Hello everyone and welcome to the first installment of TFB’s Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go. In this multi-part series, TFB writers will discuss the characteristics of great ammunition for a particular application. Be it self defense, small game hunting, precision rifle matches, target/plinking or pistol competitions, chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round. This week, not surprisingly, I’ll offer up some tips on picking the best suppressor ammunition.
At the end of each article, writers will provide links to purchase ammo from AmmunitionToGo.com that meets their criteria for great ammo for the intended purpose.
TFB Round Table: Picking The Best Suppressor Ammunition
Whether you own 20 suppressors or are just now thinking about buying your first, it doesn’t hurt to go over some basic reminders. You’ll need to make sure you have the correct mounting system, confirm that your barrel is threaded to the right specification and that your gun is rated for your new silencer and everything is properly aligned. But one of the biggest variables in the enjoyment of suppressed weapons is the ammunition you are shooting. Without research, shooting the wrong ammo for your setup can be disheartening at best and catastrophic at worst. Let’s take a look.
For the sake of today’s discussion, I am going to assume that everyone wants subsonic suppressor ammunition. Obviously, if you are shooting 5.56mm in your AR15, you are going to want to shoot high-velocity rounds. But most people pick suppressor ammunition to shoot quietly and a sonic crack from a supersonic bullet will always be loud. Although it changes with environmental factors, the speed of sound is somewhere around 1100 fps – feet per second.
But picking a quality subsonic round isn’t as easy as reading the velocity on the side of a box. As you already know, barrel lengths can determine the speed of a projectile – the longer the bullet is confined in the barrel in front of an exploding powder charge, the faster it will go. This fact is particularly important for standard velocity rimfire ammunition that can remain subsonic in some pistols yet go supersonic in rifle hosts.
In general, if a box of ammo is labeled subsonic, it will stay subsonic in most standard setups. However, some trial and error may be required for rounds with borderline velocities. Another good resource is Ballistics By The Inch which has different rounds shot through various barrel lengths while measuring muzzle velocities with a chronograph.
Barrel Twist Rates and Bullet Weight
To achieve subsonic velocities in longer barrels, most cartridges increase bullet weights. And, increasing weight means increasing the size of the projectile, specifically length. Longer bullets need a faster twist rate to stabilize properly, so you should make sure host weapon is outfitted with the right barrel. It is always good practice to shoot any new ammo through your unsuppressed firearm to check for keyholing or accuracy issues. Otherwise, your silencer may end up in the path of destruction.
Jacketed/Coated bullets and cleaner powders
For suppressed shooting, I’m going to strongly suggest shooting bullets that have full metal jackets or polymer coatings. While lead projectiles are cheaper, an encapsulated bullet will save your silencer from heavy lead deposits after hundreds of rounds down the pipe. Similarly, ammunition specifically designed to be run through a suppressor may use cleaner burning powders that reduce the build-up and save on cleaning time.
The right bullet
Suppressor ammunition or not, picking the right bullet for your intended mission is important. A full metal jacket round is probably not an ethical choice for hunting large game. On the other hand, punching targets with soft point expanding rounds could be a waste of money. Choose wisely.
Manufacturer Recommended Barrel Length
Lastly, in a topic that has more to do with your silencer rather than the ammunition you buy, keep an eye on barrel lengths and restrictions. While a suppressor may be rated for .308WIN, it may require a barrel length of 18” or greater. Along those same lines, some suppressors are only rated for subsonic versions of certain cartridges – like the 300BLK “crossover” round for example.
And don’t forget to read the manual or ask customer support for guidance on an oddball caliber before you start launching rounds down range.
Wrap Up – The best SUPPRESSOR ammunition
While the list below doesn’t represent all of my favorite brands and types of suppressor ammunition, I have shot every one of them through a suppressor and believe each to be a great choice depending on the shooter’s task and host weapon.
From here on out, TFB writers will lay out important criteria for buying different types of ammunition based upon their unique knowledge and experiences and give you some options to buy your own.
Thanks for reading TFB. Be safe, have fun and we’ll see you next time for TFB’s Round Table.
TFB’s Round Table Is Brought To You by AmmoToGo.com
Have you outfitted a suppressor on your pistol, and would like to see just what the accessory is truly capable of doing? Complement its performance with this superb yet still easy on the wallet 45 ACP cartridge from Federal’s American Eagle line of ammunition. It’s specifically designed to work in conjunction with a suppressor, and because its muzzle velocity is only 840 fps it won’t produce a supersonic “pow” that would overcome even a suppressor’s ability to muffle.
This round’s projectile still weighs its caliber’s standard 230 grains, so its performance won’t feel entirely unlike what you’re likely best accustomed to out of your pistol. The bullet’s evenly layered full metal jacket supports accuracy, promotes positive functionality, and leaves behind less residue that you would have to clean out of your bore and suppressor after the fact. Federal created this round’s brass casing, and it evinces its Minnesotan manufacturer’s characteristic love for precise craftsmanship. You can try your hand at making your own ammo that’s optimized for a silenced pistol after it’s been emptied out.
