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There are basically 3 ways to mount a suppressor to a host weapon.
The most basic system is simple direct thread, in which the suppressor has a base, rear cap or mount adapter bearing the muzzle thread pattern for your host weapon, such as 1/2-28 or 5/8-24, or perhaps metric like M13.5x1 LH, M15x1, etc. Direct thread is the simplest and most economical solution, but it does have drawbacks. Direct thread is prone to loosening up during use, and may cause some point of impact (POI) shift from one time to the next after removing and reinstalling the can. Another shortcoming of direct thread is that there is frequently no pre-core flow disruption, so suppression can suffer and there may be more erosion on baffles, especially with short barreled rifle host weapons. Direct thread is less problematic with rimfires, pistols and pistol caliber carbines, which do not really benefit from muzzle brakes inside of suppressors.
The second type of mounting system is Quick Detach, or "QD", which generally means few (if any) revolutions of the suppressor to install and usually a secondary retention mechanism. There are many different flavors of QD, some are really good, others are lacking. Some cope well with repeatability, others are worse than direct thread in that arena, some lock up solid, other's are sloppy, some can be recessed under hand guards, others really cannot. It is an ever-evolving family of systems, so you really need to research what's available at the time to decide if QD is for you.
The third type is a taper mount system. For many (perhaps most) purposes, a taper mount is the best solution. They have better retention and repeatability than direct thread, usually install with fewer revolutions than direct thread, and do not have issues with slop or not being able to be recessed under handguards like some QD systems. They also tend to be a little more economical than QD due to being simpler. Some have a taper in front of the threads, some behind, and though there is internet lore of dubious predication & credibility touting one over the other, the location of the taper really makes no difference. There are some taper mount designs which are marginal, using a taper too obtuse relative to the thread pitch, and these should be avoided because they do loosen up and do not provide the degree of alignment a taper mount should. Generally speaking, you'll be good to go if the included taper angle in degrees is fairly close numerically to the thread pitch in TPI (teeth per inch). You do not want a 50° taper with 8 TPI threads, but a 30°-40° taper with 28 TPI threads works well, as does a 20°-30° with 24 TPI, 15-20 with 20 TPI, etc. In short, the threads must be fine enough to allow sufficient "locking" torque on the taper. The coarser the threads, the more acute the taper needs to be to lock with hand torque on the can.
This is an infinitely more complicated situation today than it was 20 years ago, but that complexity is actually advantageous to the user of firearm suppressors. Back in the early 2000s, pretty much all cans were either direct thread or made with a proprietary mounting system for which muzzle devices were only available from the OEM source in the configurations they chose to offer. People just dealt with it because, well, they had no choice unless they were skilled machinists who could make their own parts.
These days, the world is your oyster. Most manufacturers are on board with at least one of the "de facto" industry standard thread patterns in some or all of their models. This modularity allows end users to run manufacturer A's mounting system with manufacturer B's suppressor. But to take advantage of it, you have to know a little bit about those patterns, as well as who is using them and who is not.
The most common standard pattern is 1.375-24 (1-3/8 24 UN) threads, called Bravo threads, but also sometimes referred to as "ASR", "Hybrid" or "Omega .300" pattern, and now also "H.U.B". The progenitor of this pattern was SilencerCo, and that's why most of the references incorporate their terminology. There are many, many mount adapters and direct thread mounts offered in this pattern, and most manufacturers have adopted this for their suppressors.
The next common pattern is 1.125-28 (1-1/8 28 UN) Alpha pattern, also originated by SilencerCo and sometimes called "Omega 9K" or "Octane" in reference to SilencerCo's models. Not as common as Bravo pattern, there are still multiple companies making suppressors and adapters in Alpha pattern, usually pistol suppressors, but a few rifle models.
A third, less common pattern is 1.1875-24 (1-3/16 24 UN). This one is trickier, because there is also 1.180-24 out there, which is nearly identical, but not completely interchangeable. 1.180-24 male threaded adapters will install in 1.1875-24 female threaded cans, but the reverse is not true. You will find these patterns associated with Gemtech, Liberty and SWR suppressors, as well as some Form 1 stuff.
In the Form 1 suppressor world, there are also a couple of fairly standard patterns, namely 1.4375-20 (1-7/16 20 UN) "D-Cell" threads. Though rarely found in production suppressors, it is quite common with Form 1 tubes. This is the thread pattern used by Mag-lite in their D cell flashlights, hence "D-cell tube". But there are also 24 TPI versions of this, and then a lot of Form 1 stuff that fits no standard. The other common standard today with Form 1 parts is the Bravo pattern, (incorrectly) referred to as "ASR" by many manufacturers of the tubes used for Form 1 builds
The short answer is very. But there's a lot of context to consider, so take care to understand the data before putting too much stock in it.
