Although Silencer is a common name for what is more accurately described as a Suppressor, the first thing you should know is that it’s impossible to “silence” a firearm. Not that Hollywood has done the firearms community any favors with this than it has with any other portrayal of firearms. Here are a couple facts that can put suppressor performance into perspective:
- The sound of a typical gunshot can range from 140-180db
- Under ideal conditions, Suppressors can reduce gunshot sound by about 30-40db
- Supersonic ammo creates a sonic boom after it exits the barrel – so
Got that? So we are looking at a sound reduction range of 20-30%- making a gunshot about as loud as a lawn mower. That hardly warrants a label like ‘Silencer’ IMHO. So what are these devices like in real life and how do they work?
A suppressor has a few key components:
- Tube that contains the entire device
- Barrel Attachment end (one end of the tube)- this could be a ratchet, spring retention assembly or simple standard machine threads
- Baffles or Baffle Core – a series of stages inside the tube that supress the gun’s report. This is where the magic science happens
- EndCap- this is the other cap on the tube that projectiles exit
Those key parts of a suppressor come together to work like this:
- The suppressor is attached to the end of the barrel of the host firearm
Now for a little background to help explain the next part:
When a shot breaks the explosion that propels the projectile through the barrel results in a blast of hot gases at high pressure that also exits the barrel of the firearm. This explosion is most of the "BANG" you hear.
- The projectile exits the end cap of the suppressor through the hole in the center.
- As the hot gasses pass through the end of the barrel and into the suppressor (which is a larger tube than the barrel and thus a lower pressure space)they get trapped into the baffles- you see the projectile is spinning from the barrel rifling and will continue on its trajectory through the center of the suppressor. However gasses -especially when under pressure- will flow wherever there is space.
- That’s how baffles work- they work with the lower pressure space inside the suppressor tube to create dead-ends and spaces that trap the gasses resulting from gunpowder ignition. Trapping these gasses also traps SOME of the noise associated with cartridge ignition.