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Dead Air Sandman

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Mr. Sandman
Though Apparently Named After a ’50s Bubblegum Pop Tune, Dead Air’s Flagship Suppressor Delivers a Quieter Melody

Mike Pappas was one of the founders of SilencerCo before moving on to set up Dead Air, so you could say he has provenance in the suppressor industry. The Sandman models you see here are the result of his years of experience, coupled with a healthy dose of R&D and a splash of customer input. The finished products take their place in a growing lineup of suppressors that seem to offer everything the market has demanded, and then some.

The longer of the two Sandman (Sandmen?) cans contains eight cone-type baffles and is hearing safe to .300 Winchester Magnum levels of pressure and powder volume. The five-baffle shorty is a bit lighter and handier, but you’ll want to wear hearing protection when using it on the bigger calibers. Both feature 17-4 stainless tubes and end caps and are available as either direct-thread or quick-detach (QD) models. When we shot them on a Bushmaster ACR, we were impressed by the low tonal quality of the muzzle blast, which was among the most pleasant we’ve encountered.

Instead of utilizing an Inconel blast baffle and then less expensive, easier-to-machine stainless components further down the baffle stack, Dead Air uses Stellite, an extremely erosion-resistant and costly alloy that is typically cast and then ground, rather than machined, due to its toughness.

When used in conjunction with its dedicated muzzle brake, which absorbs the initial jet of superheated gas, there’s very little chance that a Sandman will die by erosion. “You couldn’t afford the ammo to wear it out, and if you did, you’d have better things to do with your time,” Pappas said. Challenge accepted — time to build that 7.5-inch barreled NEMO .300 Win Mag we’ve always wanted.

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“What about baffle strikes?” we hear you cry. Well, the most likely part of the suppressor to be hit by an errant bullet is the end cap, as yaw and lateral errors are magnified by distance from the muzzle. In this case, the end cap is user-replaceable, which is a bonus for those of us who drop expensive stuff on a regular basis.

A word on the Dead Air brake, an example of which ships with every QD suppressor. Apart from acting as the interface between barrel and can, it does a pretty decent job of recoil reduction on its own, without being completely obnoxious. When shot side by side with the Lancer Nitrous compensator on our 14.5-inch barreled three-gun carbine, its reduced concussion was readily apparent. By tapping off a portion of the gasses entering its first expansion chamber and directing them forward, the sideways blast exiting the next three chambers is disrupted, reducing impact on the shooter.

To utilize the QD feature, the can is aligned to the 12 o’clock position and slipped onto the brake — there’s only one way it can go on, so point of aim shift is both minimized and, just as importantly, consistent. The shooter then twists the suppressor body to lock the three primary and secondary lugs onto the brake, whereupon the locking ring stops and the tube continues ratcheting for another half turn or so. At this point, the beveled mating surfaces on both can and brake meet to form a self-aligning, gas-tight seal, which keeps carbon away from anything important and allows the user to easily dismount the can, even after many hundreds of rounds. Sounds peachy, right?

We thought so, too. Then we launched a can downrange from the muzzle of a .300 Win Mag. Looks of consternation went around the group, as up till now everything in the field evaluation was going great; from mag dumps on a .223 to ringing steel at 60 yards with a suppressed .22 pistol. Looking at the suppressor, it became apparent that the QD mount had sheared its locking lugs and everyone stroked their chins and offered opinions as to what might have caused the problem. “Not sure what’s wrong with it,” offered Pappas. “But we’re going to test the shit out of it until we find out.”

True to his word, he called a week later after discovering that the batch of locking rings arriving the day before our test were compromised by faulty heat treatment. Instead of the RC 40 value originally spec’d, these tested at a butter-soft RC 20 which, while good enough for .223 and .308, failed to withstand the mighty Win Mag. One plane ticket and a case full of ammo later, we were satisfied the problem had been rectified and can now unreservedly recommend the Sandman on calibers up to its rated limit.

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Make: Dead Air
Model: Sandman
Caliber: Up to .300 Winchester Magnum
Overall Length: 6.8 inches (S Model), 8.9 inches (L Model)
Weight: 17.3 ounces (S Model), 21.8 ounces (L Model)
MSRP: $1,050 (S Model), $1,200 (L Model)
URL: www.deadairsilencers.com/products.html

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