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January 25th, 2023

Suppressors More Popular — Probably 3,600,000+ in USA Now

BATFE ATF suppressor silencer form 4 application tax stamp 3600000 2023 dean weingarten ammoland

Based on discussions with ATF representatives at SHOT Show 2023, it appears there are now over 3,600,000 registered suppressors (silencers), in the USA. Gun Journalist Dean Weingarten reports: “The total number of silencer tax stamps in existence in the USA as of 2019 was 2,042,719. The total number of silencer tax stamps existent in the USA as of 2020 was 2,664,774. The increase was 622,055 from 2019 to 2020. The number of legal silencers in the United States has not been updated since 2020. It is now 2023. When this correspondent asked representatives at the briefing if the numbers presented represented about a one million increase in legal silencers from 2020 to the end of 2022, they stated the number was reasonably correct.” That would mean the number of legal silencers/suppressors in the United States now exceeds 3.6 million in year 2023.

Procedure for Obtaining a Suppressor
Suppressors are now legal in 42 U.S. States. There are certain legal requirements for obtaining a suppressor, including paying a $200 Tax Stamp. To own a suppressor you must be legally eligible to purchase a firearm, pass a BATFE background check, pay a one time $200 Transfer Tax, and satisfy age requirements. (SEE ALL Requirements). In most (but not all) of those states you can use a suppressor for hunting. The eight (mostly blue) states which still prohibit civilian suppressor ownership are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. READ FULL ARTICLE on GunsAmerica Digest.

Expect Delays on Form 4 Request for Suppressor Permits
An ATF presentation at SHOT Show showed how many NFA applications were processed in the last three fiscal years up to September 30, 2022. The vast majority of these applications were for suppressors, using ATF Form 4.

BATFE ATF suppressor silencer form 4 application tax stamp 3600000 2023 dean weingarten ammoland

This huge increase in NFA Form 4 applications for suppressors means that suppressor applicants can expect very significant delays in processing. An ATF slide show indicated that the ATF’s Form 4 processing now takes an average of 270 days for the eForm, and a full 315 days for paper forms. That’s over 10 months!

Dean Weingarten observed: “The presentation made a good case the NFA division of the ATF is overwhelmed with NFA applications, leading to significant wait times to process those applications. The NFA division is experiencing considerable stress in processing NFA forms expeditiously, especially Form 4s. The ATF does not receive the $200 tax for NFA applications. The money goes directly to the general fund. Therefore, the NFA cannot hire more people to process more forms.”

Read story by Dean Weingarten on Ammoland.com. Read more by Dean Weingarten on his GunWatch website. ©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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January 16th, 2023

See How Muzzle Brakes Really Work with Blast Trace Tests

Precision Rifle Blog Muzzle Brake Test Blast Powder

A while back, the Precision Rifle Blog conducted a fascinating study of Muzzle Brakes. PRB figured out a way to show the actual “blast pattern” of gasses ejecting from the ports of muzzle brakes. The result was a fascinating (and eye-catching) series of images revealing the distinctive gas outflows of 20+ different types of muzzle brakes. If you are considering buying and installing a muzzle brake on your rifle, you should definitely review this important PRB Muzzle Brake Test.

GO to PRB Muzzle Brake Blast Pattern TEST PAGE »

For a prone shooter, particularly on dusty, dirty or sandy ground, muzzle blast is a major bummer. Muzzle blast can be very disturbing — not just for the trigger-puller but for persons on either side of the gun as well. Some muzzle brakes send a huge shockwave back towards the shooter, and others send blast towards the ground, kicking dirt and debris into the prone shooter’s face. If there was a way to illustrate those factors — shockwave and debris — that might help shooters select one brake design over another.

Precision Rifle Blog Muzzle Brake Test Blast Powder

Cal Zant at PrecisionRifleBlog.com applied a unique blend of creativity and resourcefulness to try to answer that question for 20+ muzzle brakes. Using high-speed photography and household products, he captured the blast pattern of 20+ different brake designs for easy side-by-side comparison. Can you figure out how Cal managed to show muzzle brake blasts so clearly? His “hi-viz” solution, revealed in the article, is very clever. See the eye-opening results for 20+ brakes, with illustrative photos, by visiting the Precision Rifle Blog Muzzle Brake Ground Signature Test Page.

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December 17th, 2022

Even with Suppressed Firearms Hearing Protection is Important

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.

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November 27th, 2022

For Optimal Accuracy with Threaded-Muzzle Barrels, Use Larger Muzzle Thread Diameter

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

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.

