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A little education on hunting with suppressors

Hunting with a suppressor

All photo credits: Anthony Wright

Suppressors have been gaining a lot of popularity in the hunting industry for quite some time and rightfully so. They are becoming more affordable with the acceleration in technology, which, in turn, helps companies find more affordable metals for production. But enough about that—let's get to the meat and potatoes of hunting with a suppressor.

Research

First, let's start with how you would go about picking a suppressor or "can" for that loud rifle you're packing. There is an immense world of suppressors out there and it would behoove you to do your research. There are variations in everything from length, metal composition, brake attached versus direct thread, price, weight, etc. You get the point. Reading reviews, forums and watching videos is my main way of research since going to a business to test them is fairly bleak. As hunters, we prefer to pack lighter items and, in the case of this article, we don't need a suppressor that is meant for full-auto firing. Luckily, manufacturers have seen the demand for hunting specific cans. I just picked up my second suppressor recently as a specifically hunting built can. It only weighs 9 oz with a length of just over 7” and cost me approximately $775 (with $200 tax stamp included). Just make sure to do your research and choose the one that fits your needs best since you'll be waiting a few months to a year to have it in your possession.

The good when it comes to suppressors

Hunting with a suppressor

There is a huge upside when it comes to suppressors. Let's break them down:

1. Reduced sound

Obviously, right? Right! When attaching and utilizing a suppressor you will get a new joy from shooting. Although hearing protection is still recommended, you can shoot comfortably without it and not have that deafening ear piercing crack after you pull the trigger. It doesn't "silence" the shot like movies portray, but it does exactly what it says in the name “suppress.” The reduction of decibels varies depending on your model or firearm, but, typically, you'll see reductions around -30db. Shooting without any hearing protection while using a suppressor is similar to shooting with foamy earplugs in your ears without the suppressor installed. Another bonus is that without that loud, thunderous boom you have the ability to pique the interest of your children to get them into shooting now that you've removed the threatening sound. Suppressors also knock down a little bit of the felt recoil, which is a nice added bonus. One area of hunting I make sure to have a can for is varmint/predator hunting. Having the ability to get off a follow up shot before the animal can figure out what happened is great, plus where we hunt coyotes there is always livestock that we don’t want to disturb with the crack of our rifles.

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2. Legal to hunt with

This process has been in the works for a while now and, now, not only can you own a suppressor, but you can also legally hunt with one in over 30 states. This is a huge improvement from about a decade ago where just owning one was a pain. Check out the graph below to see if your state qualifies.

ASA legality map

3. Pricing

Although there are suppressors that tip over the $1,000 mark, there are quite a few available in the $525 to $700 range. Also, remember that suppressors used on a hunting rifle will last a long time. It’s not a bad investment for easily five to 10 years of suppressed shooting. The suppressor that I recently picked up for my dedicated hunting rifles is a StingerWorx Hunter 30, which is currently offered under $600.

The not so good side of suppressors

Hunting with a suppressor

The process for obtaining a suppressor has not often been referred to as a "quick" process. In short, you’ll have to purchase the suppressor, then fill out your ATF Form 4f, get your fingerprint cards done, a couple of passport-sized photos and finally write a check for $200 to the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) for your Tax Stamp. Now, that $200 may seem like a lot of money for a simple stamp; however, that price hasn't changed since the NFA made it a law in 1934, so when you add inflation from 1934 to the present, the current stamp should be over $3,500! Thankfully, it doesn't grow with inflation. Once you've done the above steps, you'll mail the check along with all the copies of your forms and begin the waiting process for your paperwork to be approved. I've heard of some wait times being as short as four to five months; however, the two separate times I've had to wait it took about 11 months for each suppressor. That can be a real drag when you've spent that much money, but that is the legal process.

Hunting with a suppressor

Once you shoot with a suppressor you won't want to shoot any other way! Personally, my buddies and I all appreciate the savings on the ol’ eardrums when we’re at the range. If you have any questions on the process or would like some guidance to narrow down your search, be sure to either drop a comment below, send me a message on Instagram or visit this website with a lot of great information from the American Suppressor Association.

Stay safe and hunt hard!!

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23 Comments

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Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-07-2020 01:53:21 pm
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

Chris, it all depends on what you want it to do for you. the ultra 7 is the best of both worlds between the ultra 5 and ultra 9. the 5 is most compact but noise reduction isn't great. The 9 is the quietest by far but can be very cumbersome if you're packing around a rifle that already has a 20-24" barrel. I picked the 7 because its still fairly compact and the noise reduction is still very noticeable. I've run 20 straight rounds through it without ear pro and didn't even notice. I still wear ear pro at the range most days just to be safe, but in the field you won't even notice. Plus you're buddies will be thanking you too when they're off to the side of your rifle.

100-110 Db is considered ear safe for super short duration sounds
175-180 Db is what a high power rifle puts out
The ultra 7 will suppress down to 138 Db, so its not ear safe for repeated use but again, you won't notice a few rounds down range without ear pro.

Csteffen
Chris S. - posted 4 months ago on 01-07-2020 12:57:46 pm
Green River, WY
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Jacob, any recommendation on which can to go with, Ultra 7 or 9? I want as light a setup as possible. It was suggested to run the 9 but not sure. Thanks.

Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-07-2020 12:54:29 pm
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

Chris S. I currently run a thunder beast ultra 7 with their CB mount for my 308 and 300WM. Fantastic piece of gear for the last couple of years! My wait time with for the NFA was about 16 months. Enjoy the hell out of it when you get it.

