April 27th, 2018

Suppressors for Hunters — What You Need to Know

There is an informative article on the NRA’s American Hunter website regarding suppressor use for hunting. The article, What Hunters Need to Know About Suppressors, answers common questions about licensing, tax stamps, and suppressor types. The article explains the history of the $200 tax stamp which must be paid when acquiring a suppressor:

“Why the Tax? In 1934 … the federal government, while battling gangsters such as Al Capone, heavily restricted silencers with passage of the first National Firearms Act. Hoping to gain an advantage on criminals that often had better weapons than cops, the Feds placed a mandatory ‘sin’ tax on silencers that was so high it would effectively ban their purchase by all but the wealthiest individuals. In 1934, $200 was the equivalent of $3,500 today. The $200 tax still stands despite no evidence that a simple metal tube is capable of causing crime.” — American Hunter

The American Hunter article also discusses how well suppressors actually reduce noise. User should be aware that the sound level of a large, centerfire hunting cartridge will still exceed 130 decibels (dB) on average, even with a typical suppressor (silencer) in place. For that reason, we recommend that hunters continue to wear ear protection even when they shoot suppressed.

For example, Thunder Beast Arms says its latest Ultra 9 Suppressor will reduce the report of a .308 Win to 132-134 dB: “The ULTRA 9 will suppress a typical .308 bolt-action rifle down to approx. 132-134 dB. It also has very little or no ‘first round pop’ (FRP) in most applications.” NOTE: These dB levels are measured in accordance with MIL-STD-1474D using BK 2209 SLM offset one meter from muzzle.

How Loud Are Unsuppressed Rifles?
Firearms Are Loud — 140 dB to 175 dB. Audiology group ASHA explains: “Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 dB. Firing guns in a place where sounds can reverberate, or bounce off walls and other structures, can make noises louder and increase the risk of hearing loss. Also, adding muzzle brakes or other modifications can make the firearm louder. People who do not wear hearing protection while shooting can suffer a severe hearing loss with as little as one shot[.] Audiologists see this often, especially during hunting season when hunters and bystanders may be exposed to rapid fire from big-bore rifles, shotguns, or pistols.” Source: ASHA, Recreational Firearm Noise Exposure.

suppressor fact and fiction moderator silencer

How Much Does a Good Suppressor Really Reduce Firearm Sound Levels?
That depends on the rifle, the cartridge, and the effectiveness of the suppressor. The American Hunter article explains: “Suppressors retard the speed of propellant gases from the cartridge that rapidly expand and rush out of the barrel. It’s these gases that produce the loud boom that’s heard for miles. A suppressor’s series of internal baffles slows these gases so they are not all released at once, thereby muffling the sound.” Many good commercial suppressors can achieve 30-35 dB sound suppression. However, Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms says: “There are a bunch of manufacturers who publish values that are not reproducible, or use an ad-hoc test instead of a mil-spec test. In many cases we’ve tested the exact same suppressors they’ve advertised with 30-40 dB reductions and found they are actually in the high 20s instead.”

Again, for this reason, we recommend that hunters use ear protection, such as electronic muffs, even when shooting suppressed.

Choosing a Suppressor for Hunting Use
The American Hunter article explains that there are many types of suppressors on the market. Bigger suppressors are heavier, but they normally are more effective. You also have a choice in muzzle attachments:

“For most hunting applications, direct thread is the best choice. If you intend to buy only one suppressor yet you have multiple guns, it’s advantageous to buy a model sized and rated for the largest caliber you intend to use. While a suppressor made specifically for a .223 Rem. will reduce the sound of that round slightly better than a model made for .30 caliber, for example, you can use a .30-caliber can for smaller calibers — but not vice-versa. In general, the bigger the can, the more it reduces sound. Smaller suppressors, however, are easier to carry in the woods.” — American Hunter

How to Apply for a Suppressor
To acquire a quality suppressor, you’ll first need to shop around, comparing verified performance. Unfortunately some manufacturer’s dB claims are exaggerated. Give due consideration to size, weight, and durability. When you’ve selected a brand and model, find a Class 3 dealer authorized by the ATF to sell suppressors. You must fill out ATF Form 4, get fingerprinted, and pass a background check. Along with two completed copies of Form 4, submit your fingerprint card, passport photo and a check for $200 to the ATF. Then you wait for the ATF to process your application. American Hunter says the average ATF suppressor processing wait time is now nine months.

BENEFITS OF SILENCERS

NOISE REDUCTION
According to OSHA, the threshold for a hearing safe impulse noise is 140 dB. Without hearing protection, exposure to any impulse noise over 140dB causes varying degrees of permanent noise-induced hearing loss, which can also lead to tinnitus. Most well-engineered silencers take the dB level of their host firearm well below 140 dB, making those silencers effective primary hearing safety devices. You should always still wear hearing protection (muffs or plugs) when using suppressors.