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“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.”

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“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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November 9th, 2022

Suppressor Facts — How to Get One and How They Work

suppressor silencer moderator facts fiction sound levels noise decibel 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 decibel 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.

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October 18th, 2022

How Loud Noise Levels Hurt Your Hearing — Wear Protection

hearing protection sound noise american suppressor association ear muffs earplugs can silencer

Protect Your Hearing — Wear Protection Whenever You Shoot

hearing protection sound noise american suppressor association ear muffs earplugs can silencerNoise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters and hunters. Everyone knows that gunfire is loud, but very few people understand the repercussions that shooting can have on their hearing until it’s too late.

The better quality suppressors can reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20 to 35 decibels (dB). Good muffs or plugs will reduce sound by 23 to 33 dB. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve the hearing of recreational shooters and hunters. Even the most effective suppressors, on the smallest and quietest calibers (.22 LR) reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to between 110 to 120 dB. To put that in perspective, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB). For normal caliber handguns and rifles, suppressed sound levels routinely exceed 130 dB, just shy of OSHA’s “hearing safe” threshold of 140 dB.

hearing protection sound noise american suppressor association ear muffs earplugs can silencer

According to Dr. William W. Clark, the current Director of the Washington Univ. School of Medicine’s Audiology/Communication Sciences Program, a “serious threat to hearing comes from recreational hunting or target shooting”. This is in large part due to the fact that many people choose not to use traditional hearing protection devices like earplugs and earmuffs because they want to be able to hear their surroundings. Multiple studies have found that between 70 to 80% of hunters never wear earplugs or earmuffs, and nearly half of all target shooters don’t consistently wear traditional hearing protection. Thus, it should come as no surprise that for every five years of hunting, hunters become seven percent more likely to experience high frequency hearing loss.

This article is based on information from the American Suppressor Association (ASA). Since the ASA’s formation in 2011, three additional states have legalized suppressor ownership and 18 states have legalized suppressor hunting. For more information, visit www.AmericanSuppressorAssociation.com.

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October 11th, 2022

How Suppressors Are Made — Great SilencerCo Production Video

Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle
Image from SilencerShop.com Octane 45 HD suppressor review. SWR is now a part of SilencerCo.

Here is a cool video that shows the entire production process for a SilencerCo Octane pistol suppressor start to finish. Beginning with the raw materials, this video shows a wide variety of cutting, milling, drilling, burnishing, fitting, metal bathing, surface finishing, and laser etching processes.

If you have any interest in production methods you’ll want to watch this video all the way through, and maybe a second time.

SilencerCo states: “From cutting metal to chemical baths, to extensive quality control every step of the way, our streamlined process is more than just a few steps.” We think you may be surprised by how many steps are involved in producing this silencer (aka “suppressor”).

The Octane is a user-maintainable, multi-caliber centerfire pistol silencer featuring a modular mounting system for use across a wide range of hosts. High strength, stainless steel CTA™ (Click Together Assembly) baffles are easily disassembled for cleaning. This design makes the Octane one of the most durable small-caliber suppressors on the market.

In its Octane 45 review, SilencerShop notes: “When it comes to ease of maintenance, the Octane 45 is probably the simplest .45 suppressor on the market. It uses the new click-together baffle system from Silencerco/SWR – which allows the suppressor to come apart like a monocore suppressor, while providing performance that is closer to a K-Baffle design.””

Metal Rods Being Cut
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Heat Treating Components in Furnace
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Hand-Finishing Internal Components
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Parts Getting Ready for Metal Treatment
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Computer-Controlled Milling
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Liquid Chemical Bath
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Laser Text Etching on Outer Tube
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

Final Assembly of Baffles in Tube
Silencerco suppressor factory video production metal fabrication can silencer baffle

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August 26th, 2022

Yes You Need to Clean Muzzle Brakes — Here’s How to Do It

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

Many hunters and precision rifle competitors use muzzle brakes because these ported devices reduce felt recoil significantly. That make s real difference getting back on target for quick follow-up shots. While many rifle owners appreciate the benefits of muzzle brakes, they may also neglect their brakes, allowing hard carbon and powder residue to build up. Not good. You should regularly clean your muzzle brake to remove fouling and carbon build-up.

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

As Mark Edgreen posted: “Carbon build up on the crown and in the brake is a recipe for poor accuracy.” And another gunsmith reported that customers complained about guns that “shot out way too early” but they only needed to have the brakes cleaned.

