There are four noises which make up the “boom” one hears when shooting a firearm. The first is the action noise (i.e.: the hammer hitting the firing pin, the slide/bolt cycling, gas escaping though the ejection port). The second is the bullet flight noise. If the round travels faster than the speed of sound, which is approximately 1050fps, there will be an audible “crack” heard by the shooter and those the projectile passes. The third is the bullet striking the target. The last noise associated with the firing of a firearm is the combustion noise hitting the atmosphere when the projectile leaves the barrel. The gasses that pushed the projectile from the barrel are going faster than the speed of sound and typically still burning. The “boom” of the gasses hitting the atmosphere is typically louder than the other noises, which is why the boom generally is all the shooter and those near the shooter hear.
Firearm silencers work in the same manner as mufflers for cars and lawn mowers. Both provide a controlled environment in which the gasses can expand and cool before exiting into the air with less energy and noise. A typical silencer has a casing segregated into chambers by partitions called baffles. Each baffle has a passage through which a projectile can pass. When the host weapon is fired, the projectile exits the barrel and passes through the length of the silencer, but the gases that propel the projectile expand into the baffled chambers where they are temporarily trapped. When they do find their way out of the silencer, the gases have slowed considerably and thus produce less sound.
Who are using silencers and why?
A silenced firearm is eminently more enjoyable to shoot than one without a silencer. Silencers generally increase the accuracy of a host firearm while reducing recoil and eliminating up to 90% of the muzzle signature on some platforms. Shooters are able to concentrate more on breath control and trigger pull when they are not subjected to the fatigue and distraction of a deafening and bright muzzle report. Beginning shooters are typically not intimidated when introduced to the shooting sports with a silenced firearm. They are able to easily hear instructions given to them by trainers because the report of a host firearm is reduced to below the OSHA guideline level for hearing damage. Silenced firearms are also less likely to disturb people, livestock, or wildlife that may be in close proximity to where you shoot.
Wet vs dry suppressors?
Most modern silencers are designed to be fired in a dry condition. This means that they require no performance enhancers, such as water, grease, or oil, in order to achieve a reasonable level of sound reduction. However, most centerfire pistol designs will exhibit less muzzle and ejection port flash, and a reduction in overall sound signature if the interior of the silencer is treated with a small amount of ablative media, like plain water. The sacrificial media typically remains effective for 1-2 magazines of use before it must be replenished. Centerfire rifle silencers can be shot with an artificial environment if there is the hazard of a potentially explosive atmosphere. Otherwise, the employment of an artificial environment in rifle silencers is discouraged.
Shooting a handgun silencer “wet” is as simple as introducing about 5cc’s of simple water, or other ablative materials such as wire pulling gel, ultrasonic gel or other coolants into the rear of the silencer.
How are silencers constructed?
All silencers feature an expansion or blast chamber that the bullet must travel through before making its way through each subsequent baffle and eventually exiting the silencer. The expansion chamber is generally the chamber with the largest volume within the silencer to allow for the initial introduction of the hot expanding gases propelling the bullet. These hot expanding gases eventually make their way through the baffle stack consisting of a designated number of baffles and spacers, which are essentially smaller chambers designed to disrupt the natural path the gas would take. By the time the gases exit the silencer, they have slowed considerably and produce a quieter sound signature
How do suppressors attach to the host firearmrs?
Used by most rimfire and centerfire pistol silencers, as well as by many centerfire rifle silencers, direct thread mount refers to silencers that attach to the end of the barrel via screw threads on the muzzle itself. Direct thread silencers can be used on multiple hosts. Fast attach silencers rely on an attachment method that is faster and easier to manipulate with gross motor skills than a direct thread silencer. Rather than attaching directly to the barrel of the host firearm, fast attach silencers couple to an adaptor that is semi-permanently installed on the host weapon barrel. The most common adapter designs are flash hiders, muzzle brakes, compensators, and three lug barrels/adapters.
