Most firearms enthusiasts would agree that suppressed firearms are some of the most fun and most desirable firearms toys you can play with.
In addition to the cool factor that comes with seeing James Bond, Jason Bourne, special operations units, and other action heroes use them throughout the years, they have a tremendous amount of practical value for firearms enthusiasts in general and preparedness minded people in particular.
Just to dispel any preconceived ideas that you might have, the vast majority of the benefits of suppressed weapons can be enjoyed without having to endure a “Mad Max” scenario.
Before we get into the benefits of suppressed weapons, let me give you some quick background…
(For additional easy to digest information, I encourage you to go through the short course that Advanced Armament offers at AACCanU (AAC Can University). It takes 5-10 minutes to go through and when you finish, they’ll send you a diploma granting you a “Bachelor of Silence” degree.
To begin with, “silencers” don’t silence a weapon…they only suppress the sound level of the firearm, which is why there has been a shift from calling them “silencers” to calling them “suppressors.” When a firearm discharges, particularly a semi-automatic firearm, there are several sources of noise:
- The bolt/slide assembly going backwards, the spent round being extracted, and the next round being loaded.
- The muzzle blast.
- Bullets traveling faster than roughly 1150 feet per second will break the sound barrier and cause a sonic boom.
- The sound of the mechanical percussion that ignites the round.
- The sound of the round hitting a target.
For the most part, suppressors suppress the sound of muzzle blasts and don’t affect the other 4 factors, but simply suppressing the muzzle blast can often mean the difference between needing to wear hearing protection to shoot and not needing to wear hearing protection.
Suppressors use the same noise suppression concept as automobile mufflers…in fact they were developed at the same time and “silencer” and “muffler” are used interchangeably with both technologies in many parts of the world. Both allow the expansion of gasses inside of a container rather than in the open air.
And, just like there are several non-tactical benefits to using an automobile muffler, there are several non-tactical benefits to using a suppressor in addition to the tactical ones.
To begin with, it’s just polite. In England, New Zealand, and several other “civilized” countries around the world that allow firearms of one type or another, people use silencers so that they can talk while shooting, hear after shooting, shoot while their friends and family sit and chat nearby, shoot near their pets without damaging their hearing, shoot without bothering the neighbors, and shoot at night without waking the neighbors and/or causing unnecessary calls to law enforcement.
With the benefit that suppressors have when shooting around animals, it would be ironic, but understandable if PETA became a big proponent of the loosening of laws and expanded use of suppressors.
Expanding on that list, there are an increasing number of “suppressor only” firearms competitions where the non-competitors of all ages can comfortably have normal conversations without hearing protection just a few yards behind the line.
Many low-light training courses have had to be canceled in recent years because of neighbors complaining about the noise when they’re trying to relax for the evening or sleep. Suppressors are an obvious solution to this issue.
Also, nighttime is the best time to shoot one of America’s most costly animals…wild hogs. I said “shoot” instead of “hunt” because hogs are estimated to cause $200-$800 in damage apiece per year and sows can deliver as many as 10 babies per year. As a result, hog control becomes a mix between hunting and eradication. What this means is that in addition to bothering the neighbors less when hunting with a suppressed weapon, it also can allow the shooter the opportunity to take more hogs per engagement—this is because they will be able to see better and get back on target quicker and because the decrease in noise MIGHT allow them multiple shots before the herd scatters. And if you’re wondering if you can hunt hogs with a silencer…the answer depends on where you are. 18 states allow either varmint eradication and/or hunting with a silencer. In some states, you can use silencers, night vision, and/or thermal vision. In Texas, you can even shoot hogs while hanging out of a helicopter.
Great learning tool
Next, when you consider the fact that suppressors decrease sound levels, improve accuracy, reduce felt recoil, and reduce muzzle flip, it quickly becomes evident that they are almost the perfect tool to use when introducing a new shooter to the sport…particularly young shooters and females who may be apprehensive of firearms in the first place.
