Text & Photos by Jeff W. Zimba
Weighing in at only 7.2 ounces including the recoil device, with a diameter of only 1.25 inches, the Gemtech Tundra more resembles a rimfire suppressor than a 9mm suppressor. If it first seems a little small for the task at hand, any initial skepticism is overcome as soon as the first round is fired.
The suppressor we received for testing and evaluation was mounted on a Glock Model 17 as a host firearm. Since the factory Glock 17 doesn’t have a threaded barrel we consulted with Lone Wolf Distributors of Oldtown, Idaho, USA. A threaded, drop-in replacement stainless steel barrel was selected and installed. Lone Wolf is one of the few Gemtech recommended barrel manufacturers for suppressor mounting.
Even with the tiny diameter of the suppressor, the factory sights are still slightly obstructed. With very little practice the factory sights can still be used with great effectiveness due to the low profile of the Tundra but we chose to mount a Green Lasermax Unimax laser sight to the factory rail in front of the trigger-guard on the pistol. The combination of the laser and the factory sights make fast target acquisition a simple process.
The Gemtech Tundra is manufactured from high tensile aluminum and finished in either a Flat Dark Earth (FDE) tan hardcoat anodized finish or the standard black hardcoat anodized finish. Both are YAG-Laser engraved for fast identification.
The Gemtech LID-8
One of the most visually distinguishing characteristics of the Gemtech Tundra is the “divoted” grip-area at the rear of the suppressor, which resembles the pattern on a golf ball. This section is machined to allow users the ability to tighten or adjust the suppressor with heavy gloves or in wet or slippery conditions. This grip-area is directly in front of (toward the muzzle) the Linear Inertial Decoupler (LID-8).
Since many semiautomatic firearms are based on the Browning design where the barrel tilts on unlocking, it has historically been a challenge to overcome the extra weight and tension placed on the end of the barrel by installing a suppressor. As finicky as some of these firearms can be with specific types of ammunition, magazines, springs, or even heavy use or poor maintenance, something attached to the barrel itself can be a big factor to maintain reliability.
In the past, recoil boosters, often referred to as Neilson Devices, have been used to counter the additional weight and drag created by adding a suppressor to the barrel of this particular firearm design. The Neilson Device is used to increase the recoil energy of the firearm to “force” everything back into alignment and function properly. It accomplishes this task by utilizing a “piston” on the end of the barrel and acting like hammer. Although these have worked well for several applications, when not properly installed or correctly “tuned”, the additional recoil has the ability to damage the firearm.
The Gemtech LID-8 uses a different principal to aid in overcoming the additional weight and mass of the suppressor. Without the aid of a piston or a necessary “hammering” to keep everything in alignment, the LID-8 actually allows the suppressor to momentarily free-float after firing, and disconnect from the inertia during the unlocking and locking sequence.
Although the function of the LID-8 is extremely effective and sounds quite complicated, the mechanism is simple to use and maintain, and even offers an additional advantage; The LID-8 can be indexed with absolutely no tools to fine-tune the accuracy of the pistol/suppressor combination. Since adding sound suppressors to a barrel (or adding any muzzle devices for that matter) have the ability to affect the point of impact, it creates a situation where a firearm may need additional sight adjustment when the device is added. In extreme cases the point of impact shift can be so severe that a different point of aim is necessary to compensate for it.
To fine-tune the relationship between the Tundra suppressor and the host pistol all you need to do is fire a small test group and note the point of impact. If it is not the same as the point of aim drop the magazine, clear the chamber and make certain the pistol is unloaded. While holding the pistol with one hand, lightly pull the Tundra grip surface away from the pistol about 1/4 inch and rotate 1 click while slowly releasing the grip on the suppressor. The suppressor can be rotated in either direction. Load, fire a test group and make notation of the point of impact. Continue this process until you achieve the desired point of impact. We fine-tuned the Tundra suppressor to the same point of impact as it shot without the suppressor and removed and replaced the suppressor while retaining the same zero.
While the effectiveness of a suppressor is truly realized when used with subsonic ammunition, we opted to shoot two popular types of ammunition during our testing. The first was the standard commercially available Winchester 115-grain FMJ, which represents a popular round, used by recreational shooters or heavy shooters where a budget is a factor. Often available in 100-round bulk packs it functions well in most pistols and is reasonably priced. Since it is not a subsonic round it is not nearly as quiet as the heavier ammunition, but we found it to function without failure and firing with the absence of hearing protection was comfortable and well below the threshold of pain. The second type of ammunition utilized was standard 147-grain Federal Hydra-Shock. We wanted to test the effectiveness of a truly subsonic round as well as the performance and function of this popular hollow-point. It was extremely quiet and also functioned without failure of any type. The Tundra was tested both “dry” (as designed for) and “wet” by adding a commercial available suppressor coolant. Performance in every capacity was exceptional with both methods.
The Gemtech Tundra is not only well designed and effective; it is small and light enough to keep the end user quite aware of its exceptional performance. It is well balanced, and comfortable when mounted, and the ability to index the Gemtech LID-8 for additional fine-tuned accuracy only adds to an already impressive system. The fact that no tools are necessary for disassembly, maintenance, cleaning or even changing the LID-8 for different firearms is a big benefit that should not be overlooked. With all ammunition used, both wet and dry, everyone present who had the opportunity to test the Gemtech Tundra expressed it was a positive experience. After handling the Gemtech Tundra it is no surprise that it has already been purchased and placed in use by the U.S. Army and other government agencies. Although we chose a Glock Model 17 for our testing platform, the Tundra is available for Beretta, Smith & Wesson M&P, SIGs, HKs and other popular combat handguns. No matter what your capacity or necessity for a compact effective 9mm sound suppressor may be, it is the opinion of this writer that the Gemtech Tundra will not disappoint.
Gemtech Tundra Specifications
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm)
Length: 7.6 inches (193mm)
Diameter: 1.25 inches (31.75mm)
Weight: 7.2 ounces (203gr)
Materials: High tensile aluminum alloys
Finish: Matte black or FDE hardcoat anodized
Price: U.S. $699
P.O. Box 140618
Boise, ID 83714
Ph: (208) 939-7222
Fax: (208) 939-7804
Threaded Replacement Barrels
Lone Wolf Distributors
57 Shepard Rd.
Oldtown, ID 83822
Ph: (208) 437-0612
Unimax Laser Sights
3495 Winton Place, Bldg. B
Rochester, NY 14623
Ph: (800) 527-3703
Fax: (585) 272-5427