It seems strange to do a ‘Spotlight’ installment on the Bowers Group. After all, Tom Bowers has been making silencers for almost two decades. And even if you aren’t a suppressor owner (yet), I can almost guarantee that at some point in your life you have lusted after one of his subgun models mounted on a MAC or UZI. But even after producing silencers for nearly 20 years, Bowers and company continue to innovate while still offering the most attachment options in the industry.
One of the main reasons I love writing for TFB is that I get the chance to meet some awesome people and talk about guns. Without question, Tom and his partner Dorothy Conway are some of the most down to earth and fun people in the business. You can tell that they enjoy making a quality product and legitimately like to make customers happy. Case in point, Bowers service policy basically covers everything under the sun. As long as you don’t create a taxable event or show reckless behavior, repairs cost about $20 – enough to cover shipping and handling.
Bowers started his career in the firearms industry making fixtures and selling parts for submachine guns like the MAC M11/9.. After getting frustrated with sourcing quality parts, he started manufacturing silencers. One thing lead to another and the Bowers Group was formed and has since become a legend in the submachine gun community.
Tom’s love of firearms and dedication to the NFA community is evident in his establishing www.subguns.com, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. Back in 1997, when Bowers started releasing silencers, the internet was still in it’s commercial infancy and the resources to buy and sell silencers and machine guns (or any guns for that matter) did not exist. To this day, that same passion spills over on to both their Facebook page and Instagram Feed: Either Tom or Dorothy respond to owners and potential owners questions, day or night. A seemingly lost art in today’s business world.
Even with the suppressor industry’s trend towards smaller and lighter models, Bowers has held to their tried-and-true design of a larger diameter aluminum tube. Currently all Bowers Group subgun/carbine silencers are full-auto rated. An optional stainless steel baffle stack allows for additional versatility in ammunition choices and increases the muzzle velocity rating for the particular silencer. Bowers suppressors are designed to be ‘durable goods’ – investments that have the ability to be passed between generations of shooters.
That’s not to say that Bowers and company has a reluctance to innovate. Even with seemingly small issues like proper heat shield/mirage covers, Tom and Dorothy started experimenting with high-heat silicone to avoid burning and melting under rapid fire. A few years later, their Griptastic/Supcov is still a hit, and the idea is even being “borrowed” by other accessory manufacturers. “Any time you make something new and different that works, it is going to be imitated by others in the firearms industry. It’s just the way it is,” said Bowers.
Added: TFB’s Alex C. reviewed the Griptastic covers a few years back.
But, Tom and Dorothy just shrug those business issues off, rarely stopping to bother with competing companies, let alone to badmouth anyone. Don’t get me wrong, they will take a second to chuckle when a manufacture makes an outrageous claim, but those private jokes never make it into the public eye – That’s just the way they are.
Bowers offers the most attachment options in the business. Between the Versadapt and ATAS insert varieties, there are 35 different thread pitch combinations. And just within the last few weeks, the highly anticipated three-lug mount has become available to customers who have been on a two year waitlist. Demand has been high, adding to the already 7-day work week schedule to keep up with what Tom refers to as the “first-ever suppressor rush”.
If you have not been over to the Bowers website in a while, the days of the traditional machined-shiny finish are gone – as of last year, Bowers started tumbling all their tubes for a matte effect. Although Tom said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, I have to be honest, I miss it already. “Every once in a while we would have a customer call who was a professional machinist and tell us how much they liked our manufacturing,” said Bowers. “That means a lot.”
As far as models, Bowers makes silencers that can cover anything from .22LR, like the super light-weight Paradigm, all the way up to full-power full .50 Beowulf in the Vers 50. In between are the mainstays like the Vers 9S that are right at home on a submachine gun.
For anyone wondering about their cleaning regimen with the aluminum tube and parts, using standard jacketed ammunition, Bowers’ has never had an issue with buildup. And again, if you ever did have a need for a squeaky-clean baffle stack, a $20 bill and a shipping box will get you a refreshed silencer.
Harking back to his beginnings in the submachine gun world, Tom Bowers has always had the dream of designing and building what he refers to as ‘real firearms’. He joked, “You know, things that actually shoot bullets.” So, being the mad scientist that he is, combined with his reverence of designer/engineer John Moses Browning, I think it is safe to say we will be seeing a firearm with the Bowers name on it sometime in the future. Although neither he or Dorothy are ready to talk specifics or timelines, I think we are pretty much guaranteed it will be (in Tom Bowers-style): ‘Pretty freaking cool’.
I am looking forward to owning my first Bowers suppressor. First, I need to find the right host that will do it justice.
P.O. Box 430
Cornelius OR 97113