May 20th, 2018

Suppressors — Why You Still Need Hearing Protection

suppressor silencer moderator facts fiction sound levels noise decibles dB
Silencer-equipped AR photo courtesy The Silencer Shop.

OK, you’ve paid the tax stamp and acquired your new suppressor (aka “silencer” or “moderator”). Do you still need to wear earplugs or muffs? Absolutely. Even with that expensive new “can”, your rifle could be generating over 140 decibels (dB) of noise — about the same as as an unmuffled 9mm pistol shot. That’s loud enough to create permanent hearing loss with repeated exposure.

Firearms Are Loud: 140 dB to 175 dB

Audiology group ASHA explains: “Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. 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 silencer moderator facts fiction sound levels noise decibles dB

Suppressors, On Average, Reduce Noise Levels about 30 Decibels
In an article for Ammoland, gunwriter Sam Hoober says that you can expect about 30 decibels (dB) of noise reduction from the average suppressor: “Looking at a few different products, SilencerCo attests their suppressors reduce the sound pressure of a 9mm gunshot to anywhere from 125.7 dB to 131.5 dB, depending on the model. Advanced Armament Co, another popular supplier, attests a 23 dB to 33 dB reduction or down to 127 dB. Liberty Suppressors, another manufacturer, attests a reduction of 24 dB to 38 dB, depending on model and other factors. In short, we can presume something on the order of 30 dB of attenuation as an average.”

Using that 30 dB number you can quickly discern that you’ll still need hearing protection — good hearing protection — when shooting any suppressed firearm (even a .22 LR). “Spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly”. Source: NRA Blog.

The Myth of the “Quiet” .22 LR
The NRA Blog notes that “many rimfire shooters, particularly those using the beloved .22 Long Rifle cartridge, argue that the small .22 LR caliber doesn’t produce enough sound to damage your hearing”. So, is that really true. or is it a myth?

In fact, a .22 LR can be much louder than you think — a .22 LR pistol can produce sound levels of 134 dB. That’s well above the normal human pain threshhold.

Sound Levels for Common Noises:

9mm Luger pistol: 160 dB

Jet aircraft engine (near): 140 dB

.22 LR pistol: 134 dB

Normal human pain threshold: 120 dB

Noisy Nightclub: 110 db

Riding Motorcycle at 65 mph: 103 db

Power Lawnmower: 95 dB

Hearing damage possible: 85 dB (sustained for 8+ hours)

Ringing Telephone: 80 dB

Normal conversation: 60 dB


The Risk of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. As the NRA Blog cautions: “You may not even realize you’re harming your hearing. Hearing loss occurs gradually, and can go effectively unnoticed until symptoms become severe. By then, the damage is done.”

Nobody wants to go deaf. But we often see shooters without effective hearing protection when they are walking around a few yards behind the firing line. That’s bad — even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. You MUST use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 20th, 2018

Don’t Go Deaf — Understand Risks of Concussive Hearing Loss

Mark Kuczka Accurate Ordnance hearing protection dB noise muzzle brake PRS muffs earplugs concussion concussive hearing loss

Did you know you can damage your hearing even if you are wearing the best hearing protection available? Well, have you ever heard of concussion (or concussive) hearing loss? There is no amount of anything you can put in or over your ears to protect you from concussion loss. My audiologist explained to me the concussion comes through the facial bone structure and damages the ear’s tiny bones.

Editor’s NOTE: This may be the most important tech article we’ve run all year. It explains how you can suffer inner ear damage and hearing loss even if you use earplugs or muffs. Read that again — hearing loss even with typical hearing protection. This kind of concussive hearing loss can result from shooting with muzzle brakes in confined spaces. Using a suppressor (aka sound moderator) can reduce the risk of concussive hearing loss. You may not have the ability to use a suppressor, but this article explains how you should be more mindful of your hearing.

Why I Use a Suppressor (Preventing Concussive Hearing Loss)

Report by Mark Kuczka, Accurate Ordnance

It must have been the road noise. I thought I was having a hard time hearing my five year old daughter speaking to me on my cell phone because of the road noise. That old SUV was kind of loud inside. Until I switched the phone to my left ear and suddenly I could hear her just fine. Wait, what just happened? I moved the phone back to the right ear and there was that muffled voice again. That’s when I knew I had a problem.

“What?” Lots of us in the shooting community have lost some hearing along the way due to our time on the range or in the field. Those of us who hunt have certainly discharged a firearm or three without ear protection and without concern for our hearing. After all, it’s just one shot, right? How much can it hurt?

Actually, that one shot DOES hurt your hearing. Any sound over 140 dB is immediate hearing loss. It just happens to be killing a small amount of our hearing so most of us continued the practice without a care. Living with hearing loss now makes me wish I could go back 20 years and better protect my hearing. I can’t change what I did in the past, but going forward I can certainly do the most to protect the hearing I still have.

I decided to shoot about a year’s worth of matches with just braked rifles. That year is when I lost significant hearing in my right ear and some in the left. I’ve gone back to shooting only suppressed rifles whenever possible.

Mark Kuczka Accurate Ordnance hearing protection dB noise muzzle brake PRS muffs earplugs concussion concussive hearing loss

I shot my first suppressed firearm, a .22 LR pistol, in 2003. After a few rounds I wondered why everyone (who can do so legally) didn’t shoot suppressed? No one drives without a muffler. Why would you? Point is I immediately appreciated the hearing protection benefits of suppressors. That passion got me into the business of selling suppressors and it wasn’t long before I was one of the biggest retailers for companies like AAC, SWR, SilencerCo, Ops Inc. and others. [Editor: The author’s business, Accurate Ordnance, no longer sells suppressors. So this article is NOT a sales pitch. Mark just wanted to share his experience so others might protect their hearing.]

Mark Kuczka Accurate Ordnance hearing protection dB noise muzzle brake PRS muffs earplugs concussion concussive hearing loss

Did you know you can damage your hearing even if you are wearing the best hearing protection available? You’ve heard guys say, “I’ll wear plugs and muffs, so I’ll be just fine shooting that .50 BMG!” Well, ever heard of concussion (or concussive) hearing loss? Yeah, I hadn’t either. I’ll sum it up the way the last audiologist I spoke with about my hearing loss did – there is no amount of anything you can put in or over your ears to protect you from concussion loss.

A hand grenade went off right next to a buddy of mine. He lost some hearing as a result of the blast. No one is really surprised by that. I mean it is an EXPLOSION. It’s loud. Duh. But I had no idea the blast from a muzzle brake could basically hurt my hearing the same way. The doctor explained to me the concussion comes through the facial bone structure and damages the ear’s tiny bones. Same thing as what can happen through any TBI (traumatic brain injury).

