April 27th, 2018

Suppressors for Hunters — What You Need to Know

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

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

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

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

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

suppressor fact and fiction moderator silencer

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

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

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

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

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

BENEFITS OF SILENCERS

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

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

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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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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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August 18th, 2011

New 2-Man Team Challenge in New Mexico This Fall

This fall, November 4-6, 2011, a new two-man tactical challenge match will be held at the Blue Steel Ranch in Logan, NM (site of the popular Steel Safari match). Sponsored by Competition Dynamics and Thunder Beast Arms, the 2011 Thunder Beast Team Challenge (TBTC) is a 3-day, 8-stage test of practical field rifle shooting and related skills. This will be a physically-demanding match! Two-man teams must navigate rugged desert terrain, recognize, locate, range, and engage multiple rifle targets from challenging shooting positions, and complete the 8-stage course under daily time constraints. Most targets will be steel plates, set at distances from 100 to 800 yards.

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Team Challenge

Skills used at the TBTC will include target recognition, range estimation, wind doping, trail skills, and marksmanship. The competition is designed to test a 2-man team’s skills shooting rifle and carbine to their effective ranges at practical targets in the natural terrain using what gear they can carry. One team member will use a precision bolt gun and while the other carries a tactical-style carbine. Targets for the carbine range from 20 to 400 yards, with some “move and shoot” assault-style stages. Bolt-gun targets are generally positioned at 150-800 yards

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Team ChallengeThe TBTC is being run by Competition Dynamics, whose staff has a proven 10-year track record as practical field match organizers. Zak Smith is Match Director. The TBTC will be held at the Blue Steel Ranch, a private ranch near Logan, New Mexico. The Blue Steel Ranch, which also hosts the Steel Safari, offers some of the best geography for field shooting available anywhere.

The Thunder Beast Team Challenge costs $585.00 per team. To register, or to learn more about the match, visit the 2011 Team Challenge webpage. Or, email thunderbeastarms [at] gmail.com.

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