To Suppress or Not Suppress?

Hush puppy, quiet as a mouse, you can only hear the action working, movie quiet. These are all things I’ve heard over the years while shooting and talking to people who thought they knew what suppressors are. It wasn’t until I was at my local shooting club, when I had an older gentleman beside me firing off a cannon of a rifle with a suppressor, that I fully understood why we needed them.

He was firing a magnum caliber rifle (the exact cartridge has slipped away from me) when I noticed the muffler looking object screwed on the end. Of course I knew what it was, but suppressors just weren’t my thing, yet. I started talking to him and remember making the statement “I thought it would be quieter”.  After about on my third question he asked me to put my ears on and I noticed the suppressor was laying on the table. When this cannon went off the concussion and blast was horrible. He looked over at me and said “why don’t you have one?” I noticed after the range was cold that this gentleman had hearing aids in both ears. He had lost most of his hearing from being in combat, hunting and from not wearing ear pro while at the range.  He stressed to me the point of hearing conservation.  Having hearing loss in my right ear and tinnitus in both ears, I made the decision to go down the silencer rabbit hole. 

It turns out everything that older gentleman told me was true.  The wait times, the NFA stamp, even the history of the laws;  the fact that it’s not really making it silent, but muffling the noise by redirecting the gasses and dulling the report of the supersonic crack coming out of the barrel. “It saves hearing” he said.  He also told me that in a lot of The United Kingdom, most everyone has one on their hunting rifle. I looked into that and found that you can pick one up in local hardware store or sporting good shops and they are basically thrown away once used up. 

So one day while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, I heard an advertisement for a suppressor company. I started digging on the internet about this company and several others as well. The technical specs, decibel ratings, what is hearing safe, the first round pop, etc, etc. I was lost, so I made the choice to call the company advertised on the show. This is where I met Tom Bowers. I found myself in a deep conversation where  he dispelled myths and educated me further on suppressors. We wondered off on several subjects and then they all tied back to where we started. He asked me several questions; what did I want the suppressor for? How versatile did I need it to be? Direct thread, 3 lug adapter, multi caliber, full auto rated and so on. He even told me that if he didn’t have what I was looking for he would refer me to another company, a competitor, losing money by referring me to someone else. That’s what you call customer service.  I wound up ordering a Vers 375 suppressor from Bowers Group, which was primarily going to used on my hunting rifles and possibly a home defense firearm. After going to my local FFL to do my paperwork, I learned him and Tom were friends and Tom paid my FFL’s fees and shipping, all I was left with was the tax stamp itself. Now, this is not an advertisement for Bowers group, just my experience. I like to share good products from good companies when I come across them. Customer service is key to any purchase and I prefer to patronize small business’s on a regular basis mostly for the knowledge and conversation.  

Fast forward 5 months, I got the call that I was approved to pick up my can. I was so happy. I brought it home and did several informal tests on how it sounded on several of my rifles, AR pistols, PCC’s and pistol caliber AR platforms. I was amazed at the tone that they had; it was not quiet like you see in the movies, but I was shooting my regular hunting, target and defensive ammo through them and they were hearing safe. I had so many ideas pop up the first one being that this is how I can teach my younger children and grandchildren to shoot without being scared of the noise. The second was home defense. With the suppressor mounted on my 10.5″ AR it would be much better at night if I had to take a shot inside the home. I had always been worried about blowing out what little hearing I had left or the flash being so bright I wouldn’t be able see to make a follow up shot if I had too. The third thought was about hunting. I do a lot of hog and black bear hunting here in East Tennessee and a lot of the times we are in close contact with dogs, and other hunters. With the suppressor on my 3oo Blackout 7.5″barrel running standard hunting loads it was still hearing safe and would not scare or deafen anyone catching dogs or standing around. 

So it comes down to whether you want to spend the money and time to purchase a suppressor. The choice you need to make whether to suppress or not to suppress is totally a personal one. There are so many affordable companies that make great products to make your firearm quieter. The biggest reason for me to own one is hearing safety, but the thought of being able to bring new shooters into our sport and make it safer is a much added bonus. If you take a .22 rifle with a can on it, you can shoot all day and kids can hear the impact of the steel or pop cans they are hitting, all while hearing the instructions you’re giving them.  Little to no recoil or report from the rifle makes it an all around better session at the range. It can act as a tool that will help build confidence in new shooters and to those that might be scared of the muzzle blast. Additionally, it just might take that flinch out of a lot of older shooters and not create one in newer shooters caused. 

I will continue to buy suppressors for certain firearms, to me it just makes sense. If you decide on buying one, I suggest reading up on the laws in your state or city. Contact a lawyer that knows the firearms law and abide by the laws when you get one. You just have to do the research to find which suppressor is right for your needs.  Remember, it is not a movie prop that is going to make you look and act cooler, it’s simply another tool in your toolbox that will help protect your hearing and create better shooting habits. As with all firearms and firearms related items, use them in the manner they were designed for, shoot straight, have fun and fill the freezer. 

Pros To Owning

  • Less noise
  • Reduces felt recoil
  • Less muzzle blast
  • Better accuracy
  • More consciousness of other shooters in the area or at you home range 
  • Hunting, small game like having multiple squirrels, they do not hear the loud blast and you can harvest more game for the table
  • Safer and more fun

Cons To Owning

  • The extra cost on top of the cost of the item
  • The extra paperwork 
  • The wait time
  • The extra mass or length to your firearm
  • Heavily regulated from state to state


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