In this excellent video from SilencerCo.com, NFL Pro Bowl Tackle Fletcher Cox works with LG Outfitters to stalk and harvest Nilgai Antelope using a suppressed rifle. “Nilgai are pretty special animals — they’re from India. Originally brought down by the King Ranch in the 1930s, they’ve just gone nomadic and they’re all over South Texas.” — Leeroy Gonzales, LG Outfitters.
Click below to watch the video.
“Hunting goes back to the way you approach things. You’ve gotta have a game plan.”
As all committed hunters know, the majority of the hunt is in the preparation. Selecting your gear, choosing the perfect location, waking up before dawn, posting up to patiently wait…
Fletcher Cox is all too familiar with putting time and effort into perfecting his craft and honing the execution. As a Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, Cox knows that dedication and practice make for the best possible outcome.
Fletcher Cox confirms his Zero before the hunt.
Only the split-second trigger pull is the actual act of the harvest. The rest? That’s the game plan. Here (1:42) Fletcher Cox makes a successful shot on a Nilgai: “We got meat on the ground boys…”
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.
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.
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.
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We may see a big change in how sound suppressors are regulated in the future, if new legislation from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) becomes law. On January 10, 2017, Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC) and Rep. John “Judge” Carter (TX) introduced H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). This law would remove suppressors (aka “moderators”) from National Firearms Act (NFA) control, eliminating requirements of extensive paperwork, and purchase of a tax stamp. If the Hearing Protection Act becomes law, suppressors could be purchased through an FFL (after a NICS background check), just like a normal, non-NFA firearm. This would make suppressors more affordable in the 42 states where suppressors are legal to own. What’s more, the new legislation includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchased a suppressor after Oct. 22, 2015.
Suppressors function by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle, allowing them to slowly cool in a baffled chamber. 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.
“Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss after years of shooting, and yet the tool necessary to reduce such loss is onerously regulated and taxed. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act would allow people easier access to suppressors, which would help them to better protect their hearing.”
Guns.com explained how the Hearing Protection Act will change current law: “Since 1934, the federal government has treated devices designed to muffle or suppress the report of firearms as Title II devices that required registration under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record and mandated transfers that included a $200 tax stamp. The Duncan-Carter bill would repeal this requirement and treat suppressors as firearms — which would allow them to be transferred through any regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.”
This video discusses an earlier version of the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 3799:
“For the past five years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has worked alongside the state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses in the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, the American Suppressor Association, and many other partners at the state level to normalize the use of suppressors throughout the nation,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. A similar bill was introduced last year by Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ) but that legislation never made it out of committee.
If you have purchased a suppressor in the last year, the HPA could put money back in your pocket. As drafted, the HPA also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchased a suppressor after October 22, 2015.
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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.
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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Muzzle brakes are controversial. Some people swear by them, while others swear at them. Still, there’s no question that a good brake can reduce felt recoil up to 45%. And likewise, the best brakes, when installed properly, seem to have no negative effect on accuracy.
Roy Bertalotto has done considerable experimentation with muzzle brakes, testing dozens of brake designs on his own rifles over the past few years. Roy’s article, Adventures with Muzzle Brakes, discusses various aspects of muzzle brake design and performance. Roy doesn’t claim that his testing is definitive, but his article is definitely worth a read. Here are some of Roy’s interesting findings:
Exit Hole Diameter
“Best accuracy and effectiveness of the brake was obtained with a hole .020″ over bullet diameter. If the exit hole is too small, such as +.005″ over bullet diameter, accuracy suffers. If the depth of the exit hole is too shallow, the metal around the hole will erode very quickly.”
“The most effective braking was with a brake 1″ in diameter with a 3/4″ exit hole on each side, just in front of the muzzle. The bullet passes through a cone of 35 degrees before it exits the brake. (Like the tank example), Incredible reduction of recoil. But loud and ugly. Very easy to make since you don’t need a spin fixture or a dividing head.”
Bottom Gas Venting Helps Accuracy
“In my tests, not having holes all around the brake effects accuracy a bit. I believe it does something to the bullet by the air pushed ahead of the bullet creating unequal turbulence in the bullet path. I’ve tried a few brakes where I drilled only holes on the top, test fired, and then completed holes on the bottom and in every case, accuracy improved.” Below are spiral-ported brakes crafted by Clay Spencer.
