9/24/2018 Primary Arms Staff
If you are considering buying a silencer but haven’t used a firearm with one mounted before, you’re likely to get confused by the flood of information available on the internet. YouTube reviews and Instagram videos may conflict with opinions on forums, manufacturer’s websites, and what the locals at the nearby gun store insist is true. There’s so much money involved, and so much paperwork, and of course the long wait time. Are the benefits of sound suppression really worth the aggravation it takes to buy your silencer?
I’m here to tell you the answer is YES. Follow along as I explain why you should buy a sound suppressor of your own if you live in a state that allows it. Let’s bust some myths and get real, starting right now.
SAY WHAT? – PROTECTING YOUR HEARING AT THE RANGE AND HOME
I have some permanent hearing damage. I’ve lived a loud life—motorcycles, auto racing events of every kind, loud concerts, and a stint working with heavy machinery in the oil fields all took a toll. But I believe nothing has wrecked my hearing as much as the thousands of times I’ve pulled a trigger, felt a kick against my shoulder or in my hands, and heard the bang of expanding gas escaping the muzzle. I’ve been diligent about wearing hearing protection while anything loud is going on for about two decades now, but over time, my hearing is damaged. I’m the guy who likes to activate “closed captions” when a movie is on the TV. I’m the guy who awkwardly asks my coworkers to repeat something they just said. And each night before I go to sleep, I close my eyes and the constant ringing of tinnitus in my head sings me to sleep. Believe me, you don’t want this. A silencer protects your hearing and the hearing of others around you. Maybe you’re chatting with a buddy at the range and they forget to put their earmuffs back on before firing commences again. A silencer saves you from hearing damage over time with your earmuffs on, and saves your friend from sustaining a lot of damage all at once.
Employing a silencer on a home defense firearm is a smart call. Whether your home defense gun of choice is a carbine, shotgun, or pistol, it is likely that you won’t have time to put on hearing protection before you need to have your firearm at the ready. If you have a roommate, a spouse, or children in the house, and you are forced to fire 12 gauge or 5.56 NATO rounds indoors, you won’t just ruin your own hearing, you’ll damage theirs as well. This isn’t about being sneaky, believe me. Even with a silencer attached, the report will be loud enough that everyone present will know that a gun was just fired! The silencer is simply there to protect your hearing and the hearing of the loved ones you have committed to defending.
BE VERY, VERY QUIET – WE’RE HUNTING
In hunting applications the silencer really proves its worth. Many hunters prefer not to wear hearing protection at all, for a variety of reasons. In many hunting situations the game animal is heard before they are seen. Hunters working together need to be able to whisper to each other to avoid spooking their game. Constantly wearing electronic earmuffs with hearing amplification drains batteries and becomes tiresome and uncomfortable if your hunt involves a lot of hiking around, or the weather is hot enough to make your ears a sweaty mess. A silencer on the end of your firearm means listening with your own ears, being able to hear your hunting buddy clearly, and being able to shoot very quickly if the opportunity presents itself—all without sacrificing your long-term hearing. The silencer also gives a distinct tactical advantage in “cull the herd” hunting situations where multiple pest animals moving in groups can be taken in quick succession—if they aren’t spooked by the sound of gunfire. For this reason alone, silencers have become mandatory for many feral hog hunters here in Texas. With a bit of luck, a small group of hunters can dispatch several of these smart and dangerous creatures before the rest realize something has gone terribly wrong.
THE BEST MUZZLE BRAKE EVER – RECOIL CONTROL
Many shooters who have never fired a sound suppressed gun before don’t realize that the silencer doesn’t only reduce sound, it reduces felt recoil with great efficiency as well. The most effective muzzle brakes on the market usually feature 1-3 small “windows” which divert the expanding gas behind the bullet to the side, harnessing Newton’s 3rd law to press the muzzle forward and down, counteracting felt recoil. The baffles inside a silencer do the exact same thing—they divert the gas leaving the muzzle, slowing it down and trapping it inside. The same expanding gas pushing forward against 6-9 larger baffles inside the silencer makes your quiet gun exhibit less felt recoil than the loudest, most obnoxious muzzle brake on the market. This is true for pistols as well as rifles. My .45acp 1911 with Octane 45HD silencer shoots with less muzzle flip then my Glock 17 in 9mm. Putting the same “can” on the Glock 17 makes it feel a lot like shooting a .22lr. Does that sound like fun to you? I think it’s great! The lack of recoil surprises everyone who hasn’t shot a quiet pistol before. They grin at me, and usually ask if it’s ok to dump the rest of the magazine as fast as they can with so little recoil.
PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN – TEACHING NEW SHOOTERS
When teaching new shooters who have never been around firearms before, one of the biggest challenges is getting them to maintain their trigger control without “flinching” in anticipation of the noise and recoil that comes with each shot. You can see where I’m going with this, right? What if your new shooter wasn’t afraid of noise and recoil because they aren’t factors to be worried about? What if you could talk with them in a normal tone of voice while they are shooting, without any hearing protection needed? Teaching new shooters, especially youngsters, is made so much easier with the addition of silencers. A single .22lr silencer can be moved around from a pistol to a bolt action rifle to a semi-automatic rifle, and you can teach a responsible kid to shoot multiple firearms in one afternoon, with no worries about developing a “flinch”—until they try a loud gun for the first time. By then, they will be way ahead in mastering the fundamentals compared to other students.
DO NOT DISTURB – BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR
As urban sprawl continues to grow, many shooting ranges that were once located out in the country are now surrounded by residential areas, full of folks who would rather not be forced to listen to constant gunfire during their family dinners. Tensions between a few noisy shooters and thousands of homeowners surrounding them have created some epic battles with “City Hall” and the local zoning board. Arguing “our shooting range was here first” doesn’t magically create more noise-loving voters. Most of the time, these situations end sadly for the local shooting range and the members there. One compromise to keep the local range alive is to only allow quieter forms of shooting during certain hours of the day, so that after 5pm, for example, only .22lr, air guns, and sound suppressed shooting is allowed. This isn’t ideal, but if it’s the option that keeps your local range up and running, it’s a better option than driving another hour and a half to that other shooting range that will still be in the “back woods” for another few years.
If you’re lucky enough to still live out in the country and you can shoot recreationally or even hunt on your own land, it’s still polite and neighborly to shoot quietly. A little consideration goes a long way with folks in rural areas!
GOOD CLEAN FUN — A GREAT TIME AT THE RANGE
Every time I take my sound suppressed pistol and rifle to the range, other shooters will cautiously walk up and watch me shoot, then eagerly accept my invitation for them to try shooting quietly. I’ve never seen one of them do anything except grin ear to ear at the sheer fun of shooting with a silencer. Many shooters have immediately made a remark like “There’s no good reason every gun shouldn’t have one of these on it. Every car I ever bought has a muffler that just came with the car.” I grew up watching James Bond movie marathons and playing GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64, so I’ve been caught more than once happily humming the theme song. There’s not a quantifiable number you can put on the fun of the shooting experience, no real-world advantage to “fun” that you can mark off a checklist. However, the more fun you have at the range, the more often you’ll want to get out there and practice anyway. Don’t discount the importance of having fun—if you don’t have a good time out at the range or on the hunt, you’ll find excuses to spend your extra time and money doing something else entirely.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FREEDOM MANUFACTURER — INDUSTRY IN PERIL
Getting your silencer is a long process involving much paperwork and a significant financial investment. But if you think it’s tough to get a silencer as a civilian here in the USA, keep in mind that most nations in the rest of the world make it impossible for their citizenry to legally own one at all! Our domestic silencer industry was nearly wiped out just a couple of years ago, when rumors swirled that proposed Hearing Protection Act legislation would pass through Congress and remove silencers from that long and bothersome NFA process. Silencer sales plummeted as potential buyers took a “wait and see” approach, hoping to save $200 and months of waiting time. Like 96% of all bills proposed in Congress, the HPA disappeared and never became law. By the time many interested shooters realized that HPA was not going to happen, some small but promising silencer makers had already closed their doors forever. Larger companies weathered the storm by laying off employees, but this very American industry has not fully recovered. If nobody buys these products, no manufacturers will be left to build them, and a unique part of our 2nd Amendment rights will be in great danger.
HEAR THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOURSELF — TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
There’s honestly no substitute for directly experiencing the benefits of sound suppressed shooting. If you’ve only seen it depicted in movies or that really difficult “sneak” mission in your favorite video game, consider this. How much is loud, unsuppressed movie shooting or video game shooting like the experience of real shooting? Not even close, right? The same thing goes for shooting quietly. Ask your shooting buddies if they know anyone who has a “can”. Call around to local shooting ranges in the area and inquire if they have any sound suppressed rental guns. If silencers aren’t legal where you live, make a stop at a shooting range with NFA items to rent the next time you are on vacation in an NFA friendly state. Find out for yourself what it’s like to shoot the civilized way, and you’ll be truly informed and ready to decide if the benefits are worth the investment. If you’re like me, shooting quietly will become your preferred way to train, teach, hunt, and defend your home.