Quietest Suppressor – Guide to choosing
Everyone who has ever fired a real gun knows that movies are not always accurate in depicting the shooting process. Not that they need to be, but many people find it surprising to hear how loud real firearms are. Uncomfortably loud. But luckily for everyone caring about their hearing, there are means to shush the noise a bit. Suppressor, I choose you!
What does a sound suppressor look like? You’ve already seen the picture, but since this is a guide, we will try to cover everything there is. A gun suppressor is a muzzle device designed to reduce the volume and impact of the gunshot. It does so by regulating the exit speed of the propellant gasses that leave the bore following the bullet. Most of the gun silencers are detachable, but for some gun models, they are an integral part of the barrel.
To understand what should be taken into consideration when choosing a quality sound suppressor, it is vital to understand which factors determine the loudness of the shot and how this noise is produced.
Propellant combustion lies at the core of the whole process. When gasses build up pressure high enough to separate the bullet from the cartridge, they start to propel it down the barrel. When the cartridge is fired, the pressure rests at its highest point. The pressure goes down as the bullet travels along the barrel, giving the gas more space. When the bullet finally leaves the bore, the built-up pressure gets released, causing a loud sound.
Therefore, the following factors influence how high the pressure released is:
It may seem unimportant, but the higher the volume, the more propellant the cartridge can store, and thus more gas will be produced during the combustion, which inevitably leads to the higher pressure.
Two cartridges that share the same volume might still produce different amounts of muzzle energy to force the bullet out of the barrel. The slow-burning powder of Magnums keeps the pressure up as the projectile travels along the bore. Such propellant gives the bullet more velocity and increases its impact power but does so at a cost of higher initial pressure.
Long barrels give the gas more time to expand and become less dense, thus decreasing the pressure released. The shorter the barrel, the less time the pressure has to drop.
Now that we are through with the noise part, let’s talk about suppressors themselves. They are muzzle devices, which means they are mounted on the front end of the barrel. The most important thing about silencers is that they fit a particular caliber. Naturally, if you put a 9mm suppressor on a .45 pistol, the bullet won’t simply fit into the silencer. Such an occasion could be a hilarious scene for some cartoon episode, but real life is less forgiving. Experiments like that can cost you a new suppressor, firearm, arms, or your very life, depending on how lucky you are. That might sound like a scary story to tell in the dark, but out of harm’s way, never try placing smaller caliber suppressors on high caliber firearms. Not unless your life depends on it.
A reversed situation is not so dire. Moreover, it is a common practice to buy bigger caliber silencers that could also fit smaller caliber guns. Such versatility will be a trade-off for lower sound suppression since the suppressor’s “bore” diameter is bigger than the bullet.
Before we continue with tips on suppressor choosing, let’s answer one question. Why would anyone need a suppressor in the first place? “It’s loud, we got it, but have you ever been to a city, noise is everywhere nowadays.” That is a very true observation we just came up with ourselves, but the main purpose of the suppressor is not only to make shooting more comfortable but also to make it less harmful. Independent studies show that even .22 LR handguns, unsuppressed, produce gunshots over 160 dB. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140 dB, and no more often than once a day. Continuous exposure can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Hunters are the most susceptible shooter group since they are the least likely to wear ear protection when out in the field. But sound suppressors can shrink the loudness down to safe 140 dB.
Now then, it’s time to proceed to the main course – how do you choose a suppressor that will meet your particular need? Here are features that should inform your decision
How many firearms do you own? Do you want a suppressor for each of them? That is the first question you need to answer. If you have a single 9mm pistol and have no plans on purchasing any more firearms, a dedicated suppressor will be the best choice. However, if your collection of guns is more varied than that, you might want to consider a suppressor that several guns can share. Since every new silencer will cost you an additional $200 above the price, having a multi-caliber suppressor sounds quite reasonable. After all, there are only so many guns you can shoot at a time (usually one, but who are we to assume). A multi-caliber suppressor is nothing more than a device designed for bigger calibers. Those are .45 for pistols (they fit 9mm and .40 calibers) and .308 for rifles (can handle 5.56 equally well). Magnum calibers need relevant suppressors since the pressure released is as crucial as the caliber.
Length and Weight
Longer and wider suppressors have higher noise-reduction capabilities, but they also tend to be heavier and pricier. It might be useful to think about how much movement your activity involves. Stationary target shooting is one thing, and walking miles of crossed terrain in pursuit of game is another. When out in the wilderness, every ounce matters.
Materials and Longevity
Suppressors are no ammo, and they are not likely to become a frequent purchase. Nothing is immune to wear and tear, of course, but silencers are equipment and not consumable materials. That’s why a suppressor should be an investment that will serve you long and faithfully. Materials are one of the features determining how robust a suppressor is. If durability is your priority, then steel and satellite alloy are the answer. Such suppressors are suitable for high-rate-of-fire firearms and are highly durable. They are also heavy, which is the price to pay for durability. If you need the most lightweight silencer, have a look at aluminum suppressors. Those are lightweight and comparatively cheap, but cannot boast longevity. Should you want everything at once, titanium is your material of choice. Titanium suppressors are durable yet lightweight. And, as with all good things in the world, that’s why they cost more.
That’s right, they do not automatically stick to gun muzzles. When it comes to suppressor mounting, there are direct-thread and quick-detach variations. A direct-thread suppressor is simply screwed onto the barrel. That might be the best choice if you have only one firearm and don’t plan on switching the suppressor often, since you can only screw it tight enough with a wrench. If you buy one suppressor to use with several guns, a quick-detach system proves itself much more useful. These suppressors don’t attach to the barrel directly, but rather through a separate muzzle device. Screwing such a suppressor onto the mount calls for much less time and effort than a direct-thread one. QD-suppressors cost more, but if you have several firearms that one suppressor can fit, you’ll save a fortune buying a QD and several mounts rather than separate silencers for every gun.
A suppressor might be challenging to get, but restoring your hearing is even a more daunting task. Getting a silencer is beneficial for your health and the peace of everyone around you, be it neighbors, waiting for a moment to pick on you, or animals, listening carefully for signs of danger. You would want both groups not to care too much about you, so a suppressor is a real asset.