The first thing to understand about decibels is that they are a sound intensity rating; magnitude, pressure, "volume". It is the best single metric we have for comparing the relative efficacy of suppressors. But decibels aren't the whole story, and they're sometimes misleading about a can's real-world performance.
Even if we assume everyone uses the same equipment and protocols for testing, sound pressure does not account for frequency; the tone, the "pitch" of a sound. Higher frequency sounds are not only more offensive to our ears at a given pressure level, they're also more damaging. It is entirely possible to have a suppressor that meters 8 or 10 dB lower than another actually sound louder and be more harmful to your ears than the other due to the tone. For the most part, our ears really are the best arbiter of whether or not a sound is safe. If a noise is at all uncomfortable, you should be using ear protection. Hard decibel numbers from proper metering equipment are very useful in developing suppressors to pick up the small changes our ears can't detect, but do not assume that just because a suppressor meters under the 140 dB "hearing safe" threshold for impulse noises that it won't harm you, and don't conclude that a can which reportedly meters 133 dB is truly "quieter" than one which comes in at 137.
The second important thing to understand about interpreting the dB ratings is those variables we ignored above. Though there are standards for metering gunshots, they are not observed universally, and they have some latitude within, especially concerning the equipment used. Other variables include whether the shot was metered at the muzzle or at the ear. On manual action guns, the muzzle numbers will be higher due to vector and attenuation factors. But on many autoloading hosts, the shooter's ear number may be higher than the muzzle end. This is especially true with rifles and blowback operated carbines, where muzzle numbers may look very impressive, but they're considerably louder at the shooter's ear due to the port noise. If a company claims that their can meters in the low 130 dB range on an AR-15, they didn't meter at the ear with full power ammunition, because they just don't get that low if they're cycling. There are some fantastical claims about dB reduction, some obtained by deliberately manipulating tests, others simply for using the wrong equipment or using it inappropriately.
Environmental factors also affect our human ear perception. Reflection and refraction of a sound won't affect a meter reading much if at all, which is why they're useful in development. But it can have a profound effect on how our ears react, as can temperature and humidity.
In short, don't disregard the sound pressure level (dB) reduction rating, but don't make your decision based solely on that for the above reason, as well as others we haven't covered. And for the most part, still plan on using ear protection for most suppressed shooting. 135 dB isn't nearly as damaging as 165 dB, but it's certainly not benign.
Sonic crack is the acoustic manifestation of an object breaking the sound barrier. From the crack of a whip to the boom of a supersonic fighter jet, it is unavoidable with supersonic objects unless you're in a vacuum.
Where suppressed shooting is concerned, the only way to avoid the sonic crack is with use of subsonic ammunition. You get no crack if the barrier is not breached.
But sonic crack isn't a fixed volume or frequency, either. The smaller, faster and more aerodynamic a projectile is, the less you'll hear from behind the weapon. Smaller & more aerodynamic bullets don't disrupt the air as much, and faster bullets produce less noise as observed from the shooter's position due to attenuation and the Doppler effect. The sonic crack from a 5.56mm rifle bullet will seem more distant and echoed than the crack from a 1,300 FPS blunt pistol bullet.
Is sonic crack damaging to your ears? It can be, but not always. It relates to the above phenomenon. I personally find the crack of a .357 magnum or 10mm auto bullet completely intolerable regardless of environment, but the crack of a 7mm-08 or .300 Winchester magnum doesn't bother me a bit shooting out in the open.
As with so many aspects of suppressors, the answer is "it depends"
All of these materials have advantages and drawbacks, and the intended use of the can is a huge factor. Titanium is a very light, very strong material, but it doesn't have the hardness, strength or durability of precipitation hardening stainless steel or nickel steel alloys. That doesn't mean it's unsuitable for suppressors. Not at all. It just means it's not ideal for every can, or every part of a can.
Even aluminum alloys are fine for some suppressor parts, but wholly unsuitable for others. An aluminum tube on a pistol or rimfire can will last a lifetime. But aluminum baffles in a short barrel 5.56 suppressor won't survive one range trip. Aluminum in the right places can make for a very lightweight can. In the wrong places, it creates a self-disassembling suppressor.
Similarly, the nickel based superalloys like Inconel or cobalt alloys like Stellite are great in certain applications, but they're also very expensive materials that are much more difficult to work with, and are often completely unnecessary. If you decide you need a can with Inconel or Stellite parts, there's nothing wrong with that decision. You just have to accept that you'll pay a good bit more for that. If you're running a pro mod racecar, you need 113 octane fuel. If you're putting it in your daily driver, you're not benefitting from the extra expense. Same concept.