RECOIL REDUCTION
By containing the explosion at the muzzle, suppressors significantly reduce perceived recoil energy, reduce the rifle’s rearward movement on recoil, and reduce rifle torquing and muzzle flip. The reduction of recoil (and rifle torquing/hopping) lessens shooter fatigue and helps the shooter get his sight picture back on target rapidly after firing. With smaller calibers, a suppressor may enable the shooter to maintain a nearly-continuous sight picture, following the shot into the target. In addition, by reducing felt recoil (and muzzle blast), a suppressor can help inexperienced shooters avoid flinching.

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December 29th, 2011

New ‘Quiet-22′ Rimfire Ammo from CCI — Just 68 dB of Noise

CCI quiet-22 Rimfire ammunitionHow would you like to be able to shoot a rimfire rifle or pistol that only makes 25% as much noise as a standard .22 LR gun? And no, we’re not talking about a suppressor-equipped firearm. CCI claims that its new Quiet-22 rimfire ammo “generates one-quarter the perceived noise level of standard velocity .22 LR rounds.” So this stuff is very quiet indeed, and it’s also affordable — a 50-round box sells for under $4.00 at major online vendors.

CCI’S 710 fps Quiet-22 Ammo only produces 68 Decibels (dB) of sound at the shooter’s ear (compared to 132-139 dB for a standard .22LR). How do we put that in perspective? Consider this: 68-70 dB is the noise level inside a typical family sedan cruising at 70 mph. For additional comparisons, a typical alarm clock ringer produces 80 dB of noise, while a hair dryer can deliver 90 dB. The sound levels at rock concerts can top 115 dB, and a chain saw can hit 125 dB.

To achieve its low sound levels, CCI’s Quiet-22 ammo sacrifices both speed and energy. Rated velocity is just 710 fps, and the 40gr LRN bullet only has about 36 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards. So this ammo may not be a great choice for varminting, except for very small prey. On the other hand the ammo could be ideal for short-range plinking and fun shooting. For paper punching, CCI notes that Quiet-22 ammo offers better performance than an air rifle with similar noise levels. CCI’s Quiet-22 Ammo may also be perfect for areas where shooting is allowed, but noise pollution is a concern.

CCI quiet-22 Rimfire ammunition

Do You Need To Wear Muffs?
CCI says you can shoot this ammo without hearing protection. The 68 dB report of this ammo is well below the 85 dB(A) noise level at which OSHA requires hearing protection in the workplace. However, remember that, when you’re at a range with other shooters, you must shield your ears from the noise produced by other firearms. So even if you use Quiet-22 ammo, you’ll need muffs/plugs if other shooters nearby are using conventional rimfire and centerfire ammo.

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October 2nd, 2010

San Antonio Hosts Gun Range Operations Conference Oct. 9-13

This year’s final NRA Range Development & Operations Conference will be held next week in San Antonio, Texas. Graduates of the course tell us they learned more in this 5-day course than in years of independent research. Attendees will receive a multidisciplinary perspective on major topics including:

  • Developing business and master plans
  • Public hearings and zoning boards
  • Environmental sound
  • Insurance
  • Lead on outdoor ranges and OSHA lead standards
  • Range maintenance
  • Range safety

Texas City gun range

Next week’s event is sold out, but the NRA will offer other range development conferences in the months ahead. NRA event coordinator Kara Schlifke reports the 2011 dates will be posted as soon as possible. Potential participants should register early to guarantee their spots. Registration is $450.00 per person, and includes a continental breakfast, afternoon snack, and conference materials.

Would you like to learn more about this program? Contact Kara Schlifke at KSchlifke@nrahq.org or 877-NRA-RANGE, or visit the NRA’s Range Development webpage.

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September 7th, 2009

Lead Management Info for Clubs and Range Operators

If you are involved with the management of a range or shooting club, you need to be concerned with lead pollution issues. Both state and federal agencies are becoming much more agressive regarding lead issues for shooting ranges.

With the challenges ranges face these days you must be as proactive as you possibly can, especially when maintaining and enhancing the environmental quality of your facility. In an effort to assist range operators, NSSF is offering its booklet “Lead Management and OSHA Compliance for Indoor Shooting Ranges” for free to members. This provides an introduction to airborne lead management techniques and an overview of OSHA compliance. NSSF range members who want a copy of the booklet should contact Bettyjane Swann, NSSF manager, member services, e-mail bswann@nssf.org, telephone 203-426-1320.

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