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The Real Scoop on Sound Suppression

The Real Scoop on Sound Suppression

Thanks to Hollywood, gun mufflers, sound suppressors or “silencers”—one and the same—are viewed in a negative context by many non-shooters. But the truth is that noise suppressors are used daily—as they have been for more than a century—to enhance safety, ease instruction and improve accuracy for shooters of all demographics.

How Do They Work?
The first thing you need to understand is that when a cartridge is fired, there is no gunpowder “explosion” in the way that some may think. Smokeless gunpowder does not explode, it just burns very fast. The primer ignites when struck by the firing pin, and the powder is ignited by the primer. As it burns, it forms a very high-pressure gas, forcing the bullet down and out the barrel followed by all the residual hot gas. The loud “boom” you hear is the expulsion of gasses happening all at once, with little or no restriction.

To put the function of a sound suppressor it in its simplest terms, the suppressor works by slowing, redirecting and cooling the hot gasses created when the cartridge is fired. We can get into all kinds of scientific terminology, but that is the general function. If we relate it to something we are all familiar with, it will be easier to understand. Think of a balloon. If you release the gas very fast by use of a pin, it will make a “boom.” If you untie the knot and let go, the high-pressure gas inside will bleed out a little slower through the sputtering neck, making much less noise. If you hold the end when untied and slowly let the air out by using pressure of your fingers to control the flow, it will make very little noise, if any. A modern suppressor would fit roughly between the last two examples.

Many modern suppressors use a baffle stack after the expansion chamber and before the end cap where the projectile exits. Current baffle shapes, types, materials and construction methods are sometimes closely guarded company secrets but two common styles encountered are “K” baffles and “M” baffles, named after the letter they most resemble if they were cross cut and viewed from the side.

To get an idea of how well a quality suppressor works, you can compare it to an automobile muffler. If you hear a dragster or stock car running on open headers with no muffler of any kind it will be very loud. It may damage your long-term hearing. That is the case with many unsuppressed firearms. If you listen to an automobile with a proper exhaust system, it will not be “silent” but will certainly not hurt your ears. That is a reasonable general comparison.

Another factor in firearm noise is that many projectiles travel at speeds above the speed of sound. The speed of sound is about 1,115 fps (at 32 degrees F at sea level). Elevation and temperature will affect that number. Anything breaking the speed of sound will produce an audible “crack,” and it is unrelated to the expulsion of gasses when related to shooting. Because of this sonic crack, it is unlikely a gunshot could go undetected, even with the best suppressor on the market. Subsonic ammunition can be used to alleviate some of the residual noise, but it is tough to meet the expectations created by the movie industry.

Positive Suppressor Use
Sound suppressors have some very beneficial uses, starting with training new and nervous shooters. The noise of firing a gun by those new to the sport is often associated with pain and recoil. The noise actually has little to do with either but perception can be powerful, especially when trying something for the first time. For that reason I have found great success in using suppressed firearms in training new shooters. Their enhanced comfort level allows them to concentrate on the fundamentals instead of developing bad habits, like a flinch they will fight to get rid of later.

Another benefit is avoiding scaring or bothering adjoining property owners. To many of us, the sound of gunfire from recreational shooting is as American as apple pie. Others, who may not have grown up in a rural paradise, find it bothersome and nerve-racking—maybe even to the point of unnecessarily involving law enforcement. Using sound suppressors allows you to go about your training, plinking, competing, hunting, etc., without broadcasting your activities over a wide area for miles around.

Using a suppressor is just being polite. If you are going to build a race track on your land because you are an off-road enthusiast and want to practice much more often than most people, you will seldom bother those in the surrounding area due to the muffler on your vehicles. If you have a shooting range on your property and desire to shoot whenever you can, a sound suppressor can allow you to shoot as much as you like and keep good relations with the neighbors. In some of the few European countries where firearm ownership is allowed it is considered rude to not have a “muffler” on a firearm, and they are sold unrestricted and over the counter. When Americans tell them suppressors are treated like “spy gear” in the United States and most people don’t use them they often ask if we drive our automobiles with no mufflers either, bothering everyone we encounter.

undefinedThere is also the benefit of enhanced accuracy. Through the last few decades of being involved in testing and evaluation I have found that a quality suppressor attached to your firearm can have positive benefits in decreasing group sizes. As with any muzzle device it changes barrel harmonics and, more often than not, makes group sizes smaller.

