The suppressor business is booming at Gemtech, in Eagle, Idaho, and most of the new customers are hunters."Production runs that used to last us a fiscal quarter now only last us a week," says Kel Whelan, Gemtech's government and industry liaison."Fifteen years ago, you'd have to go to a military collector gun shop to even find a suppressor. Now, they've gone mainstream."
Meanwhile, he adds, a dozen or more new suppressor makers have entered the market in just the last few years.
The word, it appears, is getting out: Suppressors are legal in 39 states. They reduce a firearm's report to safe hearing levels, and a good suppressor can reduce felt recoil by up to 30 percent, which makes for a better and safer hunting experience.
Josh Hill is the manager of the Abilene Indoor Gun Range, in Abilene, Texas. A dedicated wild hog hunter, Hill tried a suppressor on his hog hunting AR-15 a few years back, and he's hooked. When he was hunting without a suppressor, Hill says, shooting at a group or line of hogs would cause a porcine stampede; he rarely got a second shot.
"But with a suppressor, they can't read the noise as well," says Hill. "Sometimes they'll stand around and try to figure out where the shot came from, and they'll give you follow-up shots."
Pain and damage to the human ear can result from sounds over 140 decibels. Even a .22 rimfire pistol comes in at 155 decibels.
Despite their Hollywood image, suppressors are not "silencers." They won't completely muffle rifle or handgun noise, and they won't stop the sonic crack of a bullet that comes from traveling beyond the speed of sound (approximately 1,140 feet per second). Using a series of chambers and baffles, though, suppressors will slow and diffuse the expanding gasses leaving the muzzle, much like a muffler does to engine exhaust. The result is a thaa-wack, roughly comparable to the sound of a loud air rifle, with a decibel level well below what Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers harmful to a person's hearing.
You must be 21 years old and a United States resident, with no felony record.
Fill out Form 4, available from a Class III firearms dealer. Get the signature of a local law enforcement officer to certify that you have no bad intentions. Submit fingerprints and a photo, and pay a one-time $200 tax for each suppressor you're buying.
While the official minimum wait for approval is three months, it can sometimes take as long as eight, as just a handful of processors handle the paperwork,
NOTE: Some states may require additional checks.
NOT A "SILENCER"
A good suppressor will muffle a gunshot by 33 dB. In the case of a .30/06, the resulting 129 dB blast is still as loud as a jackhammer or power drill.
Without a suppressor, a typical .30/06 muzzle blast would register 162 dB, or 10 times safe hearing levels.
Gas behind the bullet expands into the chambers formed by the baffles in the suppressor.
Energy that would express itself as sound is transformed into heat
A bullet traveling faster than sound (about 1,140 fps) throws off a sonic boom that's unaffected by the suppressor.
DID YOU KNOW
In many European countries, suppressors are sold over the counter and are considered required safety equipment.
Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.