Hearing loss diagram inner ear

I’ve owned quite a few different suppressors over the years and have shot just about everything out there. I’m still as big a fan as ever. However, I wanted to see if using a suppressor in PRS (Precision Rifle Series) and similar matches was actually a hindrance. Some people feel the added length and weight of a suppressor can make getting into some shooting positions slower or problematic. So I decided to shoot about a year with a muzzle brake instead of a suppressor. I sure regret that decision…

Getting Headaches at PRS Matches Was Warning Sign
It is fairly common in PRS matches to shoot through pipes, vehicles, inside “shoot houses” and around other obstacles that echo a rifle’s blast. I noticed I was starting to get headaches about halfway through a day of PRS match shooting. I knew the issue wasn’t hydration. I mean look, if you are peeing every other stage down at the amazing CORE range facility in mid-summer you are NOT dehydrated. So, what was causing the headaches? It wasn’t until I went back to shooting suppressed in those same environments that it became clear the little mini concussions from that muzzle brake was causing my headaches. And of course the doctors confirmed that.

Let me stop here and say I am NOT anti-brake. Muzzle brakes are useful tools and for some situations are the best tools. An aggressive brake can be more effective at reducing recoil than a good suppressor. A suppressor does add some recoil reduction, just not as much as most quality brakes. Don’t forget to factor other variables, such as caliber and rifle weight, into the equation though. For example, a 15-lb 6mm Creedmoor rifle doesn’t need much recoil reduction in the first place.

Mark Kuczka Accurate Ordnance hearing protection dB noise muzzle brake PRS muffs earplugs concussion concussive hearing loss

So, I started shooting matches long before the PRS even existed and always shot suppressed in those days. The suppressors made communication with a partner or RO easier and it was just a more pleasant shooting experience. On the recommendations of a few people I decided to shoot about a year’s worth of matches with just braked rifles. That year is when I lost significant hearing in my right ear and some in the left. I’ve gone back to shooting only suppressed rifles whenever possible and especially at matches. I’ve only once or twice found the extra length of the suppressor made it a little more inconvenient to run a stage, but not by much. Trust me, the points I missed were not because I took two extra seconds getting the muzzle in a port or window.

My hearing is something I value and will do everything to protect from this point forward. You’ll never again see me on a match field with an un-suppressed rifle. To me the minimal gains of running a braked rifle aren’t worth losing more hearing.

Choosing a Suppressor — What to Consider

Okay, so I have hearing loss that I can’t get back and realize I need to go back to shooting matches with a suppressor. But which one? I’ll still be shooting matches with custom fit plugs so I just need something to add a little recoil reduction and kill that concussion.

At our shop, Accurate Ordnance, we generally recommend direct-thread suppressor solutions to our customers. The main reason for that is all the problems we’ve seen with other fast-attach muzzle devices. It doesn’t take much tolerance stacking to result in accuracy issues. There are a few exceptions for us and the Rugged Suppressors products top the list. Since the Razor 762 uses a muzzle brake adapter on the rifle to attach the suppressor, I can use the same suppressor on my .223 Rem training rifle. My primary match rifles are chambered in 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor and the muzzle threads on those is a standard 5/8×24. My .223 Rem training rifle has .5×28 threads on the muzzle, which is standard for that caliber. Thus, the muzzle adapter interface lets me share the suppressors between all the rifles. And on that .223 Rem training rifle I have the option of switching the end cap on any of the Rugged products to a .223 aperture size, which makes the suppressors slightly more sound efficient (meaning quieter).

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Tactical, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
January 7th, 2018

Suppressors Are Legal to Own in 42 States Now

suppressor silencer moderator facts fiction sound levels noise decibles dB
Map courtesy SilencerShop.com.

Q & A: TOP TEN Questions about Suppressors Answered HERE »

You’d like to protect your hearing, and maybe you’re a little curious about how your rifle might shoot suppressed. So you’re thinking of buying a suppressor (aka “can”, “moderator”, “silencer”). You can’t just get one off the shelf at Walmart. Acquiring a suppressor requires filling out paperwork and paying a Federal $200 Tax Stamp. Plus there is typically a pretty long wait. However, the good news is that suppressor ownership is now legal in 42 of the 50 American states — that’s 84%! For most American adults, getting a suppressor is legal, provided pass the required background checks.

States Where Suppressor Ownership is Allowed
Currently, the following 42 states allow private ownership of suppressors: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY.

Note: Even if you live in one of the states listed, you should still verify that owning a suppressor is legal in your area. Some states may have municipal- or county-based restrictions.

States Where Suppressor Ownership is Prohibited
Unfortunately, there are still eight (8) States that forbid private ownership of suppressors. The eight No-Go States are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island. In these eight states, private ownership of suppressors (aka “silencers”) is forbidden. Hopefully that a few of those eight hold-out states will change their laws in the months ahead.

Looking Inside a Suppressor in Action
Popular YouTube Channel Smarter Every Day recently released a cool video featuring rifle suppressors with see-through acrylic sleeves. The team filmed shots through the suppressors using ultra-high-speed (110,000 frame per second) cameras. When played back in super-slow-motion, you can see the flame propagate through the suppressor and the bullet move through each baffle before it exists the muzzle. Watch the results in the video below — it’s mesmerizing:

See Through Suppressor in Super Slow Motion (110,000 fps) — Click Arrow to Watch:

Suppressors, On Average, Reduce Noise Levels about 30 Decibels
In an article for Ammoland, gunwriter Sam Hoober says that you can expect about 30 decibels (dB) of noise reduction from the average suppressor: “Looking at a few different products, SilencerCo attests their suppressors reduce the sound pressure of a 9mm gunshot to anywhere from 125.7 dB to 131.5 dB, depending on the model. Advanced Armament Co, another popular supplier, attests a 23 dB to 33 dB reduction or down to 127 dB. Liberty Suppressors, another manufacturer, attests a reduction of 24 dB to 38 dB, depending on model and other factors. In short, we can presume something on the order of 30 dB of attenuation as an average.”

suppressor silencer moderator facts fiction sound levels noise decibles dB

Using that 30 dB number you can quickly discern that you’ll still need hearing protection — good hearing protection — when shooting any suppressed firearm (even a .22 LR). “Spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly”. Source: NRA Blog.

