Suppressors (aka “silencers”) are most accurately described as a car muffler for your gun. It doesn’t really make your firearm silent, as in a Hollywood movie (which is why the term, “silencer,” is currently eschewed by the gun community), but it muffles (or suppresses) it to hearing-safe levels. To put this into perspective: A good percentage of shooter hearing protection reduces noise levels to around 22 to 25 dB, and the good stuff reduces it by 30 dB. Most of the suppressors on the market reduce sound by a minimum of 30 dB (depending on caliber), with some at up to 40 dB or more. Think of a suppressor as hearing protection you “wear” on your gun.
Based on previous suppressor experience, as well as the testing I’ve done for this article, I’ve found very little difference in sound reduction between makes/models of suppressors when used off a similar host firearm with the same ammo. It’s generally not discernable to the human ear; and if it is, it’s not enough to make a difference for practical purposes.
The main difference among the different brands is in quality, durability/ruggedness and features. “Quality” includes construction and materials; “ruggedness” is how it’s going to take rough handling; “durability” is how it’s going to hold up over time and with high round counts. “Features” can include light weight, user serviceability, ease of disassembly, full auto-rated, mounting options, etc. One factor to consider is flexibility across various calibers. Generally speaking (confirm this with the manufacturer), suppressors will work with cartridges of smaller calibers. For example, a .45 ACP-caliber suppressor will work with pistol calibers down to 9mm. If you’re going to be using your suppressor with multiple calibers, it’s best to start with the .45 suppressor, because the 9mm can would limit you to only those calibers. Take this into consideration when buying your first can. If you want to be more caliber-specific as you buy more cans, go for it. The only downside is that the larger-caliber suppressor will be larger in size than one that’s made for smaller calibers. The benefit is that the larger suppressor size means it has more volume and can often (but not always) be quieter, despite the larger exit hole.
It is important to check with the manufacturer, however—just because a bullet will fit through the hole in the suppressor doesn’t mean it’s safe to shoot. For example, some cans are rated for .308 Winchester, and although a .30-06 bullet would fit, it would not be safe.
(Ammo used for the Dead Air Armament Wolverine PBS-1 is WOLF WPA Polyformance 7.62×39 123-grain FMJ. The rest of the rifle suppressors were tested with American Eagle 62-grain FMJ.)
NOTES: I used a BAFX Digital Sound Level Meter, model BAFX3370. I tried to make the testing as uniform as possible. For rifles, the sound meter was held about 2 feet to the side of the muzzle. All numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number. Accuracy: +/-1.5 dB.
Taking visual design cues from the Soviet PBS-1 suppressor, the Wolverine is sure to hit the “nostalgia button” with any fan of Com Bloc firearms. It uses a collar to engage the locking pins found on the front sight post of most Kalashnikovs (including clones, pistols and 5.45×39 chamberings). With 11 thread inserts to choose from, the Wolverine will work on almost all Com Bloc firearms, including those chambered in 7.62x54r, and non-Com Bloc firearms with thread pitch 1/2×28 and 5/8×24, which includes the AR-15 and AR-10. To reduce bullet strike, it uses a generous exit hole to compensate for the loose tolerances the AK is famous for.
It also uses the same end cap as the Sandman-L, so if there is a bullet strike, there’s no need to return it to factory. Just replace it. It can also be swapped to reduce exit hole size for other platforms with tighter tolerances.
CALIBER: Multi—up to 7.62x54R
MOUNT: Direct thread
REDUCTION TO: 140 dB (Wolf 123-grain FMJ; Kalashnikov pistol, 11.5-in. barrel)
LENGTH: 7.4 in. with thread adaptor
WEIGHT: 19.8–24.4 oz. (depending on mount)
DIAMETER: 1.5-in. tube; 1.93-in. outside diameter
MATERIALS: Stellite and stainless steel
FINISH: Cerakote body w/ nitride parts
RATED: Full auto; no minimum barrel length
ACCESSORIES: Thread inserts ($89); (9 models for various rifle platforms)
The Wave is a major innovation in the manufacturing process. It uses a one-piece, 3D-printed baffle/tube for increased durability and strength, making welds obsolete. The blast chamber of a suppressor takes the brunt of the muzzle blast, and this one has been reinforced to maximize life cycle. The Wave uses a cascading baffle geometry for sound reduction. The Acme thread quick-clamping system locks the suppressor securely to the muzzle device and prevents carbon lock for easy removal every time.
