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Getting Kurz With It: Stubby Silencers Are All the Rage

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[Editor's Note] Published in 2018, this article is being republished in 2022 because it remains an excellent source of information on short suppressors.

If having big guns indicates a tiny tool, we must all have bulging britches — because smaller everything is cooler when it comes to guns and silencers. There are fashions and trends with suppressors, just like there are with guns, cars, jeans, and narcotics.

Numerous criteria factor into selecting a silencer, such as size, weight, durability, warranty, flexibility, and, you know, how much noise is produced — exactly which aspect is the most important to the public at large seems to change every few years.

Ten years ago, it was durability. It didn’t matter if a silencer weighed a ton, as long as it was tough as sh*t and [kinda] quiet. Titanium cans weren’t as popular, because despite the lower weight, they weren’t as durable — when titanium heats up it erodes and flakes off.

Fast-forward a couple years and weight became the most important factor. Titanium was in.

A few years later, the multi-caliber silencer was the most popular. The one-size-fits-most that worked “pretty OK” at everything but wasn’t exceptional at anything. As a first silencer, some of them still remain decent choices.

More recently, the modular silencer has taken hold. Want it longer and quieter? Keep it long. Shorter and louder? Just configure it that way.

And right now? The subject of this article: K-cans.


Kurz is German for short; many devices have shared this moniker over the years, both by their actual product names and via slang. Modern “full-size” rifle-caliber suppressors range from 7 to 10 inches, fairly small compared to their 1980s equivalents.

We’re still not sure whether John Arthur Ciener should be proud or ashamed. For the purposes of this article, we arbitrarily used 6 inches as the cutoff for a Kurz (K) rifle silencer.

While size and weight of full-size rifle silencers vary, you add significant length to your rifle with any of them. Even those that explicitly state “only adds X inches beyond the muzzle” invariably require the use of an extralong muzzle attachment.

This isn’t lying — not exactly — but it is disingenuous. Of course, and as usual, we blame marketing teams.

Not only are you adding length, effectively turning your handy little carbine into a musket-length affair like your great-great-great grandfather may have used, but you’re also significantly throwing off the balance.

It seems everyone loves a silencer on a 16-inch barrel — until they use one on a short barrel rifle (SBR). Sure, you’ve shaved off a few inches, but compact you aren’t.

One way you can still get some of the benefits of a silencer without throwing a ton of weight or length on the end of a gun is with a K-can. But they aren’t for everyone.

To be clear, this isn’t a buyer’s guide: this article will help you understand what to expect with one, and gives you the tools to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

On the face of it, the concept of a K-can is silly to some. After all, isn’t the point of a silencer to be as silent as possible. While these stubby silencers do indeed cut down the noise, they’re nowhere near as effective as their full-size brethren — double-so when paired with a short-barreled rifle.

Triple-so if 5.56mm is involved. They look rad though, and that’s justification enough for some, especially in a world of battle- battleworn finish and blinged-out blasters. And there are actually some reasons that you might want to nab yourself a K-can.

There are two basic ways to look at a kurz can:

  • As an expensive linear compensator on a short barrel
  • As a silencer you’ll actually enjoy using on a full-size (16- inch+) rifle.


It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that short barrels produce a lot of flash and bang in rifle calibers. Out in the open, an SBR with a decent muzzle device may not rattle your teeth, but while indoors, inside a car, or with a team is another story altogether.

And Lord help you if you’re using a brake.

Linear compensators such as the Noveske KX-series or Troy Claymore don’t reduce noise or blast, instead projecting it forward away from the shooter or anyone beside them. A stubby K-can will do the same, while reducing the noise signature to boot.

The original short-barreled AR silencer, the XM moderator built for the Colt Model 610/XM177, is only considered a silencer because of the absurdity of American law.

While a proper XM moderator will decrease decibels almost to that of a 20-inch rifle (thus earning its legal status as a silencer), it mainly serves to cut down the blast. Furthermore, the XM moderator increased backpressure to ensure more reliable operation on these early shorties.

Don’t expect miracles with 5.56mm, lest you set yourself up for disappointment, though a kurz does provide benefit in this role without tipping the scales too hard on the front end.