Story idea by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink News 2 Comments »
October 4th, 2017

Amazing See-Through Suppressor Video from Smarter Every Day

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Popular YouTube Channel Smarter Every Day recently released a fascinating video featuring rifle suppressors with see-through acrylic sleeves. The team filmed shots through the suppressors using ultra-high-speed (110,000 frame per second) cameras. When played back in super-slow-motion, you can see the flame propagate through the suppressor and the bullet move through each baffle before it exists the muzzle. Notably, you can see different internal flame effects depending on the baffle design. Watch the results in the video below — it’s mesmerizing:

See Through Suppressor in Super Slow Motion (110,000 fps) — Click Arrow to Watch:

Soteria Suppressors designed the unique see-through suppressors.
Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

The Science of Suppressor Design

Commentary by Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms Corp.

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every DayThe high speed transparent silencer video is pretty neat. It certainly demonstrates, to some extent, the violence that happens inside centerfire rifle suppressor when firing.

At Thunder Beast Arms Corp. we have carefully studied the forces/pressures operating inside suppressors. The “uncorking” pressure when the bullet exits the muzzle is typically in the 8,000 to 15,000 psi range, but some combinations of cartridge and barrel length can extend this up to the 25,000 psi range. Job #1 of a suppressor designer is to build a suppressor that won’t explode. Job #2 is to build one that quiets down the muzzle report significantly. Doing that well, with the minimum amount of material, is the tricky part.

Suppressor design is both art and science, and we approach our R&D from three sides: experience, experimental testing, and computation.

There are a lot of opinions about how to design a quiet suppressor. Many of these are based on preconceived notions of how suppression “should work”. These theories may or may not work when built and tested in the real world. Where the rubber hits the road is experimental testing. I would say that a majority of knowledge about “How to design a quiet suppressor” comes from building hundreds or thousands of prototypes and testing them with good equipment in a cogent experimental process. Some of those theories pan out, but many of them do not.

Thunder Beast Arms Tests its Suppressors in the Lab and in the Field.
Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Scientific Software Aids Design
We have also made a large investment in computation fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA) software and use it in addition to other computer-model analysis to look at the physics that occurs inside the suppressor. This type of analysis gives information about material effects that is pretty much impossible to get any other way. Even so, the computer cannot tell you how to design a
suppressor, and the results must always be checked and compared to reality.

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Thunder Beast Arms Corporation was started ten years ago with the goal of producing the best precision rifle suppressors. Our current ULTRA series in .223, 6.5 mm, .308, and .338 calibers provides industry-leading suppression performance with very light weight.

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July 7th, 2017

Smith & Wesson Acquires Suppressor-Maker Gemtech

Gemini Technologies Gemtech Smith Wesson Outdoor Brands acquisition suppressor silencer

American Outdoor Brands Corporation (AOBC) announced that its firearms business, Smith & Wesson Corp., has agreed to acquire the assets of Gemini Technologies, Inc. (“Gemtech”), a leading provider of suppressors and accessories for the consumer, law enforcement, and military markets.

Smith & Wesson intends to complete the acquisition of Gemtech utilizing cash on hand and expects the transaction to close this summer. Ron Martinez, President of Gemtech, will continue in his leadership role as General Manager, heading up the company’s strong team located in Eagle, Idaho. For more information, visit Smith-Wesson.com and Gemtech.com.

James Debney, AOBC President/CEO, said, “Gemtech is widely recognized for producing some of the finest rifle and pistol suppressors in the market. Gemtech’s strong product development capabilities, combined with our experience in brand management and our manufacturing expertise, will help us to efficiently develop both firearms and suppressors, minimizing our time to market for both product categories. We view this acquisition as opportunistic, allowing us to enter the suppressor category[.] These elements combine to make Gemtech an excellent fit with our long-term strategy.”

Gemini Technologies Gemtech Smith Wesson Outdoor Brands acquisition suppressor silencer

About Gemini Technologies, Incorporated
Gemini Technologies, known as Gemtech, began as a group of leading designers with roots in the suppressor business going back to 1976. Gemtech’s suppressors are in use with all branches of the U.S. military and are also in use by many special operations forces, military, and police around the world. Based in Eagle, Idaho, Gemtech is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008 certified company and maintains effective rigorous quality assurance systems and processes. Visit Gemtech online at https://gemtech.com.

Permalink New Product, News, Tactical 1 Comment »
June 9th, 2017

NSSF Hosts Suppressor Demonstration for News Media

NSSF Suppressor News Media Demonstration demo Manassas Class III Regulation

Last month, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) hosted a suppressor demonstration at Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, Virginia. Sig Sauer and Daniel Defense suppressor experts were presenters. Olin Corporation supplied ammunition.

The Daniel Defense representative noted that suppressors do not render a firearm silent (despite what Hollywood movies might show). The sound level of an un-suppressed AR15 firing is 165-175 dB. With a suppressor in place, the sound level for the same 5.56 rifle drops to around 135-140 dB. That is a significant noise reduction, but the rifle is still producing a noise louder than a jack-hammer (and hearing protection is still recommended). Watch the video below to learn other important facts about firearm suppressors.

NSSF Hosts Suppressor Demonstration for News Media

The objective of the NSSF demo was to give the news media more accurate information about hearing protection devices. In addition, the NSSF wanted to correct many popular misconceptions about suppressors. Mainstream media reports about sound suppressors are typically inaccurate, incomplete, and misinformed. For example, most media stories fail to acknowledge that suppressors are legal throughout Europe, and widely used by European hunters and target shooters. If you were to believe the typical news report on suppressors, silencers are evil and dangerous. The NSSF demo was designed to replace ignorance with facts.

NSSF Suppressor News Media Demonstration demo Manassas Class III Regulation

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April 11th, 2017

President’s Son Supports New Suppressor Legislation in Congress

Hearing Safety act suppressor silencerco thunder beast silencer legislation
Thunder Beast Arms suppressors are popular with tactical competitors and hunters.

Hopefully, in the near future, it will be much easier to purchase a suppressor for your firearm. Legislative efforts to reform the laws governing suppressors are moving forward in the U.S. Congress.

On January 9, 2017, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), introduced H.R. 367 to remove suppressors from National Firearms Act control and treat them the same as long guns, replacing the outdated federal transfer process with a NICS background check. The measure picked up 42 Republican co-sponsors and one Democrat co-sponsor. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introducted the similar Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (S. 59) in the U.S. Senate.

The new silencer reform legislation has a key backer — Donald Trump, Jr., the President’s son. “It’s about safety. It’s a health issue, frankly.” Trump Jr. explains in a video interview with Joshua Waldron, the founder of SilencerCo.

