get creative.

A company called Performance Services makes a Mark IV light mount that attaches to the barrel with a 1-inch ring clamp, but it’s $60 plus shipping, and I figured I could make something equally effective using a cheap Picatinny rail scope ring. After spending $13 on a Monstrum Tactical 1-inch Picatinny ring mount on Amazon, I unscrewed the rail segment, filed down the alignment tab, and drilled a new hole to secure it in a cantilevered position on the ring (rather than centered, as it originally was).

Then, it was as simple as tightening the ring onto the barrel and sliding on a SureFire X300V white/IR light. I’d say this setup is even stable enough to keep a laser zeroed once all the hardware has been threadlocked and torqued.

Next, I decided to swap the rubberized Ruger-branded grip panels to something with more texture and durability. These Hogue Extreme Series grips are made from tough G10 material — the same stuff as my favorite pocketknife handle scales — and they’re machined with an aggressive Piranha pattern that feels great in the hand. Hogue offers a few different colors, but I went with plain black to match the rest of the gun’s color scheme.

Photo of the left side of the Ruger Mark IV.

For some mechanical upgrades, I turned to one of the biggest players in the rimfire aftermarket world: Volquartsen. Their Mark IV Accurizing Kit replaces most of Ruger’s original trigger components with more precise, CNC-machined, and wire-EDM-cut parts. The kit includes a new disconnector, target hammer, hammer bushing, target trigger, and trigger plunger and spring.

The result is a trigger that snaps like a glass rod at 2.25 pounds, and it also has two tiny screws to adjust pre-travel and over-travel (see sidebar for details). Installing this Accurizing Kit was definitely more complex than your average Glock or AR trigger install, but with a set of needle-nose pliers, a small metal pick, and a little patience, it’s very doable for a mechanically inclined owner.

The original bolt was replaced with a complete Volquartsen Competition Bolt, which features a super-slick black DLC coating and an extended charging knob for racking the bolt more easily. This CNC-machined bolt is built with a handful of Volquartsen upgrades, such as their Exact Edge Extractor, SureStrike Firing Pin, and Recoil Rod and Spring Kit with three spring options. The standard silver recoil spring mimics the factory spring rate, the gold spring is intended for use with high-velocity ammo, and the dark-colored spring enables the use of most subsonic ammo (it also reduces recoil slightly with supersonic ammo, though .22LR has almost zero recoil in the first place).

Finally, I picked up Volquartsen’s Extended Magazine Release and Base Pad Kit. It includes two machined, black anodized aluminum baseplates for the factory Ruger mags. These don’t increase magazine capacity, but they do add weight and help the thin metal mags drop free for faster reloads. Subjectively, they look cool too. The kit also comes with a knurled mag release button; in addition to being easier to press, it causes the mag to sit higher in the pistol’s frame. The company says this improves feeding by preventing the bolt from sliding over rounds in the magazine.

Photo of magazines and the magazine well of the Ruger Mark IV.

Above: These machined aluminum Volquartsen baseplates help the magazines drop freely for faster reloads and add a contoured edge to keep the shooter’s hands in place on the grip.

Trigger Adjustment

Unless you do a lot of competition or precision rifle shooting, you may not be familiar with how to adjust a trigger like the Target Trigger included in Volquartsen’s Accurizing Kit. This trigger offers adjustments for both pretravel and overtravel.

Pretravel is any movement from the resting position up to the point where the shot breaks. This includes take-up or slack (trigger movement before meeting the resistance of the sear) and creep (trigger movement after meeting the sear up to the break point where the hammer drops). Adjusting pretravel makes it faster and easier to predict exactly how much the trigger must be pressed until the gun will go “bang.”

Overtravel is movement of the trigger after the shot breaks until it physically can’t move any further back. Reducing over-travel makes it faster and easier to return the trigger to its reset point, allowing the gun to be fired again.

Photo of right side of the Ruger Mark IV.