As someone who has been responsible for overseeing many large, live-fire events I can say with certainty that a hot firing line full of suppressed firearms is a safer environment. When you can communicate without yelling through someone’s hearing protection and over the loud sound signature it is much easier to call a “Cease Fire” if an unsafe condition or concern may come into play. When you are all able to communicate using a normal voice and have no ear plugs on, communication potential is far easier.

There are also health reasons to use a suppressor. How many old shooters do you know who use the words “WHAT?” or “HUH?” several times during a conversation? This isn’t a coincidence; it is a result of long-term hearing loss. In most industries, safety monitoring organizations mandate the use of hearing protection in noisy environments such as construction sites, mills, assembly lines and automotive garages. Sound suppressors not only bring sound below the threshold of pain, they bring it below the threshold of damage. Even though most people wear hearing protection at the range, most do not while hunting and will suffer hearing damage at some point in their lives.

How Do I Purchase One?
Along with intentional, and politically motivated, distortions about the use of sound suppressors, there is an enormous amount of bad information in circulation regarding their legalities. Under Federal law they are perfectly legal. They are purchased by a lawful owner or dealer in National Firearms Act firearms and, if you live in a state that allows their possession and use, it is a simple and straightforward process that will test your patience more than it will affect your wallet. (Since we are only discussing Federal law, please research the laws in your state for specifics.)

A good comparison to use in the process of buying and owning any NFA firearm, sound suppressor included, is the purchase of an automobile. When you buy a new car or truck you fill out a title application that is submitted, and a new title is generated reflecting you as the lawful owner. There is a one-time title fee and it is never due again (unless you sell the item and the new owner pays to have the title changed to his or her name.)

There is no “Federal Silencer License” or “Annual Silencer Permit” but only this single-time transfer of title to you. The title fee (transfer fee) is $200. The price of the suppressor itself can vary from $150 to $2,000 depending on the caliber, materials and manufacturer. There are sound suppressors for every budget.

The application for purchase of a sound suppressor is referred to in the firearm industry as a “Form 4.” This form has information about the current owner and the device you are purchasing, among other things. It must be signed by your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) stating that you are breaking no state or local law by taking possession of the device you are buying, and it is accompanied by a few fingerprint cards and a check to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE) in the amount of $200.

The FBI will check your fingerprints to make sure you are eligible to own the device, the BATFE will research the device making sure it is legal and you are buying something acceptable for you to own. Upon completion the new title will be issued in your name, and the suppressor belongs to you. There are no unannounced 4 a.m. visits by federal agents demanding to see it, and no further paperwork to complete. It is just a title and nothing else.

Also, thanks to standardized threading and/or different adapters, one suppressor may be moved from one firearm to another within the owner’s possession. Depending on the model and the manufacturer’s recommendations, suppressors may also be used on a gun chambered in a different, smaller caliber.

So there you have it, far from their infamous Hollywood image. Once you sort through the misinformation out there, sound suppressors can be a real asset to responsible shooting and are actually reasonably economical to own given their advantages.


Source; http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2015/6/9/the-real-scoop-on-sound-suppression/

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Naples Gun School - 5 stars Mathew Hayes

Dave is extremely thorough & helpful with gun laws & Safety. A must for anyone before putting a weapon in your hands. I have not handled a weapon in a few years and Dave made me feel very comfortable with his extensive knowledge,support & patience. I would definitely recommend this class. Thanks Dave & Ginny For A Great Day! Carmine D’Ambra

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I am an attorney from New York and currently residing in Florida. I have no experience with guns and never thought of owning one. Nevertheless, I wanted to understand gun culture and gun issues in Florida especially now that I am a permanent Florida resident. David Rich's class was extremely informative and David clearly demonstrated not only his knowledge of guns and gun safety but more importantly for me, he provided the legal framework and ramifications and responsibilities of gun use and ownership. Overall, the class was thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyable. Dean Fong

  Nahun YCaridad Flores recommends Naples Gun Shop & School. I attended class last Saturday. It was a wonderful experience. I definitely recommend.

