Guns are loud. Anytime you detonate a powerful explosive in a small confined space, it’s going to be noisy. And often, that BANG put off by your firearm gives away your position.
That’s why gun suppressors are an excellent survival tool. Nearly everyone understands that suppressors turn ear-splitting explosions, into muffled, discreet THUMP’s. So if you want to be sneaky (for whatever reason), using a gun suppressor is a smart way to avoid unwanted attention.
And in a survival crisis, I highly recommend you own at least one suppressor or or at least understand the principles to craft one. Because being able to fire off quiet shots will be the difference between being a predator or being prey. And if such a situation arises, you’ll be grateful you took the time to learn how to make a suppressor.
There is one thing I want to make very clear tho: Gun suppressors are not silent. There’s a reason I’m mostly using the term “suppressor” instead of “silencer. When you call a suppressor a “silencer” people get the impression that it will make your gun 100% silent.
And while absolute silence would be fantastic, it’s not how they work. Because, like most things, suppressors are not 100% perfect. Even the ones made by experts.
Yes, they significantly reduce noise associated with a shots explosion, but can’t reduce it to zero. However, suppressors make a significant difference nonetheless. Especially when you’re firing from a great distance (the further the target, the farther the sound of your shot has to travel to be heard).
And more than just being extremely useful, they also look badass. A gun with a suppressor attached looks scarier than one without. And while that may seem arbitrary, inspiring fear is not arbitrary and is a legitimate combat tactic.
Suppressors were used by John McClane in the Die Hard movies, they were used by nearly every James Bond, and, of course, by Chris Kyle in American Sniper. The bottom line is, putting a suppressor on your gun makes it look meaner, makes it sound cooler, and increases your undetectable firing ability.
Which brings us to our next section:
A Brief History of Silencers
The gun suppressor was patented in 1909 by a fellow called Hiram Percy Maxim. He named his invention the “Maxim Silencer”, and it was advertised in sporting good magazines across the country. The same man was responsible for engineering the muffler for the internal combustion system. A device that works in much the same way.
When this suppressor first came out, Theodore Roosevelt – America’s big-game-hunting-turn-of-the-century-president – was a big fan. Reportedly, he put it on his Winchester 1894 carbine.
Then when Franklin Roosevelt became president during WWII, the OSS director, William Donovan marched into the White House, straight into the Oval Office where FDR was dictating a letter. He then fired a gun (with suppressor) ten times into a sandbag he had brought with him.
He then handed the smoking gun to the President. FDR was taken aback, amazed by the tool, and soon after American soldiers started using suppressors regularly in action.
Since then the suppressor has become a staple of the US military. A tool that our soldiers have come to appreciate. And in an end-of-the-world or shit-hits-the-fan scenario, they will likely become a valuable survival tool that you’ll want.
A Quick Public Service Announcement
Suppressors are illegal in much of the developed world. Why? Because no one owns a suppressor for peaceful reasons. They are bought to make your guns more dangerous. They deaden the sound of a shot so whoever’s on the receiving end, won’t hear it.
Of course, in the good ol’ U.S. of A. you can legally own one (in 41 out of 50 states), for “lawful purposes.”
But the prospective buyer must undergo an application process with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). And if you’d rather keep your name off the federal registries, and out of government’s files, then this is not a viable option.
Because to get approval for a gun suppressor, the ATF needs to know everything about you and your past. So if you have any criminal history expect your application to be quickly rejected.
So how are decent American’s supposed to prepare themselves for a shit-hits-the-fan scenario, when the government is prohibiting us from acquiring the necessary items? Well, in the case of gun suppressors, survivalists are in luck because they are relatively straightforward to make.
The Science of Silence
To understand how a gun suppressor works, you need a basic understanding of how sound works. Sound waves are vibrations of air, and obviously, a firearm puts off intense vibrations.
These vibrations spread out in every direction at the speed of about 767 miles per hour. These vibrations bounce off reflective surfaces but are absorbed by softer ones. here’s a suppressor there to catch the sound waves right off the barrel.
But a suppressor’s will catch the sound waves right off the barrel. The general idea of a suppressor is to allow a clear passage for the bullet but not for the sound waves.
In order to do this, there are three types of silencers:
- Those with baffles on the inside
- Those with screens (or other sound absorbing materials) around the inside
- Those that are just straight up mufflers.
We will get more into the types of silencers later on, but for now, just understand that suppressors catch the noise coming out of the gun barrel while allowing the bullet to fly through, unhampered.
And this is why suppressors work better at longer distances. The explosion sound (which is dampened as the bullet exits the barrel) will not make it nearly as far as the bullet. Thus, increasing your capacity for stealth, dramatically!
3 Benefits to Using a Suppressor
1 -Built-In Hearing Protection
Never forgo a good set of firing range hearing protection when shooting your weapon. But it’s a nice bonus to suppress the high dB noise at the barrel when on the practice range.
Because being both unprotected and exposed to even a single unsuppressed gunshot can (and often does) cause permanent hearing damage. But after you slip on a suppressor, you can worry less about firearm related permanent hearing loss.
2 – Reduced Noise Complaints
Whenever I fire guns off my back porch, my neighbors always seem to file noise complaints. What the heck, right? Well, when I use a suppressor, it’s never a problem.
