The Quiet Continues: Suppressed Pistols
During the last installment we talked about keeping our gunshot noise to a minimum so as not to scare the citizenry. This month we're going to continue with a similar theme, however, we'll focus on protecting your ears and the ears of those around you.
When discussing silencers or suppressor we need to accept the fact that the noise is merely a byproduct of the cartridge igniting. Hiram Percy Maxim (his dad made the machine-gun) had it figured out in 1908, but we here in the United States still seem to be struggling with the fact that noise is just noise. Maxim's patent was granted for the "Silent Firearm" in 1910. I suppose it's the curse of humanity that we have to continually relearn our history lessons.
Those who've never used a silenced or suppressed handgun often share the misconception that adding a 'can', as they are known in the industry, does two things; hinder reliability and makes the gun unwieldy.
Let's tackle the unwieldy part first. Yes, back in the old days, several years ago, a stainless steel suppressor did indeed add a considerable amount of weight to the front of the gun. That has changed with the use of modern materials such as Titanium and aircraft aluminum. I'm not going to get into metallurgy, but modern Titanium silencers weigh a fraction of the older steel models. The new TiRant silencer from Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) weighs a total of 8.6 ounces.
Yes, a suppressor does indeed add extra length to the handgun. Until some savvy manufacturer comes up with an integrally suppressed handgun length is something with which we must deal.
Let's discuss the reliability issue. Again, the answer is yes, in times past lack of reliability could have been a consideration. Modern pistol silencers are built to for functionality. Referring back to the AAC TiRant can, the unit is constructed with a spring cushioned piston.
AAC TiRant 9mm[R] Silencer
I'm sure you have figured out by now that one of the specific pieces of hardware we going to highlight in this review is the Advanced Armament Corp. TiRant 9mm[R] silencer. As we mentioned previously, the TiRant is a Titanium sound suppressor. The TiRant is actually built using a combination of Titanium, stainless steel and 7075 aluminum. Total weight is only 8.6 ounces. Overall length for the can is 7.9 inches and is it 1.38 inches in diameter.
AAC has built this new pistol silencer with interchangeable threaded pistons. The pistons have various thread pitch to mate with different barrels. When I got my TiRant it came with a 1/2x28 TPI piston and on their suggestion I ordered an extra 13.5x1 TPI left-hand metric version. The 13.5x1 fits the SIG Sauer factory threaded barrel for the P226 in 9x19mm. The 1/2x28 TPI version fits most "Made in the USA" threaded 9mm pistol barrels.
During this review I would use two pistols; the S&W M&P9 and SIG P226. In order to use the suppressor on the M&P in had to order an aftermarket threaded barrel from KKM Precision. I've used the stainless steel barrels from KKM in the past and knew I could expect top notch quality. The threaded barrel for the P226 came directly from SIG's factory.
For ammunition in the 9x19mm department you have two basic categories; sub-sonic and super-sonic. Both styles will run through the TiRant. However, for actual hushed quiet you'll need to use the 147 grain sub-sonic versions from numerous makers. Super-sonic ammunition will always produce the distinctive "crack" when the bullet breaks the sound barrier. The shot is naturally much quieter than a normal gunshot but not 'quiet'.
If you know your firearms history, you'll remember that the 147 grain 9x19mm cartridge came into being specifically because the US Military wanted a sub-sonic round to fire through the HK MP5SD. The 147 grain load is made for quiet, not power.
During my test and evaluation trials I would run somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 rounds of 147g. ammo through both the S&W and SIG pistols. The ammunition came from CorBon, Federal, and Winchester.
I am pleased to report that during the brief testing period zero stoppages or failures were encountered. Yes, you'd expect that from the S&W and SIG pistols. However, the main goal was to ensure they would run with the can in place. They did.
Just how quiet can you expect your pistol to be with a suppressor in place? AAC's website states that the noise reduction with a TiRant in place is 35 to 38 db (decibels). Can you run the silencer wet or dry? Yes. The introduction a foreign medium, such as wire lube, gun oil for even water, gives you a couple db in sound reduction.
When shooting the pistols with my son I remarked that they sounded a bit like a pneumatic nail gun. Jarrad remarked that the nail gun he used a work was much louder that the suppressed pistols.
Will you need different sights? Yes and no. Both of the test guns had XS Big Dot sights on them and I was able to hit the "X" ring at five and seven yards without issue. It your desire is to take targets a greater distance some form of adjustable sights might be in order. A Lasergrip from Crimson Trace or a mini-red dot mounted to the slide would help you extend your effective range. Many iron sight maker do indeed offer tall suppressor sights to peek over the can.
Modern sound suppressor or silencers, if you will, are far beyond where they were only ten or so years back. When it comes to protecting your hearing my feeling is that anything we can do to reduce noise-related hearing damage is worth the effort. I know far too many retired cops who are nearly deaf. On a personal note, I have significant hearing loss from decades of gunfire and other loud noises. I only wish that twenty-five years ago my instructors would have been as concerned. For more information please visit www.advanced-armament.com, www.kkmprecision.com, and www.sigsauer.com
Related forums threads:
* 9mm Ammo Selection
* Firearms Pics - Post Them Up
* Handgun Question
* Firearms Training Associates
* Emergency Tactical Skills website
* Paul Markel's homepage
About The Author:
Mr. Markel is a former United States Marine, Police Officer, and has worked as a professional bodyguard both in the U.S. and overseas. A Subject Matter Expert on Small Arms and Tactics, Markel has provided instruction to law enforcement and U.S. Military troops.
As a recognized author and writer, Paul has penned several hundred articles published in numerous professional journals and trade periodicals. Topics include firearms training, use of force, marksmanship, less-than-lethal force options, product reviews and evaluations, emergency medical care, and much more. Sought after as a public speaker, Mr. Markel is at home in front of an audience large or small.
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