Above: Extended Magazine Release and Base Pad Kit. It includes two machined, black anodized aluminum baseplates for the factory Ruger mags. These don’t increase magazine capacity, but they do add weight and help the thin metal mags drop free for faster reloads. Subjectively, they look cool too. The kit also comes with a knurled mag release

Here’s a summary of how to adjust pretravel and overtravel with a Volquartsen Mark IV trigger:

  1. Ensure the gun is unloaded and safe. Remove all live ammo from the area.
    Tip: If you’re not comfortable dry-firing your pistol a few times on an empty chamber, insert a .22LR snap cap. Ruger says on page 14 of the manual that “the Ruger Mark IV can be dry fired but a snap cap is strongly recommended for anything more than occasional dry fire practice.”
  2. Use the included 1/16-inch Allen wrench to turn the pretravel screw (located at the top of the trigger) clockwise in small increments until the trigger is unable to reset, dry-firing and cycling the bolt repeatedly with each adjustment.
  3. Once the trigger is “dead” and will not reset, turn the pretravel screw counterclockwise slowly until the trigger resets. You’ll hear a faint click.
  4. Use the same Allen wrench to turn the overtravel screw (located on the face of the trigger) clockwise in small increments until the trigger is unable to break, dry-firing and cycling the bolt repeatedly with each adjustment.
  5. Turn the overtravel screw counterclockwise until the gun is able to dry fire normally.
  6. Cycle the bolt and dry fire again. Hold the trigger down and cycle the bolt, then slowly release the trigger until you hear and feel it reset. Repeat a few times to ensure it’s working normally.
    Tip: For improved reliability, don’t try to eliminate 100 percent of pretravel and overtravel — you may need to back out each screw another quarter
    or half turn past the “ideal” position.

If the Holster Doesn’t Fit …

I’m not the type of guy who really enjoys bench shooting pistols — in other words, picking the gun up off a tabletop and firing slow groups at a static target. I’d much rather be outdoors, running dynamic drills and shooting targets on the move. And for practical purposes such as varmint hunting, it’s a good idea to have a holster in case you need both hands for a task. Unfortunately, finding a sturdy Kydex holster for a suppressed pistol is hard enough, and adding a Frankenstein DIY light mount makes it even more difficult.

After shopping around, I found a holster that looked close enough to what I needed — the Ragnarok SD from T-Rex Arms. It’s designed to be a universal solution for most suppressed pistols, and it indexes off the SureFire X300 light. That means as long as the light locks into place securely, I don’t have to worry about the holster fitting the gun perfectly. But after receiving the holster, I noticed that the upper edges of the holster’s Kydex interfered with the ring mount around the barrel.

I used a Sharpie marker to trace the areas that needed to be trimmed to fit the gun, and then fired up my Dremel. Before you cut anything, remember that it’d be easy to ruin your holster with this modification, so be sure to go slow and take off as little material as possible. I used a cutting wheel to carefully trim about ½ inch of Kydex out of the midsection, then switched to a sanding bit and ground all the edges smooth, checking the fit of the gun repeatedly as I worked.

Lastly, I used a heat gun to soften the “wings” at the front of the holster per T-Rex’s instructions and formed them around the suppressor to add more support. The end result is a holster that features a Safariland QLS fork, and can clip into any of my belts, from a loop on my everyday belt, to the mid-ride carrier on my Snake Eater Tactical range belt.

Photo of the Ruger Mark IV in the holster.

Above: The T-Rex Arms Ragnarok SD was one of the few holsters we figured might work with our Frankenstein light mount. It did require a little trimming with a Dremel, but it fits like a glove now.

Closing Thoughts

The Mark IV 22/45 already has an atypical silhouette, so pairing that with a modular suppressor and optic only accentuated its looks. By the time I was done working on it, this pistol ended up looking a bit like a futuristic sci-fi movie prop. I’m not complaining — where we’re going, we don’t need ear pro.

At the range, this Mark IV is giggle-inducing for anyone who shoots it. Standard velocity rounds sound like the snap of an air rifle; with subsonic rounds, all that’s audible is the click-clack of the bolt reciprocating and the sound of the bullet impacting its target. Although this pistol certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for concealed carry or defense against larger predators (especially the two-legged kind), it can help me train fundamentals like sight picture and trigger press while only spending about 4 cents per round.


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Editor's Note: This article has been modified from its original version for the web.

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