They’ll be able to hear your range commands easier since they don’t have to wear ear protection, they won’t feel like they’re being yelled at since you’ll be able to use your normal voice, they won’t be as afraid of the blast & recoil as they might be, and the reduction of muzzle flip leads to a significant reduction in anticipatory flinch. (This is when you “push” the barrel down in anticipation of the round going off to try to counteract recoil. It is one of the most, if not the most common problem that shooters of all skill levels have.)
In a non-tactical survival situation, hunting with a suppressor also has the benefit of shortening the radius considerably within which other people could DF (direction find) you based on the report of your shot. Put another way, if people could hear your unsuppressed shot a mile away and get a bead on where you’re shooting from, that distance might drop down to as little as a quarter mile with a suppressed weapon. While that’s 1/4th the distance, the true impact comes into focus when you realize that dropping the distance that people can hear you from 1 mile to a quarter mile decreases the area where people can stand and hear your shot by 16 times. (A circle with a 1 mile radius covers 3.14 square miles. A circle with a .25 mile radius covers .2 square miles) As a note, the distance from which a firearm discharge can be heard depends on many, many factors and the 1 mile and ¼ mile distances that I gave are simply for illustrative purposes.
Even though tactical benefits won’t be nearly as useful to most people, there are some notable ones that I want to share with you.
- If you’re on a tactical team where everyone is using suppressed weapons, it will be very easy to differentiate friend from foe.
- If you’re not an audio blocker, your hearing will probably be shot pretty quickly after you fire your first shot and you won’t be able to communicate as effectively with your team. Suppressors mean that at least, even though your opponents’ weapons may blow your hearing, yours and your teammates won’t. (As a note on the “audio blocker” comment…some people’s ears mysteriously compensate for explosions and firearms noises in high stress situations. This phenomenon is covered in David Grossman’s book, “On Combat.”)
- With most normal powder loads, suppressors contain most of the muzzle flash and allow shooters to maintain their night vision longer than with unsuppressed weapons.
- When using an SBR, (Short Barreled Rifle) suppressors can significantly increase muzzle velocity and terminal ballistics.
- Suppressed light and noise and the alteration of the frequency of the muzzle blast makes direction finding much more difficult than with non-suppressed weapons.
- Some SWAT teams keep suppressed .22s on hand for shooting out lights during high risk raids. Since everything that goes up must come down and since they’re responsible for every round that leaves their weapons, this is not incredibly common.
Who can own a silencer?
If you’re a legal U.S. Resident, 21 or older, a non-felon, and live in AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, or WY, you can own a silencer…you just have to buy it from a firearms dealer who has a “Class III” license and pay a $200 tax for each suppressor. Right now, the wait is approximately 6 months for the ATF to approve your application.
If you don’t live in one of these states, you can STILL buy sub-caliber inserts. I wrote about them about a year and a half ago…I put an excerpt in the P.S. at the end of this article.
As a note, firearms dealers are required to have a Class III license to sell silencers. Silencers are technically called “Title II” items. Another way of saying it is that a dealer has to have a Class III license to sell Title II items. More on Title II items in a few paragraphs.
In other countries where suppressors are legal, they are generally less expensive and easier to obtain.
Unfortunately, in addition to making it unnecessarily cumbersome for law abiding citizens to legally obtain a silencer, it’s also VERY easy to mess up once you own one.
Technically, if you buy a silencer in your name, you are the only person who can use it, have access to it, or control of it without committing a felony. That means that if you own a safe and keep your suppressors in your safe, nobody, including your spouse, can have the combination.
If you’re at the range, you can’t legally let anyone else fire your suppressed weapon or handle your suppressor.
This can be interpreted to apply to both civilians and law enforcement and is an especially big tripping point for law enforcement who personally own short barreled rifles or suppressors and who think that the law doesn’t apply to them and their families.
Fortunately, there’s a solution and it’s a trust that is called the “NFA Gun Trust.” A properly done NFA Gun Trust will allow you to bypass some of the more onerous aspects of the process to buy a suppressor, as well as give you a tool to legally enjoy them with friends and relatives. If you’re going to have any suppressors or other NFA Title II items (which includes fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles, suppressors, all other weapons, and destructive devices), you REALLY want to have a properly done NFA Gun Trust.
