Silencers (sometimes referred to as suppressors) are optional attachments installed on to a gun’s barrel which work to attenuate the loud noise created during the firing process.
These ‘noise mitigation’ tools are ideal for situations where an individual needs to remain concealed and prevent their position from being identified.
In addition to reducing the sound from each shot fired, silencers also help to minimize muzzle flash (bright explosive light bursts emitted from the gun’s barrel) which further adds to their efficacy in the field.
How do they work?
The loud noise created when firing a gun is the result of propellant gas creating extreme pressure and temperature changes in the environment after being expelled from the gun’s barrel.
Silencers work on a relatively basic principle: providing more space to allow sound to dissipate naturally.
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Whilst simply adding a solid metal tube to the end of a gun will help to reduce its sound, modern suppressors now contain more advanced design features to increase their effectiveness.
For example, baffles (internal vents) are often implemented in order to divide sound into separate areas called ‘expansion chambers’. These chambers spread noise throughout the tube and this helps to reduce the total decibels of each shot.
These circular dividers include a hole through their centre which allows the bullet to pass through unobstructed and are usually 1mm wider than the diameter of the weapon’s ammunition.
The reason for this is to minimise the chances of ‘baffle strike’ (bullets hitting the baffle) occurring as this can damage the suppressors as well as stop the user from landing a successful shot.
Whilst the majority of silencers are supplied as removable attachments with a female screwing end, some weapons may contain a section of their own construction dedicated to noise suppression.
These so called ‘integral suppressors’ are not typically detachable but work on the same principle as their more common, external counterparts.
Silencers provide a number of key benefits to both the user and those around them during the process:
- Substantial noise reduction
- Minimised muzzle flash visibility
- Increased accuracy (depending on model)
- Improved recoil
- Safety benefits
A weapon fitted with a silencer will experience less recoil due to how the propellant gas is trapped within the expansion chamber after the trigger has been pulled.
This makes controlling the gun far easier and will help the user to secure more accurate, consistent shots. A lower amount of recoil can also enable the rate of fire to be increased as less time is needed to rebalance the weapon.
Noise reduction not only makes it harder for the user to be detected but, also, brings the gun into a safe decibel range (specifically, under 140db).
Hearing-related injuries are an extremely common claim amongst war veterans; however, the use of an effective noise suppressor can help to dramatically limit the damage caused by close proximity to firing guns.
Suppressors are becoming increasingly common and are used in a variety of different applications due to the range of benefits they provide to a gun’s handling and concealability as well as the safer firing conditions they create.