Due to the scarcity of suppressors, which are often called silencers, as well as how suppressors are portrayed in movies, television, and video games – there are many misconceptions about suppressors. Let’s take a quick look at these suppressor myths and debunk them.
Myth: Suppressors are illegal
Suppressors are (currently) restricted items under the National Firearms Act (NFA). They are legal to own in most states after obtaining a $200 tax stamp and undergoing a background check. Some states do not allow suppressors, but at a national level, suppressors are legal to obtain.
Myth: Suppressors make any gun completely quiet
Hollywood tends to portray suppressors as devices that make a firearm completely silent. That is very false.
(Note: exact noise levels depend on the suppressor, caliber, and ammo type. These are very approximate numbers to make a point. Source on sound comparisons.)
A suppressor only reduces the volume of supersonic ammo by about 30 decibles. This means a suppressed rifle shooting supersonic rifle will sound about as loud as a military jet taking off with afterburner, at give or take 130 decibles. Subsonic ammo is generally around 110 decibles, which is about the equivalent of a rock concert.
Myth: Suppressors are only good for a certain number of shots
This myth actually has a basis in reality. A suppressor works by trapping the expanding in slots within the suppressor, called “baffles.” Early versions of suppressors did not use metal baffles, but instead used an assortment of less resilient materials. This means early suppressors indeed had a limited amount of shots before they lost effectiveness.
However, modern suppressors use metal baffles that are not worn down by shots. As long as a suppressor is kept tight on a firearm and taken care of, it will not wear out.
Myth: You don’t need hearing protection with a suppressor
As stated earlier, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot, but don’t diminish it entirely. While single shots, or even a few suppressed rounds down range here and there won’t cause permanent hearing loss, it is still a good idea to wear hearing protection for extended shooting sessions.
Myth: Suppressors reduce a bullet’s velocity
This is a very common myth, probably mostly due to video games. In order to achieve an enjoyable game balance, a suppressor needs to have a negative impact – otherwise there would be no reason not to use one. Many video games will reduce a bullet’s velocity and damage when using a suppressor.
However, suppressors actually increase a bullet’s velocity. A suppressor essentially extends the barrel, giving a cartridge’s expanding gasses more time to push the bullet before exiting the muzzle. While it does not cause a significant increase in velocity, it is enough to change a bullet’s point of impact when comparing a rifle with and without a suppressor.
Myth: Suppressors make guns less accurate
This is another myth likely caused by video game balance. However, suppressors do not negatively impact a rifle’s accuracy. Remember, a suppressor does not come in direct contact with a bullet – it simply traps the gasses. If we look at what some of the top precision rifle shooters use, many of them compete in precision rifle competitions with suppressors.
Suppressors are better and worse than often portrayed
Suppressors are shrouded in mystery due to the misconceptions given to them by the media. In many ways, suppressors are not as effective as portrayed, but in many ways, they are better than portrayed.
Just about the only thing commonly agreed up on about suppressors is they are tons of fun to shoot.
Why use a suppressor?
The why of using a suppressor was previously covered in detail. But here’s a short summary: they protect hearing, less noise pollution, they reduce recoil, and they are lots of fun.
Help take Suppressors off of the NFA
There are many bills being pushed forward right now to take Suppressors off of the National Firearms Act restrictions, allowing them to be treated like regular firearms. Please contact your representative and urge them to support bills to remove suppressors from the NFA.