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class. Made the class interesting. Instructor was extremely helpful and made my wife and I very comfortable. Antonio Santos

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Love this place. Dave treated me like a V.I.P. He's a cool guy. He takes time teaching you throughout the course. This is the place to buy firearms, supplies and for class. A++++ Anthony Rojas

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class!! There was a lot more hands on instruction than the class that I had in Tennessee. David was knowledgeable and entertaining. Good insights on Florida law. My wife will be taking the class shortly. Thanks David. Kevin 9/15/2018

  I thoroughly enjoyed the concealed weapons class on 8/11/18. The class went beyond my expectations. Dave you are an awesome instructor and made the class fun. I would highly recommend Naples Gun Shopping and School! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! - Teresa Cannon

David is an excellent instructor. The class is excellent and exceeded my expectations with information on the laws of Florida, and as well to carry properly, load the weapons as well as placement of holding weapons. If your looking to buy a weapon he is the man to go to. I personally bought my firearm from. - Carlos Casiano

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Martha Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  This was a very good class. I did not have to take it, as I am a Veteran, however it is a good idea. I learned a lot about Florida Law I did not know. It will in the long run help keep you out of trouble. David was very patient with my wife when we live fired, because she has arthritis and had a hard time pulling the trigger in double action mode. Good Job David thanks so much..Joseph Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  The class was engaging and as fast paced as it can be. The instructor was knowledgeable and worked well with a class spanning all the levels of experience and age you can imagine. I also felt it was fairly priced, especially as you just had to bring yourself and an ID - all other supplies were, er, supplied.Cliff Elam 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Naples Gun Shop & School gets an A+ in my book! David and Ginny were great. I took the CWP class today 7/21/18. Both are extremely knowledgeable and easy to talk to. David is one of the best instructors that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I highly recommend Naples Gun Shop & School. Best prices, Great training, and easy to deal with. I will definitely be returning to do further business. Thank you David & Ginny....see you soon!Nicholas Lupo

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  I've been a repeat customer for FFL transfers with Naples Gun School for quite some time. Dave's customer service and knowledge are second to none. After speaking with Dave for a few moments, you start to feel as if you have known him for quite a while. I look forward to continuing my business when the new location opens. - Robert Boyette

I really enjoyed the class yesterday, and it was very nice to meet David and Ginny. David is very knowledgeable, helpful, and best of all: has a sense of humor. I was more nervous than I thought I would be because this was the first time in my life that I've ever shot a semi-automatic weapon. David lives and breathes this stuff and his presence and ease with weapons was very calming for me when I was at the range. Ginny was also very supportive throughout the whole class. Thank you guys so much! It's a pleasure and I will be back to purchase supplies from you! - Shenandoah Webb

Naples Gun School - 5 starsTook the 3/31/18 class and loved it! Dave was very informative and his laid back teaching style made the 4 hour class fly by. Would recommend this class to anyone interested in a CWP. Thanks Dave and Ginny! - Kelly Gardner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I’d like to thank The Naples Gun School for the time and effort they took in order to help me become a more responsible hand gun owner. By taking your CCWP class on 3.31.2018, I’m honestly a better person today than I was yesterday. Your course is not only interesting, but informative as well. The time we had together flew by. Throughout the whole process, they were calm and patient with every student. Especially after everyone seemed to drop their cartridges on the floor during the revolver training portion of the program. I highly recommend Naples Gun School to anyone that’s interested in becoming a CCWP holder. And I definitely will use their services by purchasing all my gun needs through their establishment. David & Ginny, thank you so much. I had a wonderful time!Chris Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars This class kept me very interested, informed and didn’t even realize 4 hours went by! Would recommend everyone to take this class! - Douglas Shaffer

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