It’s for these reasons that K-cans are increasingly popular for military and law enforcement roles: They avoid blinding or deafening your teammates, they reduce the noise inside a structure allowing for better communication, and rifles can usually fit into patrol vehicles, gear lockers, and weapon racks with the silencer attached.


A 16-inch rifle with an 8-inch silencer easily makes a rifle longer than your great-uncle’s Vietnam M14, in a harder-to-wield package. We’re not even upset about that; it’s impressive.

As suppressor technology marches on we can get the same performance from a large antique silencer in a smaller package. With that said, physics being what they are, a similar design with less internal volume will be louder.

Everything is a balance between weight, mobility, and capability. A silencer may not have to be completely silent — just quiet enough for your needs. You can give up a little noise for a shorter package. This is where we’d normally insert a joke. We’ve found the current crop of kurz cans to be handier to use on 16-inch+ rifles than the heavy bastards we carried a decade ago.


We’re not going out on a limb when we say that the 16-inch barreled rifle is by far the most popular size sold in the United States. States. The same benefits benefits that an entry team attains from using a stubby silencer on an SBR directly translates to use with a standard carbine; better in every way sans those few extra inches of barrel.

Reduced flash, decent balance in size and performance, and more likely to actually be hearing safe. Like Goldilocks gobbling all the porridge, you may find this combination just right.


In the admittedly broad taxonomy of short silencers, there are a couple of base designs we can consider: fat bastards and little brothers.

Usually designed not to be regularly removed, a fat bastard makes up for its lack of length with girth. They’re more likely to be direct thread (DT) silencers, but not always. While QD devices allow easy removal for transport or swapping, direct-thread silencers do have some advantages, especially when we’re talking about the shorties. shorties.

While some designs designs are better and more efficient than others, in general since DT designs have no need for special locking mechanisms or internal space to accommodate muzzle devices, they can be more efficient. However, this comes at a cost.

While many new DT silencers feature wrench flats and holes for blind pinning, generally we avoid permanently attaching a silencer unless we absolutely have to. Even though a DT silencer can be removed, functionally you should consider them long-term residents. Needless swapping is just bad for everyone.

Examples include the Delta P Design Brevis II and Innovative Arms GruntM. If you’re the type who wants to fit a silencer under a handguard, these definitely aren’t for you.

Like a miniature copy of their older and larger siblings, but shorter, little brother designs share aesthetics and features like quick-disconnect mounts you may already have.

Examples include the Dead Air Sandman-K and the SureFire SOCOM556-Mini2. If there’s already a Sandman-L or SureFire RC2 in your safe and you want to try some presto-change-o you should consider one of these.



Some say silencers are the best flash hiders out there. Like so many other oftrepeated axioms, this isn’t true in every case. A silencer might be a decent flash hider, but frankly it’s pretty damn hard to beat something like a B.E. Meyers M249F at reducing visible signature

Especially when we’re talking short cans on short guns, a $7 1960s flash hider holds its own remarkably well.

Hiding flash is about more than the muzzle device; ammunition selection and barrel length is just as important. Hotter ammunition with faster-burning powders often generate less flash, simply because the bulk of the powder burns inside the barrel before it has the opportunity to be expelled and ignited beyond the muzzle.

Whenever we demonstrate the flash signature of any weapon or attachment, we try to use the most consistently flashy ammo we can get our paws on. Federal American Eagle routinely produces a f*ckoff amount of flash from a bare muzzle — perfect for this role. Just have a gander at the image comparing it to IMI M193 with a 16-inch naked gun.

Bear in mind that the first shot from a silencer usually produces more flash than subsequent ones. This is due to the atmospheric oxygen inside the silencer burning off.

As to how long you have before that next big flash? That largely depends on the silencer used. Some companies have integrated small flash hiders into their endcap designs to further reduce flash. Flash from follow-up shots is usually significantly less prominent.


If silencers are decriminalized via legislation like the Hearing Protection Act, you’d have no excuse not to have a handful of them. What makes a K-can so great isn’t that they’re amazing in any particular way aside from being small, but that they’re OK at everything while being small.

Just like the multi-caliber can, the strength of a stubby silencer is in its versatility. In the long list of NFA items, a Kurz rifle silencer ranks alongside an integral — it shouldn’t be your first or second silencer, but it may make its way to the fourth or fifth place on the ledger.

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