Monday, February 2, 2015

Firearm Forum Question: What You Need to Know About Suppressors

Ask A Firearms Question:
Thinking of buying a Suppressor for my Glock. What do I really need to know?
Thank you Randy Malone.

This is a helpful outline for anyone who is thinking of Purchasing or Who All Ready Owns a Suppressor (Silencer).
This Topic Page is made simple to read and understand using common terms and language. Sound Engineering is complex and performed by Acoustic Engineers. This coupled with the Physics of Shooting make Suppressors somewhat complicated to understand.
UPDATED - February 4, 2015

Read The Following Carefully ...
Determining the Sound of a Suppressor:

Suppressor versus Silencer - Suppressors are often referred to as a Silencer a named produced by Hollywood. The fact is that there is NO such thing as a Silencer because all Suppressors have some sound associated with them, therefore they are not totally silent.

Db Rating - Decibels - Combination of sound pressure waves which include both background (ambient noise), and the object producing a noise level (machine, firearms, aircraft, etc,). Example: When a firearm is discharged it produces a sound but there is all ready an ambient sound in the background, i.e. wind, people talking, etc.
Firearm Decibels may change slightly with each round fired because the cartridge is slightly different, especially on manufactured ammo. Also the suppressor is cold on the first round which may have a higher Db than the next round. The bullet is passing through metal. i.e. Steel, Titanium, or Aluminum. The type of metal and baffles used will effect the sound. Most Suppressor Manufacturers list the average Db Rating, or show the average reduction of sound in Db of there products.

Vibrations - Also contribute to sound or unwanted noise. Simply put the better something is designed and built the less vibration you have. Example: Gears on a machine that are precision made and well oiled produce less vibration.

Pitch - Is essentially the quality of sound governed by the rate of vibrations producing the degree of the tone, generally described in Hertz (Hz). This is also known as the frequency of the sound wave. This is very important in music.

Sound Echo - The sound waves that bounce off another object.

Speed of Sound - The distance a sound wave travels per unit of time: 1,126 Ft/s (feet per second); 768 Mph (miles per hour). Sound Waves in the Air can vary with Temperature, Atmospheric Pressure, Humidity, and Distance.
If a Bullet or Aircraft exceeds this speed it is breaking the Sound Barrier. Bullets or Planes that travel below this sound are referred to as Sub-Sonic.
Human hearing will notice a sound closer to them than farther away in a distance. So if you are standing next to the firearm when discharged it is much louder than if you are a block away.

Muzzle Velocity – The speed of the bullet at the time it leaves the muzzle of the gun. In todays firearms these range from 390 Ft/s to over 3,900 Ft/s (Feet per Second).
Examples: Black Powder Firearms like a Musket compared to a modern day 50 Caliber Rifle.

Bullet Weight – Refers to the Grain of the Bullet. This is commonly used in Center Fire Rifles and Handguns commercially produce with ranges from 150 Grains to 250 Grains. Some Examples of Center Fire Cartridges are: 45LC; 45ACP; 9mm; 40 S&W; 38 Special; 357 Magnum; 7mm; 8mm; 30-06; 223/556; 308 NATO; 300 Win Mag; and 50 Caliber.
Rim Fire Cartridges such as 22 Caliber are smaller therefore less bullet grains (weight).
The smaller the grain bullet the faster the speed, i.e. 150 grain bullet travels faster than a 250 grain bullet. In large calibers like a 300 Winchester Magnum, this can vary as much as 500 feet per second. A 300 Winchester Magnum Round using standard commercially produced ammo like Remington or Federal can vary from 2,650 to 3,250 Ft/s.
The speed (muzzle velocity) is a key in suppressing sound using a Suppressor (silencer).
1) 45 ACP rounds are naturally sub-sonic, therefore they are easier to suppress than most other calibers. Common commercially produced 45 ACP bullet grains range from 185 Grains to 230 Grains with a velocity of 1,225 Ft/s to 830 Ft/s. Generally using 185 grain or larger bullet is sub-sonic.
2) 22 Caliber 40 Grain Solid Nose Ammo is near sub-sonic levels with the average bullet round being produced commercially at 1,200 Ft/s.
3) This makes standard issue 45 ACP and 22 Caliber ammo the preferred ammo calibers best suited for suppression of sound, i.e. the use of a Suppressor (silencer).
4) To further complicate the sound issue many calibers can be purchased commercially in sub-sonic ammo, these include readily available 22LR, 45ACP, and 9mm.