Donald Trump Jr. Talks about Suppressors and Shooting Safety

Donald Trump Jr. Talks about Suppressors
“I’ve had the privilege of being able to hunt in Europe, where some of the strictest gun laws in the world exist. Guess what… virtually every hunting gun there is suppressed. It’s about safety. If you had that kind of noise levels in any other industry as you would in shooting sports, OSHA would be all over the place. It’s about safety.” Trump Jr. said the current U.S. suppressor laws are “arbitrary policies by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.” He says it’s time the U.S. follow the lead of European nations, and adopt sensible suppressor policies, “because if Europe can do it, American better well be able to do it.”

NSSF Supports Hearing Safety Act
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) supports efforts to make silencers/suppressors easier to purchase. “This legislation will enable gun owners to have better access to hearing protection products and improve safety for the shooting sports by removing extensive wait times for burdensome paperwork processing that does not advance public safety,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior VP and general counsel.

“Anyone who has ever worried about hearing loss from shooting might want to lend their ears to this cause” said Emily Taylor, an attorney at the Houston law firm of Walker & Byington.

Current law imposes signficant barriers to suppressor ownership, Taylor explained: “Currently, the manufacture, purchase, and possession of firearm silencers are regulated by the ATF and must comply with the requirements laid out in the National Firearms Act (NFA). Anyone who wants a firearm suppressor must first get approval from the ATF and pay the required tax. An extended waiting period comes along with the time it takes the ATF to process these requests.”

“The Hearing Protection Act seeks to amend the law so that firearm silencers are treated the same way as long guns,” Taylor added. “The bill would make it so that there is no longer a tax associated with the transfer of a firearm silencer, and anyone who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 could receive a refund of such tax. Lastly, the bill would preempt certain state laws that tried to impose taxes or registration requirements on firearm silencers.”

This article based on story in the Midsouth Shooters Supply Blog.

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February 16th, 2017

ATF White Paper Recommends Changes in Suppressor Laws

ATF silencer suppressor white paper

In the near future, there could be changes in the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) treats sound suppressors (aka “moderators” or “silencers”). An official government White Paper, dated 1/20/17, was recently leaked to the press and revealed by the Washington Post.

CLICK HERE to READ FULL Text of ATF WHITE PAPER

ATF silencer suppressor white paper

The ATF White Paper makes some key points about suppressors:

1. 42 States currently allow silencers.
2. Silencers are not a threat to public safety, and are rarely used in criminal activities.
3. The inclusion of suppressors in the NFA is “archaic” and should be reevaluated.
4. The definition of regulated suppressor components should be narrowed, so that only key items are regulated as opposed to “any combination of [silencer] parts”.
5. A change in Federal law removing silencers from regulation under the NFA would save resources, allowing the ATF to focus on reducing actual gun-related crime.

ATF silencer suppressor white paper

Here is the operative text of the ATF White Paper:

Current Federal law requires ATF to regulate silencers under the NFA. This requires a Federal tax payment of $200 for transfers, ATF approval, and entry of the silencer into a national NFA database. In the past several years, opinions about silencers have changed across the United States. Their use to reduce noise at shooting ranges and applications within the sporting and hunting industry are now well recognized.

At present, 42 states generally allow silencers to be used for sporting purposes. The wide acceptance of silencers and corresponding changes in state laws have created substantial demand across the country. This surge in demand has caused ATF to have a significant backlog on silencer applications. ATF’s processing time is now approximately 8 months. ATF has devoted substantial resources in attempts to reduce processing times, spending over $1 million annually in overtime and temporary duty expenses, and dedicating over 33 additional full-time and contract positions since 2011 to support NFA processing. Despite these efforts, NFA processing times are widely viewed by applicants and the industry as far too long, resulting in numerous complaints to Congress. Since silencers account for the vast majority of NFA applications, the most direct way to reduce processing times is to reduce the number of silencer applications. In light of the expanding demand and acceptance of silencers, however, that volume is unlikely to diminish unless they are removed from the NFA. While DOJ and ATF have historically not supported removal of items from the NFA, the change in public acceptance of silencers arguably indicates that the reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.

ATF’s experience with the criminal use of silencers also supports reassessing their inclusion in the NFA. On average in the past 10 years, ATF has only recommended 44 defendants a year for prosecution on silencer-related violations; of those, only approximately 6 of the defendants had prior felony convictions. Moreover, consistent with this low number of prosecution referrals, silencers are very rarely used in criminal shootings. Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act] (GCA].

If such a change were to be considered, a revision in the definition of a silencer would be important. The current definition of a silencer extends to “any combination of [silencer] parts”, as well as “any part intended only for use in” a silencer. Compared to the definition of a firearm, which specifies the frame or receiver is the key regulated part, any individual silencer part is generally regulated just as if it were a completed silencer. Revising the definition could eliminate many of the current issues encountered by silencer manufacturers and their parts suppliers. Specifically, clarifying when a part or combination of parts meets a minimum threshold requiring serialization would be useful.

Permalink Handguns, News 6 Comments »
December 3rd, 2016

CANtastic — Learn About Suppressors on GunTalk

Sound Suppressor

This Sunday, December 4, 2016, Tom Gresham’s GunTalk Radio will feature a discussion of suppressors, aka “silencers”, “cans”, or “sound moderators”. With firearms industry experts, Tom will discuss the current regulations for suppressors, as well as efforts to remove silencers from the list of NFA items requiring expensive tax stamps and cumbersome paperwork. With the Republican gains in the November election, there are renewed calls for changes in the laws regulating suppressors. In fact, many suppressor advocates say now is the time for sound moderators to be removed from NFA control altogether, so that suppressors could purchased “over the counter” just like scopes, slings, or other common shooting/hunting accessories.

How Suppressors Work — The Science of Silencers

Suppressors are a valuable accessory for general-purpose rifles, so we would like to see suppressors legal in all 50 states. In addition, we believe the USA should follow the lead of European nations which promote the use of sound suppressors for safety reasons. In most European countries, for example, you can purchase a suppressor easily. There are no difficult barriers to ownership, onerous background checks, or special taxes. The Europeans seem to understand that suppressors protect the hearing of shooters (and bystanders), while suppressor use also dramatically reduces “noise pollution” concerns for shooting ranges in urban/suburban areas. The Europeans also understand that sporting/hunting use of suppressors does NOT increase criminal or gang activity. It is time for the USA to adopt these more enlightened viewpoints.

