Guns Quiet Precision, What You Think Matters May Not be True Dave Merrill January 2, 2019 This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 40 Sure, one could just put whatever 30-caliber silencer on the end of a long range rig, but that’s not what this article is about.. At the base level, it seems that the main use of a suppressor is to well, suppress sound. However, when it comes to long range specifically, you may find sound suppression to be further down on the list than you’d expect. Ryan Hey, professional Precision Rifle Series (PRS) shooter and MagnetoSpeed rep broke it down for us like this: “The first thing I care about is accuracy. If a silencer decreases accuracy, it’s gotta go. Next up is repeatability. Can I take it off, then put it back on without any major degradation? Reduction in recoil is next on the list; I have to be able to spot my own hits at longer distances. Last up is sound. If I don’t need to wear earpro, all the better.” Yes, sound is the very last thing Hey cares about. He still cares about it—it just isn’t the first priority. Some of your vanilla 30-caliber cans will do some of those things, but a quality long-range silencer will do all of those things. Remember that these are generalities, though we make some recommendations at the end of the article. RECOIL AND SIGHT TRACKING One reason we have seen some PRS and long range shooters switch back to muzzle brakes from silencers over the past couple of years is due to the more effective recoil control some brakes offer. The ability to see and spot your own impact is vitally important to long-range success. Not every silencer will reduce your recoil, but we found Leviathan Suppressors particularly excelled in this role. Using both 6 Creedmoor and 260 Remington we were able to spot our own hits from 400 to 900 yards with no issue. Let’s just say that we didn’t want to take the Leviathan off our rifle at the end of the day. POINT OF IMPACT SHIFT We’ve come across many claims that XYZ brand silencer has, “zero point of impact shift.”. If there were actual truth in advertising the claim would be more along the lines of, ‘POI shift is small enough you probably won’t notice. Probably. Maybe.’ Many factors come into play when we’re talking about POI shift with a silencer on vs. silencer off. The weight of the silencer, the length and profile of the barrel, the change in harmonics, and the shift in velocity allow add up to at least some amount of shift. There’s going to be some shift—what we really care about is if the shift is repeatable. In an ideal world, you’d re-zero every time you took a silencer on or off, but we don’t live in a world of strawberry rainbows and marshmallow clouds. Our best advice is to never take a silencer off, but if you think you’ll be hot-swapping, take note of any shift. TO QD OR NOT? THAT IS THE QUESTION The argument between direct-thread (DT) and quick-disconnect (QD) for silencers in general has long been the subject of debate; and it’s no different regarding long range shooting. The hybrid design of the Crux brake offers excellent repeatability. While a QD allows a user to rapidly remove a silencer (usually for transportation), not all QD systems are created equally. For example, the bi-lock mount used by Gemtech, GSL, CMMG, and NEMO reciprocates on the mount when fired—perfectly fine for most AR-15 shooters, but it doesn’t aid those shooting long range. Currently the most repeatable locking QD mounts are those that only mount one way and don’t rely on ratcheting teeth or similar mechanisms on the muzzle device itself to ensure they lock in place. Standouts here include SureFire and Dead Air. Direct-Thread mounting should be considered a semi-permanent affair; while you can take it off, a direct-threaded can is really meant to live on the muzzle most of the time sans some cleaning or maintenance. As such, this option is more popular for those with folding stocks and chassis systems, because, generally, they can be transported with a suppressor mounted. DT also usually comes with a lower price tag, and more internal volume because there’s no muzzle device taking up space in the blast baffle. But, there is a third option. We call it a hybrid, though some others refer to it as a non-locking QD. With a hybrid system, the silencer is still threaded on, but on a specialized muzzle device rather than the barrel itself. The best ones have a taper mount, which actually align a suppressor better than their DT brethren. The advantage of these systems is that you’re able to remove a muzzle device (albeit with more time than a QD) while retaining decent repeatability. BLAST MITIGATION If you shoot a brake very close to the ground, you’re likely to get dust, rocks, and dirt thrown everywhere. The same can’t be said of a rifle equipped with a silencer. Since most of the blast is contained inside the suppressor itself, there isn’t much energy left over to kick up debris around the muzzle. This makes a shooter’s position much harder to track from an observer’s or target’s position. Leviathan makes silencers in several sizes. This is particularly useful for military and police snipers, but really no one wants all that sh*t thrown in their face regardless of their role. SOUND No matter how you cut it, if you’re shooting a precision rifle at any sort of range it’s gonna have a supersonic crack. This isn’t to say that the effective decibels do not matter, just that they generally fall below everything else on this list of priorities for some long-range shooters. Area 419 Muzzle Devices Something we hate, but silencer manufacturers absolutely love, are proprietary muzzle devices — and it’s not hard to see why. If you buy a silencer from Company X, chances are you’ll buy multiple muzzle devices also from Company X (most at more than $100 each), so you can use it on multiple guns. When it comes time to purchasing silencer #2, just who do you think you’ll more likely be buying a silencer from? It’s like voluntary DRM for your guns. A company looking to help people break out of this is Ohio-based Area 419. While they’re not well known outside of the precision crowd, they should be. Their patent-pending Hellfire modular system doesn’t have the same limits as other proprietary mounts. This is one of the so-called “hybrid” systems we talked about. First and foremost, you can use the easy-to-align Hellfire brake. But it only gets better from there. All with the same Hellfire muzzle device, you can get adapters for a number of precision rifle silencers. One muzzle attachment gives you the ability to directly attach a Hellfire brake, and, through the use of Area 419’s suppressor mounts you can attach TBAC, Crux, SAS Tomb, SilencerCo Omega (and therefore Dead Air Nomad), SilencerCo Harvester, Saker, and universal 5/8-24 direct threaded suppressors — with more coming. Area 419 offers the same functionality for calibers up to .375 with its Sidewinder muzzle attachment system. Make: Area 419 Model: Hellfire Universal Adapter MSRP: $40 plus $55-$165 for silencer adapters or Hellfire brake URL: area419.com Leviathan 30 Cal Reaper MSRP: $1,195 URL: leviathansuppressors.com NOTES Of all the long-range silencers we used, the Leviathan cans had the best recoil mitigation. There’s no free lunch, however. Using the Leviathan on a gas gun, which they specifically don’t recommend, had the opposite effect due to increased back pressure. Keep this one on a bolty and watch how little your reticle moves. Crux Ark Neo MSRP: $1,103 URL: cruxsuppressors.com NOTES The Crux (pronounced “crow”) Ark Neo has proven to be a versatile titanium little beast. Working well on both gas and bolt guns, what impressed us the most was the repeatability using both the factory Precision Mounting System (PMS) and the aftermarket Area 419 adapter. SureFire SOCOM 260-Ti MSRP: $1,349 URL: surefire.com NOTES We’re pretty sure someone had to hold SureFire’s Barry Dueck at gunpoint to get him to design a silencer that won’t live on a belt-fed, but he did it. The SOCOM260-Ti is the first silencer from SureFire entirely designed with accuracy in mind. 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