What is a Suppressor?

What is a Suppressor?

You may have seen suppressors (or silencers) used more often than not on various television programs or anywhere. What you probably didn’t know was that these devices don’t exactly silence gunfire. To help you understand what we’re talking about, let’s wind the clock back a bit.

History Of The Suppressor

The suppressor was invented in 1908 by Hiram Percy Maxim (September 2, 1869 – February 17, 1936), who was an American radio pioneer and inventor. It was initially referred to as ‘Maxim Silencer’ in Hiram’s patent and marketing materials and became a phenomenon for firearms everywhere due to the advantages that it provided for the latter. Because of this, the word Silencer garnered public notice and was then used as the legal definition for state and federal regulations, as well as on all ATF forms.

In truth, however, no ‘silencer’ was completely silent because they can only reduce or ‘suppress’ the sounds of gunfire. This is exactly why a more accurate term for this device is suppressor rather than silencer.

Suppressors are legal to own, but only in a handful of states. And in those states, hunting is also allowed, but you would be hard-pressed to realize that in the state’s game regulations. That’s quite a shame because silencers are great accessories for firearms, whether they’re used for hunting, competition or target practice.


The way a suppressor works is that it diminishes the report of a discharged round, or make it sound unrecognizable. Other than that, the rest of the sounds from firearms remain the same. In fact, subsonic bullets make distinct sounds by their passage through the air and striking targets, and supersonic bullets produce a tiny sonic boom, which results in a ‘ballistic crack.’ Fully automatic and semi-automatic firearms also make distinct noises as their actions cycle, like ejecting the fired cartridge case and loading a new round.

Being reducing the actual volumes, suppressors also alter the sound to something that isn’t like a regular gunshot. As a result, this reduces or eliminates possible attention that could be drawn to the shooter. Perhaps a more believable way to describe this phenomenon is using a Finnish expression that was used back in the Winter War, which was ‘A silencer might not make a soldier quiet, but it does make him invisible.’ Suppressors are quite useful in enclosed spaces where the sounds, flashes and pressure effects of a firearm are usually amplified. Without such a benefit, the effects of a weapon being fired would disorient the shooter, which affects their situational awareness, accuracy, and concentration and can even permanently damage their hearing as well.

When a suppressor replaces the actual sound of a firearm with a ballistic crack, it can confuse observers or enemies of the shooter’s location, which is often 90 to 180 degrees from their actual location. However, this can backfire with the presence of counter-sniper tactics that include gunfire locators, like the U.S. Boomerang system, where sensitive microphones are attached to computers running algorithms and trace the origin of the shot from the ballistic shot.

Advantages Of Silencers

Suppressors have other advantages such as:

1.   Saves Your Ears

Suppressors do significantly reduce the noise of the firearm at the muzzle, but not to the point where it is genuinely safe for the ear. Therefore, wearing hearing protection is still advised, unless the firearm shoots subsonic ammo. But the softer blast is much safer for the shooter’s hearing as well as anyone else in the vicinity of their shooting. That is why for this reason, suppressors should be more widely considered.

2.   Improves Your Aim

Shooters typically flinch when using firearms because of the gun’s recoil and the shock of the muzzle blast. That’s why suppressors are used to reduce both those effects. The lesser kick from firearms, as well as the softer reported sound at the muzzle, makes shooting very user-friendly for new shooters and those who are used to flinching. Not only that, but experienced shooters will also see improvement in their mark

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