Object and Obstructions to Sound – Sound waves in human hearing ranges are severely effected by objects such as walls. So the use of a 22 caliber handgun with a suppressor inside a house with all the doors and windows closed would be hard to hear outside in passing traffic. Add to the fact there may be external ambient sound inside the home when the firearm is discharged such as a TV, Radio, or Stereo playing.

The Human Ear and Sound - Humans basically hear sound in three levels, Low, Medium, and High Pitches caused by vibration. Sound may be heard through three distinctive forms – Solids, Liquids, and Gaseous.
Hearing is one of the traditional five senses.
Hearing loss or partial loss is defined into four categories: Mild, Moderate, Severe, Profound.
Your hearing can be easily damaged that is why it is important to wear hearing protection around noisy engines, machines, and firearms. The best protection is hearing muffs. Generally most humans cannot hear ultra sonic noise, but most animals can such as dogs, cats, deer, etc. Some animals hear in the lower sound range referred to as infrasonic such as snakes. The typical hearing range for humans is between 20Hz and 20,000 Hz. Most humans lose some of their hearing capabilities as they grow older. Many humans have difficulty in hearing upper noise levels if they have been exposed to loud operating plant machinery or aircraft like jet engines or helicopters.
In addition, some humans are Tone Death. This means they have problems differentiating tone levels and sound such as music because all of the sounds seem the same. This is also why they cannot sing professionally.

Other Factors That May Contribute to the Suppressor Sound - Type of Gun Barrel, Length of Barrel, Rifling (Number of Twist), Age or Rounds Fired through Weapon.

Conclusion, Human Hearing - The most important aspect of using a Suppressor (silencer). This is what you personally hear. The difference between a firearm with and without a suppressor. It combines all the sound factors described above to a simple point of - Is it quiet to you.

Blog Administrator -
Purchasing a Suppressor should not be a rush in and buy it sort of thing.
One should evaluate what firearm the Suppressor is to be used on, and are there any other firearms compatible for use with the same Suppressor.
In addition, is your firearm ready to have a Suppressor added?
If COST is an issue, read the following below carefully ...

Types of Suppressors:
There are two types - Dry and Wet/Dry.
The DRY Suppressor is the most common.
The Wet/Dry Suppressor allows the user to shoot using the suppressor in a Dry Mode or by adding Water making it a Wet Suppressor. All Wet Suppressors must be cleaned and have maintenance issues.
Also some of the newer Suppressors especially for 22LR allow the user to take the end cap off that goes onto the firearm, and spray Lithium Grease into the chamber area. This further reduces the sound, but again this requires maintenance (cleaning) of the suppressor.

There are Three Basic Suppressor Categories:
Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns.
Do NOT confuse a Suppressor with either a compensator or flash hider.

Materials used in Commercial Suppressors available to private civilians are:
Steel including alloys.

Factors to Consider:
Weight is just as important as sound reduction.
Wet/Dry Suppressors are generally heavier than a Dry Suppressor.
You don't want to put a steel rifle suppressor on a handgun, they simply weigh too much. Large caliber firearms such as a 300 Winchester Magnum probably should have a Steel Suppressor, these weigh the most.
Smaller Caliber Rifles such as 30 Caliber, 300 Blackout, 243, 270, and 223/556 can use a Titanium Suppressor. The NATO 308, 7mm, and 30-06 border line between Steel and Titanium.
22 Caliber Handguns are usually Aluminum, the lightest of the three metals generally used.

Suppressor Size:
Diameter and Length are also things to consider especially for use with a handgun.
There are the typical round suppressors and some are rectangle shaped.
A Suppressor being used on a 22 Caliber Handgun such as a Ruger SR22 is best made lightweight, round, and short. The Ruger SR22 semi auto handgun is primarily all polymer type plastic construction, and is very light so putting a long heavy suppressor on the end makes no sense.

Multiple Caliber Use Suppressors:
New technology is allowing Suppressors to be made for multiple calibers -
1) A Rifle Suppressor can now be obtained that works on 223/556 though 300 Win Mag, these are generally steel. Titanium is available but not recommended for the 300 Win Mag. One suppressor manufacturer offers these in both steel and titanium that screws onto their Flash Compensator. The compensator costs $65.00 and you would need one for each caliber rifle, i.e. 223/556; 7mm; 308 NATO; 300 Win Mag. This is an additional cost over and above the Suppressor Cost.

