I must have tested five new moderator designs in as many months. Just when you thought the market was saturated, some more crop up and then a new or novel designs appear…
A-Tec is a new name to me, but stems from a reputed Norwegian tool maker called Anders Johansen whose aim is to address the need from small game and deer hunters for the best suppressor money can buy at a realistic price. By using the best components and most advanced design he hopes to achieve this without adding undue weight to a rifle. Well by Jove, I think this chap’s done it!
I am a died in the wool sort of guy that rates PES and Jet –Z moderators highly, but this A-Tec design seems just as good, yet achieving a lighter weight and total ability to be field stripped.
Lightweight but effective
The overall design encompasses the ethos of the over the barrel design yet does not lose sight of the fact that baffles in front of the muzzle still contribute to a large percentage of initial muzzle blast and gas cooling affect. To this end the A-Tec is largely a muzzle can with an elongated rear section that sleeves the barrel. Construction is from a high tensile aircraft grade anodized aluminum alloy (7075-T6 and 6082-T6) with stainless steel sections for longevity and overall integrity.
The most amazing thing about the A-Tec is its light weight, at only 500 grams it is the lightest full bore over the barrel design I have tested. This means when fitted there is very little extra weight added to a rifle, the balance is unimpaired and point of impact is little affected. The outside diameter is 1.75 inch, so it’s not bulky, either in looks or presence and the forward section only extends 6.5 inches forward of the muzzle with a smaller 4.25 inch rear expansion chamber. In all, a compact, light, well made and highly efficient sound moderator.
But the innovation does not stop there. The A-Tecs design allows total component disassembly, which is great for general cleaning and maintenance. The manual states that this should performed at least after 200 rounds, but personally I would strip at a more regular interval to ensure proper performance from the unit.
Despite its petite nature the A-Tec caters for calibres ranging from up to .277 bullet diameter (smaller model), and then up to 30-06 calibre (larger model) with a magnum and a rimfire version soon to be added to the range. I had a .30-06 version and as such tested the unit on a 308, 260, 243 and 22-250.
Due to the modular design a variety of internal muzzle threads can be catered for including most metric and Imperial sizes, or on request the threaded section can be ordered blank and only pilot bored, so your Gunsmith can match the thread to your own rifle.
The overall finish both inside and out is hard black anodized that is certainly corrosion resistant but as experience has told me aluminium on aluminium threads can “gall” when fouled so let’s see.
With the light weight of only 500 grams and diameter of 44mm the A-Tec sits very well on either sporter or varmint profile barrels. Maximum diameter barrel that the can will sleeve over is approx 1” and because of the larger than normal forward section a shortening of the barrel length is not out of the question.
How it works
Actual internal design is very clever and amazingly unique, you would think every baffle design has been done, but the A-Tec has a different and very well thought internal gas cooling multi chamber labyrinth. There is a rear removable ‘over-the-barrel’ section that unscrews from the outer cover which is 4.5inches in length. This contains the Delrin bush that has to be sized to each barrel diameter, with the forward section housing the stainless threaded core that fits to your muzzle. This section is removable to change thread sizes but in reality must be Loctited into place to successfully remove the unit from the barrel without rotational slippage. Immediately forward of this is an aluminium spacer ring that forms a primary expansion chamber prior to the stainless steel baffle. This is a unique truncated volcano (hollow cone) design that redirects the initial blast backwards into the rear expansion ‘over-the-barrel’ section before re-entry into the baffle stack. This stack comprises of a series of four units identical in design to the truncated cone primary baffle, with a stepped forward section culminating in a final half size baffle before the end cap is secured via a 10mm Allen key. Each baffle maximizes internal volume for gasses to expand and each baffle has gas flow-ways and two holes to allow ingress and maximum gas flow retardation.
What looks like a simple design is in fact super efficient, which was immediately born out in the field trials.
All A-Tec moderators comply with the latest noise exposure limit regulations set by the European Directive 2003/10/EC at 140pa or 137dB(c) noise level. This is great, but how does it actually perform when you are out and about in the Highlands or bouncing about after fox on the back of a 4x4? The field trials will out.
The model I had on test was in .30 calibre although a smaller .277 version is also available, so I tested mine on a .308, .243 and .22-250 rifles, plus a few Wildcats.
Immediately you notice the lack of weight transferred to the rifle, even when most of the can is sited forward of the muzzle. The barrel stops at about the third knurled ring on the outer casing and so only 6.5 inches of baffle stack is forward of the muzzle. This is why the system was so efficient. On the .308 I shot my standard reload of 44 grains VIT 140 and 150 grain bullet and factory Remington 150 grain loads to ascertain the noise reduction. As with all moderators they seem to have their own signature, be that a dull ‘phut’, hollow ‘thong’ or low ‘whoosh’ noise. Hardly rocket science… but when you have shot so many sound moderators you begin to tell them apart by their sound.
The A-Tec was a very quiet moderator, a nice low whoosh noise with no carry over reverberations from the hill side. It really took all the guts out of the muzzle blast, with only a clear supersonic crack discernable. When tested against all the other moderators on the market the only ones close to this were the PES 38mm muzzle can, Jet-Z and A10, so it was really good.
I shot over 200 rounds through the can before taking it apart and found no problems at all in disassembly, apart from a build up of carbon on the baffles and salt crystals from the exhaust gasses. A quick wipe clean with warm soapy water and then clean with WD 40 or Inhibitor spray and I was good to go again. Noise reduction was best with the .308 calibre for which this can was optimized but still the .243 and .22-250 were also quiet with the .22-250 just becoming more “cracky in note” and would be better from a smaller internal diameter baffle stack.
I also fitted it to a .260 Remington Mountain rifle and sighted it in for use on some early season Roe Deer. Despite long hard wet treks up and down the Glens, I harvested just two cull bucks and really appreciated the A-Tec’s light weight. It was immediately obvious that there was superb noise reduction and on both beasts the recoil was significantly reduced to the level that I could spot my own shot and hit, greatly enhancing the reassurance of a good shot.
Overall I predict that the A-Tec is really going to cause a few ripples in the market place. It is quiet, light, very well made and well priced. You will have to weigh up in your own mind if a totally strippable moderator made of aluminium is what you are after, because if the can is not maintained very carefully and the threads lubricated they will seize up with neglect; this is just a fact with all aluminum moderators.
Regardless, this is a really good moderator that I will be keeping, and I have just taken delivery of an A-Tec rimfire moderator, so that should be interesting to try. Back off to Scotty land for some rabbits then.
The A-Tec retails for a very competitive £275 plus post and packaging.
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates