I hear so often – “you can’t own a silencer for your gun, it’s illegal!” Sorry, that’s just a firearms urban legend. Civilian ownership of firearms is completely legal in 38 freedom loving states – like Texas. In fact Texan firearms owners purchased more sound suppressors than any other state last year. And yes, the industry correct term is “suppressor” because it never is truly “silent”. There is some red tape, a $200 tax and a lot of waiting time in owning one of these cool “cans” but I think it’s worth it, mainly because it’s so cool!
If you have only seen suppressors in the movies you have the wrong idea of how a true suppressor works. You’ll need to really witness one to have an accurate representation of their effectiveness. Suppressors are most effective on sub-sonic ammunition and calibers. Once a bullet breaks the sound barrier (approximately 1,100 fps) you hear a loud crack comparable to the report of a .22 rifle. This cannot be suppressed because it is the actual bullet traveling through the air much like a jet at mach speed. So on a 308 or 223 rifle, you will still hear this ballistic crack, but the rifle’s large BOOM report will be suppressed greatly. But if you have subsonic round like .45acp, or a 22lr out of a pistol the gun will simply sound like a paintball marker. It’s quite enjoyable and you can even hear the bullet’s impact on the target. When choosing a suppressor you should also know that you can usually use a larger caliber can on a smaller weapon – a 308 can on a 223, or a 223 on a 22lr. Just make sure your barrels and threaded the same.
There are only a few cons of shooting a suppressed weapon. The first is that the gas redirects back into the firearm which can build up a little more filth in the action because it’s not heading straight out the muzzle. Another is it does make the gun a tad bit heavier. Depending on the caliber a suppressor can weigh anywhere from 2.5 oz for a GEMTECH OUTBACK in 22LR to 28 oz for a 308 GEMTECH HVT.
In Texas you can legally hunt non-game animals like hogs and varmints with suppressed weapons. (UPDATE: as of March 29, 2012 the legislature voted the use of suppressors on game animals will be legal!) This sure makes it more enjoyable when coming across a herd of hogs or taking out that pesky coyote in a rural community. In other states you can even hunt game animals with them. Amazingly enough, in some European countries it is illegal to hunt without them! I like it when common sense triumphs.
More information on silencer ownership here:
GEMTECH TREK 223 Suppressor on an AR15
TREK on a S&W M&P 22lr pistol – mostly subsonic
.300 Blackout Suppressed Supersonic vs. Subsonic