There's way too much to cover in this FAQ to give a comprehensive list of which materials should be used in which cans for what purposes, so unfortunately you do need to do some independent research and ask some questions to the right people to really answer that question as it pertains to your needs. But hopefully this sheds some light on the subject, and at least empowers you to ask the right questions to get those answers.
And another "it depends" answer. Sorry about that!
A common proverb in the suppressor game is "there's no free lunch". You're going to give up something in one area to gain in another. A shorter can is handier, but it's not going to be as quiet as it's larger, longer counterpart. A super lightweight can is a pleasure to carry around, but those lighter materials and/or thinner parts won't take as much abuse.
There are many suppressors that offer an amazing amount of performance & durability in fairly compact packages these days, but the axiom still holds true. A well designed and well built 7" long, 13 ounce can may outperform an old tech carbon steel boat anchor twice it's size, but all else being equal, larger & longer=quieter, and more substantial=more durable. "Do-all" cans are as much of a compromise as the El Camino, Ranchero, Rampage, Brat, etc. Car-trucks and multi-purpose cans have that in common. And yes, I know I draw lots of parallels with automobiles; if you read the "about us", that makes sense. But I digress.....
There are some cans that fill more that one roll quite well, but to truly get the best performance out of your suppressor, it needs to be matched to the host and use. A shorter and lighter can is great if you need to move about a great deal or traverse tight spaces with it, while a bigger, quieter can is likely more ideal for recreational shooting where the length & weight aren't an encumbrance and the greater suppression beneficial.
To that end, however, factor the port noise we talked about above in the FAQ about decibels. If you're suppressing a semi-automatic rifle, there may be no benefit past a certain length when the port noise exceeds the muzzle report. As well, there is always a point of diminishing returns, so while a 2" x 14" can on your .308 might be "silly quiet", it's likely also quite impractical, and may adversely affect your accuracy.
So consider your uses when deciding what your minimum suppression requirements and maximum size/weight allowances for your can will be. You're not going to want a 9 inch long, 22 ounce suppressor on the end of a 24" barreled rifle you'll be packing through the dark timber on an elk hunt, but a short, lightweight, low volume of fire can meant for hunting may not be durable or quiet enough for range day.
Silencers are regulated by the National Firearms Act under 26 U.S.C § 5845 and 18 U.S.C. § 921. They are a class II weapon, and do not transfer as a GCA firearm (pistol, rifle, shotgun) would.
Silencers transferred to people in the U.S. who are not federal firearms licensees with special occupation taxpayer status require a $200 one-time tax payment and an approved Form 5320.4 ("Form 4"). There is Form 5 for tax exempt transfer of silencers in the case of succession, but since we're discussing purchasing, that's not relevant here.
Form 4 is done by the transferring dealer. This must be a dealer in your state of residence. If you purchase a silencer from a dealer, distributor or manufacturer in another state, it will first transfer to your local FFL/SOT on a Form 3, then the local dealer will help you get your Form 4 filed. Each form 4 application has a $200 tax, and the typical approval time is 6-12 months as of this writing. The submission includes a photograph of the individual or trustee(s) to possess the silencer, and must also have duplicate copies of fingerprint cards. The FBI performs the background check, and once that comes back, the ATF processes the application. If there were no mistakes on the application and you (or any trustees if a trust) are not prohibited, it will be approved and you can pick up your suppressor from the transferring dealer. If there was an error, it will be kicked back with a finite time to correct the errors without "losing your place in line". If you or a trustee do not pass the background check, it will be denied and you'll have to appeal it or work with your dealer to return or resell the suppressor.
Same thing. Silencer is the legal term, suppressor is the technically accurate term, as gunshots are far from silent even with the best "silencer"
You can. "You" includes any trustee who was submitted on the Form 4 for that silencer if you used a trust.
Other people can temporarily possess it under the direct physical supervision of the owner(s). That means yes, you can let your friend use it or install your can on their gun while you're at the range together or sitting in a hunting blind together, but you cannot legally loan it out to anyone who is not named on the Form 4 or as a trustee for that Form 4. There is no finite distance established for how close a user must be to the owner(s), but it's generally accepted that within proximity to hear and/or see each other without communication devices, amplifiers, magnifiers, etc. is the limit. 100 yards apart on a hillside, probably OK. On the other side of a mountain or across town, not so much.
Technically, yes. A downsized copy or digital image should be fine.
