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How Does a Suppressor Work?

When you fire your rifle, an explosion of gunpowder pushes your projectile from your AR’s barrel. As the bullet exits the muzzle, extremely hot gasses are quickly pushed out into the atmosphere—the result of this gas expulsion is what you experience as muzzle blast. You can visualize a suppressor like you would a car muffler. It simply acts to capture and redirect these gasses, causing them to dissipate.  

As a result, the violent muzzle blast is reduced by a very significant amount. The reality of shooting with/without a suppressor is genuinely a night vs. day experience that has to be felt in person. It is not an exaggeration to say that you only have to shoot a single shot with a suppressed AR to know that it’s something you’ll want. Frankly, once we had the experience, we ensured each of our ARs had its own dedicated suppressor. They are that much of a game-changer.

Purchasing a Suppressor – Basic Criteria 

To purchase a suppressor, you must be a U.S. resident living in one of the many states that allow civilian ownership of suppressors, be at least 21 years old, and be legally eligible to purchase a firearm. Once you are ready to buy your suppressor, you will submit a few simple forms and information to the ATF, and your local chief law enforcement officer, although this varies depending upon your purchasing method.

The bottom line is that today, purchasing a suppressor has never been easier. The process is a lot easier than you might think, and you can obtain yours after passing a background check, registering your serialized suppressor along with your fingerprints, and paying a $200 “transfer fee,” commonly referred to as a “tax stamp,” because it’s issued as a stamp. After you get your stamp, it legalizes one particular silencer so that it can be used on any legal firearm you own. 

Buying a Suppressor for Multiple ARs – A Simple Tip for Your First Purchase

So, where should you start? If you’re like us, you have more than one AR in your collection; some likely chambered in .30 caliber, as well as 5.56. As such, you might consider purchasing a .30 caliber quick-detach suppressor so that you can use it on both .30 caliber ARs as well as your 5.56 guns. 

Imagine you have a .300 Blackout AR and another AR chambered in 5.56…provided each rifle shares a similar muzzle device, you can easily attach and re-attach your single .30 caliber suppressor to both rifles. Do keep in mind that the reverse is NOT true. Meaning, you cannot attach a 5.56 suppressor to a .30 caliber firearm without catastrophic results.  If you’re just starting out, this would be an approach well worth considering.  AR15Discounts carries a wide variety of .30 caliber quick-detach suppressor.

The Golden Age of Suppressors is Now

While the technology of suppressors is advancing quickly, the market is currently filled with outstanding designs that are worth your time and money. At AR15Discounts, we make it a point to stock a wide variety of high-quality suppressors. We’re also looking ahead and are committed to providing our customers the latest and greatest as they become available. Every year, new suppressors are developed, manufactured, and sold by a wide variety of companies, many of which are using materials such as aluminum, titanium, and ultra-durable Inconel.  

As time goes on, you can expect suppressors to become smaller, lighter, and even more durable. That’s not to say that today’s suppressors don’t already fit these criteria. If you’re in the market for a suppressor, now is a perfect time to buy, but with any firearms-related item, you must do your research up-front before purchasing a suppressor. It is a commitment and something you’ll want to get right the first time.

Why Use a Suppressor? – Protect Your Hearing

So, why should you buy a suppressor?  First things first…We’ve met more than a fair share of shooters who have destroyed their hearing and done permanent damage to themselves due to shooting without proper ear protection. Let’s be honest – it’s permanent hearing damage every time you shoot a gun without a suppressor or hearing protection. Using a suppressor on your AR is THE ideal way to protect your hearing.  

While it’s nice to assume that simply using earplugs or earmuffs is the solution, the reality is that, in many cases, it is far from ideal. Too many hunters refuse to wear hearing protection so that they can better hear the environment around them. Can you blame them? Being able to listen to the environment around you while on a hunt isn’t just a luxury; it can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful hunt. It can also be critical from a safety perspective. Imagine not being able to hear a human’s voice that’s just out of your line of sight because your ears are plugged. 

For reasons like this, studies have put the number of hunters who do not use ear protection at over 70 percent. The solution is simple – suppressors are THE ideal tool to help with noise control and hearing protection.  

On average, suppressors reduce the noise level of a shot by 20 – 35 dB. This sound reduction can be compared to what using over-the-ear hearing protection provides. By reducing the overall sound signature of your firearm, suppressors naturally help to save your hearing.  

