SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Let's Go to the Gun Shop – Buying Suppressors Retail

by Pete
SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Silencer Saturday brought to you by Yankee Hill Machine, manufacturers of the new YHM R45 Multi-Host Suppressor. Last weekend we flipped through the paper to bring you another edition of Suppressors Ripped From the Headlines. The weather continues to be non-compliant with range activities, so live fire remains on pause. Instead, I hopped in the car and drove to a large firearms and outdoors store to have the experience of buying suppressors retail. What did I learn? Let’s find out.

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SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Let’s Go to the Gun Shop – Buying Suppressors Retail

Self awareness is important. I sometimes have to remind myself that when it comes to suppressors, I sit in an ivory tower looking down on the everyday people who don’t get access to the latest and greatest market additions. While I hope I don’t come across as an elitist every Saturday, I do try to address the topics like budget, accessibility, and multi-caliber options that are important to regular consumers.

However, I have to confess, I have never purchased a silencer from a standard brick-and-mortar gun shop.

As I was making my way to the Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine, I was reminded of my youth when we would drive six hours to Sydney, Nebraska to visit the original (and at the time, the only) Cabelas. This massive outdoors store had everything imaginable, including a huge selection of firearms. But I don’t remember ever seeing a section for NFA items like suppressors. The Kittery Trading Post is the Northeast’s version of that original Cabelas in Nebraska; smaller, but with a respectable collection of guns and gear.

As a disclaimer, my statements and perspectives regarding buying NFA items retail are not specific or unique to the Kittery Trading Post. Like most of you, I have visited dozens, possibly hundreds, of gun shops across the country, and have experienced a wide variety of knowledge and experience by owners and staff.

Let’s take a look at some considerations for buying a suppressor at a local gun shop.

1. Selection and Pricing

SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

Most gun shops have a limited supply of suppressors available for customers to handle and inspect. It really is a shame, because most shooters are introduced to suppressors either through a friend who already owns one or at the gun counter when they are in the process of buying a different firearm. Blame it on the National Firearms Act, but the intensely satisfying feeling of bringing a new gun home from a shop is not afforded to silencer buyers. Which means that it doesn’t make much sense for a local shop to keep much inventory on hand when it can be ordered from a distributor. But it will mean a return trip to the shop for the customer to complete the ATF Form 4 paperwork. The Kittery Trading Post actually has a decent selection of suppressors, including YHM, SIG Sauer, and Dead Air.

Pricing on suppressors at gun shops can range from MSRP to extremely over priced. Most of the models I saw today were on sale and actually decently priced. One question I forgot to ask is if they charged a fee for NFA paperwork, something you should ask before laying your cash on the barrel.

2. Knowledgeable Staff

SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

As much as I wish it were different, suppressor buyers are a small fraction of overall gun sales in America. Gun shop staff, even with the best training, are focused on selling the most popular guns like concealed carry pistols, AR-15s, and shotguns. It’s fairly rare to find an NFA qualified person at a local gun store. Kittery had a couple of employees that knew the basic principles of choosing a suppressor, which is probably better than 90% of the shops across the country.

Another consideration should be the paperwork process and the availability of fingerprinting services or a Silencer Shop kiosk to electronically file the ATF Form 4, which will save you a lot of time.

3. Accessories

SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

A good retail shop will have a basic selection of muzzle devices, mounts, pistons, and tools that will go home with a new owner. However, I wouldn’t expect to find the more exotic thread pitches or mounts at the shop – ordering online will be your best bet.

4. Ammunition

SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

Outside of .22LR, it is rare to find subsonic ammo meant for suppressor use in a local gun shop. Searching the shelves today, I found six boxes of SIG 220gr OTM subsonic 300BLK ammo. There were a few boxes of 147gr 9mm, but they were not specifically marked as being subsonic or for suppressor use.

5. Firearms

SILENCER SATURDAY #312: Buying Suppressors Retail

Obviously I am biased, but I judge every gun sore by the number of firearms on the shelves that have threaded barrels that are ready to accept a suppressor. The probability of someone considering purchasing a suppressor goes up if they already own a firearm with a threaded barrel. Most rimfire rifles and pistols should be threaded from the factory, followed by bolt action centerfire rifles, and pistols. Luckily most AR-15s are threaded by default. I saw a better than average amount of threaded barrels today, including high end Christensen Arms bolt guns, Ruger, Savage, and Tikka rifles. I did not see many pistols with threaded barrels.

Suppressors and other NFA items have gone relatively mainstream in comparison to a few decades ago. Having a small collection of silencers in a glass display case next to major firearm manufacturers is a step up from having to ask to bring them out from the back room. Until we are able to remove some of the restrictions on the ownership and purchasing of suppressors, I don’t expect retail sales strategies to change much. My advice, as always, is to do as much research as possible, have realistic expectations, and have a solid relationship with a knowledgeable NFA FFL who can order specific models. Of course there are online retailers like Silencer Shop, Silencer Central, and others that allow you to buy whatever you want at any time of day.

Thanks for reading. Be safe, have fun, and we’ll see you back here next weekend for another Silencer Saturday.




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9 of 17 comments
  • Sensible_newhampshirian Sensible_newhampshirian on Jan 14, 2024

    Pete you should have gone to shooter's outpost in NH. They have NFA stuff for sale as well a cool museum of the owners collection which includes many machine guns and military items. Kittery is alright for some stuff but NH is where you want to go.

    • See 4 previous
    • @Kevin Craig Will do!

  • Kevin Craig Kevin Craig on Jan 14, 2024

    If not for NFA, silencers would start at $25 and be hanging on the peg rack next to slings knives and other non-firearm accessories.

    Of course, they would go up in price and quality from there, with the top end locked in display cases just like the higher end knives.

    • See 1 previous
    • Jon_ Jon_ on Jan 15, 2024

      @Kevin Craig If not for the NFA, anyone with a half-way decent lathe could turn out a suppressor in a couple of hours.