In a silencer, the blast baffle (the first baffle the bullet passes through after leaving the barrel) takes the brunt of the heat and pressure released by the deflagration of gunpowder. I use the term ‘deflagration’ because to be technically accurate, the reaction that takes place inside a cartridge (and barrel for that matter) occurs at subsonic speeds and is better suited to move an object like a projectile. Even so, the high temperatures and pressures can unleash havoc on even the strongest of materials. And the effect is greatly magnified in short barreled rifles where the powder is still burning after it leaves the muzzle.
There is a very interesting thread in the suppressor section of AR15.com where users of various cans have photographed their blast baffles after they have been subjected to fire. Currently there’s a good selection of manufacturers and models displayed alongside approximate round counts and barrel lengths of hosts.
The data presented in the thread is no where near scientific; there are too many unknown variables to draw conclusions based on the images of the baffles. Besides round counts and barrel lengths, other unknowns include rates of fire, time between shot strings, ammunition type, brake versus flash hider mounts, atmospheric conditions, cleaning regiments, metallurgy, lot numbers and moon phases can all effect the wear rate of the materials. Lunar status aside, the idea to crowdsource non-scientific suppressor testing is a neat way to see the dramatic forces at work inside the blast chambers of silencers around the country.
I went back and forth on the decision to label each silencer blast baffle pictured by manufacturer and model. First, I think it’s unfair to saddle companies with what may be perceived as a “poor” test result of some sort – remember this isn’t a scientific test. Second, although some baffles look pretty worn, there’s no real correlation between observed wear and suppressor performance. Third, it’s not my data to report. If you really want to know which company made a specific baffle, the thread is easy enough to find.
While you are there consider contributing some images of your own.