2) A Handgun Suppressor can be obtained from 9mm through 45ACP for semi-auto handguns with threaded barrels. Some may be available for 22 Caliber through 45ACP. The Suppressor is chambered for the larger 45ACP requiring an adapter for each of the smaller calibers to thread onto the barrel. The average adapter cost is around $30.00.
Note: 22 Caliber should have a dedicated suppressor preferably in Aluminum for lightweight. 22's are also a dirty ammo and many suppressors require cleaning which will need tools and some getting use too methodology.

Suppressor Manufactures:
There are basically two types sold. One is sealed and cannot be opened or cleaned, Gemtec, as an example, currently produces suppressors in large calibers that are permanently sealed but the 22LR suppressor the end cap can be removed. Many manufacturers allow you to take the suppressor apart and clean them or replace the baffles. Many manufacturers that sell sealed suppressors have you return the item to them for maintenance, repair, or replacement.
Note: Manufacturers do not sell Baffles separately because this is a controlled item by the ATF. End cap replacements and caliber size adapters are commonly sold by suppressor manufactures.

Gun Barrels and Using a Suppressor:
If your handgun does not all ready have an extended threaded barrel you will need to either get your barrel threaded or buy an after market barrel that is threaded. This is an additional cost and extended threaded barrels can run from $130.00 to $350.00 or not even be available for your handgun.
Single Barrel Rifles such as Hunting Rifles can easily be threaded for around $65.00 to $120.00.
Assault Rifles such as the AR15 .223/5.56 Platform or the 308 NATO usually have removable flash hiders and the suppressor can be screwed directly onto the rifle barrel, or an adapter for about $30.00 can be purchased to make it fit.
Shotguns are whole another set of criteria and not covered here except to say Suppressors are available for some shotguns.

Utilizing Youtube as a source of information on Suppressors, i.e. how quiet they are is a bad idea for two reasons:
1) Private individuals can manipulate the sound simply by turning the sound volume up or down on the Video Camera or Cellphone. Also these random Sound Suppressor Test have too many variables such as background noise and wind.
2) Manufacturers often test there Suppressor Sound in a controlled environment such as an indoor range.

Sales Pitch:
Please remember when talking to any FFL they promote the Suppressor brand(s) they are licensed by the manufacturer to sell. If more than one brand, they probably will promote the one with the best mark-up profit to them.

Suppressor Caliber Use:
Warning: Never fire a round through a suppressor larger than the suppressor is designed for,
Example: You cannot fire a 223/556 round through a 22 Caliber Suppressor. But you can fire a 22LR through a 223/556 suppressor.

Choosing a Suppressor:
Simply comes down to what firearm are you going to put it own, how quiet is acceptable to you, how much money do you want to spend?

Legally Owning a Suppressor:
Finally the BATF (ATF) controls Suppressors and you need a Tax Stamp for every Suppressor you own. The Federal Tax Stamp cost $200.00 for each suppressor. Also Suppressors maybe illegal in the State, County, or City you live in so check with your FFL to see if you can own one and what is the criteria.
To obtain an ATF Tax Stamp an application must be processed with a payment in advance to the ATF for $200.00. This also requires purchasing the Suppressor in advance because the Tax Stamp is assigned to the Serial Number (S/N) on the suppressor.
The suppressor is held by the FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) Dealer until approval comes back that your purchase is approved by the ATF. If denied there is no refund from the government for Tax Stamp application but the dealer will refund your money for the suppressor purchase.
There are many ways to file for a Tax Stamp which include a Family Trust, Gun Trust, Corporation, or as an Individual. Ask someone qualified in your area what is the best method of filing. Many use a Gun Trust and that is another cost which runs from $99.00 to $150.

Finally there is the waiting period for approval from the BATF and this varies from 10 weeks to 14 months. Ask your FFL what time frame they are experiencing in your area.

Some Examples of Silencers
GemTech 22LR Aluminum Suppressor ....

Surefire Multi-Alloy Rifle Suppressor ....

Silencero Suppressors ....

Yankee Hill Rifle Suppressors ....

Using an Oil Filter with an Adapter for a Suppressor ....
Important: These are not licensed as required by the ATF for any device that muffles or silences firearm sound. 

Suppressor Wraps ....

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  1. Randy Malone has arrived at your Firearms Forum Site.
    First Col thank you for your service.
    Thank you for posting my request about Suppressors.
    I have read this 3 times and there is a lot to absorb.
    I never realized suppressors were so complicated.
    I greatly appreciate your efforts.

  2. Some real thought and work went into this, thank you from all of us thinking about buying a suppressor.

  3. Damn I am thoroughly impressed. Have two suppressors myself. never thought of all the Physics involved in the operation of a suppressor and the overall suppression of sound.
    Great job.