CALIBER: 5.56 NATO through .300 Win. Mag.
MOUNT: Quick-detach (tested); direct thread
REDUCTION TO: 130 dB (AR-15, 16-in. barrel, 5.56)
LENGTH: 7.6 in. (with coupling)
WEIGHT: 17.2 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.5-in. tube (1.59 in. at ribs, 1.68 in. at collar)
MATERIALS: Inconel (nickel-based superalloy) for baffle/tube; stainless steel and titanium
RATED: Full auto; minimum barrel length: 10.3 in. (5.56NATO), 16 in. (7.62×51 NATO)
ACCESSORIES: DDWave Muzzle Brake (5/8×24 TPI and 1/2×28 TPI)
SilencerCo has been making suppressors since 2008 and has grown into one of the largest suppressor companies in the market. This means that its accessories and product support are vast. The Omega 300 is the culmination of several earlier designs. SilencerCo boasts that for full-auto-rated titanium .30-caliber cans, it’s the lightest, shortest (using direct thread) and quietest (using a QD ASR mount) can on the market.
The included anchor brake reduces recoil and can be swapped for a flat front cap to reduce length and side blast. It’s fully welded, and despite its light weight, it’s incredibly tough. Another bonus to suppressors is reduced perceived recoil. SilencerCo states that this one reduces it by 20 to 15 percent, depending on caliber. The Omega’s light weight makes it easy to maneuver from target to target and also makes it great for young shooters. This very can was mounted on a Wilson Combat 6.8 SPC AR with which my son took his first buck.
CALIBER: .22 Hornet to .300 Win. Mag.
MOUNT: Quick detach; direct thread mount included
REDUCTION TO: 130 dB (AR-15, 16-in. barrel, 5.56)
LENGTH: 7.09 in.
WEIGHT: 14 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.56 in.
MATERIALS: Titanium tube, Stellite blast baffle, stainless steel
RATED: Full auto; minimum barrel: 8 in. (300 BLK), 10 in. (5.56 NATO), 16 in. (7.62×51 NATO), 20 in. (Magnums)
ACCESSORIES: Numerous brakes, flash hiders, front cap, etc.
This was my first rifle suppressor, and it’s a great can at a good price. Tough and durable, it’s made of a stainless steel tube and Inconel 718 baffles. It eliminates 99 percent of muzzle flash and reduces noise by up to 79 dB. The Phantom flash hider supports the suppressor in two places, keeping it aligned with the rifle bore, even when it is not fully tightened.
The flash hider is also designed to scrape carbon from the mount of the suppressor during removal. The LTA model (aggressive teeth on the end cap) has been discontinued, but the LT model (without the teeth) is in production. The LT has the same exact specs but is better without the “aggressive” teeth. The LTA looks cool, but in hindsight, I should not have gotten the Aggressive model, because when slid into a soft-sided gun case, it snags and tears up the material.
CALIBER: Up to .308 Win.
MOUNT: QD flash hider
REDUCTION TO: 129 dB (AR-15, 16-in. barrel, 5.56)
LENGTH: 7.625 in.
WEIGHT: 20 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.5 in.
MATERIALS: 300 series stainless steel; heat-treated Inconel 718
FINISH: Matte black
RATED: Semiauto; minimum barrel length: 8 in. (300 BLK), 10.5 (5.56, .308)
ACCESSORIES: Fast-attach flash hiders
Designed to be inexpensive, its modularity is the star feature. It’s tubeless, with five baffles that are each a separate, threaded section that screws onto the blast chamber (the serialized part), as well as a front cap.
To clean, just unscrew the seven parts. If you get a baffle strike, replacement baffles can be mailed directly to you. Reduce the number of baffles for a shorter can (at the expense of sound-reduction loss). I was concerned that the
threaded sections might loosen while shooting, but this didn’t happen—although round count was minimum.
It carries a lifetime warranty. This model has been replaced with the Alliance ($250), which is a flush mount and
uses 7075 aluminum.
CALIBER: 5.56, .22 LR, .22 Mag., .17 HMR, 5.7×28
MOUNT: Direct thread, 1/2×28 TPI
REDUCTION TO: 132 dB AR-15, 16-in. barrel, 5.56)
LENGTH: 8 in.
WEIGHT: 21 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.5 in.
