Weekly DTIC: US Silent Cartridges

While it’s somewhat well-known that the Soviet Union produced special-purpose silent cartridges for clandestine use, but less well known are US experiments in this area. In fact, the US developed several weapons, and several different types of ammunition, for suppressor-less silent operation (including silent shotgun rounds). The document we’ll be looking at today is accompanied by several other scraps of information available on the Internet, and is called Silent Weapon System Cartridge Design and Development. It covers post-war cartridge designs and their analysis. Supplementing this, we have a short history of pressure-sustaining cartridges available on Scribd (an Overview of the Design and Construction of Pressure-Sustaining Small Arms Cartridges, by David Tucker), as well as a US patent for a pressure-bearing silent cartridge, pictures of the Silent Weapon System rifles on The Unwanted Blog, pictures of US silent cartridges at IAA Forum, and another DTIC document on the math behind silent cartridges.

Silent weapons are not my focus, and so I won’t have any commentary on these documents. If they interest you, though, they should make fascinating reading!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Zachary marrs

    No inflammatory remarks? Ok I’ll start

    The m1 carbine is the best gun ever
    The ak is a inaccurate pos
    Bullpups suck
    The 5.56 is an overgrown .22lr
    1911s are crap, glawks r teh best

    • worldwideREB

      you forgot that:
      Jeff Cooper was an idiot

    • worldwideREB

      oh and 45 is better than 9mm

    • bob

      Hi-point FTW!!

    • guest

      You also forgot: Jeryy Miculec does not know how to shoot and Bob Munden was slow.
      Did I miss anything?

  • Darren Hruska

    I find such ammo to be quite interesting. The QSPR was basically a modified Model 29 that used such ammo (utilizing 15 tungsten pellets). It apparently saw limited use by tunnel rats in Vietnam.


    • Zachary marrs

      Everything was used by tunnel rats in Vietnam, or at least that’s what the gun show people telll me

      • Yes, but there is actual military documentation of AAI’s development of the QSPR and its field use in the RVN.

        • Zachary marrs

          Oh, no doubt, I was trying to make a joke, ive lost track of how many times bubba has tried to sell me a colt sp1 with a pistol buffer tube that has “done been used by the tunnel rats who dun got 13 kills”

      • Rusty Shackleford

        “…or at least that’s what the gun show people tell me.” That is something that can be added to the end of any conversation about firearms and be true, no matter how ridiculous.

      • claymore

        But in this case it’s true that is why they were developed.

  • Jimmy Ray

    Reminds me of this KAC revolver rifle. Both captive piston and a suppressor.

    • The ammunition for the KAC suppressed revolvers didn’t use a captive piston, but a captive sabot. The large caliber sabot stopped against the forcing cone of the small caliber barrel to seal the cylinder gap. The propellant gases were then left to flow into the suppressor.

      In articles that I’ve seen, the project was credited to Reed Knight and
      John Anderson. However, the cartridge concept is derived from an earlier
      design by Charles R. (Bob) Olsen. He saw it as the basis for a high
      velocity revolver cartridge without the need to use a bottlenecked case
      with its setback problems. He called it the Invicta. The models he
      showed to the shooting press back in the early/mid-80s were built on Dan
      Wesson revolvers. I suspect that no one wanted to market it due to the
      possibility that some idiot would slip a standard cartridge into the
      cylinder and try to shoot it out of the smaller diameter bore.

      Olsen’s US Patents can be seen online:



      • Giolli Joker

        That’s why I believe that CTA rounds would make great hunting revolvers…

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Have you seen a suppressed Nagant M1895?

      • Jimmy Ray

        Hmm interesting, Al Paulson writes that the needle nose 145gr screw turned projectile was driven by an aluminum piston in a .44 mag cartridge casing with a black plastic front face seal. Page 398 Siliencer History and Performance VOL.2.

        • Micki Mahoney

          Yeah, Paulson used the word “piston” there, but what he describes is a sort of sleeve that bridges the gap between cylinder and barrel. I guess the technology is esoteric enough that we don’t have any standardised terms to describe it yet. At any rate, “captive piston” ammo is a rather different beast.

      • Jimmy Bob Raytheon

        Hmm interesting, Al Paulson writes that the needle nose 145gr screw turned projectile was driven by an aluminum piston in a .44 mag cartridge casing with a black plastic front face seal. Page 398 Siliencer History and Performance VOL.2.

        • Paulson also notes that the propellant gases flow into the suppressor in both of KAC’s suppressed revolvers. A true captured piston design does not let the gas escape from the cartridge case.

    • guest

      Damn, the Fag-o-Matic 9000, it is real!

  • bbmg

    Did you miss the link for the main document?