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- Last updated: 20/07/2022
UK Custom Shop Ltd has been producing sound moderators for all types of rifles for many decades and they are synonymous with large, efficient and well-engineered units that are made in the UK.
Here we have the Panther model that is designed for maximum noise reduction for the .22LR, .17HMR and .22WMR cartridge range and is equally good on the .22 Hornet and .17 Hornet cartridges too. The available thread sizes are 1/2x20 UNF, 1/2x28 UNEF, 14×1 and 15×1. It is a smaller design than their signature Predator range and is light, beautifully engineered and well priced at £165.
I like the lightness of the Panther and at only 221-grams, it will not add too much extra weight to any firearm. Also, on lighter barrels, it will not shift the point of impact excessively either. It is a reflex-type design, so shrouds the barrel and gives the Panther an even better balance on your rifle. The total length is 166mm, and only 113mm overhangs the muzzle.
The reflex design means you can get away will a bigger diameter and still keep balance. This means a bigger expansion and baffle area inside to maximise noise reduction. The moderator has a 37.5mm diameter and is made from aircraft-grade aluminium seamless tubing, with a 3-part construction consisting of a rear over barrel section, outer tube and inner baffle stack. You also have a stainless steel section threaded to the baffle stack that forms a flame-resistant core and incorporates the threaded section for fitment to your rifle.
It is all CNC machined and exceptionally well made, with a flawless finish of satin anodised black to the outer surfaces and the UK Custom shop, signature Diffuser High Viz inner anodising to the baffle stack – a nice purple in this case!
The outer tube has a semi-banded top surface, purely for design, but has a neat recessed slotted crown with three locations that secure the top baffle hat. The baffles are a unique, almost concertina-type design, with a series of discs/diffusers stacked on top of each other. They each show 15x 5mm diameter holes that are drilled down at an acute angle to meet the inner bore. You have four of these discs, so 60 venting holes that re-direct the expanding hot gases to swirl around the outer tube to cool, before exiting through the front section at a reduced velocity and volume.
Below the discs is a thinner section with six holes that starts the initial gas expansion, and below this is a sealing lip that has the stainless steel initial baffle, again with six holes that this time re-direct the gases against the sealing lip and back down the Panther into the rear aluminium expansion chamber.
This rear section screws into the stainless section and is sealed by a rubber ‘o’ ring. The outer shroud also seals at the top and bottom with an ‘o’ ring, so the unit is kept tightly together and there are no escaping gases.
All in all, a very clever, well-executed and machined design. Let’s see how it performs.
As a rule, this moderator is ideally suited to cartridges that use 20-grains or less of powder but is more effective at Hornet and below performance.
So, I fitted the Panther to a new Bergara B14R .22 rimfire, a Venom Arms custom .17 AK Hornet rifle and a Tikka T1X .17HMR. This mod was in UNF but Wildcat sent a stainless steel UNEF adaptor. It is very neat and only £75.
The moderator can fit barrels with a diameter of up to 24mm, so larger or varmint profiled barrels are not a problem. When fitted to the short, heavy barrel of the Bergara B14R, there was no zero change or balance alterations, which is impressive.
I used Eley, Norma and CCI subsonics for the test. The Eley 38-grain subs were the most accurate, but the Norma’s 997 fps muzzle velocity meant they were incredibly quiet with the Panther fitted. I have used all the high spec sound meters for correct decibel reductions for tests in the past, but with a rimfire it’s pointless. You can hear the difference instantly with the Panther, which emits a lovely and low, soft muted, ‘thut’. I did shoot some RWS HV rimfire at 1211 fps (supersonic) and the noise reduction levels were really good, with a quick sonic crack only on report and no rolling echo.
The Venom .17 AK Hornet’s noise reduction was very satisfying, with a very muted muzzle report and a good lower resonance that I like. There was no high pitch ring like some lighter moderators have.
Next up was the .17HMR, which can be a ‘cracky’ little round. I used some Hornady V-Max 17-grain rounds in order to give the mod a good test. Again, very good noise reduction and a stifled muzzle report. You could almost hear the baffles re-directing and absorbing all the energy created during the shot. It also improved the accuracy on the T1X, with the barrel harmonics being dampened, no doubt.
Yes, it is aluminium and people will say flame erosion, but with rimfire ammo, forget it. Hornet maybe, but that’s why there is a stainless steel initial baffle, so no flame erosion here. Aluminium will gall and ‘o’ rings can fail, so be sensible and check these areas at periodic intervals, hence Wildcat’s clever modular design, but other than that, no real maintenance is needed. Construction is excellent and noise reduction, which is people’s primary concern, is superb.
Contact: UK Custom Shop Ltd - www.wildcatmoderators.co.uk