Why Use a Suppressor? – Suppressors for Newer Shooters

Imagine if you were teaching someone to play golf, but the club produced a massive, concussive explosion every time your golf club struck the ball. How many participants would want to keep playing and learning about the sport? We’d wager that not many would stick around. 

If you’re teaching someone how to shoot, using a firearm with a suppressor attached is a total game-changer. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience, but it also helps improve accuracy. It does this by reducing flinching that can occur when a shooter begins anticipating and fearing loud noise and recoil. By eliminating the source of this flinching, you’ll find that accuracy can improve tremendously. Using a suppressor is an ideal way to introduce new shooters to firearms and ensure our passion for the 2nd Amendment lives on in future generations.

Addressing Common Myths about Suppressors

To the uninitiated, suppressors can seem a bit mysterious. Like many things that are glamorized or vilified in Hollywood or the media, many myths about these devices could use busting. Below are but a few of the most common myths we’ve heard about suppressors.

A Common Myth about Suppressors – They’re Like the Movies – It’s important to realize that suppressors are not “movie quiet.” Never forget that Hollywood is in the fantasy business. (That said, a suppressed .22 or a suppressed, subsonic .300 Blackout can be pretty darn close.) But as far as suppressing a standard 5.56 AR, we still prefer to wear earplugs even with the suppressor attached. You’ll get a loud, crisp “crack,” but not an explosive, skull-rattling, concussive “boom.”  

A Common Myth about Suppressors – They’re Illegal – Another big myth is that suppressors are illegal. This is not the case. Yes, you’ll need to jump through some hoops and have some patience, but the reward is well worth the effort you’ll expend. Do not let a bit of paperwork and time dissuade you from taking action and putting something on your AR that can change it in such a profound way.

A Common Myth about Suppressors – They Reduce Velocity  – Due to video games like Call of Duty and the Battlefield series, many new shooters are under the mistaken impression that suppressors reduce the bullet’s velocity and make the firearm less effective downrange. This is a false assumption.  

The game designers make it this way to penalize suppressor use for game-balance purposes so that it is not a win-win for the gamer who chooses to have a quiet weapon. If they didn’t somehow nerf the suppressor in-game, everyone would use them and sound design would be a tremendous challenge.

The reality is that in the real world, suppressors are not an either/or choice, and they do not diminish the velocity of your AR. You are not giving anything up by dampening noise and concussion. In fact, some would contend that they very slightly boost muzzle velocity as they work to extend the length of your barrel.  

Choosing a Suppressor – A Note on Attachment Methods

As you begin to research suppressors, you’ll notice that they can attach to your AR in different ways. Some are considered “direct thread” in that they screw directly onto your barrel, just like any other muzzle device. Others use a “quick detach” system. You’ll want to research which is the proper method for you.  

Personally, as explained earlier, we’ve had a great experience purchasing a single .30 caliber quick-detach suppressor, using it on our .300 Blackout home defense gun, but then purchasing extra mounts for other 5.56 ARs. This allows us to take one suppressor with us to the range, along with multiple rifles. 

Direct Thread Suppressors

That said, there are benefits to direct-thread suppressors. Because a direct-thread suppressor attaches to your barrel in a straightforward and “direct” way, they tend to be more accurate than quick detach suppressors, making the direct thread option preferred when precision counts. You can also expect that direct-thread suppressors will usually be lighter and less expensive.  

Why is a direct-thread suppressor lighter? The quick-detach mechanism is very slick and convenient, but by its very nature, it is going to add heft and weight. As with most things, there are tradeoffs. If you’re not going to be taking the suppressor on and off the gun, and weight is a big concern, then it would be worth your while to research further if a direct-thread suppressor is suitable for you.

Do keep in mind, though, that due to its direct threading, there is the possibility that the suppressor can “walk-off” or come detached from your rifle’s muzzle while you’re shooting. There’s no way around it…tightening a hot suppressor that has come loose is not fun. In our opinion, this concern would not stop us from purchasing a direct thread suppressor, and frankly, some of the best suppressors on the planet, such as those by Q LLC, are direct thread. 

So, what are some of the best direct thread suppressor options out there?

Griffin Armament GP5 5.56 Direct Thread Suppressor – 1/2×28

If you are looking for a durable, lightweight, and budget-friendly Direct Thread suppressor, you can’t go wrong with the Griffin Armament GP5 5.56 Suppressor. The GP5 is made completely out of 17-4 stainless steel, weighs a mere 12.5 oz, and is tig fusion welded. For under $500, you can’t find a much better suppressor, and like many suppressors in it’s class, the Griffin GP5 is full-auto rated.

