WHAT’S ALL THE NOISE ABOUT SILENCERS?
Why Gun Owners Should Consider Getting a Firearm Suppressor
A firearm suppressor, or silencer, is more than just an accessory, it’s an enhancement that benefits the shooter. After shooting unsuppressed guns for years, I got the chance to test out a suppressor and the reduction in sound and recoil was remarkably distinct.
I’ll admit, prior to shooting a suppressed firearm I was under the Hollywood-influenced impression that each shot would sound like a dainty pew pew. Since I wasn’t shooting subsonic ammunition at the time, I learned that this was not the case yet it nevertheless made me a suppressor convert.
Silencers have the ability to lower the sound of a firearm by 20-40 decibels, and since a gunshot can range anywhere from 140-190 decibels, you are doing your ears a major service by preventing irreparable hearing damage. It’s also good for your neighboring shooters. When all the lanes at your range are occupied and everyone around you is firing off unsuppressed round after unsuppressed round, being the one who dials down the volume may as well make you a hero.
The recoil-reducing properties are more than a godsend, especially to a petite individual such as myself. I’ve left a range with a sore hand and shoulder many a time so I can sufficiently say that the muzzle brake-effect silencers have makes an afternoon much more enjoyable and comfortable
Hunters can also benefit from silencers (as long as it’s legal in your state) by not annoying adjacent landowners with gunshots come deer season. Additionally, hunters can protect their hearing without having to fumble for ear protection when a gorgeous 12-point buck wanders into their sights. Everyone’s a winner here! Well, everyone except Bambi.
Another added benefit that applies to all firearm enthusiasts and hunters is the modern silencer’s ability to improve accuracy. Because suppressors remove the uncontrolled gases that are expelled from the muzzle, thereby reducing recoil and muzzle climb, the impact on the bullet’s travel is reduced.
Now, before you go rushing off to a dealer to get a silencer of your own, there are a few things you need to bear in mind:
Be 21+ years old
Be a U.S. Resident
Be legally able to purchase and own a firearm
Pay a $200 transfer tax* (per suppressor) to the ATF
Live in a state that allows private citizens to own suppressors (Sorry, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Illinois, and Hawaii)
If you’re qualified, you will then need to fill out a Form 4 (provided by FFL) and give your fingerprints and a photo of yourself. You will need to send a copy of these materials to your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO). Once the FFL has sent your documentation to the ATF, sit back, and wait nine to ten months. Much like waiting for a baby to arrive, same goes for your silencer. For some foresight, consider purchasing a multi-caliber suppressor so you don’t have to repeat this process several times.
Something also to bear in mind is putting your suppressor in a trust which allows you to share with friends or relatives without them having to pay the $200 tax stamp.
You may wonder why you have to jump through all these hoops to get a suppressor, well, you can thank the National Firearms Act. Since 1934, silencers had to be registered within the Secretary of Treasury since they fell under the list of items subjected to the Act in an effort to reduce gun violence during the era.
The Hearing Protection Act, however, is working to remove suppressors from the NFA list so that law-abiding gun owners don’t have to pay the $200 tax or have to wait close to a year to receive it. Unfortunately, this bill has been shelved since the Las Vegas shooting incident in October 2017 and has yet to resurface in the House of Representatives and Senate. Until then, pack the foam earplugs in tight, cough up $200, and wait.
*Be sure to keep the tax stamp on you and a copy of the trust form (if applicable) with you when out using the suppressor. If stopped by an officer and you can’t provide paperwork for a silencer, this can hit you with a third-degree felony in some states.