TGR asked a friend in the suppressor manufacturing business for some words of advice for someone looking to buy their first can.  Barry was kind enough to offer his suggestions.

Sorry I missed you at the SHOT show.  Though Silencer Tech did not have a booth, it was a very busy and productive trip for us. There were several new contacts made at the show that may turn into bigger projects – we’ll see.

We started the company trying to fill a space in the market for custom suppressors, but we do now have some standard models.

We have been blessed with quite a bit of new business driven by an expanding network of dealers. It is funny how much things have changed in the last few years as suppressors are going mainstream – fast – and there is now a very wide assortment of companies and dealers selling suppressors.

For your readers in Texas, it was very good news for suppressor owners in 2012. As Texans enjoyed good access to suppressors, the situation was made better by last year’s approval for using them to hunt native big game.

Since the Tactical Gun Review website is dedicated to product reviews, I will avoid any shameless promotion of my products in this article and will offer your readers some advice towards the purchase of a suppressor.

Know what you are trying to achieve when purchasing a suppressor

I prefer my customers to have an idea of what they are going to get in terms of noise reduction when they go out to shoot with a suppressor.

It is very important not to take what you see in the movies at face value.

Start with considering what firearm you are going to suppress and how you plan to utilize it.

The product you would buy for long range competitive shooting may not be what you might want for actually going into combat or controlling pests in your garden (though I suppose that depends on how big the garden).

In my opinion, unless you already have a specific goal in mind, hearing safe shooting (as in without hearing protection) is very attainable.

I saw a funny thing happen at a machine gun and silencer shoot last year. Whenever someone went to the line to shoot a non-suppressed firearm, there was a big announcement warning everyone to get ready and hold their ears.

On the other hand, the guests would sit under the tent visiting in close proximity while the suppressed shooters were banging away at targets (with and without subsonic ammo).

At one point during the shoot, the host walked over to a young fellow shooting an unsuppressed AR-10 at the 800 yard target. The host politely took a wrench and a .308 suppressor out of his back pocket and explained this was a respectable place to shoot. Obviously, he was kidding about “respectability”, but – in fairness – it was a lot more pleasant afterward and the guests continued their conversations. The shooter was happy as well.

The next step is to consider the ammo you plan to shoot. The supersonic crack of a bullet as is it breaks the sound barrier is not going to be reduced by the suppressor. A lot of the .22 rimfire on the shelves is supersonic. Shooting subsonic ammunition is key to getting even more noise reduction. To be subsonic, you are looking at a bullet that flies at less than 1100 feet per second.

The trouble is that some subsonic bullets will not reliably cycle semi-auto actions. That is one nice thing about suppressing a bolt action or single shot – you don’t have to worry about driving the action with the cartridge ignition.

I don’t tell you this to discourage suppressing your AR style rifle by any means! You can these to work, but some require adjustment. The comment is only so you will have some perspective before going into a purchase.

And don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to use subsonic ammo to enjoy a suppressed firearm. In general, subsonic or not, shooting suppressed is very enjoyable either way – especially if you have nearby neighbors that might not enjoy your range sessions!

Best of luck,

Barry Bass

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Publisher of Tactical Gun Review. Managing partner of Coker Tactical. I love hunting for Texas whitetail deer, wild hogs, and high-volume Argentina dove. When not hunting you can find me fishing along the Texas Coast or on a wild Colorado river.
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