Hey Doc, My Suppressor Gets Heavy When I Shoot It. Any Ideas?

Credit: Brandon Bertolli

‘Let’s get an X-ray and see what’s going on’. In a LinkedIn post entitled Lead deposition in an A-TEC CMM4(6) rimfire suppressor: Part 1, Diagnostic Radiographer Brandon Bertolli uses a medical X-ray machine to chronicle the effects of shooting .22LR rimfire ammunition in a suppressor without any cleaning intervals. Although the results are somewhat obvious (it gets heavier and filled with lead), the use of the X-ray shows the location of the deposits and the gradual buildup over time.

I got this suppressor brand new and before I used it for the first time, I X-rayed it and weighed it. My intention was to weigh it and X-ray it after every 500 rounds of use, with no cleaning at all of the suppressor. I used 300 rounds of Eley Sport™ and 200 rounds of CCI Mini-mag™ ammunition per session. Obviously the Mini-mag will not suppress properly because the projectile remains supersonic through the suppressor, but the Eley suppresses just fine. I wanted a mix of copper-washed and waxed lead projectiles, so that’s the reason for this choice of Eley and CCI.


Credit: Brandon Bertolli


Credit: Brandon Bertolli


Credit: Brandon Bertolli


By 3000 rounds there are residues even on the exit side of the suppressor:


Credit: Brandon Bertolli

I have combined all the radiographs (one control and six follow-ups) into one image, along with the round count in red and the weight in yellow. The scale I have access to is only accurate to within 1g, nonetheless the results are interesting:


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    “it gets heavier and filled with lead”

    Lead, copper fouling, wax lube, and propellant residue.

    While I’m sure the lead is the primary source of the weight increase, it’s not JUST lead that’s happening.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I doubt wax has a high enough density to show up on an X-Ray. Eley Sport isn’t cooper washed, but even the CCI won’t leave much Cu. Powde residue is minimal in an 18″ rifle.

      I think you missed the x-Ray point here.

      • Toxie

        Wax would show up as a very faint line, depending on the X-ray machine and method of X-ray, as well as thickness of the deposits.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Awesome. Thanks for that.

  • m-cameron

    …..sooooo…the result is lead builds up when you don’t clean it?…….is this news to anyone?

    What’s the next article going to be ” guns shoot when you pull the trigger!!”…?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I thought it was cool. Don’t feel obligated to read though if you have better things to do.

      • Jwedel1231

        I thought it was cool too.

    • Jeremy Star

      Always some hipster too cool for a post, or some old fudd too grumpy.

    • Badwolf

      Alex’s nambu would disagree

  • Drew Coleman

    That’s pretty cool. I would hate to be the one to clean it after all that…

    • thedonn007

      I hope he is able to take it apart to clean it.

    • Mark K.

      Trow it in a sonic cleaner…

      • uisconfruzed

        My sonic cleaner does NOTHING to clean the lead out of my Sparrow.

    • Jeff

      That’s why I clean my very often.

  • Kivaari

    Good article. There’s a good reason to have a model that can be completely cleaned.

  • Kivaari

    Can an electronic de-leader solution work w/o wrecking the tube/baffles?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      As long as the components aren’t aluminum, for the most part yes. Ultrasonic cleaners and some cleaners can damage Al.

  • DIR911911 .

    more impressive is believing that one would notice a 10g increase in weight over 3000 rounds later

  • Longrange

    The components are aluminium. I have one of those. Luckily it is easily dissassembled as every baffle is their own component that is screwed to the next baffle.