Sound Suppressor

About Tom Gresham’s GunTalk Radio:
In its 21st year of national syndication, Tom Gresham’s GunTalk radio show airs live on Sundays from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern, and runs on more than 200 stations every week. Listen live on a radio station near you or via live streaming from one of GunTalk’s Syndicated Audio Stations. After airing live, all GunTalk Radio Shows can also be downloaded as podcasts.

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June 12th, 2016

SilencerCo Leads Huge Growth in USA Suppressor Market

Suppressor Silencer Josh Waldron Dean Weingarten Silencerco

In this article, Gun Watch Editor Dean Weingarten interviews SilencerCo Founder/CEO Josh Waldron. Started in 2008, SilencerCo is an amazing success story. The company now sells 18,000 silencers a month. To put that in perspective, a decade ago, the entire domestic suppressor industry was selling 18,000 suppressors a YEAR. SilencerCo now controls 65% of the suppressor market in the USA, and its business is growing 100% a year.

This growth is remarkable considering that suppressors remain highly regulated and costly to acquire. The National Firearms Act (NFA), passed in 1934, imposes significant restrictions and requires a $200 tax to be paid on each silencer sold.

How Suppressors Work — The Science of Silencers

Interview with Josh Waldron, CEO of SilencerCo
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

At the NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, I was able to talk to Josh Waldron, CEO of SilencerCo. Josh is more than a visionary. He is a man who acted on his vision, and is changing the gun culture and the national culture.

I [visited] the SilencerCo booth during the NRA Annual Meeting. I was told that SilencerCo produces about 65% of the silencers in the United States. The company is growing so fast that it was hard to keep up with the number of employees, currently about 330 and rising quickly. There is no doubt that SilencerCo holds a dominant market share and is growing at an exceptionally fast rate. I asked Josh about the future of silencers and silencer legislation.

Q: Do you have a plan, and can you tell me about it?

“It starts as education. Ever since we started the company in 2008, we have had a focus on education and advocacy. When I first started the company… only 18,000 silencers were sold in the United States each year, and that was every manufacturer.”

“From the time we have started until now, there were 18,000 then, we are now selling about 18,000 silencers every month, just SilencerCo.”

“In the last five years, this has been the fastest growing segment of the firearms industry.”

Suppressor Silencer Josh Waldron Dean Weingarten Silencerco

When I first started the company… only 18,000 silencers were sold in the United States each YEAR [from] every manufacturer. We are now selling about 18,000 silencers every MONTH, just SilencerCo. — Josh Waldron

“People are just starting to understand. This is not a ‘cool accessory’ as much as it is a personal protection/personal safety device, just as you would consider any other device that keeps you safe while you shoot, such as safety glasses. It is really the only true way to hunt while you protect your hearing. As we continue to educate the market, it grows exponentially. A guy will get one who has never had one before, he brings it home, he shows his friends, and they say ‘Oh my gosh, I want to buy one!’ Every time we get suppressors out there, the snowball continues to grow and get bigger and bigger.”

Q: Your market share is dominant. Your sales growth is exponential, isn’t it?

“Yes … pretty amazing. We are growing 100% every year.”

WATCH X-Ray View of Shots Through Silencer (28,000 frames per second, 22 Sparrow)

Q: Do you fear that removal of suppressors from the NFA (National Firearms Act) will cut into your profit margin?

“I don’t think so. We don’t get to take full benefit of the economies of scale. We have to order materials on a small-batch basis. As we increase the number of suppressors going out the door we decrease the amount that it costs us. We haven’t pushed it to the level where are seeing those economies of scale.”

“We are always going to be a top-shelf brand. We are never going to discount our brand. We will be a leader in the industry, continually. I do believe there will be a lot of new entrants to the industry. I do not think that will hurt our brand or hurt our market.”

Q: I saw the Maxim 9, SilencerCo’s integrally-suppressed pistol, at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Is the Maxim 9 in production yet?

“It is not in production yet. Projects of this size take a lot of research and development. They take a lot of torture testing. We have to put it through a lot of standard testing. We use outside firms that come in and test and evaluate, so that we can hold our heads up high and say ‘This is a duty grade weapon’. We are not going to release it until it is.”

“I do not want to be marketing to our men and women in uniform, and saying this is a safe way to shoot until we can say this is a perfect firearm for them. The amount of testing is extremely rigorous. We are on schedule. We will release it, probably in December.”

Q: Is the Maxim 9 your entry into a future market of integrally-suppressed firearms?

“Yes. Our intention with the Maxim brand is to have integrally-suppressed firearms in that brand. We are talking everything from shotguns to rifles to pistols. The pistol is a good place to start because it is the holy grail of integrally suppressed guns that everyone has wanted. It is extremely difficult to do. People have tried it and failed, years and years, for decades, and this is the first time it has actually been viable and real. We are very excited about that, and very proud of that. We are going to move into new calibers as soon as this one starts shipping. We are very excited to expand that line.”

Suppressor Silencer Josh Waldron Dean Weingarten Silencerco

“Do I think the gun companies will compete? They can try. Number one, our IQ is amazing around this product. We spent a lot of time researching every firearm, every handgun that you can think of. How the mechanisms worked, and why. We had to be thorough. Which is why we designed the gun from the ground up. We went into every single style of this type of firearm, and other types of handguns as well, and really, truly understand how it needed to be designed. We had to take every mechanism, the guide rods, the springs, the things that are in front of the chamber in a conventional handgun, and move them behind the chamber. That was our biggest challenge. Do I think that some of those guys will start competing and get around our IQ? It will be a lot harder for them than for us. Because we are the ones who figured it out in the first place, and we have a lot of patents around that.”

Q: Rifles have had a lot of [suppressor] solutions … for a long time.

“We will get into those lines, the rifle lines. The difference is that we will design the gun, just the same way as we did for the Maxim 9. We will design the gun for the suppressor instead of putting on a suppressor designed for the gun, so our guns will be better.”

Suppressor Silencer Josh Waldron Dean Weingarten Silencerco

“There are about 400 million firearms in the U.S. right now. Most of those were not designed with a suppressor in mind. There is a huge market for retrofitted suppressors.”

“Which is what we have been doing for the last eight years, it is what we have done as a company which is providing solutions for firearms that already exist. The field is ready to harvest as far as creating a new platform. A new platform that has never been done before this, that was designed from the ground up with the intention of being suppressed, integrally suppressed.”

Q: You say you are going to stay on the high end. I looked at some of the markets. There is a lot of low end potential out there.

“There is. It is something that I am just not interested in. Number one, I do not know how to make something that is not the best.”

