working principle of silencer

How Does A Silencer Work

by

John Wise
January 11, 2022
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With the emergence of modern firearms technology, gun suppressors have found a vital place.

Gun suppressors are usually necessary for those who have to use firearms very frequently. Gun Suppressor does not eliminate the sound of firearms but can suppress it to the ultimate level.

It protects the shooter from hearing loss due to the repetitive use of firearms and reduces noise pollution. If you are newer to this discussion, do not worry.

We are at your rescue. Let us discuss what a silencer is and the technology behind it. That might help you to your best knowledge. 

What is a Silencer?

What is a Silencer?

A silencer is a muzzle device for the firearms for silencing or suppressing excessive sound, protecting from any further hearing damage to the user.

The silencer is used to suppress the acoustic intensity of the sound of firearms and is considered necessary to use nowadays for reducing noise pollution.

A silencer is typically a detachable accessory ascend to the muzzle cylindrically consisting of internal sound baffles with a hollow bore that permits the bullets to pass without any obstacle.

Silencers can also be used to minimize recoil while shooting. In contrast, silencers direct almost all of the gases to the front for a muzzle brake or a recoil damper, which reduces recoil by vectoring the muzzle blast sideways.

However, the underlying baffles significantly extend the time of gas release and thus lessen the lateral thrust generated — force is inversely proportional to time for the same inclination.

Internal baffles reduce and cool the released gas, while silencers alleviate muzzle flash. On the other hand, a flash suppressor reduces the amount of flash by diffusing combustion fumes that are already released outside the muzzle but do not necessarily reduce acoustics or recoil.

On the other hand, a muzzle shroud screens visible flashes from the direct view rather than reducing the intensity of the flash.

A Brief History of Silencers

History of silencers

Hiram Percy Maxim invented the first successful, commercially viable suppressor in 1902.

Maxim was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus and the son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, who created the first portable, fully automatic machine gun, the Maxim Gun.

The Maxim Silencer was a tube device affixed to the barrel of a rifle that reduced noise and muzzle flash when discharged. It was patented in 1909. It was regularly marketed in sporting goods catalogs and available for mail orders.

The Maxim Silencer was created to enhance the shooting experience by lowering the risk of hearing injury and noise pollution. It was sold to all enthusiasts.

This first-generation suppressor, dubbed the “Maxim Silencer,” prompted Maxim to modify the technique and found his own company, Maxim Silencers, Inc., in 1912. That company is still in business today as a prominent manufacturer of exhaust, emissions, and other control silencers.

Maxim produced a variety of silencers to help fulfill the needs of various weaponry, ranging from single-shot rifles to carbines. By 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) had been passed, and all suppressors were subjected to a $200 fee, thus halting development.

The tax is still in effect today. When H&K produced its version of an enhanced suppressor in the 1960s, the development of new suppressors resumed. The market for better gun suppressors grew in tandem with technological advancements.

Although Maxim referred to his device as a “silencer,” the phrase isn’t entirely accurate. A “silencer” cannot suppress a firearm. Still, it can reduce the noise of a gunshot to levels that do not require supplementary hearing protection to prevent complete hearing damage – in some circumstances up to 40dB.

It is highly beneficial to hunters in the field, beginners communicating with an instructor, and ranges located near residents or in metropolitan or populated environments. In the industry, the more scientific-sounding terms “sound suppressor” or “suppressor” are used interchangeably with “silencer.”

The National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934 to limit and control the use of certain firearms and technologies. A $200 levy on suppressors was imposed, effectively blocking research for 40 years. The $200 tax has remained in place ever since.

However, in 1934, $200 was worth the same as $3,583.71 now. Even while suppressors were still legal, the tax deterred individuals from buying them, lowering demand. Improvements and new designs didn’t start appearing on the market again until H&K released the MP5SD 9mm in the 1960s.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which oversees the application process, criminal background checks, and taxes, continues to administer and regulate suppressors in the United States.

Their documents show a 317 percent increase in registered silencers in private hands from 2010 to 2015, from 285,087 to 902,085. State rules also govern private ownership of silencers; silencers are now authorized for private ownership in 42 states and for hunting in 40.

Suppressors have been popular among gun enthusiasts since 1902, and maxim’s remarkable invention was designed to lessen the risk of hearing damage. Still, shooters have discovered that other benefits such as reduced recoil, faster follow-up shots, and reduced overall signature have enhanced their shooting and hunting experiences over time.

Even though state limitations, paperwork, and a federal tax have prevented some shooters from making their rifles quieter, suppressors have never been more popular than they are now.

Technology Behind the Silencer

Technology Behind the Silencer

Suppressors allow you to shoot a weapon while not wearing ear defenders and still hear afterward.

In the movies, heroes often fire hundreds of rounds in a gunfight while wearing no earplugs, and they can carry on a conversation after that.

Anyone who has fired a weapon knows that if you don’t wear hearing protection, it just takes a few nearby shots to deafen you momentarily. Guns shots sounds are no joke.

Silencer company was founded by Josh Waldron and Jonathan Shultz, a photographer and an audio technician, respectively.

The couple was dissatisfied with both the suppressor purchasing procedure and what they perceived to be a lack of customer service from existing suppressor producers (so they decided to start their own company in an attempt to do better).