  4. Saw your LINK from Facebook. This is one hell of a firearms site great info here lots to absorb.

  5. Now that's what I am talking about.
    Botta boom botta bing botta boom.
    This is the best of the best topic post you have ever done Mr. Firearms Guy.
    This touches right on my personal life and well being as a true professional I can understand the passion.

    1. Hey this makes real sense to a professional.

    2. Oh hell yeah Louie, it's all about the job.

  6. Always remember knowledge is power.
    This is without a doubt the very very best forum for forearms on the big world wide web there is.

  7. A+ on this topic post.
    Lots of very valuable information here.

  8. As a licensed Private Detective in LA I have had some use for these from time to time but California Laws make it very difficult for me to own one.

    Great job extremely well done on this topic.

  9. Sitting here listening to BB King doing his Jazz and R&B on the guitar.

    I am a big big supporter of our Troops and of the First and Second Amendments.

    Love this Forum Site for Firearms.

  10. Just simply another fantastic topic and such precise explanation with detail makes it easy to understand the concept of being a quiet shooter.

    1. Eric, I haven't been on Facebook in sometime since they wouldn't let our friend Lawrence have a page.

      This Firearms Forum Site by the Col Jack is a great read, lots and lots of good info here for everyone.

  11. Been thinking of getting a suppressor for a long time. One for my 22 and one for my 300 Blackout.

    This post has been most informative and very helpful, I am grateful, thank you.

  12. I have had my eye on a GemTech for about a year.
    This was very helpful, thank you.

  13. Never realized how complicated using a silencer on a handgun was.
    Thanks for the very informative explanation.

  14. After reading this thread, it appears I made a good choice, I bought a Gem Tech Suppressor for my Glock 45acp with a Storm Lake Extended Threaded Barrel. I just got approval a few days ago. I have put 50 rounds through so far and I am satisfied.

  15. Great thread you here, posted topic comments and evaluation are right on the money. I have done a lot of research on Suppressors and you have even enlighten me. I am putting in my paperwork today to buy a suppressor for my Sig Sauer.

  16. Great site love this stuff.
    Good informative well devise layout for full understanding of the use and operation if a suppressor.

  17. Been exploring a suppressor for my assault rifle, this has been very helpful,
    thank you.

  18. i reload my own ammo does this have any affect on the suppressor either for dependability (maintenance, wear and tear, etc.) OR for sound suppressing ???

  19. I recently suppressed my Glock 17, 9x19 (9mm) and I am not happy with the results at all.
    Wish I had read this first.
    By the way it too me 15 weeks for approval using a Gun Trust.

  20. Found you through Pinterest.
    Great site just been perusing various post.

  21. Otay says okay and I do like this thread.

  22. 1 great site you have here firearms guy, i am pleased.

  23. I really like your site very good lots of things for me to absorb.
    I am fairly new to this whole gun thing.
    Just recently got my concealed carry permit.

  24. Great site, when can we expect a new post?

  25. I know many of you have been looking for a Topic Post on the Ruger SR22 and its capabilities. I have tested this firearm and a complete Topic Post is coming within a few days.
    Sorry I have been down with the flu.

  26. Absolutely another excellent job on this one Mr. Firearms Guy.

  27. I don't believe I would ever purchase one of these, but I have the knowledge now if I wanted to add one to my Ruger SR22.

  28. I can envision one of these on my SR22.

    1. It would go well on an SR22 wouldn't it?

  29. I had to read this several times to absorb all the information and knowledge.

  30. Thank you, just placed an order for a GemTech 22LR Suppressor.
    Another fantastic write up.

  31. I can see where this would go well with the Ruger SR22.
    I need to get me a Gun Trust.

  32. This is unquestionably the best article and post about suppressors on the Internet.

  33. Since murder is still unlawful, therefore, I am not aloud to shoot any damn liberals or illegals I don't see much need in owning one.

  34. Completed my Gun Trust as recommended by The Reposter Guy on Twitter.
    Now I can purchase one of these.

  35. To costly for me; and when I buy something I want it right then, and then waiting months to possess it makes it a NO buy for me.

    1. Well said and I am in full damn agreement.

  36. Wow when reading this you realize how much physics is involved in making these quiet.

  37. Plan on getting a Gun Trust done next week and then purchase a Suppressor.

  38. I could see the fun in having one but not the practicality.

  39. I guess I better get off my dead ass and get a Gun Trust done


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The Firearms Guy

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