Gunsmith and PRS/NRL competitor Jim See recently reminded his Facebook Fans about the importance of cleaning muzzle brakes: “How many times do I have to say it? You need to maintain your rifles. Clean your muzzle brakes people!”. Jim, who runs Elite Accuracy LLC, notes that hard carbon build-up in brakes can definitely harm accuracy. Look at this example:

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

Muzzle Brake Cleaning Methods
There are various methods for cleaning a brake, we list a variety of techniques, but we would start with NON-corrosive ultrasound. You’ll want to remove the muzzle device before doing these tasks.

1. Use Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine with cleaning solution. This may be the most efficient method: “I place my brake in the ultrasonic cleaner. Shiney as new.” (Jim Moseley).

2. Spray with commercial Carb Cleaner and brush. Then apply anti-corrosion coating.

3. Soak in half hydrogen peroxide and half vinegar. Suggestion: “Let sit over night and carbon melts off. Brush remaining carbon off, rinse and put the brake back on.” Apply anti-corrosive before mounting.

4. Soak in 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar and brush. (Be sure to apply anti-corrosion coating, such as Eezox, after soaking).

5. Tumble in liquid solution with stainless pins. Comment: “Comes out slightly faded, but perfectly clean on stainless, non-painted brakes though.” Warning — do NOT do this with threaded brakes — tumbling could affect threads of screw-on brakes. Also, tumbling can harm painted or Cerakote finishes.

Gunsmithing Tip: By fitting the muzzle brake so that the barrel crown is slightly forward, it is easier to wipe carbon fouling off the end of the barrel. See photo:

barrel cleaning muzzle brake break device port carbon removal

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August 2nd, 2022

How Suppressors Are Manufactured — Start to Finish Video

SilencerCo suppressor manufacturing production video Assembly

Watch this video to see how a sound suppressor (aka “silencer”, “moderator”, or “can”) is constructed, start to finish. It’s more complicated than you might expect — there are quite a few stages in the process. The video below shows the fabrication of a SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor:

SilencerCo writes: “What, exactly, goes into making a silencer? It may be more than you’d expect. From cutting metal to chemical baths, to extensive quality control every step of the way, our streamlined process is more than just a few steps. Watch our newest video, HOW IT’S MADE: Octane 45, to catch a glimpse behind SilencerCo’s doors.”

SilencerCo suppressor
Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

suppressor fact and fiction moderator silencer

How Loud Are Unsuppressed Rifles?
Firearms Are Loud — 140 dB to 175 dB. 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[.]” Source: ASHA, Recreational Firearm Noise Exposure.

How Much Does a Good Suppressor Really Reduce Firearm Sound Levels?
That depends on the rifle, the cartridge, and the effectiveness of the suppressor. American Hunter 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.

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March 17th, 2022

How to Legally Acquire and Register a Suppressor

Suppressor silencer purchase regulations state map BATFE

So you’re thinking of buying a suppressor (aka “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 the buyer passes the required background checks (explained below). The 42 “suppressor-friendly” states are shown as RED in the illustration below.

Suppressor silencer purchase regulations state map BATFE

States Where Suppressor Ownership is Allowed
These 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.

“Suppressor ownership [has] boomed in the 21st century. Thanks in part to companies like Silencer Central that streamline the purchasing process, the number of registered suppressors has grown from 285,000 in 2010 to over 2.6 million in 2020.” — GunsAmerica Digest

States Which Prohibit Suppressor Ownership
The eight states which prohibit suppressor ownership are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. These states are shown in GRAY in the map.

Qualifications to Obtain a Suppressor

To legally obtain a suppressor, you must fill out Federal Forms and pay a $200 fee to the ATF. You must also pass BATFE background checks and otherwise comply with Federal and state laws. States can regulate suppressor ownership or use, so be sure to check the laws in your area. On the federal level, the process to acquire a suppressor is regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. According to the American Suppressor Association, to own a suppressor in the United States you must:

1. Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer.
2. Be at least 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer (contingent on state laws).
3. Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation (contingent on state laws).
4. Be a resident of the United States.
5. Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm.
6. Pass a BATFE background check with a typical process time of 8 to 10 months.
7. Pay a one time $200 Transfer Tax.

suppressor silencer true pearce gunsamerica digest hearing protection

That fifth requirement, “be legally eligible to purchase a firearm”, involves a list of factors. The prohibitions are set forth in the “prohibited person” list found on ATF Form 4473.*

PURCHASING TIP: ATF Announces New e-Form 4 Platform for Suppressor Registration

Hunting with Suppressed Firearms

Some 39 of the 42 states that allow suppressors also permit the use of suppressors when hunting. However, three states which allow suppressor ownership DO prohibit the use of suppressors while hunting or shooting game. These states, all in the Northeast, are: Connecticut, Maryland, and Vermont.

