Welcome to The TFB Debate Club, where two writers pace out 10 steps a piece and draw down. Last time, Luke and Doug went blow for blow over the AR-15 being a suitable home defense weapon. This week we wade into the silencer argument: is shooting suppressed firearms really worth the time, money and effort? Or should you point your money in another direction?
For the sake of today’s arguments, we’ll assume that this scenario takes place in America, following the laws and regulations of the land. Let’s save our Mad Max, doomsday fantasies for another debate segment.
As a reminder, like any good debate club, the stance of the writer on a particular issue may not coincide with their personal beliefs. After all, arguing against the foundations of your beliefs is one of the best ways to uncover your faults.
TFB DEBATE CLUB: Shooting Suppressed – This Is The Way
Suppressors are fantastic devices for a safer and more pleasant shooting experience. They are mired in regulation due to fear and ignorance. In some cases, they are illegal to own or possess. Imagine banning or regulating mufflers on your car, life would be obnoxiously loud and annoying. That is what it is like being around unsuppressed shooters. This is 2020, get a can and shut your gun up. Be a considerate shooter and shoot quietly.
SHOOTING SUPPRESSED MEANS HEARING PROTECTION
This is probably the number one benefit to shooting suppressed. You can shoot safely without damaging your hearing. Sure you can wear earplugs or some form of a headset but those are not ideal. With a suppressor, you cut down the noise and report of your firearm for everyone, not just yourself. Now you do not need traditional hearing protection. It is much easier to hear range commands or other noises if you are hunting. Most hunters don’t use ear pro just so they can hear said noises, or they use expensive electronic hearing protection to amplify noises. I am not a fan of noise amplification because they often amplify noises that I do not want to hear, like the sound of my shoes crunching gravel under my feet.
Besides protecting your hearing and the hearing of others, suppressors do take the bark out of the muzzle report. This is a big problem for new shooters. New shooters, especially those who are gun shy are often afraid of guns because they sound scary. I have instructed new shooters and if you can eliminate the loud noise, the experience is a lot more positive and enjoyable for them. They are no longer gun shy and can focus more on the fundamentals as well as enjoy themselves without anticipating the loud noise.
Being able to enjoy shooting is not just for new shooters. If you take a carbine class, shooting with a muzzle brake may be great for your recoil and muzzle climb management, but the other students on either side of you will want to punch your lights out. Some shooters then adopt a linear comp or similar device. However, this redirects the muzzle blast thereby increasing recoil. In some cases, like a short-barreled AR, a linear comp like a SureFire Warden can increase the pressure and actually cause greater muzzle flash.
Shooting suppressed also helps with night time shooting. Often gun clubs and ranges have a time limit on how late their members can shoot after dark. One of the reasons for this is a noise abatement issue with nearby houses. Neighbors typically do not want to hear guns going off after dark. However, if you offer to shoot suppressed, then everyone is happy. You get to keep shooting and the neighbors are no longer annoyed or disturbed.
Suppressed = Recoil Reduction
My friend Bryan always said suppressors cut down the recoil. I never noticed this with semi-auto firearms. But when you suppress a bolt action or lever action, there is a significant reduction in recoil.
When I modified my Alaskan Takedown in .44 Mag, I only thought of making it quieter. But when I shot it, I noticed a significant reduction in recoil. I loathe shooting it without the suppressor, it is extremely unpleasant and the recoil is a bit uncomfortable after a few shots.
Here is a Daniel Defense DD5V5 shot with a variety of different muzzle devices. The SilencerCo Omega 36M was the best. Very little recoil and I did not have to wear ear pro.
Subsonic = Giggles
There are two shooting experiences that induce giggling. Shooting full auto or shooting subsonic ammo through a suppressor.
Suppressing an H&K Briefcase is one of the greatest things I have done. The suppressor reduces the muzzle report while the briefcase helps to muffle the noise from the action of the MP5K.
We all know that suppressors make the gun sound better but they have more positive applications. They are the ideal muzzle device. While some firearms, like the AR-15, have flash hiders, a suppressor does a better job at minimizing muzzle flash.
Here I am running a Kaw Valley Precision MACH linear comp. You can see some muzzle flash coming out of the tube.
Now here is the same gun, H&K SP5, with a Tirant 9M suppressor. No muzzle flash.
For people who shoot bad guys for a living reducing your signature is imperative. One of SureFire’s claims is to change the report of the gun so bad guys have a harder time pin pointing the direction of the shooter.