Brakes Work Best with High-Pressure Cartridges
“The higher the pressure of the particular round, the more effective the brake. I have over 20 rifles with brakes. The 220 Swift is the king of reduction. Followed very closely by the 25-06, 6mm Remington, any Weatherby small bore. With a proper brake and a hot handload under a 40 gr bullet, the Swift will move 1/2″ to the rear and 0 muzzle rise! Big boomers with low pressure like 45-70s and shot guns benefit the least.” [Editor’s Note: Roy is judging effectiveness by the percentage of recoil reduction rather than absolute levels of recoil. Obviously if you start with a heavier-recoiling round, the absolute amount of recoil energy reduction is greater. Roy is really talking about efficiency–brakes are most efficient when used with high-pressure cartridges.]
Installation is Key to Accuracy
Roy’s findings are fascinating and suggest that further study of muzzle brakes is warranted. But we can all agree that precision installation of the brake is essential for accuracy. A poorly-installed, mis-aligned brake will degrade accuracy, that is well-known.
Harrell’s Precision has made thousands of muzzle brakes, in many styles and port arrangements. The Harrell brothers offer some good advice for gunsmiths installing brakes: “Muzzle brakes aren’t magic, they reduce recoil by redirecting exiting gas. What’s important is that they are straight and the threads are perpendicular with the base. The only way to get the base and threads perpendicular is to thread, not tap, them on a lathe.”
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Tactical ace Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms employs a simple, handy means to store his elevation and wind dift data — a laminated data card. To make one, first generate a come-up table, using one of the free online ballistics programs such as JBM Ballistics. You can also put the information in an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word table and print it out. You want to keep it pretty small.
Above is a sample of a data card. For each distance, the card includes drop in inches, drop in MOA, drop in mils. It also shows drift for a 10-mph cross wind, expressed three ways–inches, MOA, and mils. Zak explained that “to save space… I printed data every 50 yards. For an actual data-card, I recommend printing data every 20 or 25 yards.” But Zak also advised that you’ll want to customize the card format to keep things simple: “The sample card has multiple sets of data to be more universal. But if you make your own data card, you can reduce the chance of a mistake by keeping it simple. Because I use scopes with MILS, my own card (photo below left) just has three items: range, wind, drop in MILS only.”
Once you have the card you can fold it in half and then have it laminated at a local office store or Kinko’s. You can keep this in your pocket, tape it to your stock, or tie the laminated card to your rifle. If you regularly shoot at both low and high elevations, you may want to create multiple cards (since your ballistics change with altitude). To learn more about ballistic tables and data cards, check out the excellent Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting–Part 1 article on Zak’s website. This article offers many other insights as well–including valuable tips on caliber and rifle selection.
Scope-Cover Mounted Ballistics Table
Another option is to place your ballistics card on the back of the front flip-up scope cover. This set-up is used by Forum member Greg C. (aka “Rem40X”). With your ‘come-up’ table on the flip-up cover you can check your windage and elevation drops easily without having to move out of shooting position.
Greg tells us: “Placing my trajectory table on the front scope cover has worked well for me for a couple of years and thought I’d share. It’s in plain view and not under my armpit. And the table is far enough away that my aging eyes can read it easily. To apply, just use clear tape on the front objective cover.”
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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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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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This 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.
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.”
Ruger has been on a roll lately. The Ruger Precision Rifle has been a big hit, selling out at dealers across the country. Now Ruger has unveiled its new “tactical blacK” take-down version of the 10/22 with a suppressor-ready threaded bull barrel and modular stock. Ruger has offered 10/22 take-downs before but those previous models all had relatively skinny barrels. This version is more macho, and we expect it will be very popular. It’s just the thing for tactical rimfire games. The ability of the threaded barrel to take a suppressor will be attractive to potential buyers. A suppressed .22 LR is a very, very quiet tool.
