IF YOU WANT TO HUNT SOME PLACES NOWADAYS, DISCRETION IS REQUIRED. ENTER METRO BARREL INNOVATIONS.
There is an old, rickety ladder stand in a slender woodlot adjacent to my boyhood home, where I started bowhunting more than 40 years ago.
The tiny patch of woods has been a constant in my life. I shot my first rabbit there and trapped my first raccoon. I studied, photographed and killed deer there. It is a treasure trove of memories--and too damned close to the Yuppie neighbors who've built sprawling split-levels along the boundaries in subsequent decades.
These are folks, mind you, who hand-feed deer and undoubtedly name individuals.
The stand is outside (barely) the municipally mandated buffer zone for firearms, but still close enough for a shotgun blast to rattle dishes on the neighbors' dinner table and attract unwanted attention. Why not a bow, you ask? A bow-shot deer collapsing in the neighbor's lawn does little for community relations.
If I want to hunt that stand, discretion is required. Today, with the line between tactical and hunting firearms blurring more with each advertising campaign, the use of suppressors on field guns has become a hot topic.
Several states now allow suppressors or even silencers on hunting firearms, and more are considering the move. Pistols and rifles were logical candidates for suppression, but precious few sought to quiet shotguns.
But there is a means--a legal means--to soften a deer hunting shotgun's loud report, and it's not even that new.
I'm able to hide in the aforementioned stand, armed with a 12-gauge Remington 870 affixed with a Metro Barrel and some sub-sonic slugs loaded by Jay Menefee at PolyWad. Designed and marketed by outdoors writer and inveterate hunter L.P. Brezny, the Metro Barrel--a 34-inch barrel extension that screws into your barrel's choke tube threads --was originally developed for urban crow hunting and subsequently proved to be an efficient tool for the judicious elimination of unwelcome geese and deer in Minnesota municipal parks, where Brezny was once a policeman.
Brezny began experimenting with aluminum conduit epoxied to an 870 barrel in 1993 and, after playing with various porting scenarios, by 2000 had refined the concept to the point that he took the idea to Bob Rott at Hastings Barrels. Rott's connection with the French arms-maker Verney-Carron produced a 12-gauge prototype, which was threaded at both ends, and measured .880 diameter at the ends and .808 in the middle, with 64 ports.
After tests by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the device was not an illegal silencer, Hastings began marketing the Metro Barrel. Federal developed some 850-fps tungsten-alloy and lead loads that are deadly out to 40 yards, and Polywad made loads, too. Rott is gone, and Hastings no longer markets the barrel, but it's still out there at www.Metrogun.com.
A newer version, made in the States now that the French are out of the picture, is the 34-inch Falcon, and the slightly less sound-repressive (80 decibels, about equal to a .22LR) yet infinitely handier 14-inch Sparrow. A third version, the 25-inch Raven (dampens to 74 decibels) is also available.
Then there's the new MG.724 Orion 12 suppressor--a 17-inch-long, 1.5-inch-diameter elongated can that is about as close to a shotgun silencer as you can get. It's remarkably effective but requires a federal license, and has an initial retail price of $800.
How does it work? Ported the entire length, the 1.1-pound Metro Barrel can be fitted with a choke tube of its own. The length and porting slowly degrades the amount of gas in the barrel, greatly reducing muzzle blast and subsequently suppressing recoil and the report to the point that--with subsonic loads--it is about as loud as a loud hand clap. Brezny claims it's 72 decibels (a conventional shotgun blast is about 160 to 170 decibels). Use conventional 1,200- to 1,500-fps shotgun loads, and the report is comparable to a .22 Mag.
All I know is that the neighbors don't notice.