“It is impossible to know what the percentage of the market the high end will be. It is important to me to make the best product in the world. I am a brand guy. My brand is very important to me to so if I am making things that are less than the best, that is not ever something that I want. I always want to be top shelf.”

Q: Are you exporting much?

“We export, yes. We can’t export to the commercial market. Only to the military and law enforcement. It is a State Department thing.

“We have a bill right now, it is called the Suppressor Export Act. Congressman Jeff Stewart is the one that is sponsoring that bill for us. It would ensure that the State Department would have to allow us to take part in the world market, that is available, that we are not able to take part in right now. We can only export to law enforcement and military, but not to the commercial market. But with this bill, we would be able to export to everybody. If there is a country where it is legal to have suppressors, we would be allowed to export to them.”

“There are suppressor manufacturers all over the world, and they sell all over the world. The United States is the only place where they are this regulated. It is just crazy. You can go to the UK, where it is really hard to own a gun, and you can buy a suppressor over the counter, without a background check.”

“We are behind the curve when it comes to the rest of the world.”

Q: Can [one buy stock in Silencerco]?

“We are a private company.”

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

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February 13th, 2016

Michigan Approves Use of Suppressors for Hunting

suppressor hunting Michigan

Here’s good news for suppressor owners in the Great Lakes state. The Michigan legislature has approved the use of suppressors for hunting. On February 11th, Michigan became the 38th state to allow for the use of firearm suppressors while hunting when the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) voted 4 – 1 to approve an amended version of Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 1 of 2016. The measure became effective immediately.

The American Suppressor Association led a coalition working to legalize suppressor hunting in Michigan. Other organizations involved were the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), and Safari Club International (SCI).

“We are incredibly excited that hunters in the great state of Michigan can now use suppressors to help protect their hearing while they’re in the field,” said Knox Williams, President of the American Suppressor Association. “It was a pleasure working to educate the NRC Commissioners and members of the DNR on the realities of suppressor use. We applaud their decision to remove the prohibition on suppressor hunting without the two restrictive provisions. In doing so, they have done their part to ensure that the next generation of hunters does not have to sacrifice their hearing.”

suppressor hunting Michigan

Our friend Paul Phillips (above), is pleased with this change: “With this new Law that passed in Michigan Today, I will be hunting with my GEMTECH arrow silencer. I can’t wait for Spring to start Shooting ELR.”

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December 11th, 2015

Major Increase in Sales of Suppressors and other NFA Items

Suppressor, Class III, ATF, tax stamp, maxim, silencerThis X-ray photograph reveals a variety of suppressor baffle configurations:

Report by NSSF
Apparently, today’s shooters like the sounds of silence. Americans are buying and licensing more suppressors and other NFA (National Firearms Act) items than ever before. The number of NFA applications filed with the NFA Branch at ATF continues to rise. With a greatly increased staff of 25 Legal Instrument Examiners, the backlog of NFA forms has been whittled down from more than 80,000 to about 36,000. Much of the intense increase in interest in NFA items is focused on silencers. According to ATF’s 2011 Commerce in Firearms Report, as of December 2010 there were 284,087 lawfully registered silencers in the United States. As of March 2014, there were 571,750. That’s means the number of registered suppressor more than doubled in three and a quarter years. And 2015 will probably be a record year for suppressor sales.

A Brief History of Suppressors (aka “Silencers”)
Hiram Percy Maxim, the son of Hiram Stevens Maxim (inventor of the Maxim machine gun) created the first firearm sound suppressors. An early advertisement for his Maxim Silencer Company explained that the hot propellant gases from discharging the firearm “are made to whirl around inside the Silencer,” and cannot leave the silencer until they have slowed down enough to not produce a loud noise. Initially, silencers were inexpensive and easy to obtain. Before the adoption of the National Firearms Act in 1934, Mr. Maxim sold a variety of silencer designs priced from $5.00 to $9.50. These were shipped in the U.S. Mail, without restrictions. Things are much different today — to own a suppressor, one must obtain federal approval and pay a special tax.

silencer, suppressor, maxim, NFA, Firearsm Act

Silencers consist of a few basic parts. The CTD Shooter’s Log explains: “The envelope is the cylindrical metal tube in which the other components are stuffed. Inside the envelope are the expansion chamber and baffles. The expansion chamber is a relatively big empty space surrounding the muzzle, and the baffles are like coffee cups stacked on top of each other with a hole drilled through the middle of them for the bullet to pass through. This is where most of the ‘magic’ happens within the silencer.”

To learn more about suppressors, read Silencer Terms and Tech in the CTD Shooter’s Log.

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October 24th, 2015

No More NFA for Suppressors? Hearing Protection Act Would Change Everything…

suppressor silencer sound moderator NFA 1934 ATF hearing protection

New legislation by Congressman Matt Salmon* (R-AZ) would make it much easier to purchase a suppressor (aka “silencer” or “sound moderator”) for use with firearms. The new Hearing Protection Act (HPA), H.R. 3799, will remove suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the current burdensome federal transfer process with a standard NICS background check. Under the proposed law, acquiring a suppressor would be like purchasing a firearm — you would obtain the suppressor from an FFL dealer after passing a background check. There would still be a background check, but suppressor purchasers would no longer be required to fill out extensive paperwork, be fingerprinted, and pay for a $200.00 tax stamp. The HPA also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchase a suppressor after October 22, 2015.

Many older hunters and sport shooters suffer from hearing loss. Greater access to suppressors would help prevent that health problem. “Suppressors significantly reduce the chance of hearing loss for anyone who enjoys the shooting sports,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20 – 35 decibels (dB), roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs. In addition to hearing protection, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting lands.

Because suppressors safeguard hearing and reduce “noise pollution”, suppressors are widely used in many countries, including the United Kingdom. In most parts of Europe, suppressors are readily available at reasonable cost. According to the NRA-ILA, “Many European nations place no regulations on [suppressor] acquisition or use.” In the “enlightened” European view, sound moderators are considered a “good thing”. Is it time for the USA to change its laws?

It’s Time to Remove Unnecessary Burdens to Suppressor Ownership
Suppressors have been federally regulated since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA regulates the transfer and possession of certain types of firearms and devices, including suppressors. Currently, prospective buyers must send in a Form 4 application to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax per suppressor, undergo the same background check that is required to purchase a machine gun, get a “CLEO Signoff”, and wait months for the ATF to process and approve the paperwork.

