All about gun silencers

Ultimate Guide To Gun Silencers

by

John Wise
January 11, 2022
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Silencers, also known as suppressors, are an excellent addition to firearms for a much muffled and silenced noise wave.

This hallmark gun accessory works in a simple mechanism- to suppress the sound of a gunshot, thus making a muffled sound compared to a loud blow.

Therefore, gun silencers are the most sought-after equipment preferred for stealthier hunting. However, selecting, purchasing, and owning ownership is not as straightforward as it seems, especially if you are new to the gun silencer club.

Thus, to help all the gun owners, we have written an ultimate comprehensive guide featuring suppressors. Scroll down read as we cover points like legality, possession, benefits, selection, maintenance, and much more.

How Does A Suppressor Work?

how surpressor works

Contrary to popular belief and sights, suppressors do not make any firearm 100% silent, but they reduce the noise to a much lower frequency.

They work as mufflers for all types of guns available on the market. These suppressors trap the expanding gases coming from the bullet with their elongated tunnel body. The tunnel then functions as a cooling station as the bullet travels through the firearm.

The same gas goes from 3000 psi to 60 psi as it passes through the silencer. The result is a much-muffled noise that is hardly noticeable in a loud surrounding.

Legality Of Silencer

The legality of a silencer is a hot topic as most people and gun owners find it challenging to understand the legality.

To answer the question, Yes! It is fully legal to own a silencer. If a person is permitted to buy a gun, then, by all means, that person from that exact location is legally qualified to purchase and own a suppressor.

Gun owners can enjoy this accessory as long as they abide by and completely comply with the necessary federal and state laws. However, it is worth noting that 42 out of the 50 states in the U.S. allow silencer ownership, and the remaining eight have more stringent regulations.

We highly recommend following The American Suppressor Association to be well informed about the latest legislative decisions and bill passings.

The eight states that restrict and prohibit gun silencer ownership are:

  • Delaware
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • District of Columbia

Following are the barebone requirements to purchase a silencer from any dealer-

  • An individual should be a registered U.S. resident
  • An individual should be at least 21 years old
  • An individual should be legally able to own and purchase a firearm
  • An individual should live in a state that allows civilian ownership of silencers
  • Should be able to pay a $200 BATFE transfer tax

Pros And Cons Of Silencers

silencer pros and cons

Pros

The benefits of affixing a suppressor to your firearm are aplenty; below are a few essential pros that you can consider before investing in a silencer.

Reduced noise pollution

The first and foremost positive is reduced noise pollution. Every gun owner can accept and agree that a gun without a silencer can be strikingly loud.

This loud noise can affect the tranquility of nature, especially if you are hunting in the woods. Similarly, such loud noises spook the game around the hunting area.

Protected hearing

Hunters are highly susceptible to hearing loss as they age. On average, a hunter is 7% more likely to experience a hearing loss with each passing five-year period. This percentage can immensely add up as a hunter keeps using guns without silencers for years.

The obvious solution to this conundrum is wearing hearing protection. However, opting for a hearing aid can impact the hunting skills as hunters need to hear all the sounds around them to track the game.

Thus, a suppressor is the best bet for successful hunting expeditions without hearing loss.

Reduced recoil

silencer pros and cons

A high-quality suppressor works exceptionally well in reducing muzzle climb and felt recoil.

When a gun reduces these factors, the shooting becomes comparatively smoother while giving a more accurate shot. Most gun owners mount suppressors solely because of the reduced recoil rate.

Improved awareness

Using a suppressor can help in improving situational awareness. This awareness is vital when hunting with a few hunters who may or may not be near your line of sight.

Hunters can have a better shot judgment based on the people around them and their guns. A silencer also helps hunters hunt their game without spooking other hunters’ target game.

Confident apprentice

New students often find it challenging and intimidating to use a gun, and this fear doubles, especially if the firearm in question isn’t strapped with a silencer at the tip.

Since suppressors make the gun quieter while reducing the recoil, it helps the new shooters to focus and aim for accurate shots. Additionally, trainers can avoid a highly exhaustive learning session of shouting over the gunfire.

Cons

Similar to pros, mounting a silencer also has drawbacks that one needs to know before purchasing a unit.

Accuracy

shooting with suppressor

Silencers are highly known to cause accuracy issues during a shot, and the accuracy can vary depending on the ammunition, firearm, and silencer model.

Many silencers thus change the barrel harmonics and dramatically shift the Point Of Impact, causing slight inaccurate shots.