Affordable self-defense ammunition upholds a certain egalitarian principle that we all hold near and dear to our hearts. Sure, there are people out there who can afford bulk shipments of 950 JDJ with gold jacketed, palladium tipped projectiles, but when anyone can afford a reliable 9mm round like this one by Federal, the playing field is bound to stay nice and level.
Federal makes their ammo affordable not by depriving it of quality, but by applying nearly one century worth of research, development, and technological innovation to everything that they do. That means this round is poised to do you right should you ever have to count on it. Its 147 grain projectile is a Hi-Shok, a jacketed hollow point that resists clogging with debris during penetration that it may dependably deliver powerful expansion and energy transfer. Its notched jacket is tightly secured to its core, permitting it to travel deeply as it widens for pretty disastrous terminal effect.
Federal’s new production brass casing is just the stuff for handloading, and their clean propellant and non-corrosive primer are gentle on the firearms they burn in. This law enforcement grade ammo is great for stockpiling, and its agreeable price tag means you’ll be able to stomach training with it as well.
This 9mm cartridge is from Federal’s Syntech Training Match line of ammunition. As such it’s crafted in such a way that its performance is apples to apples the same as Federal’s comparable Personal Defense HST and Tactical HST loads. Run this ammo through your pistol and you’ll be effectively sharpening your skill with your self-defense ammo as well. It never hurts to be prepared for the worst!
This cartridge features Federal’s proprietary Total Synthetic Jacket, which will help you in a number of ways. The TSJ totally encapsulates its core, so it not only prevents hot propellant gasses from evaporating the lead there, but also prevents leading and friction within the bore. Without any copper this bullet furthermore greatly reduces the chances of splash-back while you’re shooting steel!
Federal’s Catalyst primer constantly erupts super hot, and because it’s free of lead or other heavy metals this round is even better suited for indoor use. Federal makes a first rate brass casing as well, so please scoop up whatever comes out of your pistol for future handloading! (Even if you don’t handload, you can always send your spent brass to us as a nice gift.)
These .300 Blackout rounds from Federal’s “American Eagle Suppressor” line are an inexpensive option for quiet plinking that doesn’t compromise on expert craftsmanship. Each of these cartridges possesses a reloadable brass casing which has its non-corrosive Boxer primer installed with sealant around its edges; this moisture-blocking material protects the inside the round in order to preserve reliability. Crowning the load is a precisely manufactured 220 grain Open Tip Match (OTM) projectile.
The heavy weight bullet matches one of AAC’s original design criterion with a subsonic muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet-per-second for zero crack and less noise travel when fired through your favorite can. Federal builds these OTM projectiles with a boat tail rear and tiny meplat (bullet tip) for drag resistance, unbeatable accuracy, and consistent precision out to 200 yards. Each bullet also has a toothed cannelure at its crimp point which prevents bullet setback from repeated chambering and recoil. That makes these rounds suitable for suppressed drills with an AR as well as for ragged-hole range work with a bolt-action.
Federal ammunition is American made and fueled by feedback from military users, law enforcement officers, international hunters, and even Olympic gold medalists. Their reputation for quality is only second to their wide range of ammunition types made to suit any occasion.
Hornady Subsonic 300 AAC Blackout is the solution for shooters looking for a terminally effective round without shoulder pounding recoil or a sonic crack. These premium multi-purpose rounds are loaded with 190gr. Sub-X projectiles featuring Hornady’s polymer Flex-Tip. The Flex-Tip is a unique take on polymer-tipped ammo; the purpose of the tip is not only to improve the aerodynamics of the round. The Flex Tip keeps the hollow point clear of debris and facilitates reliable expansion that promotes a quick knockdown. This 300 AAC Blackout generates a muzzle velocity of 1050 fps with a corresponding energy transfer of 465 ft/lbs. This ammo is a blast to shoot, and the low recoil makes it a great choice for shooters of all experience levels. Hornady uses new-production brass casings that are non-corrosive, Boxer-primed, and reloadable.
- 40 grain lead round nose at a sub-sonic 1070 ft/sec
- Same velocity as our premier match rimfire cartridges
- Clean-burning propellants keep actions cleaner
- Sure-fire CCI priming
- Reusable plastic box with dispenser lid
This is .22 Long Rifle CCI Sub-Sonic Hollow Point Ammo. CCI is known for their quality .22 Long Rifle Ammo. These rounds will not cycle a semiautomatic weapon and will require hand cycling. It comes packed in 100rd. reclosable plastic boxes.
This is .22LR Eley Sub-Sonic Xtra Plus 40gr. Lead Hollow Point Ammo. This ammo is manufactured by Eley in England, so you can be assured that it is premium quality ammo. The Eley Sub-Sonic Xtra Plus Ammo is a lower velocity hunting cartridge with target accuracy. It has a very reduced muzzle report and a special lubricant for cleaner, more dependable operation in semi-automatic rifles. It travels at 1085 fps and has 105 ft. lbs. of energy at the muzzle. Eley .22LR ammo is considered to be the best in the world and has won more medals and set more records than any other .22LR ammo to date. It is also used by more olympic shooters than any other .22LR ammo. When you want the best, shoot Eley ammo. This ammo is packed in 50rd. boxes.