How long can I expect my suppressor to last?
Pistol silencers, have the ability to be taken apart and serviced by the end user. A takeapart silencer that is maintained in accordance with the owner’s manual will last a lifetime. Rifle silencers feature fully welded cores and are constructed using advanced metals to aid in the durability. There are silencers that have been documented having in excess of 30,000 rounds that have had no noticeable degradation in overall sound quality. With all silencers, lifespan is determined by several factors, including caliber, barrel length, muzzle device, and firing schedule, so there is no definitive answer regarding lifespan. Your silencer will typically outlast several barrels on your host firearms.
What about maintaining my suppressor?
Due to the inherently dirty nature of rimfire ammunition, silencers trap much of the unburned powder, lead, and filler that would otherwise be expelled out of the barrel and into the atmosphere. As such, rimfire silencers should be cleaned on a regular basis.
Centerfire pistol silencers have traditionally been sealed. However, through constant research and development it has been determined that there is an added benefit for users being able to fully disassemble their pistol silencers for deeper cleaning.
Centerfire rifle silencers typically utilize fully welded or sealed designs, and are traditionally cleaned by a solvent bath, however in most cases do not require cleaning. Silencers with fast attach mechanisms should have the receptacle area that houses the host weapon adapter, as well as the adapter, cleaned of carbon fouling and copper build up. All silencers should be maintained according to their manufacturers suggest cleaning regimen.
Is using a suppressor abusive on the gun's system?
This depends on the operating system of the firearm, but typically a silencer is not harsh
on the gun’s system. Increased back pressure and the re-routing of gasses will typically
cause the firearm to get dirtier faster. This remains true for any firearm system. Can the
use of a silencer accelerate wear and parts breakage over a firearm without a silencer?
Yes, but it should be noted that not shooting with a silencer can also cause accelerated
wear and parts breakage on the shooter
What are boosters and Nielsen Devices?
Firearms utilizing the Browning tilting barrel design, during the cycle of operation,
require that the barrel tilt upwards at the muzzle. The shorter the barrel, the more
exaggerated the angle of the tilt. Putting weight on the muzzle end of the pistol is like
adding weight to the end of a seesaw. The chamber end of the barrel locks into the slide
and the weight of the silencer cams pressure upwards. When the pistol is fired with
weight at the muzzle end, these types of handguns (including 1911s, Glocks, Sigs, M&Ps,
and most popular brands/designs on the market) have trouble unlocking. If they do
manage to successfully unlock, they will have trouble lifting the weight of the silencer
and cycling properly.
As the projectile enters into the silencer, the expanding gasses behind it impact the
baffles. As the baffles slow, redirect, and cool the gases, the pressure behind them force
the silencer forward, like the wind hitting an umbrella you are carrying. This
momentarily relieves the weight on the end of the barrel, giving the barrel enough time
to unlock and cycle reliability, before the action spring snaps the silencer back into
place, ready for the next shot.
What are the benefits to using a silencer?
Silencers protect the shooter and those nearby from temporary hearing threshold shift
and from irreversible hearing loss, which can result from single shot exposure.
Silencers help users maintain command and control by enabling team members to
communicate during live fire.
When used on rifles, silencers generally improve accuracy by promoting the harmonic
stabilization of the barrel and reducing gas-induced instability as the bullet exits the
Silencers prevent “blooming” of night vision equipment and help preserve unaided
night vision by eliminating muzzle flash.
Silencers reduce recoil and muzzle flip allowing for more accurate and faster follow-up
Silencers disguise the location of the shooter by reducing muzzle flash and minimizing
Silencers improve training scores by minimizing recoil and muzzle blast and allowing
the instructor’s commands to be clearly heard.
What are the cons to using a sound suppressor?
Silencers inevitably add length and weight to the host weapon system, which is less
than ideal. Through constant research and development, superior material selection,
and improved baffle designs, silencers are able to be made smaller and lighter, but just
as effective as the products of the past.