No, I’m not announcing a partnership between Smith and Wesson and SilencerCo to make an integrally suppressed revolver. Although I would be first in line to buy one. I created the image above in the hopes of one day spurring a manufacturer to create a commercially available wheel gun that actually can be effectively suppressed. But the question remains, why don’t we see more revolvers wearing silencers?
As most of you already know, the gap between the cylinder and the barrel in a revolver is a source of hot burning gases; there is enough room there to create a powerful cutting torch just inches away from your hands. In fact, Mythbusters did an entire segment on the cylinder gap, destroying fake fingers in the process. If you’ve never seen the episode, it’s worth your time to check it out.
Besides being a destructive force, those escaping gases and burning powder are also a large source of noise and flash. So even with the best suppressor in the world, the amount of sound coming from the cylinder gap is enough to make a revolver a poor choice in hosts. Most revolvers, that is.
Enter the Nagant M1895, a Russian revolver based on the 7.62x38mmR (7.62 Nagant) cartridge. In the Nagant’s mechanical action, the cylinder moves forward as the hammer is cocked, sealing the space between the barrel and the chambered round. Presto: silenced revolver. You’ll just have to live with sourcing quality defensive 7.62x38mmR ammo.
To further quiet the Nagant, in the 1920’s designer Bratya Mitiny (of the Mitin Brothers) engineered the “Bramit Device” for use by Soviet exepeditionary forces. The revolver fired specialized cartridges with a sabot .22 caliber bullet. After firing, the “Bramit Device”, which was mounted on the muzzle, would catch the sabot and prevent the gasses from exiting quickly, further reducing noise.
Obviously there are other suppressed revolvers that have been developed in the past. About seven years ago TFB Big Boss, Steve Johnson, reported on a fully suppressed S&W 625 made for specialized teams within the German police forces. Notice the clamshell like device that basically encapsulates the cylinder.
Even the iconic Knights Armament Corporation got into the silenced wheelgun game with a heavily modified Ruger Super Redhawk for the U.S. military. The requirements called for a quiet platform with repeat-shot capability, yet wouldn’t eject any spent casings.
And although it’s a bullpup shotgun and not a handgun, the Crye Six12 uses a revolving cylinder with a gas seal tube to seal off the gap each time the trigger is pulled.
Each pull of the trigger rotates the cylinder to align next chamber with the barrel. It also engages gas-seal sleeve which slides rearward around the rear of the barrel, to seal the gap between the front of the cylinder chamber and barrel breech. Source: http://world.guns.ru/shotgun/usa/six12-e.html
Of course, nothing is stopping shooters from suppressing standard revolvers, cylinder gap and all. Here’s a Freedom Arms Mini Revolver with a custom barrel and Huntertown Arms B suppressor.
The U.S Army also used some suppressed revolvers in confined-space operations.
I’m challenging silencer manufacturers: build an integrally suppressed revolver and the customers will come. At least I would.