Csteffen
Chris S. - posted 4 months ago on 01-07-2020 12:47:01 pm
Green River, WY
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Thanks for the information/input guys. I believe I would like to go with QD mounted cans. Looking at both some Thunder Beast and Silencerco brands. Wish these didn't take so long to get in your hand and ATF didn't apparently have the view that these are atomic weapons or something.

Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-07-2020 10:05:07 am
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

It is pricey to buy more than one brake but the peace of mind of having a solid suppressor platform can’t be understated. Switching a direct thread from rifle to rifle runs the risk of damaging your threads if you mess up the attachment point. The problem with it coming loose due to friction could happen while you’re firing your rifle. I personally wouldn’t want to grab a hot suppressor and try and reseat it in the middle of trying to kill game or hit distance steel. Plus, if the suppressor comes loose in the slightest it will effect your POI :)

Anthony W. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 10:43:25 pm
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Chris, my only gripe with QD mounted cans is that you either swap the mount from one rifle to another OR have to buy multiple brakes/mounts which can get pricey. I personally prefer the direct thread since I dont need an extra apparatus which I've had them come loose before, either way depends on your preference. I'm always checking my suppressors when hunting to have peace of mind they are tight.

Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 08:00:25 pm
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

@Chris S.
Hey man, just my 2 cents, direct thread is still a very popular option but has the drawback of working its loose of the threads if you shoot your rifle a lot because of friction. A quick detach (QD) break is becoming the better option since most brakes are tapered which allows more of the suppressors surface area to stay in contact with the mount (brake). You won't have any issues with the suppressor coming loose and the lifespan of a QD mount is better than a direct thread.

Csteffen
Chris S. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 04:47:56 pm
Green River, WY
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Anthony, looking at getting my first suppressor. Can you give a brief recommendation on if direct thread is better/worse than one that twists over the appropriate break? Thanks

Anthony W. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 01:22:38 pm
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Earl, the only modification needed for adding a suppressor to your rifle would be to have a gunsmith thread your muzzle to the correct thread pitch of the suppressor, typically 5/8x24 for .30cal or 1/2x28 for .223cal.

Earl R. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 12:36:25 pm
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Jeeper - What modifications to the barrel are necessary for a suppressor. Is it similar to a muzzle brake?

Chet K. - posted 4 months ago on 01-06-2020 12:20:44 am
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@ Lowell E: There are some reasons purchasing a suppressor with a trust might be more appropriate than as an individual depending on the circumstances. However, the average ATF approval time over the last three months has been about: 1) 168 days for electronically filed Form 4s for individuals and, 2) about 260 days for paper Form 4s for trusts. An ATF agent told me several weeks ago that Form 4s for trusts are taking much longer to process.

Lowell E. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 10:23:53 pm
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Any input on using a trust or individual route?

Keith R. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 05:20:01 pm
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Yup, waiting on .22 and .30 caliber suppressors right now.

Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 04:02:32 pm
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

Harmonics*

Jacob J. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 04:01:54 pm
MT
goHUNT INSIDER

Glen K. You will notice a slight POI shift because the harmonica of your barrel will change due to an 8-12 ounce chunk of metal hanging off your rifle barrel that wasn’t there before. My advice would be rezeroing your rifle with the can on and reconfirming current DOPE chart. Once you shoot with the can on, there’s no problem with taking it off to clean and what not but I personally wouldn’t shoot the rifle again without the can on once you have solid DOPE again.

John Simonelli_10210230361628326
John S. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 11:57:51 am
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My point of impact did change. I run my Suppressor ( Omega 300 ) on two different rifles. One has a bull barrel and the other has a thin hunting barrel. Both rifles would have no problem taking deer sized game without changing point of impact to 200 yards without making any adjustment with or without suppressor. I can't answer the velocity question but I can say accuracy did improve.

grk.22
Glen K. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 10:20:52 am
WVC, Utah
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Currently waiting for the approval process to be completed on a suppressor (hopefully close, going on 11 months now). Wondering if it will change muzzle velocity or point of impact? Did you have to make a new yardage chart after installation of a can?

John Simonelli_10210230361628326
John S. - posted 4 months ago on 01-05-2020 06:59:45 am
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Suppressed in my opinion is the only way to go. Traveling on airlines is a piece of cake. In fact I was interviewed on my last trip to Colorado by the TSA and they never brought up a single question about my suppressor. I did place a copy of my tax stamp in the rifle case. Not sure if that matters but I did it anyway for good measure.

chris n. - posted 4 months ago on 01-04-2020 10:05:40 pm

As a California resident, seeing the map is so frustrating... especially for purposes of hunting!

Anthony W. - posted 5 months ago on 01-04-2020 08:14:57 am
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Thank you for the information Owen. I get that question often

Owen M. - posted 5 months ago on 01-04-2020 07:59:04 am

John, unlike other NFA items (SBR’s, SBS’s, machine guns and destructive devices) no additional paperwork is required to transport suppressors across state lines by an individual (see 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(4) and 27 CFR 478.28). While an owner *can* file an ATF Form 5320.20 and ATF will approve it, it is not required. As always, make sure that the state you are traveling to allows possession of suppressors. You should not travel with your suppressor to (or through) one of the eight states that do not allow private ownership.

Owen Miller, Director of Outreach
American Suppressor Association
ASAmember.com

Anthony W. - posted 5 months ago on 01-03-2020 09:02:30 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Good point John!

John C. - posted 5 months ago on 01-03-2020 05:58:21 pm
Scranton, PA
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Don’t forget when transporting NFA items (such as suppressors) across state lines to have the proper paperwork in place