New Industry Standard for Measuring Suppressor Blowback to Be Introduced By ARDEC [NDIA 2017]

The suppressor blowback testing arrangement developed by ARDEC. Note the air inlet mounted near the location where a shooter's face would be.

At the 2017 National Defense Industry Association’s annual Armament Systems Forum in April, representatives of the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) presented a new method for measuring and quantifying gas blowback with suppressed firearms. The testing was conducted in the service of creating a new standard test procedure for gas blowback, for the Army, NATO, and the industry. Importantly, the test procedure involved mounting air inlets in locations corresponding to the shooter’s face when firing the rifle, which gives accurate measurements for what quantity of toxic gases reach the shooter’s face during operation.

ARDEC’s suppressor blowback testing apparatus.


Diagram of the test setup. Note the dual sensors connected to the air inlet.


The testing seems to have revealed that the best combination for reducing gas blowback to the shooter was “Suppressor A” combined with “Charging Handle B”. Of course, in the interests of objectivity, the presentation does not reveal which suppressors or charging handles are described by which labels, so we are left to wonder. What is interesting about these results is that it does seem to prove that different suppressor designs of roughly similar size can give substantially different degrees of gas blowback. Also, the preliminary proof of concept testing from April of 2016 appears to prove that “gas busting” charging handle designs can considerably reduce the gas blowback perceived by the shooter. Perhaps most importantly, however, the testing suggests that the gas blowback problem with suppressed firearms can be solved through proper design of the suppressor and the charging handle, which is good news for military planners looking to move towards an all-suppressed rifle fleet in the future.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Nik

    Been waiting for this for a long time. Its clearly apparent that certain suppressors and brands increase backpressure significantly more than others but until now the evidence has been entirely anecdotal. With guns like the Galil Ace or Mk18 uppers (with their large gas ports) it makes a huge difference.

    • I can tell you that it makes a significant difference whether you’re left or right handed too. I’m a lefty shooter, and with my face on the same side as the ejection port, all of my ARs and my SCAR give me a real face-full of gas and smoke when they are suppressed. Still, I don’t worry too much about it and just try to control my breathing so that I don’t inhale it. But that doesn’t stop it from letting in my right eye a lot.

  • Raptor Fred

    Is there a main link to the 2017 NDIA Armament Systems Forum with all of the PDFs? Or just a secret one this year?

  • st381183

    Just because government testing says it’s so doesn’t mean it’s so. There will always be blowback to the face, which is somewhat mitigated by bolt actions that you can delay opening, but on semi auto rifles or firearms, not so much. An adjustable gas port, quality suppressor, and gas busting charging handle may help but it will always be individual to each rifle.

  • Twilight sparkle
    • pun&gun

      Don’t mock him just because he identifies as nap-kin.

  • Gary Kirk

    Lmao, love how they used a quickflash nailed to some plywood for their “blast shield”..

    ETA: for those that don’t know, this is a quickflash.. Just a little piece of plastic, with a neoprene center

    • James

      If it’s simple, and it works, it isn’t stupid!