Gunner Wade on Silencers


Where the hell was this guy when I was in?

I still run into many people who believe that silencers drastically degrade accuracy and velocity.  Unfortunately this myth is still common in many popular video games, and all too many people believe that to be a fact.  A good deal of the pro gun youth only know firearm info from the games they have played.

It is true that some of the early pistol and submachine gun silencers that relied on wipes, mesh, or large internal volume to keep .22 and 9mm rounds subsonic did reduce velocity and accuracy/precision.  Modern designs don’t do that, and can actually give a small increase in velocity.  I’ve seen some rifles shoot tighter groups when shot suppressed.


  1. Weeeelllll…. please define “drastically” when you say “drastically degrade accuracy.”

    Any mass you put on the end of a free-floated rifle barrel may increase or decrease precision of the grouping. It is the reason why some .22 match shooters use barrel tuners. To find out how/why, you need to start doing a bunch of modeling with a FEA package. Varmint Al has done a bit of work in this area, and reading his blog entries on this subject is very educational.

    How much can a mass hung off the end of the barrel change your groups? I’ll give the answer that most consistently infuriates people who ask me this: “It depends.”

    It will depend on what length barrel you’re starting with. It depends on your bullet weight, it depends on your velocities, it depends on your barrel thickness and profile. eg, in the above video, CW5 Gunner Wade is starting with a short barrel AR, which means that the barrel is going to be stiffer than a 16 or 20″ barrel, and therefore your results for putting an additional mass hanging off the muzzle will be different for both the reasons that a longer barrel of similar (or same) diameter will have more whip the longer it gets, and because we don’t know where the oscillation nodes are on the barrels’ lengths.

    I’ll give an example from my own gun safe of a gun that has groups change “drastically” when a mass (about the same mass, perhaps lighter, as/than a steel suppressor) is moved back and forth a very small amount on the length of the barrel: My Winchester Model 70 in .338 WM. It has the “BOSS” muzzle brake on it, and the backing nut has a 0-9 marking on it, with fine threads. Moving the brake back and forth by no more than 0.075″ can take you from a 3/4″ five-shot group at 100 yards to a group that won’t be held inside of 3″ at 100 yards. The reason why they cobbled up the BOSS system was because the .338 BAR (the Browning semi-auto sporting rifle) wouldn’t group worth a damn – and lots of people find the recoil of a .338 objectionable, and putting a brake on it was deemed a “good idea” by marketing twerps.

    These .338 rifles tend to have barrels that are at least 24″ long (mine is 26″ long) in order to burn all the powder in a .338 case, but they’re not much thicker (or maybe any thicker) in profile than the usual .270 or .30-06 barrel – which has some bearing on why they recoil so badly and might be a contributing factor why they’re so sensitive to moving the mass back and forth at the muzzle.

    This sort of group sensitivity is why I shoot 210gr Partitions at 2900 fps as “the” load in that rifle. I can set the tuning of the BOSS at 4.1, and it will put them into a group under 1″, usually under 3/4″. At that point, I quit screwing around with it and called the issue done. But if there’s one rifle in my collection where I’d vastly prefer it to have a suppressor, it’s that wretched thing.

    • I’m referring to the outdated and drastically wrong beliefs that some people have about suppressors.
      E.G. I have talked to many people who believe that any modern suppressor will slow a centerfire cartridge projectile to subsonic speeds.
      There are similar beliefs that a silencers will open groups up to several foot sizes at 100 yards or less. Etc.
      It can be all fun and games to throw something into solidworks or calculate moments of inertia with pen paper and a TI-83, but I’ve found with firearms results can vary and it is best to test the equipment you are going to use. As you said, it depends.

      • Well then, those people are obviously very, very poorly informed. If any suppressor did slow the pill of a centerfire rifle to sub-sonic speeds, then the suppressor would, at the very least, glow red after only a few rounds. All that energy lost has to go somewhere, right?

        I blame the educational system, which now emphasizes putting condoms on bananas over elementary physics in high schools…

        • I believe much of it comes from video games. Many Americans primary firearms experience is mostly from video games.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here