Monday, January 19, 2015

Rifle Suppressor Thoughts

Rifle Suppressor Observations

Like many American’s, I have a Rifle Suppressor or as more commonly known, a Silencer. As this is a NFA controlled item, I did research before purchasing it. After purchasing it, and the following 9 month wait, I did some informal testing comparing it to the others I had available to me for comparison with aid of their owners.

·      Surefire FA556-212 (mine)
·      AAC M4-2000 Pre MOD08
·      YHM Phantom in 5.56

·      10.5” SBR’s
·      14.5” pinned uppers
·      16” uppers

Price:  These were based on MSRP cost but do not include the $200.00 NFA stamp and any NFA out of state transfer fees ($50-150).
·      Surefire: $1,300.00 plus $100 mount: $1,400.00
·      AAC: $800.00 included mount
·      YHM: $600.00 due to time, don’t remember if owner had to pay extra to get a mount, but YHM mount was about $50.00

            Suppressor mounts come into 2 main categories, with 3 subcategories.

o   Direct Thread
o   Quick Detach
§  Flash Hider
§  Muzzle Break
§  Hybrid – a little of both options.

I prefer to use flash hiders for my rifles. Some people do not have that option due to living in Communist states. For a 100% of the time suppressed rifle, a muzzle break is ideal. It allows the break to absorb the majority of the blast from your muzzle, instead of the suppressor. When you’ve made a $600-1300 investment plus the wait time for a suppressor, having something absorb the blast that you can replace for $50-100, is a nice option.

Another factor that I looked at in selecting a Surefire can, was the quality and selection of their mounts over the other options from AAC and YHM. I had seen a few YHM Phantom mounts “fracture” and open up in low round count guns. I already had a AAC Blackout non mounting flash hider and while it worked to hide flash, the ting was slightly annoying. Would the ting matter if your shooting? No. But it’s a little annoying thing. The Surefire mount I went with is a closed end flash hider. In use while waiting on the Tax Stamp approval, I shot the flash hider mount on 10.5” SBR a lot. I noticed the flash removal was on par to my eyes with the 14.5” blackout equipped upper I had. The surprising factor was how well the Surefire flash hider functioned to reduce recoil. I hate muzzle breaks on social guns for many reasons, primarily being blast. I noticed almost no blast from the Surefire flash hider while it controlled recoil extremely well.

As someone who has one suppressor but more than one gun to use it on, I went with the option that works for the “not always suppressed” role, a flash hider.

Sound Levels:

Each can is tested by the manufacture of said can and given a decibel rating. In the suppressor world, some manufacturers are open about test factors – environmental, weapons used on, ammunition types, decibel meter placement, etc. Some are not. Based on the information I found at the time, all the manufactures of the three suppressors where claiming sound levels within 6 or so decibel range.

For the purpose of my informal testing, I didn’t worry about the actual decilbe reading as I did not have a decibel meter available to me. What mattered, was the sound to the user and sound to those around me. For the testing we shot at night so that the other participants would not know the rifle/suppressor being shot. Yes, extensive safety measures were in place.

Based on this testing, when compared on similar barrel lengths using a magazine of the same type of ammunition, the shooter couldn’t tell the sound difference, nor could the people down range/next to the shooter. If there is a decibel difference, it was not noticeable.

Recently I tested side by side on 14.5” pinned guns my “old” Surefire can next to the new SOCOM series replacement for it. Again, no difference to the shooters in decibles.

POI/POA shift:

Each manufacture will tell you what their POI/POA shift is when putting the suppressor on the gun. At the time, Surefire was making the claim to having the least POI shift, but you had to pay attention to realize testing was being done on a Remington 700 bolt gun, not the AR-15 rifle everyone uses. With that I looked around online for information on various end user tests and found that Surefire seemed to have the least shift in POI.

Upon receiving the Surefire suppressor, I did test the shift. I don’t recall the initial test on a 10.5 SBR, but it was like 1” by 2” down and left. On a 14.5” gun it’s about 1.5” right.  During my informal testing, I noticed that there was more POI shift on the longer barrel guns – with both AAC and Surefire cans. More weight longer out on the barrel, surprise, will cause the barrel to flex more. A benefit to minimal POI shift is if you don’t have time to re zero your gun when you place the suppressor on it, a center mass shot is still very doable inside of a 5.56’s effective range of 400 yards.

New tech: OSS, SilencerCO Saker, Gemtech ONE.

I don’t have any hands on time as of yet with the various new takes and tech coming out now, but find them interesting. Time will tell if they work.


Looking for a rifle suppressor there are many options. When I bought mine, a lot less than today. I would still say look at the option of long term durability rating, muzzle device options and POI shift. Price is not relevant as you will buy it and not get to play with it or train with it for quite a while. Getting a can and being disappointed with it, not a good thing when you can’t take it back to swap out.

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