Suppressors make it easier to fire your guns in population dense areas without being heard. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
3 – Improved Accuracy
The argument is that using a suppressor can increase your accuracy. The main reason is they help to minimize flinching. Most people flinch slightly (or sometimes a lot) in anticipation of the recoil and subsequent BANG!
Well, a good suppressor will lower the loud noise and they also reduce the recoil as (up to 40% for some calibers).
Making Your Own Improvised Suppressor
It is easier than you think. Well, some of these options are, at least. Depending on what you have available, how much time there is, and how badly you want to stay quiet, some of these homemade suppressors might be more useful than others. But it is helpful to know how you could make any of them. The more prepared you are, the better off you will be when life gets dangerous.
But it’s always helpful to know how you could fashion one in a pinch. The more prepared you are, the better off you will be when life gets dangerous.
1 – A Pillow Suppressor
You’ve probably seen this trick in the movies, and contrary to what your instincts might be telling you, pillows actually can make pretty effective suppressors. Just make sure you are not using a revolver (the noise from a revolver will come right back out of the cylinder).
All you have to do is wrap the pillow as tightly around your firearm’s muzzle as tight as possible. However, this will only really work at very close distances. At long range targets, a pillow suppressor will make it impossible to aim properly.
So while using a pillow in a pinch is good information to know, it’s a terrible long-term plan. Running around with a pillow on the end of your gun is going to get noticed. And it’s a logistical nightmare (i.e. a pain to travel with it).
So pass on using a pillow for most of your firearm suppressing needs.
2 – A Potato Suppressor
Okay, this one made the list because my old man told me they used these as makeshift suppressors back in ‘Nam. Will it actually work? Hard to say…
Pops is full of shit. But he also knows a lot about improvised survival, and as far as I can reason, there is no reason it wouldn’t work. Just expect a mess. Using a potato as a suppressor will UNDOUBTEDLY send potato salad careening off into space 360-degrees around your muzzle. But, so long as you are okay with that, simply jam a spud on the end of your bang-stick and BOOM! … Or perhaps more aptly: Fwump!
But again, even if this does work in a pinch, it’s not a sustainable way to suppress your firearm in a long-term survival scenario.
3 – Oil Filter Suppressor
Oil filters are designed with internal baffles and filter materials. This setup removes impurities in your engine’s oil system. But the design also makes for a great way to filter out the vibrations of a loud firearm shot.
The oil filter even has a threaded end. So you need to find the right sized oil filter to make this work and also add a threaded tip to your barrel. Then you can screw on the oil filter to the barrel and viola, you have a makeshift gun suppressor.
4 – The Flashlight Suppressor
Not just any flashlight, though. You are going to need a heavy-duty steel flashlight to make this work (none of that cheap plastic crap). This video has an excellent tutorial for anyone interested in the details.
The flashlight option takes more work than the first 3 options and requires more tools and access to a hardware store. So if you plan on making one of these, I would recommend doing it before shit-hits-the-fan.
Build it in advance to fit your gun of choice and keep it in your house, vehicle, or bug out bag.
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Turning a flashlight into a suppressor is absolutely doable, it would just be difficult to do successfully in a pinch.
Note:once you move past a certain point of fabrication, you will move from a legal device to make to an illegal device to make. We never advocate doing any illegal; if you do, that’s on you.
Any tube will do so long as it’s durable and fits properly. I have seen people use cardboard, rolled up tightly and fixed around a gun’s barrel. It was not the most effective method, but it certainly did something to muffle the sound of the shot.
PVC pipes can also work well, especially since PVC can come in a variety of sizes. PVC is also very easy to work with and can be lined with sound absorbing material with relative ease (or, if you have the time and resources, you can take the baffled interior approach).
Buying a Suppressor
As mentioned before, it is a tricky process no matter where you live. In most developed nations on Earth, you cannot legally obtain a suppressor. In the US, it’s currently illegal to own suppressors (for any purpose) in California, Indiana, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
So if you live in any of those states, you are going to have to go the improvised route. Otherwise, it’s legal for gun owners to also own suppressors. You just have to apply with the government first.
There are a lot of useful facts on suppressor legality here, on the American Suppressor Association website.
But here are the basic rules:
- You must be 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer (or 18 to purchase it from another individual).
- Must be at least 18 years of age to own a suppressor (sorry minors).
- Have to be a current, legal resident of the US.
- Be eligible to purchase a firearm in the US.
- Pass a BAFTA background test (which you can access from this website).
- Pay a $200 “Transfer Tax”.
- Reside in one of the forty-one states that currently allows suppressor ownership.
There are only a few places online to help you buy a suppressor and make certain you have the adequate paperwork. Here’s our favorite online suppressor retailer: Brownells
Just take a look at their massive suppressor selection. Plus they make they make the application process a breeze.
The Final Word On Gun Suppressors
Why do we want a silencer? Well, for a lot of reasons. But mainly: to kill a target as quietly, and as sneakily as humanly possible.
But practice makes perfect. Do not expect to be able to make a perfect suppressor now that you have read this one article. If you want to actually get good at this, you are going to have to get out there and try it a few times, with a couple different set of materials. Plus, it encourages quick thinking and efficient survival.
Suppressors can be incredibly useful survival tools, and I would highly recommend that anyone interested in preserving their own future:
- Learn how to make one in a pinch
- Make a high-quality one in advance
- Buy one from a reputable dealer
Because I think we can all agree that a gun suppressor can save you a lot of unwanted trouble. Once you have one you’ll realize how much they increase your overall capacity for survival.