This new Ruger 10/22 Takedown with Target Barrel features a hammer-forged .920″-diameter, 16.10″-long, fluted “target” barrel. The muzzle is threaded ½”-28 and fitted with a thread cap. Those threads ain’t just for a muzzle brake — Ruger knows buyers will be attaching suppressors. This new target barrel takedown model also incorporates the Ruger Modular Stock System which offers interchangeable low and high comb modules.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown with Target Barrel is lightweight and compact. Weight (before optics) is just 5.5 pounds. Total length, assembled, is 34.6 inches, but each sub-assembly is under 20.25 inches. The two sections (barrel assembly and action/buttstock assembly) fit in a convenient black nylon carrying case, which provides ample storage with extra pockets and mag pouches. As it employs Ruger’s standard 10/22 action and standard 10-round rotary magazine, this gun should be very reliable. We’re anxious to test one of these bull barrel Rugers to assess its accuracy. It certainly makes for a compact and portable package. Is a take-down 10/22 (with suppressor of course) the ultimate “truck gun”?
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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.”
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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Sound can be a tricky subject, but Cal Zant, the editor of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, presents everything an informed shooter should know about muzzle brake noise in a straightforward and practical way. Most sound tests are measured from the side of the muzzle, in accordance with mil-spec standards, and Cal did that. But he also measured the sound level of each brake from behind the rifle, closer to the shooter’s position. This provides a more accurate indicator of the actual sound levels firearms operators will encounter while shooting.
Muzzle brakes ARE really loud — that’s something most active shooters have observed. But this study finally gives us some hard data and makes objective comparisons. The difference between brakes was quite significant. Some brakes were ear-splitting — more than twice as loud as other brakes tested.
As a bonus, Cal also provides data on how the new Ultra series suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp (TBAC) compare in terms of sound level behind the rifle.
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).
Another massive, data-driven field test has been completed by our friend, Cal Zant, over at PrecisionRifleBlog.com. The past few months, Cal has tested 20+ muzzle brakes designed for 6mm, 6.5mm, and .30-caliber precision rifles. Hundreds of hours have gone into this research, and it provides a lot of new insight and empirical data for several aspects of muzzle devices. Cal put a huge amount of labor/engineering into these tests and his findings deserve to be widely read.
Cal created a system to directly measure the entire recoil force signature of each muzzle brake using high-speed sensors. Although the recoil cycle happens very quickly (around 1/100th of a second), his test equipment could record up to 1,000 force data points during a single recoil cycle! He fired over 1,000 rounds of match-grade ammo through four different rifles: 6XC, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and the monster .300 Norma Magnum. He literally spent thousands of dollars on this part of the test, to ensure he got it right.
Cartridge Types Tested: 6XC, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and .300 Norma Magnum
Ability To Stay On Target
David Tubb helped Cal develop this part of the test, because David believes this is the most important aspect of a muzzle brake. Using a laser and high-speed camera, Cal was able to objectively quantify how well each design helped you stay on target.
Muzzle brakes are loud, but some are louder than others … three to four times as loud. Cal enlisted the help of an expert from the suppressor industry to precisely measure how much louder each muzzle brake made a rifle. Each brake was tested in accordance with MIL-STD-1474D using calibrated military-approved equipment, and the noise level was also tested at the shooter’s position. This produced some interesting results.
Zant also includes high-res photos of each brake, and plans to publish other info about each model (including price, whether it requires gunsmithing, what calibers it is available in, etc.) to make it easy to compare them side-by-side.
Cal recently started publishing the results of these tests, and there is already a lot of interesting info. The data might surprise a few people and even dispel a few myths. Particularly interesting is Zant’s comparison of recoil reduction with a suppressor compared to muzzle brakes. How do you think the suppressor performed compared to the brakes? You may be surprised.
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.
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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Our friend Robert Whitley of ARX Enterprises LLC has learned, through careful measurement and testing, that some barrels threaded 5/8″ x 24 tpi at the muzzle may not deliver optimal accuracy. The reason is that the end of the barrel can bell out slightly, like a trombone, because too much steel has been removed. This is particularly true with .30-caliber barrels, but it can also be a problem with smaller caliber barrels (even 6mm). Robert demonstrates this phenomenon in the video below. All gunsmiths, and anyone considering threading a barrel, should watch the video. At 1:00 – 1:30 Robert gauges a 5/8″ x 24-threaded .30-Caliber barrel. You can see the belling effect clear as day.