Final Thoughts: Shooting Suppressed
It is unfortunate that Hollywood has besmirched the good word of suppressors. They are thought to be the tools of assassins and other fictitious nonsense. “Hollywood Quiet” is something some shooters try to achieve but those are not very practical. Just like Hollywood, a “Hollywood Quiet” gun is mostly a glorified range toy. Try shooting an AR-15 suppressed, the suppressor merely cuts the edge off the muzzle report, it is nowhere close to being silent. Just like a muffler on a car does not make said car into a silent death machine, suppressors are not for killers and assassins. Suppressors benefit everyone by making guns less loud.
TFB DEBATE CLUB: Shooting Suppressed – This Is Not The Way
Suppressors Are Expensive
It’s bad enough that quality ammunition can cost over a dollar a round, an AR-15 is now north of $1,000 and optics and other accessories will open your wallet even further, but adding on an $800 metal tube just seems over-the-top ridiculous. For an item that may not have any moving parts and can’t fire a single bullet on its own, a silencer seems like a cost-prohibitive barrier for nearly all shooters. Why does a brand new GLOCK, a pistol caliber carbine or any number of other firearms cost as much as a straight-walled metal cylinder with a stack of fender washers dropped inside?
If suppressors ranged from $20 for a rimfire model and topped out at about $150 for a rifle model, I’d consider the purchase a worthwhile investment. But as it is now, mounting systems and muzzle devices alone already cost more than $100.
Suppressors Do Not Make Guns Quiet
Outside of a bolt action rimfire rifle shooting subsonic ammunition, no “silencer” reduces the report of a firearm to quiet levels. Let’s face reality, the confined explosion of gunpowder in a barrel is going to be loud and the only real way to make it quieter is to reduce the charge to anemic levels.
On top of the sound coming from the deflagration of gunpowder, we also have to deal with the speed of the projectile breaking the sound barrier and making an ear-splitting crack as it flies downrange. Not even the best suppressor engineers can eliminate the laws of physics on planet earth. The alternative is to select a load that stays subsonic – a watered-down slow-moving bullet that likely has the ballistics of a VW bus and the effective range of a community college quarterback’s fourth quarter Hail Mary pass.
Added Weight And Length
Unless you are a bench rest only shooter, barrel length is an important part of any host platform. The key is to maximize powder burn inside the barrel and behind the bullet while keeping barrel length as short as possible. At a minimum, a suppressor adds six to eight inches onto the end of a gun’s barrel, making a short barrel rifle into a long carbine and a rifle into a howitzer.
The extra weight added onto the point farthest from the shooter’s body makes the rifle feel about twice as heavy than before. Not to mention that if you switch between suppressed and unsuppressed shooting, the muzzle-end barrel weight change will cause a shift in the point of impact (POI) on target. Why would someone knowingly add a device to a firearm that will change where the bullet lands?
Registration, Taxes And Fees
Free Americans do not voluntarily submit to the government, especially when it comes to paying an unjust tax. Nearly 90 years ago, the National Firearms Act made it the law of the land that every silencer required a non-licensee transfer tax of $200. This effectively banned silencer ownership for all citizens except for the extremely wealthy. It wasn’t until decades later that inflation made the $200 tolerable for working class shooters. Why should we support continued taxation of an activity that shouldn’t require any government intervention at all?
The fact that our own government keeps books on our names, addresses and other personal information for every silencer we own is an assault on the individual liberties of free Americans. We are forced to photograph and fingerprint ourselves like felons to request permission to own a fancy metal bar is just crazy making. If these devices provided any real hearing protection, government agencies like OSHA would pay ranges to have silencers available for anyone’s use.
And because these scary assassination devices affect interstate and foreign commerce, transferring one from one state to another requires the use of licensed dealers who pass on fees to customers. A silencer buyer in Texas cannot buy from an individual or dealer in Louisiana directly. They would need to use a dealer who has to request permission from the federal government to ship the suppressor to another local dealer across state lines.
The list against suppressor ownership goes on: excessive heat, barrel concentricity concerns, over-gassed semiautomatic guns, hazardous suppressor cleaning techniques, repairing damaged silencers, secure storage requirements, and just the evil, scary look that silencers give firearms are all reasons you should not consider owning a suppressor. Invest your money in a good set of electronic hearing protection muffs and a bunch of extra ammunition instead.
Remember to tune in to TFB’s Silencer Saturday series where we discuss news, reviews and highlights from the suppressor industry. Please support our friends and sponsors like Yankee Hill Machine and Silencer Shop. 😉