Most folks get their ideas and perceptions about suppressors from Hollywood movies where super-ninja-commando secret agents like Jason Bourne slowly screw one onto the end of a pistol and silently dispatch enemies at will. While everyone likes a good secret agent flick now and then, they aren’t the most realistic when it comes to suppressors. In fact, most people have no idea how a suppressor works or how suppressors are applied in the real world. We decided to take a moment and clear things up. Time for some truth!
Suppressors and Silencers are Different
False. Suppressors and silencers are the same thing. The term “silencer” is a complete and utter misnomer. A man named Hiram Percy invented the suppressor and called it the “Maxim Silencer.” This is how the word caught on. It then became used in the legal definition of the device, as these devices became regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). If you really want to get into the semantics of the words, a silencer is the legal definition for a firearm suppression device, and a suppressor is the technical definition for a firearm suppression device.
Suppressors Make Gunshots Inaudible
False. Contrary to every movie you have ever seen where a suppressor was used in some serious covert operation, having a suppressor on a pistol, rifle or shotgun will not make the report of that weapon inaudible. The weapon will still make noise, it will just make less noise. The noise level will depend on the suppressor, the ammunition and the caliber of the gun.
Suppressors are Illegal
Also, false. While some states (California, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey) do outright ban suppressors, suppressors are not illegal for civilians to own. They are restricted under the National Firearms Act, and require a $200 tax stamp as well as a background check.
Suppressors Reduce Bullet Velocity
Okay, this one is likely perpetuated by the younger “Call of Duty” videogame crowd. Videogames where suppressors are featured often use the device as a bonus or upgrade time, which in turn must be balanced by the game platform in order to make things equally challenging for all players. In real life, which one might note is nothing like videogames, suppressors lengthen the barrel of a weapon and actually increase the velocity of a bullet.