“When setting up a commercial barrel in the lathe, we noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 tpi. What I found is what’s shown on the video.” – R. Whitley
Solve Problem with a Larger Thread Diameter
If 5/8″ x 24 threading is potentially harmful to accuracy, is there a solution? Yes, you simply need to leave a little more steel on the barrel. (See Video starting at 02:40.) Frank Green of Bartlein barrels states: “We get these questions all the time. I say run the largest thread diameter that is possible.” Robert Whitley has found that a 3/4″ x 28 tpi threading does not cause the “belling effect”. Accordingly Robert recommends 3/4″ x 28 if you need to thread your barrel for a muzzle brake or suppressor. Robert explains: “We only make 3/4” x 28 tpi muzzle brakes and that’s what we recommend to customers.”
“See how much meatier the 3/4″ threading is vs. the 5/8″. The 3/4″ threading offers a lot more metal around the bore. There’s a lot less opportunity for the bore to become bell-mouthed…” – Robert Whitley
Barrel Threading Diameter — What’s Important to Know By Robert Whitley
In truth, the 5/8” x 24 tpi threading never came out of any accuracy-based think tank or set-up, it’s a military .30-Cal threading for barrels that someone has to carry around (they needed to keep the barrel weight down so it was smaller in diameter and the threading had to work with that situation). People have somehow assumed because the military uses that threading for certain things that it must mean that it’s also fine for a highly accurate rifle too, but that’s not really correct.
I don’t think there is any better and realistic option than the 3/4” muzzle threading, and we also do it so there is no relief cut behind the threads on the barrel (i.e. put the relief cut on the brake or jam nut, don’t chop down on the muzzle of the barrel). For some reason many have a hard time grasping that the metal at the muzzle end of a rifle is “sacred” and you should not cut it down any more than absolutely necessary. A little threaded pencil diameter nub on the end of a barrel is not ideal for accuracy especially if it’s threaded and you need to torque on it. I cringe when I see a barrel with something like an MTU or Heavy Varmint contour, only to have an itty-bitty pencil thin threaded nub right at the muzzle so someone can “screw on a can” or a muzzle brake.
Lessons Learned Over the Years
A number of years ago I did a 30BR rifle project with Craig Kostyshyn who was big in the 30BR game and he made some of the best 30BR rifle barrels for benchrest competition. When I did the project I wanted a medium-heavy Palma type contour barrel I could use and also have a muzzle turndown for a front sight band. When he found out I was going to have the muzzle turned down he said “whoa, I need to provide for that when I make the barrel because if you turn the front down later you’ll be shooting a trombone” (i.e. the muzzle bore dimension would open up).
What he did was rough contour the barrel with the turndown (about .010” oversize) before he lapped the barrel, then when he lapped the barrel he took it easy in the muzzle area and worked the back of the barrel more. I thought he was a little bit excessive in his concerns but the barrel shot great and I wasn’t going to argue with him, after all he was shooting groups in the ones. I kind of just filed that away and never thought about it until recently when I went to have Fred from Sabreco do some chamber re-work on a commercial .30-caliber barrel I had. When setting up the barrel in the lathe and indicating things Fred noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle and he mentioned it to me. That precipitated my pin- gauging of a number of different commercial barrels I had that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 tpi. What I found is what’s shown on the video.
NOTE: This is a copyrighted article. Do not reproduce or re-link more than 75 words without written permission from AccurateShooter.com.
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Are you looking for a .22 LR Rimfire rifle that has the look and feel of a centerfire rig? Then check out the CZ 455 rimfire rifle featuring a black-finished, laminated wood stock. This gun, dubbed the “Varmint Tacticool” by CZ-USA, features a 5-round detachable magazine and adjustable trigger. And recently CZ added a Suppressor-Ready version fitted with a 16.5″ barrel and threaded muzzle.
The original CZ-455 Varmint Tacticool was built as an affordable tactical trainer with the ergonomics and stock profile of a full-size centerfire tactical rig. The Tacticool’s stock looks similar to the Manners Composites stock on CZ’s 455 Varmint Precision Trainer, but the wood-stocked ‘Tacticool’ version is much less expensive. The CZ 455 with Manners stock retails at $940.00 MSRP while the latest suppressor-ready ‘Tacticool’ model lists for $549.00 MSRP. The $391.00 you save will buy a lot of ammo (or a scope).
We like the looks of the CZ-455 ‘Tacticool’, and the stock has some nice features. The butt-hook stock has ambidextrous palm swells on the grip and a raised comb to provide a comfortable cheek weld for shooting with a scope. The fore-end features a wide, beavertail swell for greater stability on a front sandbag. There are two (2) sling swivel studs so you can attach both a sling and a bipod.