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.


Persons prohibited from acquiring a firearm, under Federal law, are those who fall into on or more of categories listed below. Prohibited individuals include any PERSON:

— Who was convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
— Who is a fugitive from justice;
— Who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 802);
— Who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
— Who is an illegal alien;
— Who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
— Who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
— Who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or
— Who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

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March 13th, 2022

Linear Compensators — How They Work & Advantages vs. Brakes

Brownells Linear compensator video

In this interesting video, Brownells Gun Tech Caleb Savant covers the topic of linear compensators, aka “blast diffusers” or “linear blast devices”. These are quite different in function from a typical muzzle brake and they are NOT a sound suppressor. Unlike a traditional muzzle brake, a linear compensator directs the muzzle blast forward, AWAY from the shooter. This is not only good for the shooter but also for folks next to the shooter, either at the range or in a CQB law enforcement or military situation.

A “Linear Compensator”, also known as “blast diffuser”, my look similar to a muzzle brake. But it works differently. A typical muzzle brake shoots blast out the side, and can be pretty annoying for someone positioned next to the shooter. By contract, the Linear Compensator direct blast force more forward. This helps reduce perceived recoil, and importantly doesn’t send hot gasses left and ring to nearby shooters or observes. Muzzle brake output can be very annoying. This Editor once was shooting next to a .338 Lapua Magnum with a brake, just a couple feet away. With each .338 LM shot I could feel heat on arms/hands and actually feel the bones in my forearm vibrate.

Attachment Methods — Direct Thread Mounting vs. Quick-Attach Mounting
Linear compensators have become much more popular in recent years as AR-15 pistols and SBRs have proliferated. Some linear comps, such as popular models from Midwest Industries and the Troy Claymore, attach directly to the muzzle, just like a traditional flash hider or muzzle brake.

Other Linear Compensators are slip-on, quick-attach components that mount OVER another muzzle device. For example, the VG6 Precision CAGE Device (Concussion Altering Gas Expansion) attaches directly over one of their standard muzzle devices. Almost every company that makes a sound suppressor also offers a linear compensator, which typically attaches to the muzzle the same way as the silencer.

Video find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 7th, 2022

Good Reasons to Acquire a Suppressor

suppressor silencer true pearce gunsamerica digest hearing protection
Read full story in GunsAmerica Digest for all 18 reason to own a suppressor.

Do you own a suppressor yet? If you live in a state where silencers are allowed, there are many good reasons to get a modern suppressor. The process for acquisition has been streamlined. Vendors such as SilencerCo can now handle most of the legal paperwork required. And the choice of suppressors is greater than ever before.

Along with basic noise reduction, what are the key reasons to get a suppressor? There are actually many. True Pearce, Editor of the GunsAmerica Digest, has written an excellent article about the benefits of suppressors: Why a Silencer Might Prevent Dementia & 17 Other Reasons You Need a Suppressor. Here are FIVE of the 18 reasons outlined in the article. We recommend you read the full story to access ALL 18 reasons. That full article has worthwhile insights for anyone considering getting a suppressor.

CLICK HERE for FULL STORY with ALL 18 REASONS »

Reason — Protect Your Hearing
Owning and using a suppressor helps prevent hearing loss. Hearing loss is a legitimate health concern that all firearms owners should be concerned about. Firearms are loud. The average firearm without a suppressor is between 140-165 dB and creates what is called an impulse noise (i.e. a noise that lasts for less than one second).

OSHA’s limit for impact/impulse noise is 140 dB…. Every time you fire a gun (including a .22 LR) without hearing protection or a suppressor, you can permanently lose hearing and it never returns. Surgery and hearing aids cannot restore the hearing you lose — it’s gone forever. Suppressors do not make your gun silent! However, they can make the impulse noise much less than 140 dB.

Reason — Reduce Muzzle Blast
A suppressor reduces or eliminates muzzle blast. Traditionally, we associate flinching with recoil, and while recoil can contribute to flinching, many shooters are finding that when using a suppressor on a caliber with no recoil they don’t suffer from the concussion, noise, and blast. As a result, they don’t close their eyes, flinch, or jerk the trigger.

