Suppressors in the News

You know the fight is brewing when over memorial day several outlets run stories. USA Today actually has a relatively positive piece on them. In fact, even our opponents at ARS are now helping make our point:

Chipman said silencers are not certified as hearing protection and he worries that the gun lobby argument and the bill title could dupe buyers into thinking silencers alone can save their hearing. Ear plugs and ear muffs are tested and used by law enforcement and the U.S. military for hearing protection.

“I would hate for anyone who is not as informed as a gun expert … to misunderstand that they can fire a gun with just a silencer and not use hearing protection,” said Chipman, a former ATF special agent.

All it takes is hearing a suppressed report once to know you still need hearing protection. But it’s just loud. You don’t need as much. My electronic muffs are rather thin, because I can’t get a good cheek weld on a rifle with thick muffs. What a suppressor does is make my thinner hearing protection options more effective. People who are opining about this have no idea how ear splittingly loud and disorienting unsuppressed gun fire really is.

The Dallas Morning News has a less charitable take on the issue, asking: “And what’s wrong with ear plugs?” Ear plugs are not remarkably effective. I’m happy to see that gun people in the comments are coming armed with facts and shooting down every argument opponents make. It strikes me that they don’t really have any good arguments against the Hearing Protection Act. First comment to the Dallas Morning News article is actually pretty well done:

17 thoughts on “Suppressors in the News”

  1. Wait. I thought their argument was that suppressors makenfuns silent and are only tools for murderers to kill and and easily get away with it. Ow they are claiming they don’t actually work and we still need earplugs?!?!

      1. It’s their MO. Remember how “assault weapons” should be banned because they are hard to control, and should also be banned because they are too easy to control?

  2. Two random and not-necessarily relevant thoughts are, remember the old joke about the “NRA Salute”? You start moving your hand toward your hairline or hat-brim, but then cup it behind your ear and say “HUH? WHAT?”

    My second thought is, no one should minimize the problem, since I can attest I had high-frequency hearing loss even before I went into the Army as a kid; from back in the days when most of us just didn’t know any better. A half-century hasn’t made it any better. (Yesterday another old vet came up to beat my ear at my table in a noisy restaurant; I wish I could have caught 1/10 of what he said, because his story sounded interesting.)

    But I think ARS has a valid point in the quote that Sebastian highlighted. When it comes to causes-and-effects, a shocking percentage of people just don’t get things right, and there will be some shooters who will think suppressors substitute for hearing protection. So, is the propaganda value of wringing our hands over our inability to “protect our hearing” with suppressors, really persuasive enough to counterbalance the potential harm that could result from our own people taking it to heart? Or is its purpose just another variation of playing the victimhood card/meme, to feed the outrage of own camp?

    (Again I’ll apologize for my attitude of being “so tired of bullshit I’m even tired of our own bullshit.”)

    1. I think it’s more a matter of people such as hunters who would otherwise use no ear protection at all gain a substantial advantage by having a suppressor versus nothing.

      1. That is an excellent and valid point; but the limited applicability needs to be emphasized in such a way that no one gets confused; e.g., “not entirely adequate protection, but better than nothing.”

        I wonder if it could be (has been?) quantified exactly how much unprotected exposure leads to certain levels of hearing loss? E.g., could troops who have been exposed to firefights in combat be screened for levels of hearing loss? Of course that could be obscured by exposure to really severe explosions, like grenades or mortars.

        Inquiring minds. . .

        1. The USMC either just ran or is in the process of running a large-scale test deployment of “every carried weapon silenced,” and IIRC is planning to move forward for more general deployment.

  3. With a good can and subsonic ammo you can shoot without ear protection. Two of mine are that way; one in 9mm and one in .22.

    1. I believe the issue is, any supersonic round.

      A good educational experience is, to work pulling targets in old fashioned target pits. When I did that many years ago, we had an intercom to the firing line in the pits. You would first hear the report of the rifle over the intercom; then a really loud crack as the (7.62) bullet went overhead; then the sound of the rifle would arrive, through the air.

      Just for a historical data point, when my father was young, in the 1920s and 1930s, deer jacklighters preferred the .32 RF. It was subsonic and quiet, but more effective than a .22 RF, and in those days .32 RF rifles could be found behind most barn doors, so if you got busted and your equipment was confiscated, you hadn’t lost an expensive gun.

      The same thing can be achieved using centerfire rounds loaded down to subsonic, for close range shooting. About 30 years ago, Alberts Bullets, that manufactured swaged, dry-lubed handgun bullets, also manufactured 154 gr. swaged lead .308 bullets. They never caught on, but worked well for subsonic purposes on indoor ranges, etc. I loaded some for a friend, for his .30 Carbine caliber Ruger Blackhawk. Lost the horrific muzzle blast, and gained amazing penetration for a .30 caliber handgun!

  4. If the numbers (stated in the video) for ACTUAL protection of foam plugs, and earmuffs, are correct, then a suppressor is better, all by itself.

    The point being, that real world comparisons are needed, not lab results.
    Due to range conditions, I’ve never had the chance to remove my hearing protectors while shooting various suppressed weapons. However, I have observed some MG’s being demonstrated individually with and without suppressors, outdoors. When they switched to the suppressors, I took off my hearing protection. That was so neat! The difference in sound was astounding. The Ma Deuce just made a clattering noise from the action, and the clangs as the rounds hit the 55gal drum waay downrange were obvious.

    My experience is that suppressors seem to be quieter than some shooters have been reporting. Could just be my ears, though.

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