Odin Works Baja 5.56 Direct Thread Suppressor

ODIN Works’ suppressors are great budget options for shooters looking to wade into the ocean of suppressors for the first time. The ODIN Works Baja 5.56 Suppressor is no exception. The BAJA features customized baffle stacks to maximize sound suppression while still keeping weight as minimal as possible. The ODIN BAJA is pre drilled, so that you can pin and weld it to a 12.5″ barrel to achieve an overall barrel length of 16″. Backed by ODIN Works’ limited lifetime warranty, you can be rest assured that this suppressor will last the lifetime of your rifle.

Gemtech Dagger II Direct Thread Rifle Suppressor – 5/8×24

Gemtech is world-renowned for the durability and effectiveness of their suppressors. The Gemtech Dagger II Suppressor is no exception. Boasting a full-titanium construction and high-temp cerakote finish, you can put this suppressor through the ringer of full-auto fire or any other adverse condition and be confident it will work superbly. The Dagger II boasts some of the best decibel reduction in its class of direct thread suppressors and should be at the top of any must-buy suppressor list.

Quick Detach Suppressors

When it comes to quick-detach suppressors, there are a few different methods by which it is achieved. Almost all will feature a proprietary quick-release collar on the rear of the suppressor and muzzle device that you attach to the end of your AR’s barrel.  

You’ll want to research to determine which suppressor and which quick-detach method best meets your needs. There are many proprietary locking mechanisms on the market, each claiming to be the best. Regardless of which you choose, the bottom line is that if you are a high-volume shooter or have several ARs and want to buy ONE suppressor, we’d recommend you look at the quick detach suppressors we carry. Keep in mind; you’ll also want to have extra muzzle devices for your other ARs that will act as hosts for the suppressor.

QD suppressors seem to be all the rage these days, and with so many options, how do you know which one you should choose?

Dead Air Sandman-S 7.62mm QD Suppressor

The Dead Air Sandman-S Suppressor is arguably the most popular suppressor on the market. If you are looking for a lightweight suppressor that you can swap between multiple rifles, look no further than the Sandman-S. The Sandman-S Suppressor offer a reduction of 31dB when firing 7.62 ammunition, making it the quietest 7.62 suppressor in the market, while also being rated rated for 5.56, .223, and many other calibers. If you are looking for a modular, lightweight, and most importantly, quiet suppressor, the Dead Air Sandman-S is for you.

SureFire SOCOM 2 Series MINI 5.56 Sound Suppressor

The SureFire SOCOM 2 Series MINI suppressor is a compact and lightweight suppressor best used for 14.5″ AR-15 builds. Featuring internal venting and an integrated blast shield, the SOCOM 2 Series Mini suppressor virtually eliminates the first-round flash, while reducing back pressure and mitigating gas blowback. This also allows there to be a minimal POI (point-of-impact) shift that other suppressors can suffer from.

Griffin Armament Optimus Modular QD Suppressor

The Griffin Armament Optimus Modular Suppressor is the perfect suppressor to use on multiple builds you might have going on at once. The Optimus Suppressor can be used on any caliber from 17HMR to 300 Win Mag. The Griffin Optimus features removable stacked baffles in order to be configured longer for rifles, such as an AR-10 or shorter to be used on a subsonic .300BLK. The Griffin Armament Optimus Suppressor can suppress anything you throw its way and should be on the short list of suppressors you must purchase!

Choosing a Suppressor – Why Customer Service Matters

Finally, as with any purchase, you need to research the company and the product you are considering. This can be particularly important with suppressors. Things happen with suppressors, including baffle strikes. It worth exploring customer service reviews to make sure you’re going with a company that will stand by you and its products should something go wrong. Companies like Rugged, Dead Air, Griffin Armament, and Q are well-known for their excellent customer service and quick turnaround time, should the need ever arise.  Do not ignore this advice.  Do some digging. Five minutes of research could save you weeks of stress.

Suppressing your AR – Conclusion

There are a variety of choices to consider when it comes to what kind of suppressor you should purchase, but as to the question of “should you suppress your AR?…” The answer to that question is clear. If you legally can, yes, you should. Dive in, do the research and get your paperwork started. The wait may seem long, but time is going to pass regardless. 

Once you finally take possession of your suppressor and take it to the range for the first time, you’ll see that the momentary hassle was worth it. A suppressor will bring your favorite hobby to an entirely new level. Trust us, a tiny bit of inconvenience for a lifetime of enjoyment is well worth it. As always, if you need any help with your decision or have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.