Absent the correct-velocity ammunition, silencers are anything but silent.
Back in the day, when Agent 007 screwed his “silencer” on his little Walther PPK .380, it likely was a “silent” combination. Movies such as the James Bond franchise earned sound suppressors the misnomer of “silencer.”
Most accurately called “sound suppressors,” they are really just mufflers for your gun. As a less-noisy lawn mower is more pleasant to cut grass with, so is shooting a less-abusive firearm. Hence, their popularity.
GETTING THE GIGGLES
Recreational shooting is so much more civilized when done suppressed. Most shooters who have never experienced suppressors generally giggle when they get a chance to shoot one for the first time.
“Giggle” is exactly what happens. Most giggles happen with .22-caliber and pistol-caliber rounds, because they are truly quiet and pleasant to shoot. New shooters will often remark at the sound of a gun’s action and the thump! of the bullet hitting the backstop. The overall consensus is that it’s fun to shoot suppressed.
Removing the bang! for new shooters is a big deal, because muzzle blast and noise are two of the three biggest deterrents to new or beginning shooters. That’s why trainers or proponents of the shooting sports recommend starting with a .22 long rifle.
Out of rifles, especially closed-action guns (such as bolt-actions), the .22-caliber is so quiet and pleasant that, depending on the location, you almost don’t need hearing protection. However, when shooting .22-caliber handguns, the diminutive .22 becomes as loud and unpleasant as any popular handgun caliber. It can all be changed with a muffler—er, uh, suppressor.
A lightweight rifle such as the Thompson Center Compass in 6.5 Creedmoor will benefit a timid shooter greatly with noise and recoil reduction. Look how that muzzle blast is contained and sent downrange. Recoil is minimal.
CALLING YOUR SHOT
Hitting your target requires you to see the sights and sight picture at the moment the gun fires. Furthermore, you actually have to see the sights lift in recoil and settle after recoil. Then, and only then, can you “call your shot.”
Half the fun of shooting is hitting your target. Whether it’s a pop can, golf ball, steel spinner or paper bullseye, people love to see results. So, placing a suppressor on a gun seriously reduces the urge to blink or flinch due to blast pressure and noise.
LESS IS MORE
The third deterrent to new shooters is recoil. Folks either revere recoil or abhor it.
“Hey, honey, feel this one!” That’s usually the last time they fall for that line.
Many rimfire pistols such as this Ruger 22/45 come threaded and ready to host a suppressor. A light, little muffler on one of these guns is more fun than shooting airsoft. Slapping steel targets, James Bond style, makes everyone giggle.
With a .22 rifle or handgun, recoil is seldom, if ever, a problem. Add a suppressor, and it’s non-existent. You see, a suppressor not only reduces sound, but it also reduces recoil. We get less blast pressure, less sound and less recoil when we shoot suppressed.
Suppressors act as a huge and efficient muzzle brake. Gasses exiting the barrel are trapped in the suppressor’s baffles and pull the gun away from the shooter’s shoulder. Just as the ports on a muzzle brake redirect gasses and repurpose them to reduce recoil, so do the baffles of a suppressor. Shooting high-powered rifles such as the .338 Lapua is a daunting task. Granted, I’m no novice, and I can, with knowledge and preparation, control myself and make good shots. But shooting precise shots with the .338 (or even the .308 for that matter) is a whole lot easier when there’s an efficient suppressor on the gun.
New shooters, as well as seasoned shooters, perform better when the adverse effects of muzzle blast and recoil are reduced.
“Most accurately called “sound suppressors,” they are really just mufflers for your gun.”
THE PROOF IS IN THE PERFORMANCE
When we ran a long-range hunting class in Texas, we had suppressors on over half the guns. The performance increase from the shooters firing long guns with suppressors mounted was remarkable. Students opted not to shoot the unsuppressed .338 Lapua rifle—and not because of recoil, but because the muzzle blast is remarkable. Shooters also preferred firing the suppressed AR10s in .308 Win. over the diminutive AR15s, which were unsuppressed. Flinch rates and misses went way up when suppressors were not on guns. The proof is in performance.
I can already imagine someone reading this, thinking that it’s too much to pay for too little result.
Yes, suppressors cost money, and the $200 tax stamp, coupled with the six-month waiting period, doesn’t help. However, there’s a reason there are so many suppressor companies these days. Suppressors are like tattoos: After you get one, you want another.
Using suppressors for heavy calibers, such as .308 Win. and the stout .338 Lapua, benefit a shooter greatly in muzzle blast and recoil reduction. Suppressors are as varied as the guns you can put them on.
Nevertheless, with the hard realities of cost out of the way, let me give you some advice: On a stout-barreled .22, I can run my titanium .308 suppressor. I also use that .308 muffler on my rifles chambered in .223 and 300 blackout. Titanium is expensive, but it’s light. Getting a really good and efficient
suppressor costs money. Conversely, buying suppressors for four different calibers would be expensive. Even if you bought cheap or simply inexpensive suppressors, you’d have $800 in tax stamps alone.
Buy once and cry once! Choose wisely, and you’ll not regret your decision.
Final word: Go find someone with a suppressed gun. Any caliber. Any type. You’ll see what I’m talking about (and you might even giggle a little).
The feds aren’t likely to drop that big, fat, money-making $200 tax stamp any time soon. So, get online or out to a local shop and buy your first “silencer” now. You’ll have all winter to wait for the paperwork, and your spring will be the best one yet. Enjoy the … silence!
Chris Cerino is a 25-year law enforcement and training professional. He competes in shooting sports to validate his skills. Chris writes on the topic of training and can be seen on a variety of TV shows.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.