Busting Some Suppressor Myths

Suppressor for a rifle and the mechanism that mounts it

Suppressors are getting a lot of attention these days. The Virginia Beach shooting where the culprit allegedly used a suppressor on one of his handguns to slaughter more than 10 people is the reason for this attention. Let's take a moment to bust a few myths that our opposition has put out there concerning gun suppressors.

In all actuality, suppressors are very rarely used in crime, not silent, and can be made in the garage. Let's take a look at each one in more depth:

Very Rarely Used

The truth of the matter is that suppressors are very rarely used in crime. From FoxNews and John Lott concerning the more than 1.3 million Americans who own suppressors:

These legal owners have been extremely law abiding. In the 10 years from 2008 through 2017, the BATF only recommended an average of 44 suppressor-related prosecutions per year. This means that roughly .003 percent of “silencers” are used in crimes each year.

One of the reasons why most criminals won't use them is because they're very hard to acquire. You have to jump through proverbial hoops to get one. And, in addition to the atrocious wait time and the cost of the item itself, which isn't cheap, you have to pay an extra $200 for a tax stamp.

Criminals are not willing to do this, so they aren't used in crimes very often.

Not Silent

I hate when I hear a pro-2A person call a suppressor anything other than “suppressor.”

One of the reasons why I don't like it when people call them “silencers” is because they don't technically “silence” the firearm and it gives off the wrong connotation to people who just want to ban anything gun related out of fear.

The fear is understandable. I recently saw a comment from someone that said this: I see no use for them because I'd rather hear someone on a shooting rampage than not.

And, I get that. I want to hear it coming, too. But the thing is, they don't make the gun shots silent. In fact, they only drop them about 30 decibels.

While it'd be idiotic for me to argue this point any further because it does change the sound of the gunshot into something people may not be familiar with, to say that they silence a gun is just as idiotic.

They can be made

I'm about to blow everyone's mind: A suppressor can be made in a garage with items you can pick up in your local hardware store with a little creativity. It isn't easy to do correctly, but it can be done. So, if the criminals want to use a noise suppressor on their guns guess what? They're going to do it anyway.

In other words, any bans on suppressors will not work on anyone except for people willing to follow the law.

So where does that leave us? I've written an article about suppressor usage before, which you can read by that link. The article is based off the following graphic from the NSSF, which is one of the most informative things out there for suppressor ownership and why it's important:

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Jay Dee on June 11, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Actually I think we can work with the latest hoopla.

    Hollywood silencers are mythical devices that can reduce the muzzle blast of a 300 Magnum to whisper levels; I. e. less than 70 db. So let’s declare that any device that reduces the noise of a gun shot over 100 db or less than 50 db is a silencer and still controlled by the NRA. Devices that do not meet this standard are not silencers and may be freely manufactured, sold, transferred, possessed and used without bureaucratic impediment.

    Big gun control can’t complain. The silencers they’ve been portraying to the gullible public are still illegal. Shooters are happy because they can own real world suppressors without all the bureaucracy.

  2. Rob on June 12, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Great article dispelling the myths around suppressors. There is also the added benefit to those that shoot firearms regularly that it will reduce the sound so it doesn’t damage our hearing (i.e. hunting and target practice). This is more and more important as you get older because your ears don’t heal from hearing loss, the only thing you can do is use hearing aids to amplify the sound once you’ve lost it..

    • Bergcas on June 12, 2019 at 10:03 am

      I have had my Suppressors for 2 years, and always call it a Suppressor. We need to get the word (Suppressor) out to the public, as that is what it does!

  3. Thomas N Jones on June 12, 2019 at 8:35 am

    For the most part, I agree with your article. However, from personal experience, I know that a suppressor will in fact lower the sound produced by a firearm. I had a friend, who had a FFL and was allowed to own suppressors. He had a Ruger .22 with a suppressor. It was in fact a “silencer” The only sound made was the sound of the slide cycling. He also had an Israeli made Uzi with a suppressor. It sounded like a person clapping their hands. It certainly reduced the sound produced adequately enough that a person in the next room would not recognize it as gunfire. I am a gun owner, and in no way do I want to be a jerk, but, I do think that we need to be truthful and informed if we publish an article meant to persuade someone of our point of view. Miss-information destroys credibility.

    • Joshua Gillem on June 13, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Hey Thomas, thanks for the comment.

      I appreciate the points you make. If you actually read the article, I do say that a suppressor does change the sound of the firearm to something someone may not recognize. I guess I could have been clearer as I didn’t say “how” it changed the sound. It changes the sound by quieting the gun more. Forgive me, I thought that was assumed as the topic of the article is sound suppressors. We don’t disagree here.

      It should be said that a .22 is a relatively quiet firearm to begin with and a suppressor does quiet it more. I’m not disagreeing with you there. When we’re talking about suppressors in general I think we have to use the “average” suppressor, if there can be such a thing. In other words, most crimes aren’t committed with a .22lr anyway, because they’re using something else. The guy who went on this rampage, for example, allegedly use a .45 ACP.

      By all accounts a .45 is louder than a .22 is.

      I also cannot really comment on the suppressed Uzi, as I’ve never heard one in person. I’ll add it to my bucket list.

