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Why Sound Suppressors Matter

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December 12, 2012
Why Sound Suppressors Matter - 5

At the latest count, 39 states allow civilians to own suppressors. If you live in one of these silencer-friendly states and haven’t purchased a suppressor, you need to put one on your Christmas list.

The advantages of suppressors are numerous. They not only protect your hearing but make shooting with a group of people much safer and improve marksmanship by reducing flinching.

I’ve been shooting at Gunsite this last week during the Shooting Slam and had a perfect object lesson demonstrating the value of suppressors the other day. We’ve been shooting the Rock River Arms LAR-15 ATH Carbine, which has a very effective, but loud, muzzle break on it. Naturally, we were all wearing good hearing protection, which is more than adequate most of the time, but during the third day of the event while practicing non-standard positions—a face-down prone used for shooting under vehicles—my ear muffs rolled off my head and left my ears ringing.

The incident was made worse by the fact that the muzzle of the gun was just a couple inches off the ground and the blast was channeled right back toward my head.

Even if the rifle had been equipped with a suppressor the noise level would have qualified as harmful—one of the many popular suppressor myths is that they “silence” the gun—but it would have been much less damaging to my ears.

I look forward to the day that suppressors are available over the counter and without the need for any special paperwork or the $200 tax stamp—as they are in many European countries—but we’re not there yet.

If you want to learn more about silencers, check out the American Silencer Association. Better yet, join.

Comments (5)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Bob Hansen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes, I think that the ATF&E is making much to-to about nothing, by requiring the costly tax.

They should be made available for any properly owned gun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from John B. Snow wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The beauty of sound suppressors is that they reduce both felt recoil and muzzle blast and there's no need to make the no-win choice between having an unadorned barrel, which is very loud and kicks, or a barrel with a muzzle break, which is crazy loud and kicks less.

I particularly like them for hunting scenarios, because that's the situation in which we're least likely to be wearing hearing protection. Based on the merits of suppressors as a safety device alone, we should have easy and universal access to them. Do I think their use should be mandated, as it is in some places in Europe? I wouldn't go that far. But I would really encourage ever shooter out there to use one.

As for the cost, what value do you place on your hearing? The price of good hearing aids is thousands of dollars and hearing loss extracts a stiff toll on a person's quality of life. My ears are ringing as I write this thanks to my tinnitus, and I'm pretty fanatical about using hearing protection. But I consider myself lucky that I can still participate in conversations in crowds unlike so many of my colleagues and fellow shooters.

Weighed against that, the cost of suppressors is minimal and, should the happy day arrive where they shake off the stigma they still carry and are removed from the list of devices enumerated under the NFA of 1934, their prices will no doubt drop as more companies produce them and more consumers purchase them. And, as with all consumer goods, there will be some that are cheap and ok and others that are expensive and better built.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The other disadvantage is that it's another piece of equipment that I can't afford.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I can't say that the muzzle blast has ever bothered me when out in the field. Nor do I remember ever feeling recoil when I'm shooting at an animal.

I've done all of my hunting up in Wyoming, where there is plenty of open spaces. If you see orange, you just move on to another place. I like hearing the reports of others' rifles while up in the hills. It kind of lets me know what's going on.

Also, I've heard tales of people trying to field dress their elk, and there are bullets hitting the carcass. I can't say if that was true, or now, as I wasn't there. But I'd like to know if anyone else was in the area. Not all of us observe safe hunting rules. Most complaints that I've heard have been from locals siting run ins with out-of-staters.

Any way, that's my two pennies worth.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GuyGene wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I like this idea; I don't mind recoil as much as I do the noise.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from John B. Snow wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The beauty of sound suppressors is that they reduce both felt recoil and muzzle blast and there's no need to make the no-win choice between having an unadorned barrel, which is very loud and kicks, or a barrel with a muzzle break, which is crazy loud and kicks less.

I particularly like them for hunting scenarios, because that's the situation in which we're least likely to be wearing hearing protection. Based on the merits of suppressors as a safety device alone, we should have easy and universal access to them. Do I think their use should be mandated, as it is in some places in Europe? I wouldn't go that far. But I would really encourage ever shooter out there to use one.

As for the cost, what value do you place on your hearing? The price of good hearing aids is thousands of dollars and hearing loss extracts a stiff toll on a person's quality of life. My ears are ringing as I write this thanks to my tinnitus, and I'm pretty fanatical about using hearing protection. But I consider myself lucky that I can still participate in conversations in crowds unlike so many of my colleagues and fellow shooters.

Weighed against that, the cost of suppressors is minimal and, should the happy day arrive where they shake off the stigma they still carry and are removed from the list of devices enumerated under the NFA of 1934, their prices will no doubt drop as more companies produce them and more consumers purchase them. And, as with all consumer goods, there will be some that are cheap and ok and others that are expensive and better built.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GuyGene wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I like this idea; I don't mind recoil as much as I do the noise.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes, I think that the ATF&E is making much to-to about nothing, by requiring the costly tax.

They should be made available for any properly owned gun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I can't say that the muzzle blast has ever bothered me when out in the field. Nor do I remember ever feeling recoil when I'm shooting at an animal.

I've done all of my hunting up in Wyoming, where there is plenty of open spaces. If you see orange, you just move on to another place. I like hearing the reports of others' rifles while up in the hills. It kind of lets me know what's going on.

Also, I've heard tales of people trying to field dress their elk, and there are bullets hitting the carcass. I can't say if that was true, or now, as I wasn't there. But I'd like to know if anyone else was in the area. Not all of us observe safe hunting rules. Most complaints that I've heard have been from locals siting run ins with out-of-staters.

Any way, that's my two pennies worth.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The other disadvantage is that it's another piece of equipment that I can't afford.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)