Silencer Destruction: When Bad Things Happen to Good Cans

Credit: www.silencerresearch.com

Credit: www.silencerresearch.com

With the process to find, purchase and transfer suppressors in the United States being as tedious as they are, one of the biggest fears of a new owner is damaging their new toy. While there is always the potential for manufacturing defects, the more common cause of silencer wounds is user error. If you are a soon-to-be owner of a new suppressor, use these images as a cautionary tale to reduce the possibility of hurting your investment.

As we discussed in Part 3 of the Beginner’s Guide To Suppressors, there are a few techniques you can use to make sure your can is properly threaded or mounted to your barrel before you pull the trigger. As a review, let’s take a look at all the steps you can take to minimize the risk of silencer damage.

  1. Ensure your barrel is properly threaded.
  2. Make sure your threads are concentric to the bore.
  3. Does your silencer sit evenly on the barrel shoulder? (clean and inspect your threads)
  4. If you are using a mount, follow the installation instructions and never use crush washers.
  5. Check the silencer periodically for proper tightness.
  6. Is your silencer rated for the barrel length you are using? (7.5″ or 16+”)
  7. Is your silencer rated for the round you are using? (i.e. magnum versus subsonic only)
  8. Is your barrel’s rate of twist compatible with the bullet weight (length) you are using? (check for keyholing prior to shooting suppressed)
  9. What rate of fire can your suppressor take? (full auto-rated versus slow fire)
  10. If your suppressor is user serviceable, is it assembled correctly?
  11. Follow proper, cleaning, maintenance and inspection for debris inside your cans. 
  12. Don’t be stupid. (If you mistreat anything, the potential is there to cause injury or destruction)

I don’t know the story behind all of these pictures, but safe to say, something went wrong.

End Cap Strikes:

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2

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3

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5

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6

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7

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10

 

Baffle Strikes:

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11

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12

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13

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14

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15

 

Catastrophic Failure:

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16

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18

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23.5

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24

 

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25

Other:

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26 (User error here. Note that the can actually withstood al the rounds piling up)

Scary right? Don’t worry, baffle strikes, end cap strikes and catastrophic damage are very rare.

Just use common sense and RTFM (Read The Freaking Manual).



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Justin Roney

    I’d be curious to know if most of those baffle/endcap strikes came from semi-auto or full auto/slidefire useage. Theoretically, I would think that the bullet would leave the barrel and clear the suppressor before the recoil impulse sufficiently moved the system to cause a strike, but I’ve wondered if it would be possible even if the alignment was correct.

    • TCBA_Joe

      End cap and barrel strikes areally caused by misalignment or unstable rounds, not because the can has moved with the round still traveling inside it.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Most full auto strikes occur because of bullet instability. As the barrel and can heat up, the lead inside the bullet actual let melts, causing a shift in mass leading to stability. (Credit Dr Dater from Gemtech with the explaination.)

      • You would be surprised the number of failures due to suppressors getting hot enough from sustained semi or full auto fire and the spacers between the baffle having columnar collapse failure and allowing the baffle to become misaligned. It is one of the failures in threaded constructed center fire rifle cans that was solved by mono core and fully welded baffle stacks.

        • Pete M. – TFB Writer

          Good info. Thank you.

        • Philip H. Dater

          Monocores and fully welded baffle stacks do not prevent baffle impacts from either improper mounting or instability due to excessive full auto fire and/or use on very short barrels. These are the primary causes we see.

          • Pete M. – TFB Writer

            Thank you for stopping by, Doc.

  • Anonymoose

    And this is why I don’t trust any silencer with non-removable endcaps.

  • thedonn007

    #18 looks like someone tried to use 5.56 with a .22 lr can.

    I feel bad for these folks with busted cans. I would hate for that to happen to me. #9 hits close to home as I happen to own the same suppressor.

  • Nicholas C

    Last March, I was at a friend’s house. His friend brought over his suppressed Mac11 machine gun. I was shooting it for the second string. Before doing so the owner of the gun said to make sure the suppressor was tight, so I had him do it. I did not want to mess it up. He did. Then I shot it. In mid mag dump a loud pop and I saw stuff fly out the front of the can. I thought it was a baffle strike. We collected all the parts and no evidence of a strike. The end cap was really thin. Only three rings of fine threads. It almost looks like aluminum screwed onto a steel tube. Luckily he was not upset and new the suppressor manufacturer would take care of him and they did.

  • spotr

    I think this one is a catastrophic destruction by cutting torch. Hopefully it was put to rest only because it had some type of non-repairable damage.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Let’s hope so!

  • Dave Y

    A lot of that information is helpful, but doesn’t say how to go about confirm it at the end user level. Barrel thread concentricity, barrel twist vs. bullet weight, etc. Here are a few suggestions

    Use a barrel guide rod or, I’ve also heard it called a drill rod. to confirm the suppressor mounts ‘true’ to the bore. I got one from CNC Warrior, and it has saved me 1 suppressor.

    Confirm the rounds you’re firing don’t keyhole ! “But I only changed ” in the load is the constant refrain of reloaders who damage cans. When you’re chasing subsonic loads, just because they work in your buddies gun, doesn’t mean they will stabilize in yours. You can easily confirm this by firing about 10 shots at cardboard from a distance of 5 yards or so. If your holes aren’t perfectly round, DON’T mount the can !