The Osprey suppressor, a non-round “eccentric” silencer that stands out in a crowd of generally cylindrical silencers, was one of the first products the duo designed and constructed. The term “eccentric” refers to the fact that the bullet’s bore does not pass through the middle of the suppressor.

Most cylindrical suppressors adhere up past the gun’s front, obscuring them and making it more challenging to aim effectively. The Osprey design overcomes this by placing most of the gun’s guts below the bore, allowing the sights to be used.

Silencers of both types minimize noise by enabling expanding gases from cartridge firing to decrease and cool through a series of hollow chambers. The confined gas exits the silencer over a prolonged timeframe and much slower, resulting in a lower noise signature.

Baffles or wipes are used to separate the compartments. Depending on the intended function and design specifications, a suppressor usually has at least four chambers and as many as fifteen.

A single, larger expansion chamber is frequently installed at the muzzle end of a can-type silencer, allowing the propellant gas to expand and slow down significantly before it meets the baffles or wipes. The larger chamber can be “exhibit various” toward the back of the barrel to reduce the length of the combined firearm and silencer, which is especially useful for longer weapons like rifles.

Silencers come in a variety of sizes and effectiveness levels. The US Navy produced a disposable type for 919mm handguns in the 1980s, with six rounds with regular ammo and up to thirty shots using subsonic (slower than the speed of sound) ammunition.

Another silencer, on the other hand, was built for rifles that fired the powerful. The 50 calibers (BMG) cartridge has a length of 509 mm (20.0 in) and a diameter of 76 mm (3.0 in).

Recoil reduction and flash suppression are two additional benefits of the silencer. Muzzle flash is decreased by containing it in the suppressor and by preventing unburned powder from burning in the air and intensifying the flash.

The slowing of propellant gases, which contribute 30–50 percent of recoil velocity, causes recoil reduction. On the other hand, some silencers can increase the backpressure induced by the propellant gases.

As a result, they may act as a muzzle amplifier, causing the felt recoil to increase. Because of the location of the added weight near the muzzle, the weight of the silencer lowers recoil and muzzle flip.

Components of Silencer 

Baffles

baffles cones

After a gun discharges, a gun suppressor is just a metal tube with a series of internal partitions that capture and release hot gases. Suppressors can be made of several metals, including aluminum and Chromoly steel. There are two sorts of silencer models: baffle stack and monocore.

Baffle stack suppressors are made up of a tube that houses a stack of cone-shaped baffles. The gases increase after a gun fires, and hence these are constructed with spaces between each baffle. Caps on the front and back of the tube keep it sealed.

Baffle stacks are similar to monocore suppressors, except monocore suppressors have a solid cylinder of baffle material. Drilling out gaps and holes in the bar stock, which is then fitted into the suppressor tube, is done using multi-axis CNC machining.

The difference between a monocore and a baffle stack is that a baffle stack is made up of several individual baffles piled together. In contrast, a monocore comprises a single piece of machined metal.

Because of the numerous advantages, many gun enthusiasts prefer to shoot with a gun suppressor. It not only muffles the piercing sound of a firing gun but also gives you an exciting, covert shooting experience.

Wipers

silencer technology

Wipes are interior dividers consisting of rubber, plastic, or foam meant to touch the projectile as it comes through the suppressor.

Each wipe may have a hole drilled in it before use, a pattern imprinted into its surface at the location where the bullet would contact it, or the bullet may punch it through. Wipes often only withstand a few firings (possibly no more than five) before their performance deteriorates considerably.

In the expansion chambers of wet silencers or wet cans, a small amount of water, oil, grease, or gel is used to chill the propellant gases and lower their volume (see Ideal gas law).

The coolant only lasts a few shots before it needs to be replaced, but it can considerably improve the suppressor’s efficacy. Due to the apparent high heat, water is the most effective. However, it can run or evaporate out of the silencer. Grease can be left in the silencer forever without losing efficiency, albeit messier and less effective than water.

Oil is the least practical and preferred since it runs like grease and leaves a tiny mist of aerosolized oil residue after every shot. Materials like metal mesh, steel wool, or metal washers can fill the chambers and further dissipate and cool the gases.

These are a little more efficient than empty chambers but not as good as moist designs. 130 Metal mesh can endure hundreds or thousands of shots of spaced semi-automatic gunfire if used adequately; however, steel wool typically degrades after ten shots, with stainless steel wool lasting longer than regular steel wool. Packing materials, including wipes, are uncommon in current silencers.

Wipes, packing materials, and specially built wet cans have all been phased out of suppressor design in the twenty-first century since they dramatically reduce precision and necessitate unnecessary maintenance work.

Several manufacturers’ manual says that their silencers do not need to be cleaned at all. Furthermore, during the 1980s and 1990s, regulatory developments in the United States made it nearly impossible for end-users to replace internal suppressor parts lawfully, and the modern models reflect this reality.

Conclusion

A suppressor reduces the sound of a discharged round, and other sounds created by the weapon are unaffected.

Even low-velocity bullets make unique sounds as they travel through the air and strike targets, whereas supersonic projectiles produce a brief loud explosion and a catastrophic boom.

As the operations cycle, ejecting the fired bullet case and inserting a new round, semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons generate distinct noises.

Now, we can easily comprehend the silencer and how does it work. The silencer has a great history in firearms and regulating the practicality of the user since then. Silencers have been in great popularity and are developing with time.

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.