Education|Truth About Suppressors

The imagery of Agent 47 from the Hitman series twisting on his suppressor as he stands in the shadows stalking his next victim. Mentally, we know Agent 47 is about to do some work when he’s twisting that suppressor on. Or when Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series stealthy makes a kill peaking from the shadows with his suppressed pistol and slowly drags the terrorist back into the shadows. We have this mental connection about suppressors in our media. That adding of a suppressor to a firearm makes them silent and deadly. Ready to move on to the next bad guy, ready to kill from the shadows. That is a myth that is pervasive throughout media that suppressors “silence” a gunshot and it can’t be heard within the surrounding area. This is certainly a myth, which is pervasive in our media.

When it comes down to suppressors/silencers there is a lot of misinformation about them from movies, tv, and video games.  Our television and movies are filled with gun inaccuracies and myths that are completely inaccurate. Suppressors have fallen prey to those same inaccuracies. This article is here to dispel the inaccuracies about suppressors and give you a real rundown about suppressors beyond the myths that entertainment media sales us on. 

Top 5 Facts About Suppressors

1. Suppressors Reduce The Sound Signature of a Firearm.

Suppressors do not “silence” firearms. What suppressors do is reduce the sound of a shot being fired. When a shot is fired from a firearm propellant gases expand from a small chamber into the open air. The rapid pressure and temperature changes creates the characteristics of a loud blast you hear from a firearm. 

Suppressors reduce gunshot noise by giving gases a larger, contained space to dissipate and cool before exiting. Suppressors reduce felt recoil, increase accuracy, reduce muzzle flash, and reduce the sound of a gunshot.

The decibel level of an unsuppressed rifle is 165 bB. Which is louder than the sound of a fighter jet taking off, which is 150 dB. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets 140 dB as the threshold of pain. Repeated exposure to sounds less than 140 dB can inflict long-term hearing damage.

According to Silencer Co fact sheet on suppressors a rifle attached with a suppressors reduces the sound to 134 dB. So, you go from un-suppressed at 165 dB to 134 dB with a suppressor. Which gives you a reduction of 31dB with the inclusion of a suppressor. So, a suppressor took a sound louder than a fighter jet (150dB) and reduce it to a sound near a jackhammer (130dB). Yes, it is still loud but, it went from ear ringing loud to jackhammer loud with a suppressor. Also, under OSHA 140 dB that cause pain. Which is a sizable drop.

2. Suppressors Are Legal—Within Most States in the U.S. 

There are 42 states in where you can legally own a suppressor. You can hunt with a suppressor in 40 states throughout the U.S. The states that suppressors are illegal to own or use are California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Suppressors are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The regulations of suppressors falls under the jurisdiction of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The steps to obtain a suppressor: 

1. Be 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an authorized suppressor dealer.

2. Be 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer. (Dependent on state laws)

3. Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a beneficiary of a trust or as a member of a corporation. (Dependent on State Laws)

4. Be a resident of the United States.

5. Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm. (Which means you would need to be able pass a NICS background check) 

6. Pass a ATF background check with a typical process time of 8 to 10 months.

7. Pay $200 ATF Form 4 Tax Stamp

8. Reside in one of the 42 states that currently allows civilian ownership of suppressors.

Suppressors are a Federally regulated item and not easy to get. You definitely have to be in it to win it, if owning one is on your list. 

3. Suppressor Protect Your Hearing 

Suppressors can help prevent and reduce hearing damage of firearm enthusiasts. Noise-induced hearing lost can take place from repeated exposure to sounds of only 85 dB. Firearms, depending on caliber and other factors, can produce noise registering from 130-165 dB. Earplugs and muffs can reduce the sound by anywhere from 15 to 35 dB, which still leaves ardent shooting-sports enthusiasts vulnerable to progressive hearing loss, according to National Institute On Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Suppressors can add an additional sound reduction of 20-35 dB saving those earbuds from more potential damage.

4. The Silencer was designed in the early 20th Century

The Suppressor was designed by Hiram Percy Maxim back in 1902. The suppressor was designed alongside the car muffler by Maxim. Many of the design principles in the car muffler made it to the suppressor design. In 1909 Maxim patented the design and called it the “Maxim Silencer”. Recently, the firearms industry has moved away from calling them silencers and moved towards the suppressor terminology. I suspect this terminology change was to convey the true nature of a silencer. To reduce or suppress the sound of a gunshot not to remove it completely as silencer suggest.

5. Suppressors are Rarely Used in Crimes

Suppressors are rarely used in the commission of crimes. There are only 15 federal cases from 1995-2005 where a suppressor was used in a commission of a crime. Less than 0.1% of federal homicides and armed robberies where suppressors were used in the commission of those violent crimes. 


When it comes down to factual information about firearms or suppressor there is always a lot of misinformation or myths about them. Suppressors fall into that same trap. Many people would believe that suppressors “silence” gunshots. From this article today we learned is not true. Suppressors are used to reduce noise, improve accuracy, reduce muzzle flash, and protect our hearing. They are rarely used in crimes and take a long process to own. They are a great addition to any shooters toolbox.

What did you think about the article? Do you own a suppressor? Are you in the market for a suppressor? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thanks for Reading 

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