    It isn’t just the bullet weight, a different bullet profile may not stabilize- in 300 blk I can easily stabilize Hornady 208, probably heavier, but a 203 grain pill wasn’t quite stable. CHECK first.

    Use a good mounting scheme that won’t easily walk. Yankee Hill Machine makes an awesome ratcheting mount for QD, I have never had a can walk loose from one of their mounts, even under rapid fire from a super short 5.56. There is no perfect, and advice above to periodically check is very good advice even if you have a ratcheting or locking mount.

    Be mindful of heat ! I’ve seen over 900 F on one of my suppressors during rapid fire and I’ve heard of others going far higher. If your suppressor is that hot, how hot is your barrel? Ref: The key holing comments above. This is especially important with full auto fire, but if you try hard enough a semi auto could get hot enough to keyhole.

    Oh, and keep some insulated gloves and a heat resistant shroud of some sort handy. RESIST the temptation to just grab and tighten a suppressor mounted to a gun, they get really hot. Enough to burn material off your gloves and permanently imbed into the metal. I burned a set of gun show shooting gloves this way and even after heavy sanding the black stain is still in the titanium !

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Thanks Dave. I linked to the ‘Beginner’s Guide’ in the first part of the story which covered how to avoid most of these issues.

  • Mystick

    Wow…. sliming out a suppressor to get molten aluminum… That’s some heat there.

  • aweds1

    So, what happens in the event of damage like this? Repair? Scrap it? Get it taken of the ATF list to dispose? What’s the next course of action?

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Most baffle and end cap strikes can be repaired without a new transfer tax. Some tubes can be repaired/shortened, but if the tube needs to be replaced, you need to pay another $200.

  • PK

    Picture #13 is not a baffle strike so far as I can tell. It’s the 762SD baffle stack being wire EDMed in an irregular polygon bore on purpose, all the examples I’ve seen look the same.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Baffles 5/6 look look like they’ve been “kissed”. I know what you mean about the EDM and the SDN6

      • PK

        I see what you’re talking about, now. Easy enough to miss that at first glance! Good call.

  • Several of the pictures are of failures due to incorrect design by the manufacture, not baffle strikes. The result is the same, in that you need a new can, but is unavoidable by the end user, other than not buying from certain manufacturers. When I was doing some engineering work for AAC during the SOCOM suppressor trials, there were some interesting failures by all manufacturers present. The test at SOCOM caused some significant redesign approaches of center fire rifle suppressors that are now commonly used by all the top manufacturers.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Correct. Since I didn’t know the background on all of them, I kept the door open. I see some failures along engraving, threading and general poor engineering.

  • Jeff Smith
    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Haha. Awesome. Well done.

  • iksnilol

    I still am baffled over the use of right hand threads for suppressors, those work themselves loose from the torque from the bullet rotating.

    • Philip Palmer

      That is only a concern for direct thread suppressors and one of the reasons I prefer QD cans with a locking mechanism. Rockset the muzzle brake on and ensure you lock the can on, you’re set. Plus the course, slightly tapered threads on most QD systems makes it more difficult to cross thread.

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, but the QD mount thingy (flash hider or muzzle brake) can also shoot itself loose.

        • Philip Palmer

          Not when you use Rockset, it won’t!

          • iksnilol

            I like direct thread due to shorter length.

  • Joshua

    I don’t like this, not at all! Those poor cans! I would cry if I had to deal with that.

  • HOLY $#!+ THAT LAST ONE

  • JasonM

    # 12 is not a baffle strike, it’s the normal look of the asymmetrical truncated cones in most AAC rifle cans. And #25 is just an OSS can system disassembled (not damaged)

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      I know for a fact the #25 OSS is catastrophically damaged as I asked the owner for permission to use the pics. It’s back with OSS now for evaluation.

      #12 is a SDN6 with slight strikes on baffles 5/6.

  • Adam D.

    Is that really a carbon tube in picture #22?
    Who makes such a suppressor?

    In picture #25 what’s with the OSS can?
    I can’t see anything on it.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Many countries with relaxed silencer regulations can experiment with desigs that aren’t easily done in the US. There is a NZ company that specializes in carbon fiber tubes.

      The OSS can blew out a set of threads on one of the sections. No baffle strike evidence.

      • Adam D.

        Oh, I see, thank you! You learn something every day.
        This carbon fiber thing sounds very interesting!

        • Pete M. – TFB Writer

          You bet. Thanks for reading.

  • John Bovenzi

    #25 is a “disasembled” OSS suppressor, I don’t see anything wrong with it, unless I am missing something?

  • Kenneth Giusto

    Someone should make guide rods to help check alignment of components. I’m thinking like a 20″ brass rod that is 7.62 that will pass through the barrel, mount and can simultaneously to verify proper clearance. Also available in .22

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      Funny you should say that, Kenneth. Give us a couple weeks…

      • Kenneth Giusto

        Oh?! Send me one when they are ready!

  • Pete M. – TFB Writer

    I wish I could up vote you more than once.

  • Bill Jones

    How does 26 happen? At some point, don’t you have to notice that bullets are no longer coming out of your gun? This was clearly not an issue that suddenly happened out of the blue like the previous examples.