WE'VE All SEEN THE MOVIE CLICHE, RIGHT? The bad guy reaches into his pocket, pulls out a silencer, screws it onto the muzzle of his handgun, and all we hear is phhhht. An incredibly quiet sound, one that exists only in the repertoire of Foley artists. Those are the guys who dub in the sounds you hear in movies. (They're named after Jack Foley, who invented many of the sound-producing effects used today.)
Real-life bad guys using "silencers" is such a rare occurrence that when the police do find one, it's almost cause for celebration. You see, the vast majority of suppressors (not silencers) are sold to good guys like you and me and to the police and military. It's actually an ultra-rare situation for the bad guys to have one.
How can this be true, you ask? Simple: suppressors are lawful to own in 38 states. Yes, you can own a "can," as they're known, and shoot them wherever you can lawfully shoot. Except hunting, where the DNR regs of a lot of states specifically forbid them. However, a lot of "hunting" is classified as pest control, and there they are allowed.
How common and accepted have suppressors become? Enough so that Ruger is offering a 22/45 with a threaded barrel, ready-to-go for suppressor use. Yep. Suppressors, the most accessible of man-jewelry, have gone mainstream.
The suppressor-ready Ruger 22/45 is the company's regular, durable-as-an-anvil handgun in.22 Long Rifle, with a couple of changes. The barrel is shortened to 4.5 inches, just so the installation of the suppressor doesn't make it overly nose-heavy. The barrel is threaded l/2x28 so you can install a suppressor. That is the standard thread size/pitch for an AR15, which is a.22 also. (More on that in a bit.) If you just want a handy, reliable.22 pistol, you need not ever unscrew the knurled cover that goes on the threads.
The last change? Instead of the basic model's iron sights, you can get the "railed" model. It has a pair of Picatinny rails: one on top of the receiver, the other on the bottom of the barrel. There you can mount a red-dot sight, a laser, a laser-light combo, even a bayonet. (No kidding, people make bayonets for handguns.) When it comes to making shooting fun and easy, I can't imagine a combination more giggle-worthy than a.22 pistol with a laser or red-dot plus a suppressor. With the right ammo, you don't even need hearing protection. (Oh, my God. Did I just write that?)
And to team up with this Ruger, Surefire is making a lightweight little suppressor, just for.22 Long Rifle use. Made of aluminum, it's so compact it just about earns the description "cute." A compact rifle suppressor, suitable for use on an AR, runs almost a pound and is five inches long. The soon-to-be-released Surefire rimfire model is less than half the weight and, while as long, is smaller in diameter. Now, if you acquire one of these cute little gizmos, don't mount it on your AR. The gas flow will certainly harm it and might even blow it off the end of your rifle. Neither I nor Surefire will take pity on you were you to do something so boneheaded.
The combination of a.22 Long Rifle and a top-notch suppressor is almost as good as the movies. You hear the bolt clatter back and forth, you hear the empties clinging onto the concrete, and you hear the bullets hitting the backstop. What you don't hear is that ear-splitting crack.
No, suppressors (where legal) are not against the law. They are not onerously expensive, although there is the little detail of a tax payment.
You will have to have a clean background. That is, no wants, no warrants, no shenanigans. If you do have some shady details in your past, do us all a favor and consult your attorney before submitting the Federal paperwork. Those of us with sparkly-clean records who have gotten checked out would appreciate it. Yes, you will find, if you have a way to ask, that the FBI has done a complete check. That is, they will consult their computer records to see if you have ever come to the attention of the police or courts, anywhere in the U.S. If you haven't, then the paperwork goes through and you can proceed. Given that the people who file the paperwork for a suppressor are the kind of law-abiding citizens that this country used to mostly be, there has to be a clerk somewhere who types in names, hour after hour, getting back "no response" or "no record" or whatever the software spits out as a negatory.
The tax stamp (this is your approval for--and paperwork of--ownership) for your suppressor costs you $200. That's a one-time cost, paid up-front. Once you own it, you don't pay for any more. Well, there is the additional cost of ammo, when you take your friends to the gun club and let them giggle over it, too.
Having checked your background, the ATF reserves the right to make sure you still have your suppressor. That does not mean unscheduled visits, any time of day or night. In fact, I haven't heard of them checking up at all. Still, keep it, keep the paperwork, don't get sloppy and lose track of them.
Someone out there is asking, "Yes, but what do you need it for?" As my brother has said, many times, "There you go, confusing want with need." You don't need it for anything, and you don't need to prove you need it, either. You own it because you want it. It's fun, the law allows it, and you can afford it. Pretty much for the same reasons you own any of the firearms you own.
And here's the best part: unlike machine guns (also legal in 38 states), which are ferociously expensive, suppressors are moderate in price. Where a buzzgun can run from $5,000 to $15,000, a suppressor can be had from $450 to $1,500. (Not including the tax stamp.) If your state allows it, your budget can swing it and your gun club doesn't object to it, you can be the quietest guy at the range.
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* "This is not a world in which one can turn the other cheek. Doing so does not avoid violence, but rather encourages it. The bad guys threaten, but they do not seem to want to get hurt, They should be taught that their presumed victim is more dangerous than they are. This is not a matter of weapons but rather of will." Jeff Cooper, April 2005