Suppressors have become a staple of Hollywood action films. And in these films, suppressors tend to make the sound of a gunshot inaudible.
However, in real life, they only lower the volume of a gunshot, which depends on the suppressor, how it works, and various features of the gun and ammo.
This is why the gun community prefers the term “suppressor” over “silencer,” though both words describe the same device.
Of course, most of us aren’t spies or soldiers that need to make shots undetected by nearby enemies.
(And, if you are, it seems like that’s probably something your work provides. So, you probably don’t need to read about where to buy a suppressor).
For the average person, there are still some advantages of a quieter gunshot. Unfortunately, buying one can feel like a bit of a process.
In this guide, we’ll talk about why you might want a suppressor, how a suppressor works, how you buy a suppressor once you decide you want one, and where you can shop for one once you’re ready to buy.
Why Would I Want a Suppressor?
So why would you, a regular guy, want a suppressor anyway?
Well, for one, guns are uncomfortably loud.
For new shooters or shooters with auditory processing issues, that bang can be a huge barrier to becoming comfortable shooting.
Even experienced shooters may find themselves flinching in anticipation of the bang, in turn, hurting their accuracy.
The reduced noise from a suppressor makes the gunshot less startling, helping shooters get more comfortable and reducing flinching.
In addition, the volume of a gunshot, as I’m sure we all know, can damage hearing. So, anything you can do to reduce the volume offers hearing protection.
A suppressor can be used instead of uncomfortable hearing protection devices like earplugs or earmuffs or in conjunction with them for an even lower-volume shooting experience. This keeps hearing nice and safe and makes for a more pleasant shooting experience,
Hunters, in particular, benefit from the hearing protection aspect since hunters frequently skip other hearing protection devices while in the field so they can still hear what’s going on around them.
Another advantage for hunters is that a quieter shot isn’t as easily heard by nearby animals, which helps avoid scaring game away.
Finally, a quieter shot is also just polite when shooting outdoors. Whether hunting or shooting at an outdoor range, less noise means less disturbance for hunters and landowners around you.
How Does a Suppressor Work?
So how do suppressors lower the volume of a gunshot anyway?
Suppressors work very similarly to car mufflers. In fact, the suppressor and muffler were developed at the same time by the same man, Hiram Percy Maxim.
The noise of a gunshot is due to the release of gas when the gun fires.
The inside of the suppressor contains a series of rings, called baffles, that reduce the speed of the gas and help it disperse.
As we’ve already established, a suppressor certainly doesn’t make a gunshot silent, though Maxim named his initial suppressor as the “Maxim Silencer.” It does, however, make the noise much quieter.
How Do I Buy a Suppressor?
Okay, so you’re sold on the advantages of a suppressor, but how do you acquire one for yourself?
Suppressors are regulated under the NFA, so they’re not as easy to buy as most accessories or even a firearm.
Civilians can buy them, though. It just takes some additional time and paperwork, plus a $200 tax.
Expect this whole process to take at least a few months and possibly a year or more, depending on how many applications the ATF is dealing with.
You can buy in a store or online, but since you’ll have to wait a while for it anyway (and you can get a better selection online), we recommend just shopping online.
Plus, you can’t go with just any gun shop. They have to be a Class III dealer, or SOT, to sell suppressors, so your favorite gun shop may not qualify anyway.
Whoever you decide to go with, they’re typically more than willing to help you navigate the purchasing process. After all, they’re very motivated to help you spend your money with them.
Where Do I Buy a Suppressor?
Alright, so you still want to buy a suppressor and are ready to get started with the process. But where do you shop for one?
Because of the more complicated buying process, many gun sellers don’t bother stocking them.
Fortunately, there are still some great options for purchasing a suppressor.
1. Silencer Central
Our favorite suppressor retailer is Silencer Central.
They offer a great selection of silencers, including their own house brand, which we love. And if you’re not sure which suppressor you want, they offer a ton of resources to help you choose.
But where they stand out is their approach to the buying process.
Silencer Central makes it about as easy and straightforward as it possibly can be. Once you’ve picked out your suppressor, they handle all the ATF paperwork for you. All you do is fill it out and sign it.