MATERIALS: 17-4 stainless steel
RATED: light bump fire; 10-in. minimum- length barrel for 5.56
There are a lot of suppressors on the market, and a few companies have tried to separate themselves from the rest with some unique features. Alpha Dog is one of those companies. For starters, the Alpha Series has an integral accessory rail machined into the body, which can be indexed at the 12 o’clock for a red-dot sight or at the 6 o’clock for lights and lasers (this prevents the light or laser from being obscured, as it would be if it were
mounted behind the can). Indexing is as simple as pulling the suppressor out from the host gun, rotating it and
The other unique feature: The split rail has built-in iron sights, so when indexed at the 12, there is no need for elevated sights on the host pistol. The Alpha Dog is made using a proprietary “canine,” V-shaped baffle system that channels gases away from bullet trajectory. It can be fired wet or dry.
CALIBER: 9mm Luger (also in .40 S&W and .45 ACP)
MOUNT: Direct thread; piston
REDUCTION TO: 124 dB (testing done with CZ P-09 Tactical)
LENGTH: 7.5 in.
WEIGHT: 10.2 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.25 in.
MATERIALS: Aluminum—7075-T6 (baffle), 6005-T6 (body), 6061-T6 (end caps)
FINISH: Black hard-coat anodizing; Teflon coating
RATED: Semiauto only
ACCESSORIES: Pistons ($80 each)
MSRP: $775 (includes one piston)
The Osprey is the only polygonal centerfire pistol suppressor on the market. Coupled with the monocore baffle, this allows for greater internal volume for improved sound performance. However, because the bulk of the can is below the bore axis, the shooter’s line of sight isn’t impeded. A cam locking system allows the Osprey to be indexed for proper alignment. SilencerCo offers 12 piston models that cover most handguns on the market, plus a fixed barrel spacer for fixed (non-tilting) barrel handguns and pistol-caliber carbines.
For those who own a handgun without a threaded barrel—no sweat. SilencerCo makes threaded barrels for various popular gun models.
CALIBER: 9mm to .45 ACP, .300 BLK Subsonic
REDUCTION TO: 123 dB (testing done with a Beretta APX)
LENGTH: 8.06 in.
WEIGHT: 11.1 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.3 x 1.75 in.
MATERIALS: Aluminum body; stainless steel baffles
ACCESSORIES: Comes standard with disassembly tool and a recoil booster for tilting barrels. Sold separately:
pistons ($85), fixed barrel spacer ($59), threaded barrels ($220, various gun models)
The SRD9 is feature-rich and packed with innovation. It’s user-serviceable for maintenance, with interchangeable baffles that make assembly a piece of cake—there is no need to remember the order in which the baffles need to be reassembled. Impact shift is minimal, but SIG addresses this with an adjustable point of impact featuring 21 points of adjustment. To adjust, with the suppressor mounted on the unloaded host, pull the suppressor forward from the gun and rotate using the 15-degree increments. Then, release, and it will snap into place. SIG uses only
premium materials: The baffles are 100 percent 17.4PH stainless steel for durability, and the tube is grade 9 titanium for toughness and light weight.
The whole unit weighs an impressive 9 ounces (as a comparison, most weapons lights weigh around 4 or 4.5 ounces). SIG Sauer pistol barrels use a European M13.5x1mm LH threading, which screws on backward from American barrels (forget the “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” saying), and the SRD9 ships with a pistol threaded for such. However, SIG smartly includes the more-common 1/2×28 tpi piston. Additional pistons with various thread pitches are available.
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
MOUNT: Direct thread; piston
REDUCTION TO: 126 dB (testing done with a SIG Sauer P320 Tactical)
LENGTH: 7.2 in.
WEIGHT: 9 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.38 in.
MATERIALS: Titanium (grade 9) tube, 17-4PH stainless steel baffles
RATED: Full auto
ACCESSORIES: Boosters, fixed barrel spacers; other pistons ($69 each)
Rimfire cans provide the best bang for the buck if you want to shoot suppressed and get the maximum results. Unlike rifle and pistol suppressors (which are only that quiet in Hollywood movies), rimfire cans really are that quiet, especially on bolt-actions. With a bolt-action as a host, it’s as close to a true “silencer” as you’re going to get. However, unlike pistol and rifle cans, rimfire cans need to be cleaned regularly, because rimfire ammo is as dirty as the producers of said Hollywood movies. One thing to note: If you do disassemble a rimfire suppressor that’s been fired, it’s recommended that you clean it before reassembly.