Reason — Reduce Felt Recoil
A suppressor … reduces recoil or kick. Nobody that’s telling the truth enjoys getting punched in the shoulder, and that’s essentially what happens when you shoot a lightweight centerfire magnum rifle. Suppressors are very effective at slowing the recoil down or [reducing it significantly]. I personally observed a small (70-lb) 12-year-old boy shoot a 5.5-pound 6.5 PRC with a suppressor. After shooting he got up smiling and said, “That didn’t kick at all!”.

True Pearce Suppressor Silencer GunsAmerica Digest

Reason — Reduce Muzzle Rise to Keep Your View on Target
Suppressors reduce muzzle rise and make it possible to stay on target through your shot [so you can watch the trace and impact]. This allows you to make your own wind calls and corrections.

Reason — Reduce Dust and Dirt Kicked Up from Muzzle Blast
Suppressors prevent snow, dust, dirt, or other debris from blowing up when you shoot prone. If you’ve shot much with muzzle brakes, you know this is a real thing.

CLICK HERE to Read all 18 Reasons to Own a Suppressor »

suppressor silencer true pearce gunsamerica digest hearing protection
GunsAmerica Digest Editor True Pearce hunting with his horses and suppressed rifle.

Related Article: ATF Announces New e-Form 4 Platform for Suppressor Registration

suppressor silencer true pearce gunsamerica digest hearing protection

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December 25th, 2021

Merry Christmas — Protect Your Hearing as a Gift to Yourself

Hearing Protection DB sound level ear plug muff

“Science tells us that exposure to continuous noise of 85 dB for eight hours is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, and worse, spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly.” Source: NRA Blog.

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.”Effective hearing protection is a must whenever you are shooting firearms or when you are in the vicinity of gun-shots. For ultimate protection, we recommend a good set of tapered foam earplugs, topped by ear-muffs. However, there are situations when you may prefer lighter-weight hearing protection that can be quickly removed. For example, if you are standing well behind the firing line as an observer, or if you are working as a rangemaster or waddie some distance away from the shooters.”

hearing protection db NRR deafness ear muffs plugs

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

What about suppressors? If you use a suppressor is it OK to dispense with hearing protection? Not really. Even the most effective suppressors, on the smallest and quietest calibers (.22 LR), reduce the peak sound level of a gunshot to between 110 to 120 dB. To put that in perspective, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), that is as loud as a jackhammer (110 dB) or an ambulance siren (120 dB). For normal caliber handguns and rifles, suppressed sound levels routinely exceed 130 dB, just shy of OSHA’s “hearing safe” threshold of 140 dB. Accordingly, we recommend use of hearing protection even when shooting suppressed.

1. Ear Muffs — Max Protection and Compact Options

AccurateShooter Deals of Week NRR 34 muffs ear protection 34dB

The highest current USA Noise Reduction Rating is 34 dB NRR. To get that kind of protection, you need pretty big muffs, but thankfully, you don’t have to spend big bucks. For under $15.00 you can buy quality ANSI-approved muffs with a 30+ dB Noise Reduction Rating. Chose the 34 NRR G&F Pro Muffs at $10.99 or the more comfortable 30 NRR Walker EXT Range Muffs for $12.75. Both products have padded head-bands which retract.

Many hunters and competitive shooters prefer low-profile ear muffs. As these typically have a lower Noise Reduction Rating, perhaps NRR 22-24, we recommend running earplugs under muffs, particularly when you are at a busy range or shooting a match. If you use low-profile electronic muffs, such as Howard Leight Impact Sport Muffs, you should still be able to hear range commands even with plugs underneath.

2. Electronic Plugs — New Technology with Adjustable Volume

For maximum hearing protection we still recommend good muffs over quality foam ear plugs, there is a new option available. A variety of companies now offer electronic ear buds that include small speakers so you can hear range commands and conversations. Please note — these MUST be specially-designed protective in-ear devices. Do NOT just use ear-buds designed for music playback!

Howard Leight in-ear plugs

Howard Leight recently introduced new Impact Sport In-Ear plugs with an impressive 29 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). That NRR is better than most compact ear muffs. The plugs automatically compress amplification when loud impulse sounds (like gunshots) exceed 85dB. Internal amplification allows you to hear range commands and conversations. The cord connecting the plugs includes twin, handy volume controls. These plugs come with moldable earhooks with 3 different ear tip sizes. The base unit (dark green color) is $85.39 on Optics Planet. A deluxe model with BlueTooth is also available for $113.62 on Amazon. With the BlutTooth version you can take phone calls.