They’ll even submit a request to your sheriff’s department for your fingerprints, so if yours already has a copy of your fingerprints from when you got your CCL, you don’t even have to deal with that.
They’ll even set up a trust for you for free. A trust makes it so that your friends and family can also use your suppressor and allows someone to inherit your suppressor. You also don’t have to file so much paperwork if you buy another suppressor later on.
They’ll even let you set up a payment plan to pay for your suppressor over four monthly payments, including the cost of your tax stamp, while you wait for your paperwork to process.
That way, you don’t have to shell out all the money for your suppressor at once. They don’t charge any interest either.
Once the ATF has signed off on your paperwork, Silencer Central will have your suppressor delivered right to your door, so you don’t even have to go pick it up from your FFL.
That’s right; you can order, handle your paperwork, and receive your suppressor, all without leaving your house.
2. Silencer Shop
Silencer Shop is another retailer with a unique approach to buying suppressors.
Like with Silencer Central, you start the process entirely online. Once it’s time to submit your fingerprints, you’ll need to head out to a Secure Identity Documentation (S.I.D. Kiosk) at a Powered by Silencer Shop dealer to finish the process. The kiosk will scan your fingerprints and allow you to finish submitting your info.
Next, you’ll download the Silencer Shop app to take and submit your passport-style photo.
Once all that’s done, Silencer Shop will assemble your paperwork and email it to you for your electronic signature. They’ll also save all your info, including your photo, in the S.I.D. system to make the paperwork easier next time.
Once you and the dealer have signed your paperwork, Silencer Shop will submit the paperwork for you. Then you wait.
Once your silencer is ready, the dealer will get in touch with you to come pick up your brand-new suppressor.
You can also buy through Silencer Shop and have your suppressor shipped to a non-Powered by Silencer Shop dealer if they’re a Class III dealer. But you’ll have to handle the paperwork, and your dealer will charge a fee averaging about $40.
We really recommend going with a Powered dealer, not just to save money, but also because of the ease of future purchases with the S.I.D. system.
3. Other Online Shops
If you don’t mind handling the paperwork yourself, you have more online shopping options. You’ll still need to arrange for your suppressor to go to a local Class III dealer, or SOT, to finish up the transfer.
Looking at other shops allows you to hunt for a good deal or get a silencer that Silencer Central or Silencer Shop doesn’t carry.
You’ll need to have your dealer lined up before you make your purchase, so start out your buying journey by calling up your local gun shops to find out whether they’re a Class III dealer.
Once you find your dealer, get a copy of their FFL and SOT. You’ll need these to give to the retailer once you’re ready to buy.
4. Local Gun Shops
Finally, you can also just go to a Class III dealer to buy a suppressor directly from a Class III dealer.
Again, you’ll typically need to get all of your paperwork together yourself before you head to the store to shop. However, many shops are willing to talk you through the process, and some may be able to help you with the paperwork.
It’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process, though. You’ll need to get your passport-style photo and fingerprints taken yourself. If you plan on buying through a trust, you’ll need to set that up yourself, too, or work with a lawyer to get it taken care of.
While buying from a brick-and-mortar gun shop isn’t as straightforward, there’s something to be said about supporting local gun shops.
Plus, while Silencer Central and Silencer Shop make the initial buying process easier, the main benefit is the ease of future purchases.
So, if you don’t anticipate buying additional NFA items in the future, the difference in convenience isn’t as large, especially if you’re just hiring a lawyer to help you navigate the process anyway.
Buying from a local gun shop is also a good option for those who don’t want to fuss with a lot of technology or just don’t relish the idea of giving away too much personal information online.
Suppressors may be something of a TV and movie trope at this point, but they also have a lot of benefits for regular non-operators like you and me. Of course, you can only reap those benefits if you actually buy one.
Each of the above options is an excellent option for getting your own suppressor.
Silencer Central is, of course, the easiest, most convenient option, while Silencer Shop and their S.I.D. Kiosk make future NFA item purchases much easier. Shopping with other retailers requires more from you, but it’s still not too bad.
So, which of these options sounds best to you? Which suppressor are you planning on buying? Let us know in the comments. Looking to buy more stuff online? Find guns at the Best Places to Buy Guns Online.