(Ammunition used was CCI Suppressor .22 LR Subsonic Hollow Point; and with the exception of the Ruger integrally-suppressed barrel, all other rimfire suppressors were tested with a Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol as a host.)
If you own or are thinking about buying a Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle, this is a great suppressor. It installs easily—just like installing the barrel your TD rifle came with—and is easy to clean and maintain. Using the supplied tool (or a 5/32-inch Allen wrench), loosen the ISB takedown screw located at the muzzle. Grab the screw head and pull it out—the entire baffle stack will follow. Snap apart each of the seven baffles, clean them, snap them back together, insert them into the barrel sleeve, tighten the screw, and you are done. The barrel sleeve is made of aluminum and is purely cosmetic. The big plus is that the overall rifle length doesn’t change when you swap this ISB assembly for the standard 10/22 TD barrel assembly. You get suppression without additional length.
The downside? Because there are only 10.62 inches of effective barrel length, there will be some velocity loss. Nevertheless, it’s a small price to pay for this type of convenience.
CALIBER: .22 LR
MOUNT: Integrally suppressed barrel for 10/22 Takedown
REDUCTION TO: 104 dB
LENGTH: 16.2-in. barrel (10.62-in. effective barrel)
WEIGHT: 2.6 lbs.
MATERIALS: 17.4 stainless steel baffles, front cap and barrel; aluminum sleeve
ACCESSORIES: Works with Ruger 10/22 Takedown, 10/22 Takedown Lite and 22 Charger Takedown Pistol
Ruger is the largest gun maker in the country—it doesn’t get any more mainstream than Ruger. So, when Ruger first announced that it was jumping into the suppressor game, it was a sign of how far suppressor ownership has come. This one is made of premium materials and offers outstanding performance. It’s not as “flashy” as the
10/22 ISB TD suppressor.
Even so, it offers a lot more versatility, because it can be used with any rimfire LR host—rifle or pistol. The Silent SR 22 is easy to disassemble and clean, and the baffles conveniently snap together to reassemble, sealing in fouling from the tube and end caps. This suppressor follows in the same tradition of Ruger firearms, in that it offers excellent quality and performance at a reasonable price.
CALIBER: .22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 HMR, 5.7x28mm
MOUNT: Direct thread 1/2-28
REDUCTION TO: 108 dB
LENGTH: 5.37 in.
WEIGHT: 6.3 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.06 in.
MATERIALS: Titanium tube; aluminum rear cap; 17-4 stainless steel mount, baffles and front cap
RATED: Full auto (.22 LR only)
Like it’s big brother, the SOS-22 is a tubeless, modular design that’s made to be inexpensive—and, at $200, Rebel Silencers has succeeded. The SOS-22 consists of three baffles, each of which is a separate, threaded section that screws onto the blast chamber (the serialized part), as well as a front cap.
The blast chamber plus one baffle is hearing-safe and adds only 3 inches in length to the firearm. The performance is enough for experienced suppressor owners, but the price is right for those just getting into suppressors.
CALIBER: .22 LR, .22 Mag, .17 HMR
MOUNT: 1/2×28 (removable thread insert)
REDUCTION TO: 110 dB
LENGTH: 3–8 in.
WEIGHT: 6 oz. (in 8-in. configuration)
DIAMETER: 1.125 in.
MATERIALS: 7075 aluminum, 17-4 stainless steel
FINISH: Matte black Cerakote
RATED: Semiauto; light bump fire
This was the first suppressor I ever fired—and I was hooked. On an S&W M&P22 SBR, and with subsonic ammo, it sounded like a stapler as the action cycled. When mounted on a .22 bolt-action, it’s so quiet that I can hear the firing pin spring, followed by a light thwack! as the bullet hits the paper target 50 yards downrange. It’s user-serviceable—this is important, considering that it’s for rimfire ammo, which is notoriously dirty.
Two half tubes serve as a sheath for a monolithic core, and the whole thing slides out of the tube, making it very simple to clean. Seven adaptors allow it to be used with a multitude of firearms (both rifles and handguns).
CALIBER: .22 (LR, WMR, MAG, HORNET), .17 (WSM, HMR), 5.7x28mm
MOUNT: Direct thread (1/2×28) and/or rimfire adaptors ($42)
REDUCTION TO: 109 dB
LENGTH: 5.08 in.
WEIGHT: 6.5 oz.
DIAMETER: 1.06 in.
MATERIALS: Stainless steel
FINISH: Black oxide
RATED: Full auto (.22 LR only)
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.