Only an ATF agent has the legal authority to demand you produce a copy of your Form 4 (or 1, 5). But an LEO can certainly try to detain you until an ATF agent arrives. Unlikely, as that move might subject them to complaints or lawsuits, but possible. Probably easiest to just have it in your wallet, on your phone, etc. and flash it if asked.
Some ranges will also demand to see it. They have no legal authority to do so, but they can absolutely deny you use of their range if you refuse to produce it.
As well, most SOTs who would service your can will want a copy of your Form 4 or Form 1 to accompany the suppressor being serviced.
Whatever you do, don't lose your original! Getting a reprint will be next to impossible, maybe entirely impossible. ATF's records are not electronically searchable, and they've lost A LOT of them over the years for various reasons, from floods to fires to the human factor. So it is incumbent on you to maintain that record, because your approved form may be the only way to prove it's a legal can.
Yes, but with caveats. First and foremost, the bullet has to physically fit through the suppressor bore with enough clearance, so the other calibers need to be equal to or smaller than the caliber denoted on the can. A .26 or .28 caliber bullet through a .30 caliber suppressor, no problem. A .40 caliber bullet through a 9mm suppressor is probably going to result in baffle strikes.
Beyond that, suppressors are generally divided into 3 categories and two types:
On categories, you have to understand the intended use and thus materials, dimensions and manufacturing methods used for the can in question. A .30 caliber rifle bullet will fit through the bore of a 9mm pistol can, but the gas pressure and volume of the much larger rifle cartridge is probably more than than the pistol suppressor can handle. Likewise with a .22 caliber high velocity rifle bullet in a .22 caliber rimfire suppressor. Some cans are designed to be multi-use and may be able to handle a wider range of rounds. You'll need to refer to the specifications of your suppressor, and contact the manufacturer if their published specs don't answer your question.
Regarding the types, serviceable vs non-serviceable, this is an additional consideration beyond whether or not bullets will fit through it and pressures be within the acceptable range. There's nary a suppressor on the market which can't handle the bullet size and pressure of .22 Long Rifle, but it's a very "dirty" round , leaving huge amounts of carbon & lead inside a suppressor which are extremely difficult to get out of a sealed can, so you don't want to use your sealed rifle suppressor with .22 long rifle hosts. Same story with cast lead bullets in any caliber. Pistol and other low pressure rounds will also leave more carbon deposits in a suppressor than high velocity rifle rounds. For this reason, a majority of rimfire and pistol cans are user serviceable for cleaning, while most rifle cans are sealed to optimize durability with rounds that are pretty "clean", blasting most of the debris out of the suppressor with much higher heat and pressure.
Bravo and Alpha thread patterns are now-standard mount adapter threads pioneered and coined with their respective terms by SilencerCo.
Bravo pattern, which is also called “Hybrid”, “Omega 300”, “H.U.B” and, in the form 1 world, “ASR” is nominally 1.375-24 (1-3/8 24) UNS threads, female in the suppressor and male on the adapter. It has become an industry standard that is supported by nearly every major manufacturer and a lot of smaller ones.
Bravo pattern adapters include:
•Area 419 Hellfire
•Dead Air DA428 Keymo
•ECCO Machine Helix port Taper Brake
•ECCO Machine Cherry Bomb pattern adapter
•Energetic Armament Thunderbeast CB Bravo adapter
•Griffin Plan A Bravo
•Griffin A2 adapter
•Rearden Atlas (Cherry Bomb Pattern)
•SilencerCo ASR Bravo
•Straight Six Tactical Cherry Bomb & Griffin taper
•Q Plan B Bravo
•Torrent QD Bravo
•YHM 3050 & 3060 QD adapters
Additionally, Bravo pattern direct thread mounts are available from ECCO Machine, Energetic Armament, Quell Technologies, SilencerCo, White Trash Tactical & YHM
Alpha pattern (also sometimes called “Omega 9k”) is another emerging standard supported by SilencerCo, Griffin Armament, Rugged Suppressors, ECCO Machine, Q and others. It is nominally 1.125-28 (1-1/8 28) UNS, female threads in the suppressor/booster housing, male threads on the adapters & mounts. This pattern is typically found in handgun suppressors, although the SilencerCo Harverster 300 and ECCO Machine Furtivus models have Alpha threads.
Alpha pattern adapters include:
•SilencerCo AC2447 3 lug (for 9mm)
•SilencerCo AC2448 3lug (for .45)
•SilencerCo ASR Alpha
•SilencerCo Harvester 300 direct thread mounts
•ECCO Machine Alpha direct thread mounts
•Griffin Plan A Alpha
•Griffin Cam Lok 1.125-28 direct thread
•Q Plan B Alpha
•Kaw Valley Precision 3 lug adapter