3. Foam Earplugs — Small, Inexpensive, but Essential

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugs

20 Pairs
50 Pairs

Quality foam earplugs offer great hearing protection at low cost. These Howard Leight NRR33 Max plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Max plugs in my ears 3-4 days a week. These Leight Max plugs are very effective, easy to insert/remove (with the flared ends), and they seem to be less abrasive in the ear canal than some other brands. Right now you can get 20 pairs of these NRR33 Leight Max plugs for just $8.88 or 50 pairs for $11.90.

Note, if you prefer thin, light-weight earmuffs, we recommend running earplugs underneath for double protection while shooting firearms (or when you’re on the firing line). Sound experts tell us that running plugs and muffs together can effectively improve your effective noise reduction by 4-7 dB NRR.

4. Ear Bands — Quick On/Off, Lightweight, Inexpensive

Howard Light radians peltor ear bands NRR

Hearing bands are inexpensive, lightweight, and are handy for special situations, such using hedgetrimmers and noisy power tools, when you may need to frequently remove the protection. These banded products are a also a very good form of hearing protection for hunters. You can keep them handy around the neck while spotting game, and then insert the plugs before shooting. We have tried two types of banded hearing protection, the Howard Leight Quiet Band (shown above) (25 dB NRR), and the Radians Rad-Band (23 dB NRR). The Leight Quiet Band is quite durable and the plugs can be replaced.

Howard Light radians peltor ear bands NRR

Radians Rad-bad is very light-weight, with Jelli™ Plugs that are comfortable, washable, and reusable. Peltor also offers Sport Banded Earplugs but we think those are a bit flimsy and the NRR seems exaggerated.

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December 18th, 2021

New 10.8 Oz. Suppressor for Hunters from SilencerCo

silencerco evo suppressor can silencer light weight

SilencerCo’s new Harvester EVO is a lightweight suppressor designed for hunters and precision shooters. Evolved from SilencerCo’s Harvester 300, the new Harvester EVO suppressor is notable for its compact size and VERY light weight. Constructed with cobalt-6, inconel and 17-4 heat treated stainless steel, the new EVO weighs just 10.8 ounces (0.675 pounds) and retails for $680.00.

The Harvester EVO can work with chamberings from .223 Rem up to .300 Win Mag. Consumer feedback on the previous Harvester models led SilencerCo engineers to make the EVO shorter, lighter, and more affordable. The smaller size makes the Harvester EVO less likely to get caught on bushes and brush in outdoor environments.

silencerco evo suppressor can silencer light weight

Weighing just 10.8 ounces, the Harvester EVO is one of the lightest rifle suppressors you can buy. The EVO’s low mass and smaller size “gives the EVO an edge over other hunting suppressors” said SilencerCo Senior Product Development Specialist, Dewie Vieira. CLICK HERE for Harvester EVO product details.

EVO Suppressor Product Specifications:

● Rated for calibers ranging from .223REM/5.56NATO to .300 WIN
● Tubeless, light-weight design
● Weighs 10.8 ounces
● Measures 6.24″ in length
● Constructed with cobalt-6, inconel and 17-4 heat treated stainless steel materials
● Ships with both a Bravo ½ x 28 and Bravo ⅝ x 24 Direct Thread Mount

silencerco evo suppressor can silencer light weight

For more information on the Harvester EVO, visit Silencerco.com/silencers/harvester-evo.

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December 2nd, 2021

Suppressor Basics — What You Need to Know

Suppressor silencer NSSF infographic decibel noise reduction moderator fact sheet

Curious about suppressors (aka “silencers”, “moderators”, or “cans”)? Below you’ll find an informative NSSF Infographic that covers the history, legal status, design, and operation of modern-day suppressors.

Here’s a cool video showing how suppressors work. This video features see-through rifle suppressors filmed with 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. Check it out!

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

Suppressor Facts — What You Need to Know

In this infographic, the NSSF provides the history, specifications, benefits and uses of firearm suppressors. Don’t suppress your knowledge!

Suppressors reduce gunfire sound levels by using baffles that contain expanding gasses exiting a firearm’s muzzle when ammo is discharged. Suppressors are similar to car mufflers that were, in fact, developed in parallel by the same inventor in the early 1900s. Well-designed suppressors typically reduce the gun sound levels by 30-35 decibels (dB). Suppressors are becoming more popular even though it still takes many months to get approved. In fact, the number of suppressors registered with the ATF grew by over 1 million from 2011 to 2017. That’s a 355% increase.

Suppressor silencer NSSF infographic decibel noise reduction moderator fact sheet

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