John Titsworth, Jr., owner of Silencer Research, LLC www.silencerresearch.com
Brandon L. Maddox owner of North & South Dakota Silencer, www.DakotaSilencer.com
As a varmint hunter, have you ever wondered about the benefits of hunting with a suppressed rifle? Silencers are legal for private ownership in the following 39 states: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MD, MO, MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY. Additionally, they may be owned by Class 3 dealers and Class 2 manufacturers (but not individuals) in CA, IA, MA, and MI. Check with your local Game and Fish office to see if hunting with a silencer is legal in your state. The first, and most obvious, benefit of hunting varmints with a silenced rifle is sound reduction – this protects your ears and reduces noise that alerts your prey. No more need for hearing protection in the field.
Anyone who has hunted prairie dogs knows how disappointing it can be after a few rounds are fired – the prairie dogs go back into their holes and your hunting is over. Similar benefit can be seen for hunting other varmints such as rabbits, coyotes, woodchucks, and squirrels. Don’t be deceived by what you see in the movies – silencers shooting nonsubsonic ammo in a higher caliber centerfire rifle will always produce a “ballistic crack” when the bullet is discharged. To give you a point of reference, basic earplugs purchased at your local hardware store are rated to reduce noise level by 29 decibels. Most quality 5.56/.223 silencers will reduce the sound by approximately 30 decibels, according to tests done by Silencer Research LLC. The overall sound of a .223 unsuppressed rifle is approximately 165 decibels and the suppressed rifle will have an approximate 135 decibel rating, a reduction of 30 decibels. At this level, no hearing protection is required. The generally accepted OSHA threshold for pain is 140 decibels of impulse noise. With a silencer, no hearing protection is needed in the field, making your varmint hunting an overall more enjoyable experience.
Another benefit of a silencer is reduced felt recoil. Almost every silencer manufacturer will reference tighter bullet groups when the gun is suppressed. Tighter bullet groups result in part from the fact that adding a silencer changes the barrel harmonics. A further benefit is reduced recoil of up to 50 percent. A suppressor works in a similar manner to a muzzle brake and will noticeably reduce rifle recoil. Another benefit of owning a silencer is that you can have several guns threaded to accept the silencer, as long as they are of like caliber.
For example, a .223/5.56 silencer also can be used on a .22-250 or a .221 Fireball. How does a silencer work? Simply put, it’s a tube with internal mechanisms called baffles. The baffles reduce the muzzle blast by slowing down and trapping the powder gases. The silencer captures the gases and slows their release, absorbing a great deal of heat in the process. Just a warning about how hot a suppressor can get! It is estimated that a silencer’s temperature increases about seven degrees per round fired. After twenty rounds the temperature will approach 350 degrees or higher. There are quick-release devices on the market but we personally don’t favor them because you would need a quick-release adapter for each gun you plan to use the silencer on and that’s not very cost effective.
A tightly threaded silencer is all you really need. Convinced that you need a silencer for your favorite varmint hunting rifle? How do you decide which one is best for you? Do a little research on the Internet by visiting www.silencerresearch. com and see the actual tests done on many different silencers. Thirteen different silencers were tested in the 5.56/.223 category on several different rifle types and the results are available in great detail for each silencer, including video footage of the actual testing. Size, weight, price, and effectiveness were all considered and reviewed in these silencer tests. Key things to consider when making a silencer purchase decision: overall sound reduction, diameter of the silencer, overall length added to the end of the barrel, weight of the silencer, and total cost. Weight of the silencer may not be a factor if you are shooting from a benchrest. You will find most silencers work well and generally will allow you to shoot without hearing protection. For a first-time buyer, we like HTG’s ARIS-4, Liberty Suppressor’s Torch, and Coastal Guns XDS. Most silencers have some sort of warranty. Also consider the light weight and smaller size of titanium silencers.
We like Quicksilver Manufacturing, Gemtech, and Liberty suppressors in their titanium models. All of these manufacturers have great Web sites, so check them out. Be prepared — titanium models generally will cost more than stainless steel versions but the light weight will quickly win you over. The entire process of obtaining a silencer for your varmint rifle can take several months, so be patient. Consider getting your rifle barrel threaded while you wait for your paperwork to clear ATF. We recommend sending your barrel directly to the silencer manufacturer to ensure it is 100 percent correct and to keep from voiding your warranty.
If you plan to have the barrel threaded locally, make sure you use a competent machinist who can read and follow a barrel threading print. Get several guns threaded so you can use your new suppressor on like caliber guns. We hope you have found this information helpful. This only touches on the basics but will give you a foundation to build on. Please check with your local Class III dealer on any laws specific to your state or local area. Enjoy your new silencer on your varmint hunting rifle.
John of Silencer Research LLC can be reached at www.silencerresearch.com. Brandon of Dakota Silencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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