I said “properly done” twice because there are several attorneys and gun stores who are giving/selling people defective NFA Gun Trusts. In some cases, it has meant that when people who had several Title II items in a defective trust went to buy another Title II item, it lead to the ATF confiscating ALL of their Title II items.
Now, please understand that I don’t agree with the need for an NFA Gun Trust. I would like to see the items simply covered under the Second Ammendment, for the tax stamp requirement to go away, and for the need for the trust to go away. Unfortunately, that’s not reality and reality has convinced me of the need to do everything according to the laws on the books and have an NFA Gun Trust to protect myself, my family, and our firearms.
What I did was go to the granddaddy of NFA Gun Trusts, David Goldman. Title II owners across the country owe Mr. Goldman a huge debt of gratitude for deciding to focus on NFA Gun Trusts and figure out all of the tweaks and changes that needed to be made to make the process of buying, storing, enjoying, and transferring Title II items as legal and painless as possible for law abiding people who just want to stay out of trouble.
David has done THOUSANDS of these trusts. If you want to get one, you simply contact his office at GunTrustLawyer.com, and give them your information. (His site is a treasure chest of good solid information on Title II weapons) They’ll do the majority of the trust in their offices and then forward your trust to an attorney in your state who will do the final customizations to make the trust legal in your state. When I went through the process with him, it was painless and informative and I strongly encourage you to contact him if you have any interest in getting Title II items. He’s offered to discount his fees for my readers, so if you want to save some money, tell him I referred you.
David includes a guide with his trusts that lay out how to buy items, set up banking correctly so you don’t make the trust defective, how to fill out the forms correctly, and what you MUST include and shouldn’t include with your application. I can tell you from personal experience that this is incredibly valuable, as is the ability to call them (sometimes multiple times) while you’re at the counter filling out the forms to buy your Title II items to make sure you’re doing everything correctly. The guide also includes instructions how to legally buy private party, travel with Title II items, move from state to state, and more.
Also, if you currently have a NFA Gun Trust, you may want to have Mr. Goldman review it to make sure that it’s not a defective trust that could expose you to considerable unnecessary liability. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of defective trusts floating around that used estate planning trusts, did a couple of find-and-replaces, and thought it would work as an NFA Gun Trust.
As a note, we all know how much the current administration wants to limit the rights of gun owners. It’s a fair guess that the sale of Title II items would be an easy early target. That’s why I’m buying suppressors whenever I can. They’re kind of pricy, so it’s not something I get every week or even every month, but it’s something that I’m making forward progress on.
That’s it for this week. Let me know if you’ve got any experience with suppressors and whether or not you intend on buying any in the future. If you had a choice, would you rather have a fully automatic weapon, a suppressed weapon, or a short barreled rifle? Share your thoughts by commenting below:
One final note…Thanks for all of the great feedback on Jeff Anderson’s Social Chaos Survival Guide. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so before his special bonus expires.
Until next week, God bless & stay safe,
P.S. Here’s an excerpt on what I wrote on the sub-caliber round:
$15 “Silencer” For Your .308 With NO Tax Stamp!
I got my latest “Sportsman’s Guide” catalog this week and they’ve got a very neat little “tool” that will let you shoot .32 ACP ammo through bolt action .308s (and a few other .30 caliber rifles).
They’re called “sub caliber sleeves” or “rifle chamber inserts.” I’ve got a handfull of these little treasures and they have a few important uses for preppers.
To begin with, when you shoot a .32 ACP through a .308 barrel, the report is MUCH quieter than with a .308…almost like using a silencer. Next, if you’re training someone to shoot a high powered rifle, it’s less expensive to shoot .32 ACP than .308 and there’s almost no recoil. The last major benefit I’ll cover is meat damage. It should be obvious, but if you shoot small game with a .32 ACP, there will be a lot less meat destroyed than if you make the same shot with a .308.