Why You Should Get A Suppressor for Survival: How To – Firearms News


A suppressor may be another essential piece of equipment to have handy should societal conditions turn for the worse. 

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Like you, I’ve run through the worst case scenario over and over in my mind. If you’re serious about your family’s as well as your own personal safety, you can’t help but imagine what would happen “if”. Preparing for survival inevitably includes an acquisition of firearms and ammunition because self-protection/defense will be paramount. But let’s go a step further. A suppressor may be another essential piece of equipment to have handy should societal conditions turn for the worse. Whether you use the term suppressor or silencer, you’re saying the same thing and we won’t debate those terms here. Just know the terms will be used interchangeably. A suppressor is a device that is attached to the muzzle of a firearm that allows the hot gases and energy that results from the discharge of a cartridge, to enter and cool before being released into the atmosphere. In a well-made suppressor, this delay allows the gases to cool enough to significantly decrease the report of the fired round. When a round is fired, there are basically two types of sounds or noises which occur:

A good suppressor can help by shielding your exact position after a shot is fired, allowing you to stay hidden.
  1. The sonic crack of the projectile as it breaks the sound barrier. This sound occurs throughout the flight path until the projectile stops or falls under the supersonic barrier or goes subsonic. If you were 500 yards downrange and a bullet passed by, you’d hear a “crack” as it passed. The same would be true at any yardage until the bullet goes subsonic or impacts something.
  2. The loud explosion or report of the round actually being fired. This noise results from the ultra-hot gases expanding and making contact with cooler ambient air. It’s all energy that has to go somewhere. It’s not the sound of the primer igniting the powder, contrary to what many believe.   

Noises of these sorts have many negative implications for shooters and ones that may be even more impactful for the survivalist. These resultant noises can give away one’s position, making you susceptible to return fire or being tracked, scare off potential game when hunting for that necessary protein, and of course permanently damage precious hearing that is necessary for being effective in the field. Your senses need to be at their peak at all times and good hearing is too often overlooked. It is, after all, one of the best early warning systems available. A suppressor can help negate some of these issues.

How Will A Suppressor Help You?

Concussion and blast from a rifle, especially one with a short barrel and brake, can kick up debris and rattle the teeth of your teammates. Note the effect a suppressor has on muzzle blast. Flame and concussion are eliminated and communication is much easier.

The greatest benefit a suppressor will provide is helping to preserve your hearing. Remember, each time you experience noises above the hearing safe level of 140 dB (decibel), you experience permanent hearing loss. Actually, it can happen at 95 dB of continuous exposure. The average gun report is 165 dB which is well above the hearing safe level. Keep in mind that noise levels aren’t linear. 165 dB is not simply 20 dB louder than 140 dB; it’s actually more than four-times louder than 140 dB. A proper sound suppressor will decrease noise levels to under 140 dB. A good suppressor will bring those levels down to the 135 dB range or lower on center-fire rifle cartridges, such as .223 Rem and .308 Win. This will help preserve your hearing as long as you don’t engage in long exposure-sessions of noises at even these 
decreased levels.


A good suppressor will also help shield your exact position. Years ago Surefire, a maker of high-quality suppressors, brought to light what they call Total Signature Reduction (TSR). Part of this is the suppressor affecting sound waves in a manner such that if you’re downrange, you can’t pinpoint exactly where it is originating from. Game would only hear a crack (maybe) but not know what direction it came from. With an unsuppressed weapon, it’s simpler to triangulate its origin. For the survivalist, it’s easy to imagine how helpful masking your position would be.

Testing your firearm/suppressor combination is paramount. Note the point of impact shift here with different suppressors on the same firearm.

Another benefit of suppressors is the decrease in concussion. While noise levels are decreased; so too is the concussive wave that can result from gunfire. Concussion is exacerbated when using muzzle devices because pressure waves that were once only exiting forward from the muzzle are now being released at the sides and even above the shooter. Because of this, we must consider the environment from which you may be shooting. For example, firing a rifle while standing will be far less concussive even with a muzzle brake attached than firing from an urban prone position around cover. The resultant pressure waves travel through the ground, other obstacles and into the shooter’s ears via the bones. Even with effective hearing protection which is doubled-up (muffs and plugs), these concussive waves travel through the bones around your ears and cause damage. Needless to say, with a suppressor attached this concussion is removed and the shooting experience is far less taxing to the shooter and bystanders. Assuming you’ll have other like-minded companions with you, they’ll benefit from the suppression as well. Engagements by multiple people, all using suppressors will allow more effective verbal communication outside of the obvious benefit of multiple people not losing their eardrums. Being able to communicate with others, without yelling, also helps to reduce stress.

Where Should You Start?

Once you commit to going the route of suppression, specific steps must be completed to legally acquire one. The process, although detailed, is not difficult. Think of it more as a challenge that will gauge how serious you are, as opposed to a barrier to acquire. There is paperwork to complete and wait times to be endured, but remember this: six months is going to pass regardless. You could be picking up your suppressors after that time passes, or you could still be complaining about said wait time. By doing the latter you’ll still be no closer to ever owning such an effective tool. If you want to make it easy, companies like Silencer Central will take care of the entire process for you and provide a free trust with a suppressor purchase. 