Increased weight and size

A suppressor at minimum adds up 7 inches to your firearm with an approximate weight of 10 oz for pistol calibers and 1 lb for rifle calibers. This increased weight and size can make it challenging to carry the firearm and shoot it.

Burning hazard

Silencer are hot after shooting

Gun owners must know that firearm silencers tend to get extremely hot after shooting even a few shots.

A sudden hasty moment of unscrewing or adjusting can be an open invitation for a severe burn. Thus, silencer-loaded guns need to be handled with extreme care.

Limited holster range

It is pretty challenging to get your hands across a suppressor-friendly holster for a pistol. The market has very few rugged options to handle the heat generated after shooting a couple of shots.

Heavily regulated

Gun suppressors are heavily regulated in the U.S., so owning and upgrading can be an arduous task if you reside in states that have not legalized suppressors. Moreover, these silencers are also heavily taxed in the United States.

Silencer Types

There are five basic silencer types: Pistol, Rimfire, Multi-use, Shotgun, and Rifle.

Pistol silencers

different type of silencers

Pistol silencers are designed for lower-pressure handguns and subsonic rounds. These are engineered to handle recoil operations of semi-automatic handguns skillfully.

A few models of pistol silencers can also hold subsonic rifle rounds. However, always note to avoid using a booster with a rimfire can.

Rimfire silencers

These rimfire silencers are one of the most affordable suppressors on the market. These silencers are typically designed for .17, .22, or smaller magnums. Gun owners should use rimfire silencers with only rimfire guns.

The end shot is exceptionally muffled, making it suitable for all purposes. Since rimfire silencers become dirty quickly, all the newer modern-day rimfire silencers are built to be taken apart for thorough cleaning.

Rifle silencers

Ruger silencer

Rifle silencers are manufactured to handle high temperatures and pressures. These suppressors come in quick detach and direct-thread versions.

However, these silencers come pre-sealed, so one cannot deconstruct them for cleaning. Luckily, the high-energy rounds blast out the carbon buildup, so it doesn’t need constant cleaning.

Shotgun silencers

Shotgun silencers aren’t readily available as they are considered one of the most niche categories of silencers. These suppressors are decently priced while making hunting, tactical, and skeet shooting quiet and effortless.

Multi-Use silencers

As the name suggests, these suppressors aptly combine various traits from pistol, rimfire, and rifle categories to create a powerful firearm accessory. Since these silencers are considered a jack of all trades, they fail at excelling in a specific feature.

How To Choose An Ideal Silencer?

how to choose silencer

With a myriad of options in the model range, buyers can surely get overwhelmed while selecting an ideal suppressor.

Below are five primary essential points that are worth considering before your purchase.

Multi-caliber unit

The first and foremost point is considering your firearm model and its attachment restrictions. However, if you own multiple firearms of diverse shapes, we recommend considering a multi-caliber silencer.

Point of impact shift

Remember that using a silencer will undoubtedly change how one grips their weapon. This sudden change shall create an uncomfortable experience causing a POI shift. Thus, to avoid this, select a silencer that doesn’t require many adjustments.

Suppressor’s service

Durability

Ensure the company takes responsibility for the wear and tear. Pay attention to the servicing as the U.S. authorities have stringent laws around repairs especially self-servicing repairs.

Durability

Since purchasing a suppressor is a lengthy process, you might want to buy a final unit that is durable and worth all the effort.

Most lightweight suppressors are constructed using titanium; however, robust and rugged silencers are made using steel. Owners gravitating towards aluminum suppressors should understand that they are light, inexpensive, but comparatively less durable.

Price range

As silencers are available in numerous models and styles, it is your responsibility to find a unit that fits your price range.

Purchasing Silencer

restrictions on buying silencer

To purchase a silencer from your dealer, you must be eligible for the basic requirements mentioned at the start.

Once you fit in those requirements, follow these five steps to get your hands on the silencer of your dreams.

Step 1

Check whether the silencers are legal or not in your state. If it is legal, initiate selecting a model with its serial number for registration. You can also consider going through online retailers that will help streamline the entire process.

Step 2

Your next step is to approve and get your silencer registered by the BATFE. You can either register it yourself, form a trust (register to that trust), or register as a corporation.

Step 3

Initiate filling out the BATFE’s required forms, including Form No 4. If you consider registering as an individual, you must attach your fingerprints and photographs.

Step 4

Pay the $200 tax stamp transfer fee to start the process. If you go through a dealer, get ready to shell additional money for charges like transfer free, mailing, etc.