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In her latest video, Kirsten Joy Weiss shows off the 300 AAC Blackout, a popular .30-caliber cartridge for AR-platform rifles. Kirsten explains the advantages for the 300 BLK for hunters as well as those using an AR for self-defense. The 300 BLK is popular with suppressor owners because it works well with heavy bullets launched at subsonic velocities.
Reasons to Shoot a 300 AAC Blackout:
— You can use your current AR Bolt, Bolt Carrier, Buffer, and Magazine. The only part you need to change is the barrel.
— 300 BLK conforms to state hunting regulations which may require a cartridge larger than .22 Caliber. The 300 BLK shoots .308 caliber bullets.
— Lapua now sells 300 AAC Blackout brass so no case-forming is required. Just load and shoot.
— You can shoot light bullets supersonic or heavier bullets subsonic. The subsonic capabilities of the 300 BLK make it ideal for use with a suppressed AR.
— With a .30-caliber bore and a modest powder charge, barrel life is outstanding with the 300 BLK.
— You can make 300 BLK cartridges from fired .223 Rem brass, which is plentiful and cheap.
— The .300 BLK performs well with some very accurate powders, such as Hodgdon H4198 and IMR 4227.
The 300 AAC Blackout was created by Advanced Armament Corp. and Remington primarily for the military as a way to shoot .30-caliber bullets from the M4/AR15 platform while using standard magazines. As explained by Robert Silvers, AAC’s R&D Director: “Now there is a way to shoot 30 caliber from your AR while still using normal magazines with full capacity. Even the bolt stays the same, and all that changes is the barrel.” For more information visit www.300aacblackout.com and download the 300 BLK Cartridge Information Guide (PDF).
SAAMI, the industry standards organization, adopted and standardized the AAC 300 Blackout in 2010. The SAAMI diagram for the 300 BLK is shown above. Lapua now makes 300 BLK cartridge brass.
300 BLK for 3-Gun Competition
The 300 AAC Blackout has been touted as an important new hunting round, but we see it more as a specialized “rule-beater” 30-cal option that lets 3-Gun competitors “make major” with a low-recoil cartridge that also offers long barrel life. For those who need to run a .30-caliber cartridge from a standard AR15 platform (as opposed to the AR10), the 300 AAC Blackout makes some sense. But for hunters using a bolt gun, there are any number of tried and true options, such as the 7.62×39, .30-30, and, of course, the .308 Winchester (7.62×51 NATO).
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Our friends Ed and Steve, aka the 6.5 Guys, were prolific last week in Las Vegas, visiting dozens of vendors at SHOT Show. Here are Ed and Steve’s video reports for Ashbury Precision Ordnance (APO), Vortex Optics, and Thunderbeast Arms. (If you’re thinking about buying a suppressor definitely check out the new Ultra series from Thunderbeast, featured in the third video below). You can see more SHOT Show videos by Ed and Steve at 6.5Guys.com.
Ashbury Precision Ordnance
Here Precision Rifle Series (PRS) Competitor Melissa Gilliland talks about the modular chassis systems offered by Ashbury Precision Ordnance (APO). With adjustable buttplate, cheekpiece, and grip, these systems can be adapted for a variety of shooting disciplines. APO even offers a modular chassis for Savage barreled actions. Melissa shoots a tricked-out 6.5 Creedmoor rig with a Titanium APO action.
New Precision Rifle from APO
SABRE Chassis System for Savage Actions
Vortex continues to grab a larger share of the tactical and long-range hunting markets. This video features the Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm and 3-18x50mm scopes. These Gen II Razors feature apochromatic objective lenses, rugged 34mm single-piece aluminum main tubes, and versatile 6X zoom range. Both MOA-based and Milrad-based reticles are offered. Vortex scopes have large, user-friendly controls, and a good feature set for the price.
Thunder Beast Arms
Thunder Beast Arms’s suppressors, built by shooters for shooters, are tough yet light. Thunder Beast developed a strong following for its titanium cans that offered excellent performance with light weight. In this video, Thunder Beast unveils its new “Ultra” series of suppressors. Compared to Thunder Beast’s previous CB-series suppressors (of like size), these Ultras are 4 to 5 ounces lighter, yet provide 4 to 5 decibels of additional noise reduction. That represents a major gain in suppressor performance.
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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.
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