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Fully Integrated: When an Integral Silencer is Worth It

We Let You Know When an Integral Silencer is Worth It

Let’s face it: Integral silencers are cool as hell. Who doesn’t want an OSS HD-Military, the (mostly) silent pistol used to dispatch Nazi officers? No real Americans, that’s for sure. But are they worth it? Many different integrals have graced the pages of RECOIL in the past, but this piece isn’t about a particular integral gun; we’re going to talk integrals in general.

The Manufacturer’s View

As far as integrals, experts in the silencer community are somewhat split. Evan Green of Griffin Armament told us:
“Integrals have long caught the attention of boys young and old alike. The large, long, suppressors purposely built into the host firearm, beckon images of the French resistance in World War II. Appearance is 99 percent of reality, right? Wrong. Bigger isn’t always better. The problem? Most integrals have never been researched and designed with a large enough monetary investment to yield high performance. This is because most modern consumers want versatile suppressors they can use on a collection of firearms as opposed to a single one.”

Todd McGee of Dead Air has a slightly different view:

“A big positive is that it allows a weapon system to be optimized for a given use. Many people don’t stop and think of the host weapon, ammo, and suppressor as system. Any one of those factors has a huge impact on the overall performance, not just in terms of sound at the muzzle, but also in reliability, precision and accuracy, and sound at the shooter’s ear.”

“Obtaining a single-minded focus on something always comes at a cost. Just like an athlete who specializes in one area (say, body building) they’re giving up on something else (say, fitting into skinny jeans).”

American Exceptions

NFA laws themselves are a large part of the reason why integrals aren’t more popular. But this is also the reason why hoodrat integrals exist as well. Simply put, a hoodrat integral (lovingly called, “fake-ass integrals” by some of the staff) is a normal silencer permanently attached to a rifle in order to bring the barrel length to the legal minimum of 16 inches. Not only does this make a rifle a “single stamper” because only the silencer tax stamp has to be paid, it also allows interstate travel without pre-approval from the BATFE.

For some reason, likely to do with politicians not understanding the laws they’re passing in the first place, or heavy drinking, a Form 5320.20 has to be filled out, submitted, and accepted before you cross state lines with a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun — but not with a silencer or an AOW; those you can just roll with, provided they’re legal where you’re going.

Many silencers, such as this one from Odin Works, come with a hole all setup for blind pinning.

With a normal suppressed SBR, you’d have to fill out some forms well in advance of leaving the state, but it’s not the case with a hoodrat integral. That’s virtually the only upside, because while the silencer is permanently attached, you’re not getting some of the benefits an actual integral can provide.

The hoodrat integral is potentially negated with the recent uptick in totally functional and usable pistol “braces.” While the legality of shouldering them can change on the mood of someone in the BATFE Examination Branch, currently it’s A-OK.
If you still want to pursue a hoodrat integral, bear in mind, oftentimes you’re going to be stuck with whatever gas block and handguard you currently have once it goes on — at least if you want to do it yourself. Any decent SOT will be able to remove it and replace it, but that’s a lot of cost to add for what would otherwise be a simple handguard swap.

The Case for a Modern Integral

Legal reasons aside, what McGee pointed out about a truly integrated system still rings true. Just like how we all benefited from government requests for a new handgun, Uncle Sam looking for a Suppressed Upper Receiver Group (SURG) gifted the public with a bevy of options. The Gemtech Integra, as seen in RECOIL #35, is the first one that comes to mind. With their patented bore evacuator, they took a high-pressure 5.56mm round and made it shoot soft and quietly. Along similar lines, the Liberty Suppressors integral 300 BLK, the Leonidas, remains a quiet option.

Some of the guts from actual integrals.

The added volume for gas expansion an integral provides can also be beneficial, just not as much as you imagine. The explosives gases from a fired shot absolutely will travel backward (evidenced by that gas-in-your-face with many systems), but it takes more effort than one would imagine. That extra volume for gas expansion can also result in a louder First Round Pop (FRP), which is one of the reasons monocore designs are generally louder than their traditionally baffled brethren.

Loose Rounds

We’ve often said integrally silenced weapons are absolutely not for first-time NFA tax stamp owners, and we continue that same advice to this day. One thing remains for certain: An integral silencer will absolutely always be cooler than one that attaches, but the juice may not be worth the squeeze when you consider the American tax stamp system. If silencers are somehow magically removed from NFA — fat chance with President Cheeto exclaiming, “I don’t like them at all” — there would be about zero reason for everything to not be an integral.

With our current legal system, the integral remains a super-cool, but superfluous purchase for many.

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