Step 5

As soon as BATFE receives and approves your free and Form no 4, your dealer can transfer the silencer to you by filing a standard 4473 form. You also need to pass the same form to your town sheriff. (the step highly varies from state to state)

Step 6

Once the process is completed, you can collect your silencer from your dealer. However, note that BATFE approval usually takes anywhere from 4-6 months, so expect the entire process to extend to 8-9 months.

ATF Forms

form to transfer your silencer

ATF- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, deals with all the essential paperwork related to the transferring and ownership of NFA items.

There are three ATF Forms (ATF Form 1, ATF Form 3, and ATF Form 4) that deal with suppressants, which gun owners should be highly familiar with.

  • ATF Form 1 is a legal application to make and then register a firearm or its accessories.
  • ATF Form 3 is always used if you are an FFL dealer who is in the middle of transferring your NFA item to another government agency or FFL.
  • ATF Form 4 plays a crucial role in owning a suppressor as you need to fill it to get access to your suppressor. The form also demands a $200 federal tax stamp and some essential information and fingerprints.

Before filling out the form, you need to decide whether you will be transferring your brand new silencer to an entity or individual. The process then bifurcates depending on your selection.

A. Individual (yourself)

This type of transfer is the most common transfer wherein the individual requires fingerprints and photographs of the transferee, a CLEO ( Chief Law Enforcement Officer) signoff, and a new primary background check.

This ownership refrains you from loaning your suppressor to any individual or company.

B. Entity (a corporation or trust with you as a trustee)

This type of transfer is an excellent option if you wish to share your suppressor with other individuals without your presence.

The current rules state that one does not require fingerprints, CLEO signoff, and photographs for this type of transfer.

Silencer Maintenance and Cleaning

Cleaning and maintenance

After a long process of purchasing a silencer, you need to ensure that your silencer unit stays in mint condition for the most prolonged period.

We suggest abiding by the following points to increase the lifeline of your suppressor:

  • Consider cleaning rimfire ammunition after each range session or approximately 400 rounds, whichever comes first.
  • You can easily tackle heavy deposits with a trusty ultrasonic cleaning solution. However, do your research as not all metals are safe for ultrasonic cleaning.
  • Invest in a high-quality solvent designed to dissolve carbon fouling and lead while cleaning.
  • Your cleaning sessions should always take place in a well-ventilated setting.
  • Never forget safety goggles and gloves before you initiate cleaning.
  • Avoid using a full force vibrating tumbler to clean your silencer, as it can very quickly strip the finish while locking the precision threaded areas.
  • Be extra careful with the drying time and abstain from mounting wet silencers onto your firearm.
  • Store your silencer in a clean, dry, and secure area.

Does Silencer Affect Impact Accuracy?

accuracy issues

Yes, silencers are known to cause accuracy issues. There is no fixed universal difference rate that one can easily precalculate and workaround.

The accuracy highly depends on the gun model, suppressor model, and the silencer’s quality. Sometimes, you may experience inaccuracies, while occasionally, you shall notice improved accuracy.

The chances of your weapon being highly accurate is slim, but it is undoubtedly a possibility. In the unfortunate event of poor impact accuracy, you can follow the following bullet points to restore the aim. 

  • Ensure that your suppressor is precisely aligned on the intricate threads of your barrel. Cross-threading can indeed lead to accuracy issues.
  • Consider changing your ammunition as certain bullet weights work in favor of certain guns. You might need to rely on the primary trial-and-error method to find a perfect load or grain weight for your firearm model.
  • If your shots are grouping well but deviate little left, right, up, or down, then you can opt for re-sighting your scope. This easy fix will indeed help you get accurate shots from any distance.

Conclusion

We hope our comprehensive guide to gun silencers helped provide insightful information to newbie suppressor enthusiasts.

Since the ownership process takes a considerable time, most gun owners skip the plan of owning a silencer. However, as with any procedure, the first time is the hardest and most challenging.

We are sure that with one purchase and transfer behind you, all of your future purchases shall get exponentially easier. We highly recommend spending adequate time practicing with your new gun silencer to get the most accurate aim.

Additionally, rejoice as the cleaning and maintenance of silencers are super breezy and require minimal effort. Are you ready to bejewel your firearm with an ideal silencer?

References:

John Wise

John Wise has a rich background in the use of firearms and has also worked in building construction, particularly designing and installing soundproofing systems for homes and offices. Over the years, he has acquired a ton of experience in sound dampening techniques, technologies, and equipment. Leveraging that rich experience, John Wise now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to drastically minimize noise pollution in their spaces, whether at home or workplace.