Growing up in the 80s and 90s, my TV was always on with the classic action movies of the time. We’re talking The Terminator and T2 (before the franchise turned to trash), Lethal Weapon 1-3, Commando, and Predator. The list goes on and on, and it’d be a lie to say those didn’t influence my passion for shooting.
Of all the accessories of the era, nothing was cooler than watching the hero spin a silencer onto their iron and do the work of saving the day. Integrally suppressed MP5? Superhero bonus points.
Of course, real-world applications aren’t usually as glamorous as the movies.
Operators use a suppressor not to be discreet but instead to not blow out their eardrums, clearing a room. Hunters need to be able to hear a twig branch, so they shoot without their ears on. A suppressor gets them a lot closer to a safe noise level instead of an unsuppressed high-power rifle.
Let’s find out the difference between a silencer and a suppressor, what they are well suited for, and what you need to own one.
What’s The Difference In A Silencer Vs. A Suppressor
Functionally, there is no difference because they are not different things. They are just different names.
Technically speaking, though, a silencer is not altogether honest or accurate. No suppressor can completely silence a gunshot; some can only close the shot to safe levels.
Does The Name Matter?
No, the name doesn’t really matter that much. Like the sound of ‘silencer?’ Go with it. Suppressor is what they mostly go by, but muffler is alright, too.
A History Of Silencers
The idea of toning down the volume of gunshots is not anything new. The NRA wrote an outstanding piece on the history of suppressors, so we’ll let them speak for themselves. But it should be said that developing machine guns and suppressors was a family affair; Hiram Percy Maxim built the first successful, commercially available silencer, and his dad built the first portable machine gun.
Unfortunately, despite the undeniable strengths of using a device to suppress the dangerous noise levels of all firearms, the Federal Government felt it necessary to regulate these devices under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The $200 tax stamp pretty much shut down any advances in the mechanics of suppressor technology. Yes, the tax stamp has stayed the same price since 1934. And yes, $200 represented a LOT more money in 1934 than it does now. Not that it is paltry now; $200 is $200.
But back then, $200 equals roughly $4,539.21, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. While this is not exact, it is probably pretty close. I don’t know about you, but I don't have that sort of cash to put toward paperwork. Even if I did, I wouldn’t want to.
Where Does the Term Come From?
The name silencer was just a sales tactic. High-powered rifles are so notoriously loud that anything to reduce the sound levels could be considered a silencing function, so the name silencer more or less stuck.
Again, silencers, or suppressors as you want to call them, have gone for decades with no considerable design changes.
They still more or less resemble an aluminum or steel can, and if you were to cut one open, you would find it full of baffles to reduce muzzle flash and reduce the sound of the report.
But mostly, it was a sales tactic. Silencer has a better ring to it than a suppressor because it brings to mind that you were actually silencing the sound, which you are not.
Really, the best that you can hope for is to take it down to safe hearing levels to where you don’t need to wear your protection all the time. In tactical situations, it gives a significant advantage to go safely without protection and hear your team members and leader.
Suppressor Legal Requirements
Firearm suppressors fall under the national firearms act of 1934. They are Class III weapons that require a $200 tax stamp to buy one legally.
Beyond the inconvenience of paying an extra $200 for an item that’s already costing you hundreds of dollars, call them, and you will spend months waiting on the ATF to process your request.
We don’t make the rules; that’s just how it is.
Most of you already know this, but it’s a separate tax stamp for every national firearms act item on your weapon, so if it’s a short-barrel rifle, that’s one tax stamp; if it’s fully automatic, that’s another tax stamp, and, of course, if you run a suppressor, that’s another tax stamp.
We aren’t here to tell you what to do with your money, but if we were to pick a single thing to get a tax stamp on, it would have to be a sound suppressor for your rifle or pistol, especially if you have an AR-15 pistol, which can be absolutely deafening.
We have determined that there is no technical difference between a silencer, a suppressor or a muffling device.
They are all just variations of the same thing: a battle device that seriously reduces the muzzle, flash, and report of a gunshot.
Fortunately, there are sound suppressors for all sizes of firearms, and some are much more effective than others. Pistol calibers are much easier to make substantially quieter than high-powered rifle calibers, which is mostly to do with subsonic versus supersonic munitions.
A .22 Long Rifle suppressor is the closest thing you’re going to get to silent; these are extraordinarily quiet. Our rimfire options are great paired up with suppressors such as our pistol caliber carbines in 9mm Parabellum, 45 ACP, and 10mm.
Whatever you want to call it whether it’s a silencer or a suppressor, these devices are an excellent investment in your overall health. You only get one set of ears and need to save them and preserve your hearing.
Sound suppressors pair wonderfully with our entire line of rifles, especially a .300 Blackout with subsonic ammo paired up with a sound suppressor or a threaded barrel for your Glock to run a suppressor on your Glock pistol. And, of course, our classic 5.56 AR-15s are a natural fit for various suppressors.