      Thankfully, we live in the age of the internet and YouTube and suppressed Uzi videos are a dime a dozen. I just watched several and none of them sounded like a person clapping their hands. But, maybe it was me, or maybe my headphones are defective.

      I therefore believe I was being truthful and informed with everything I said being based on fact as presented in the graphic by the NSSF and other studies. I’m not trying to persuade someone to my point of view, just present information. People have every right to research what I’ve said here and see if I’m truthful.

      Thanks again,


      • Nero Augutus on August 26, 2020 at 6:26 am

        Hey bud, hope your well. For the sake of discussion: while i love the spirit and purpose of your article, i feel compelled to point out a facet of it that does harm to our position. Suppressors are VERY rarely used in crime. This is because; they arent near as quiet as movies would have you think. Smaller ones, like ones in movies, arent “quiet” at all. None of them are concealable or very maneuverable. Any benefit is negated by turning a glock 19 into something the size of an smg. Its just to much hassle with to much downside for the barely perceptible gain. (The reason you mentioned for why crime is almost never committed with suppressors: “they require submitting finger prints, background check, tax stamp, wait period etc. Its alot of hoops to jump through and most criminals wont or cant do it.” ) I feel it harms our argument because you go on to say, essentially (im paraphrasing) “banning or seriously regulating suppressors makes no sense anyway, as they can easily be made with readily available materials, a how to vid, and a dremel and drill/drill press. Anyone willing to break the law has this option, only law abiding citizens are affected by these laws, obviously, and so restricting suppressors to cut back on crime is folly. It only reduces the amount of suppressors in te hands of those who observe the law. Those who would break the law by murdering/shooting someone with a suppressed gun, isnt going to cease because you made the suppressor illegal….” And i fully agree with you. However your earlier point provides ammo with which to negate this. “Well, you said yourself, the reason almost no crime is committed with suppressors is due to all the hoop jumping. The fact that they are difficult to get with the background checks and tax stamps etc. So….by your own statements heavily restricting suppressors has directly resulted in substantially less crime, while allowing law abiding citizens to still have access. Sounds like restrictions have worked well. We need more. “. I realize you said ONE of the reasons there is VERY little crime with suppressors, but it was the only reason you provided. (the majority of crimes pertaining to suppressors is illegal possession of said suppressor.. personally…i dont see how the anti gun folk apply those cases to examples of crimes committed with a suppressor.)

  4. John Isbell on June 12, 2019 at 10:16 am

    The interesting thing is that the shooter who allegedly used the suppressor was still caught. It didn’t keep others from hearing the shots. Police are trained to detect the sounds of suppressor.

  5. R. Tiffner on June 12, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    I have always lived by the rule “Pick your fights wisely”.
    And to me this doesn’t seem like a wise fight. I’ve heard many of the detractions that:
    1. Suppressors protect hearing. There are literally hundreds of products on the market that do this.
    2. Gunfire causes complaints of noise pollution that gets gun ranges shutdown. I’ve been to many gun ranges and at most I’ve heard a muffled barely discernible report that isn’t audible above traffic.
    3. They make your firearm more accurate. ??? I’m not even going to dignify that with a rebuttal.
    I support the 2A and do not want to lose any of my rights as a GUN owner. I’m sorry I will not risk those rights over this TOY.
    Provide me with an argument that is not so easily dismissed or ridiculous out of hand and I will support this position. So far, no one can.

  6. DEBBIE on June 12, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Thomas Jones you don’t know what you are talking about. you mentioned a uzi from Israel with a suppressor wasn’t to smart, because that means its full auto. And there is nothing wrong with owning a suppressor,so you have to pay a tax stamp unless you are doing something illegal your making them sound like a bad thing to own, and the man who wrote this article does know what he is talking about. Just because you can fire a weapon does not make you a expert in anything.

  7. James on June 12, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Hiram Maxim called it a silencer for his patent. So even though it doesn’t silence a gunshot, that is the correct term.

    • Nero Augutus on August 26, 2020 at 6:03 am

      The man who invented and patented the first “car” called it a horseless carriage.

  8. bcjammerx on January 26, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    I guess you never shot a suppressed .22 LR, its almost nothing but mechanical action sounds…add subsonic, which are already only as loud unsuppressed as an air rifle, and the only thing you’ll hear is the mechanical action of the gun…as loud as cocking the gun. This isn’t an opinion but observable fact. And if you don’t think a .22 can kill a grown human you’re greatly mistaken. I’ve seen .22 rounds used for suicides very effectively.

    While not a good choice for self defense I would agree, for most, as it would certainly take very well placed hits…but so does using a larger caliber if we’re honest…even a subsonic .22 round will kill. If you don’t hit the heart or brain the perp can easily reach you even with a larger caliber, it’s just easier with larger calibers because they cause greater broad damage…you can pierce the heart or aorta without hitting it bullseye.

    But you can buy subsonic 9mm rounds too.

    Video games and movies like to pretend a suppressor on any gun will make it whisper but you’d need subsonic rounds too and yes, in fact, it would be much quieter than just 20db…while I can’t speak for suppressed subsonic 9mm I can assure you a suppressed subsonic 22 LR makes about as much noise as snapping a pinky width tree limb and is accurate to over 100 yards EASY

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