The American Suppressor Association (ASA) states that: “[The] Hearing Protection Act will fix the flawed federal treatment of suppressors, making it easier for hunters and sportsmen to protect their hearing in the 41 states where private suppressor ownership is currently legal, and the 37 states where hunting with a suppressor is legal. This legislation will remove suppressors from the onerous requirements of the NFA, and instead require purchasers to pass an instant NICS check, the same background check that is used during the sale of long guns.”

suppressor moderator silencer hearing protection act HPA

There has been a huge growth in the number of registered suppressors in the USA. From 2014 to 2015, the number of NFA-registered suppressors rose from 571,150 to 792,282. That’s a 39% increase in just one year! It’s remarkable that there are nearly 800,000 suppressors now registered in the USA. These stats are based on data published in the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Firearms Commerce Report.

*Joining Rep. Matt Salmon as co-sponsors of H.R. 3799, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA), are ten other U.S. Representatives: Frank Guinta (R-NH), John Carter (R-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Chris Collins (R-NY), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Mia Love (R-UT), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Chris Stewart (R-UT).

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August 9th, 2015

39% Increase in Suppressor Ownership in Past Year

Can Suppressor Moderator Silencer BATFE ATF Guns.com Registered NFA 800,000 suppressors in USA

There has been a huge growth in the number of registered suppressors in the USA. From 2014 to 2015, the number of NFA-registered suppressors rose from 571,150 to 792,282. That’s a 39% increase in just one year! It’s remarkable that there are nearly 800,000 suppressors now registered in the USA. These stats are based on data published in the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Firearms Commerce Report.

According to Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, “The suppressor market grew more [from 2014-2015] than it did in the previous two years combined. This unprecedented growth is in large part due to educational initiatives, and the passage of 11 pro-suppressor laws and regulations last year.” (Source: Guns.com.)

We expect suppressors (also known as “cans”, “silencers” or “sound moderators”) to become even more popular in the years to come. This trend will continue: “As more target shooters and hunters realize the many benefits suppressors provide, their popularity across the United States will continue to increase,” said NSSF Senior Vice president and General Counsel Larry Keane.

Texas Leads the Way in Suppressor Ownership
Currently, 41 states permit ownership of Federally-registered suppressors. While suppressor ownership rates are increasing in all those 41 states, forty percent (40%) of all registered suppressors are found in five key states: Texas (130,769), Georgia (59,942), Florida (50,422), Utah (50,291) and Oklahoma (27,874).

Can Suppressor Moderator Silencer BATFE ATF Guns.com Registered NFA 800,000 suppressors in USA

Suppressor CAD drawing by Reimo Soosaar, hosted on GrabCAD.com.
Silencer infographic by SilencerCo.com.

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May 16th, 2015

UPS Now Refuses to Ship Suppressors (Silencers)

TBAC suppressor silencer

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) this week learned that United Parcel Service (UPS) has apparently changed its policy regarding the shipment of firearms suppressors. According to the NSSF, a new policy is in effect at UPS facilities nationwide. This new policy states that UPS will no longer ship suppressors, even between Federal licensees.
TBAC suppressor silencer

NSSF representatives are now trying to find out why UPS has changed its shipping policies:

“NSSF is working with UPS executives to determine what prompted the enforcement of this unwarranted policy. We are unaware of any thefts or losses that would explain the shipping company’s sudden decision to enforce a prohibition against shipment. NSSF will keep you apprised of developments. Separately, NSSF is also working with the U.S. State Department to achieve a change of policy to allow export of suppressors.”

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January 3rd, 2015

Silencer Shop Makes It Easy to Acquire and Register Suppressors

Many of us would like to outfit one (or more) of our rifles with a suppressor, but the cost and red tape involved can be daunting. Some states prohibit private individuals from owning suppressors. However, most U.S. states DO allow suppressor ownership. That’s the good news. On the other hand, suppressors are not inexpensive and the process of obtaining governmental approval is time-consuming. Then there is the cost of the tax stamp itself — $200.00 for each silencer you own.

Nonetheless, suppressors are fun, and they serve an important function. Along with protecting your hearing, suppressors can tame recoil and dramatically reduce muzzle flash. Noise reduction of up to 35 decibels is possible with a .223 Rem. When shooting any firearm, you should still wear hearing protection of course, but suppressors can help reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage.

Benefits of a Suppressor — Why Suppressors Make Sense:

Is It Legal For You To Own A Silencer?
The vast majority of the 50 states permit citizens to own silencers. Currently, the following states allow private ownership of suppressors: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, and WY. Even if you live in one of these states, you should verify that owning a suppressor is legal in your city/county.

If you live in a state where suppressor ownership is legal, and you can legally own a firearm, then you can buy a suppressor. However, you need to obtain ATF permission and pay a tax.

If you are interested in getting a suppressor, thankfully there is a source that can help you select the right product, and fill out all the paperwork required. The Silencer Shop specializes in sound moderators for pistols, rimfire rifles, centerfire rifles, and yes, even shotguns. The Silencer Shop maintains a large selection of suppressors for sale, and the shop can guide you through the NFA permitting process from start to finish.

How to Buy a Silencer, Part One:

Based on hundreds of successful applications for its customers, the Silencer Shop has streamlined the National Firearms Act (NFA) Registration process for suppressor ownership. Having submitted more silencer NFA Forms than any other dealer, these guys know the ropes: “We’re at the leading edge of making the NFA process as fast and easy as possible. From our famous ‘Black Packets’ to the latest electronic submissions and Silencer Shop Direct, we have a history of innovation in this area”. The Silencer Shop also works with knowledgeable attorneys who can help you set up an NFA trust to own suppressors and other NFA items. CLICK HERE to Learn How to Register a Suppressor to a Trust.

silencer shop direct NFA suppressor register registration Class III

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September 25th, 2014

Intro to Suppressors — How Silencers Work

“How do silencers work?” We hear that question often. Now, thanks to Silencerco.com, we can answer that question. Here’s a helpful infographic that illustrates the features of a suppressor (aka “silencer”, “can”, or “sound moderator”). Silencers reduce gunshot noise by providing a contained space where hot gases can dissipate and cool before exiting. Silencers are typically divided into multiple, internal expansion chambers. A quality suppressor can reduce gunshot noise by 30 decibels (db) or more. See the chart for comparative firearm noise levels (suppressed vs. un-suppressed).

In the United States, suppressors have become much more popular in recent years. In fact, the number of licensed silencers has doubled since 2011. Over 571,750 suppressors are now lawfully registered in the USA. Firearm sound moderators can now be purchased legally in 39 states, provided one obtains the requisite Federal tax stamp. (Texas is the leading suppressor state.) Seven European countries also allow suppressor ownership.

