The Next Gen AWC Amphibian II

By Oleg Volk

The Balance and Handling of the Amphibian II Lives Up to Expectations

Since its founding 35 years ago, AWC Silencers has been one of the best-reputed makers of integrally suppressed firearms in rimfire and magnum pistol calibers. Built from the ground up to be quiet, AWC designs have always been sleek, streamlined and well-balanced. Their integrally suppressed Amphibian pistol built on the base of Ruger rimfire design has long been the mainstay of special operations and recreational shooting alike. As Ruger pistols and sound suppression technology evolved, so has the Amphibian. With the introduction of the Ruger Mark IV, the Amphibian II has progressed to Mark III and is not out to the public yet but undergoing the last stages of testing.

This particular Amphibian came with the trademark corrosion-resistant finish, but small details indicated progress: the knurled bushing at the front of the upper receiver unthreaded to reveal a 4.4-inch single piece baffle stack; the adjustable trigger with a distinctively textured flat face, the extended magazine button; and the “Halo” charging ring attached to the back of the bolt were all Tandemkross upgrades. The magazines came with Tandemkross baseplates—very helpful both for seating full magazines rapidly and for getting them out of the mag well once empty. The other obvious upgrades were Ruger’s doing: a solid, well-textured bolt stop and ambidextrous manual safety levers with a slight ledge, both improving markedly on the Mark III controls.

At just over 40 ounces and slightly over 1 foot overall length, the new Amphibian II is not a small gun. It was designed for serious use, and every aspect of its construction shows that serious intent. With the barrel diameter being 1 inch for the entire length, it fits open-mouth holsters designed for Mark IV but should be used with dedicated holsters that protect the front of the baffle stack. Even though the muzzle is recessed for protection, a properly enclosed holster will keep the bore free of obstructions. A rounded square wrench comes with the pistol to facilitate takedown once the suppressor is too dirty to unscrew by hand. Most of the parts are made of stainless steel for maximum durability. The switch to all-in-one baffle stack also simplifies maintenance.

The balance and the handling of the Amphibian II lived up to the expectations: the weight distribution is neutral, the upgraded trigger (which also took up the unwanted magazine disconnector) is excellent, and the safety lever shelf facilitates a high-thumb position with the hands enveloping the boreline for great stability. The Halo charging ring definitely improved on the original small nubs of the bolt for loading and clearing the chamber. The extended and enlarged magazine button sits atop a stiff spring, so no accidental activations were noted, while deliberate operation with it is much easier than with the stock button. In terms of ergonomics, this iteration of the Amphibian is definitely a home run, with noticeable improvement on all earlier variants.

The greatest surprise for me was learning that this gun is optimized for high-velocity ammunition. It makes sense once you think about the intended use, which is actually doing damage on the downrange end of the gun. The 22 Long Rifle (LR) cartridge was designed for 16-inch barrels, so 1200fps to 1250fps nominal velocity becomes 980fps to 1050fps in the approximately 3.8-inch barrel. Depending on the load, standard velocity loads chronographed in the low 900s, and subsonics rated at 1050fps to 1070fps from rifles yielded 870fps to 900fps. While slightly quieter, especially Eley Pistol Match Ammunition with faster powder, such ammunition showed noticeably less terminal effect. The penetration difference is the same as it is between a 357 Magnum and a 38 Special. Lower powered ammunition did not cycle the pistol reliably, since the recoil spring strength was calculated to keep the bolt closed long enough for the pressure of high-velocity rounds to drop to avoid an ejection port pop. If manual operation is acceptable and even less noise is desired without regard for hitting power, subsonic cartridges were quite accurate and kept the bolt closed on firing. That said, even with high-velocity CCI Mini-Mag 40 gr and Aguila Super Extra rounds, the pistol is hearing safe, and its report does not register as a gunshot.

Accuracy was excellent with all loads tested, averaging ¾-inch, 10-shot groups fired from 7 yards. With repeat firings, I had more variations within each load than between different cartridges, indicating the shooter’s skill was the limiting factor. I look forward to re-testing with Williams’ Fiber Optic Fire Sights for more consistent front sight focus, then re-testing again with the new Primary Arms micro red dot, and then taking it to 25 and 50 yards with a sandbagged pistol and 2x Leupold pistol scope. Fortunately, the Picatinny rail on the Amphibian II permits a variety of optics, and the inherent accuracy of the device merits further testing. The same rail allows a low-profile visible or infrared laser for nighttime aiming, installed just below optics. Federal Hunter Match ammunition, a high-velocity precision load, is the most likely candidate for best accuracy and terminal performance.

Overall, the updated Amphibian appears to fill the role of a secondary covert sidearm very well. While 22LR is no powerhouse, the bullets reliably penetrated a convex aluminum wok used as a proxy for a skull, suggesting that close-range sentry and guard dog removal is within its capabilities. With steady aim, it’s likewise a capable tool for breaking lights, blinding security cameras and doing other environmental adjustments. For those of us who are not snake-eaters, the same pistol would serve well for removal of backyard pests without alarming neighbors and for teaching marksmanship skills to new shooters without the distraction of noisy report or recoil.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N8 (October 2018)
and was posted online on August 24, 2018


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