The Abbreviated Process Is As Follows:

After successful completion of Form 4 and fingerprint- ing, the paperwork is returned with an affixed tax stamp. Some companies like Silencer Central take care of the entire process for you.

First, check your state and local laws regarding suppressors to be sure you can legally own them. Second, do some research and decide on a suppressor that you feel is right for you (see the accompanying suppressor selection guide for a little assistance). Better yet, if you can test-drive some cans before you buy, that would be ideal. You can then order your suppressor online or from a local shop. Keep in mind that if you order online, you’ll need a local shop with a Class 3 
license that can accept the suppressor before it can be transferred to you. Most dealers require 100% of purchase price upfront. If you are found to be ineligible to own a suppressor you will be out that money, so do your research ahead of time. After you decide on a suppressor you then complete the appropriate Form 4 paperwork which includes a fingerprint card, and a $200 check for the tax stamp that makes you a legal owner of the suppressor. Send it off to the ATF and hurry up and wait. Wait times can vary from 90 days to seemingly 90 years, which is actually 6 to 9 months. Once your paperwork is approved it will be sent to your dealer and you can then go pick up your suppressor. You’ll need to fill out a 4473 just like you would with any other firearm.

Next Steps

After your elation wears off and you’ve sent pictures of your suppressor to your friends you’ll want to mount it to the appropriate host weapon. This is crucial to making sure your weapon and suppressor combination performs well together. If you’ve purchased a suppressor with a quick mounting/muzzle brake type of attachment system, you’ll want to make sure that component is properly installed on your firearm. This applies mainly to rifle suppressors. If that attachment point is a muzzle brake with ports you’ll need to ensure the brake is appropriately “timed”. This means making sure the brake is oriented correctly and that the ports are lined up vertically and horizontally as recommended by the manufacturer. Note: this is only crucial if you plan to shoot without the suppressor attached. Timing of the brake is not necessary with the suppressor attached, although it is advised so that mistakes are avoided.

If you’ve chosen a direct-thread type of attachment, you can simply remove the muzzle device from the weapon and thread the suppressor on assuming you have the appropriate thread pitch on both. Test firing your suppressed weapon is paramount. You’ll want to verify proper functioning with the suppressor attached. This is most crucial if your host weapon is a semi-automatic, whether rifle or pistol. The most common semi-automatic rifle is the AR15 platform and depending on the brand you have, its function can be negatively affected by the addition of a silencer. Bolt speeds increase due to increased back pressure of the suppressor, so properly verify function. Pistols of Browning-style design will often need a piston attached to the suppressor for proper functioning. This piston may be included with your suppressor. The piston simply allows a momentary release of the suppressor from the barrel so that the tilting/unlocking barrel design can work as it should. Again verify proper function.

Browning-type pistols (left) require a piston inside the suppressor for proper function. A look at a direct thread suppressor (Top). These take a bit more time to install and remove and require concentric muzzle threads. Direct thread mounting is by far the simplest, just be sure you know the thread pitch of your barrel.

Once functioning has been verified you’ll also want to note any change in point of impact that results from the suppressor being attached to your host weapon. This can vary from no appreciable change to several inches. This point of impact shift is especially important to note in your rifle/carbine because of the extended 
distances they are capable of. An inch shift in any direction at 100 yards is 4 inches at 400 yards. You can then re-zero your weapon with the suppressor attached, or note the windage and elevation adjustments necessary when the suppressor is attached or removed. This is why I like direct thread suppressors. I attach them, zero the weapon, and leave it on. It only comes off if absolutely necessary and yes, you can clean your weapon with the suppressor attached. Be sure to consult your user’s manual for more detailed information.

Some suppressors will mount to, or over, a properly timed muzzle device.

You’ll also want to test the repeatability of the Point of Impact (POI) shift. This simply means shooting groups with and without the suppressor attached to make sure any changes are consistent. Shoot a group without the suppressor, then shoot with the suppressor and repeat the process, noting anything significant. After this, you should be ready to go. Keep in mind that you may see improved accuracy in the form of decreased group sizes as well as increased velocities after attaching a suppressor. This is why a good suppressor/weapon combo is paramount. While this may seem like a lot of information, it’s really not difficult to do. In fact, adding suppression makes the defensive/firearms portion of any preparation more insightful and fulfilling. Once you shoot suppressed and experience the benefits that can come, you’ll be likely to never return to, if not completely loathe unsuppressed shooting. The benefits are many and the impact on the shooter and his or her capabilities can be significant. If we are assuming worst case scenarios, the best case would be to have access to weapons which allow you to remain less detectable to anyone, or anything, that could cause you harm, while also being less damaging and disorienting to your senses. Thus suppressors are a good part of any preparedness plan.

This article was originally published in Be Ready! magazine, and an original copy can be found at OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at [email protected].

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