CLICK IMAGE to Load Larger Version.
silencerco.com silencer suppressor moderator ATF moderator

Silencer suppressor modern shooterSuppressors Featured in Modern Shooter
Legal for private ownership in 39 states, suppressors are more popular than ever (though many gun owners are still not aware that silencers can be acquired without much difficulty). The Fall 2014 issue of Modern Shooter focuses on the popularity of today’s suppressors and sound-moderating technology available for handguns, rifles, and shotguns. This entire issue is dedicated to suppressors and their benefits. This comprehensive guide explains how suppressors work and how gun owners can easily (and lawfully) purchase them. The issue includes a detailed history of the suppressor, which was first patented in 1909 by the son of the inventor of the machine gun. There is also a feature story on hunting with suppressors in Europe. Modern Shooter is available on newsstands and as a digital download at GunDigestStore.com.

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March 24th, 2014

Hurry Up and Wait — ATF Taking More Time to Process Forms

ATF BATFE Form 4 Processing Delay TimeThe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) Enforcement Programs and Services (EPS) Division has posted a new chart for its form-processing times, and the latest information is not good. NFA Forms 1 and 4 are now taking 10 months to process.

The ATF’s NFA Form 4, is one of the forms required to legally purchase a suppressor (sound moderator). The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is working to get additional resources committed to EPS through the Congressional appropriations process. NSSF Senior VP and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane stated: “The delays and lack of timely customer service, which grows worse every month, is significantly interfering with the ability of members of our industry to engage in the lawful commerce and grow their businesses[.] It also infringes on the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights in a timely manner, and a right delayed is a right denied.”

Related Resources:

ATF BATFE Form Processing Delay Time

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December 7th, 2013

Benefits of Sound Suppressors Demonstrated in Surefire Video

If you are considering purchasing a sound moderator (aka “suppressor” or “can”) for one or more of your rifles, a video from Surefire explains the many benefits of modern suppressors. Sound moderators not only reduce the audible sound coming from a firearm, but they also reduce flash signature, dust signature, and recoil.

Surefire Suppressor

In the video below, Surefire highlights the features and benefits of its line of quick-attach suppressors. These are crafted from special alloys that are “stronger at 1000° F than stainless steel is cold.” While the video focuses on the use of suppressors by military and police personnel, these devices are also beneficial for hunters and competitive tactical shooters.

YouTube Preview Image

Noise Reduction
A shot from a .308 Win rifle can be as loud as 167 db to the shooter. Notably, the noise level can be just as great to someone positioned one meter away (Source: 1999 Finish Suppressor Trials). What’s worse is that popular muzzle brakes can INCREASE shooters’ noise exposure by 5 to 10 db. The noise level at which hearing damage can occur is about 140 db. A quality modern suppressor can reduce .308 Win rifle shot noise levels to 130 db or less.

Finland Suppressor Test Trials

Surefire SuppressorFlash Signature Reduction
For a varminter, a quality suppressor can reduce the visible muzzle flash from a rifle by 90% or more. That’s important when hunting at night. The bright flash can both spook game and temporarily degrade the hunters’ night vision. Using a suppressor can help the shooter maintain his night-adapted vision.

Recoil Reduction
Recoil reduction is a real benefit. In 1992, Finland’s National Board of Labor Protection tested a variety of suppressors on both bolt-action hunting rifles and select-fire military rifles. The study concluded that recoil reduction was significant: “Suppressors reduced recoil energy by 20 to 30 percent, or about as must as muzzle brakes, making powerful bolt-action hunting rifles considerably less painful to shoot (especially repeated shots in training).”

Dust Signature
When firing prone, a rifle with a muzzle brake kicks up a large cloud of dust. (Watch video at 3:00). In a military situation, this dust signature can reveal the shooter’s position — with potentially disastrous consequences. For a tactical competitor, the dust may prevent recognition of a hit while impeding a rapid second-shot. For the varminter, the dust cloud is a nuisance that may prevent him from seeing his hits, while sending critters scurrying back into cover.

Message to Politicians — Suppressors Will Save Tax Dollars
Here is an interesting finding from the 1992 Finland Suppressor Project: “The unit price of a mass-produced suppressor may be reduced to $50 to $70 (1992 prices). [This low cost] will make cost-effectiveness of the suppressor far better than that of any shooting range [sound-proofing]… and, actually, also better than the cost-effectiveness of hearing protection, especially when several persons are present while just one of them is shooting at a time.” Too bad most politicians can’t seem to understand these points. They still view suppressors as evil tools employed by gangsters, rather than proven safety devices that will reduce noise pollution.

Is the “price of noise” something we really need to consider from a public policy standpoint? Absolutely. In 2004 the Veterans Administration paid out $633.8 million in compensation to 378,982 vets whose main disability is hearing loss. Only a small fraction of those vets saw combat; most damaged their hearing during weapons training activities.

Resources:
Finnish Suppressor Trials 1999 Chart
Finnish Suppressor Trials 1999 (.308 Sound Measurements)
Finnish Suppressor Project 1992 (English Summary)
Finnish Suppressor Project 1992 Procedures

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September 5th, 2013

Silencer Facts: 39 States Now Allow Sound Suppressor Ownership

Approximately 27,000 suppressors, also called “silencers” or “sound moderators”, are sold in the United States every year. That may surprise you because the main-stream media often incorrectly report that suppressors are illegal. In fact, suppressors are legal to own in 39 states, provided that the devices are acquired in compliance with federal and state laws (which are explained below). In most of those 39 states, owners of legally-acquired suppressors may use their “cans” for hunting. The American Silencer Institute (ASA) has created a graphic showing where suppressors are legal to own, and where they may be used for hunting. Take a look:

Silencer Jurisdictions Hunting map

SILENCER LEGALITY AND OWNERSHIP
Silencers are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, under the oversight of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). To legally purchase/possess a silencer you must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a silencer from a dealer.
  • Be at least 18 years of age to purchase a silencer from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer (contingent on state laws).
  • Be at least 18 years of age to possess a silencer as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation (contingent on state laws).
  • Be a resident of the United States.
  • Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm.
  • Pass a BATFE background check with a typical process time of 60-120 days.
  • Pay a one-time $200 Transfer Tax.
  • Reside in one of the 39 states that currently allows civilian ownership of silencers.

NOTE: In addition to these basic Federal rules regarding silencers, particular states may have additional registration requirements or other regulations. Check with a knowledgeable firearms attorney in your jurisdiction before beginning the process of buying a suppressor.

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.

Map Graphic by American Silencer Association.
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