SOUND TECH NEWSLETTER - 2004

 

INDEX:

Sound Tech News, Sound Tech Muzzle Cans –1; 9mm Wet Cans, Steel Targets, Suppressor Alignment, Russian Space Pen –2; .22 Rifle Prototype, Aguila’s 60-Grain Subsonic Round –3; 10/22 Pocket Rifle, MK II Shell Catcher, Stainless MK II Survival System, Animal Control, Expanding Subsonic Bullets –4; Casting Effective Bullets for Live Animals, .223 Cans for Ultimate Suppression –5; Our Newest Line of .223 Cans, Law Enforcement and the M16 –6; B. R. Tuote Silencers –10; Aiming Points for Subsonic/Supersonic, Peep Sights & Scopes, Runaway MAC – Get a Grip!, Long-range Cartridges –11; FN P-90, Russian Vintorez Silenced Sniper Rifles, Suppressed Pistol Comments –13; A Quieter Unsuppressed Rifle, Orders –19; Stay Subsonic for Maximum Suppression, Anti-Gun Activity, Shipping Firearms –22

SOUND TECH NEWS (as of 1/2004): Old publicity concerns Mark's ST interview, which appeared in the May, 2000 issue of Small Arms Review. They can be reached at 207-683-2172. A version of the enclosed AR15 article can be found in the Feb. 2001 issue of SAR. Mark's 120 page manual on the Ruger 10/22 is still available from Paladin Press at 303 443 7250. Mark’s book on the New Military Service Rifle is currently being published by Paladin, and should be available in a few months. An old article on the Pocket Rifle and Aguila’s 60-grain SSS round, 10 pages, found in the Annual Special Weapons for Military & Police – 2001, and the .308 cans, found in the mid year 2001 issue of the same publication. The new .50 BMG can is an expanded version of the .223 can, 2.3" in diameter and 12" long, with a weight of 5.5 pounds and a retail price of $1,200. These aren’t fun to make, but they have been working very well, with a minimal 30 dB reduction. An article on both the .50 can and the .300 Rem. Ultra Mag can may be found in the January 2003 issue of Special Weapons for Military & Police. The Sound Tech .50 cans make shooting the big .50 BMG rifle without hearing protection possible, and reduce the recoil about as much as a good muzzle brake. Sound measured 5 meters to the side of an Accuracy International .50 was taken at 157 dB, which would calculate at 180 dB a meter from the muzzle. That is very serious, ear-damaging noise. Suppressed sound a meter to the side of the muzzle was 151 dB, and 131 dB at the shooter’s ear. The bullet flight noise from the .50 BMG round is around 148 dB. Of importance to the shooter, the suppressed noise was 131 dB, well below the 140 dB that it takes to damage hearing, and muzzle flash is gone. We have been working on a can for the 20mm Vulcan, and should have that up and running in a few months. We did a redesign on a grenade launcher for Crane Naval Warfare center. And finally, we have completed developmental work on the FAT BOY, a short, thick integral can for Ruger’s 22/45 pistol and they are now in production.

The big news at SOPMOD is the ongoing improvement of the M16 assault rifle for our military forces, complete with silencers and a host of features wished for but not yet provided. Lake City apparently produced about 7 million rounds of the new 6.8mm cartridge for military testing in the M16, which has fallen into disfavor in recent months. The .223 cartridge and the M16 may be replaced in the future. We are finally building lightweight 9mm and .40 S&W cans for Glock (and other pistols with tilting barrels) that won’t cycle with heavier suppressors. We are also building suppressed 10/22s for steel plate competition. A number of you have asked for special cases to fit the CZ 452 family of .22 LR and .22 Magnum Rimfire rifles. We have contracted with a manufacturer of professional web gear and have a few examples. Will let you know what pricing will be after they let us know. Case colors so far are black, camo, olive drab, beige and gray. The .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire round continues to sell very well, and we are suppressing quite a few rifles in this caliber. The .17 is accurate and works well on animals weighing up to 2 pounds, but is not recommended for heavier critters. The .22 Mag. is an older cartridge, but has far more lethality than the .17. We like the CZ 452 rifle in .17 and .22 Mag. more than those from other manufacturers, so far. Savage and Marlin .17s are accurate, for what that’s worth.

SOUND TECH– INTEGRAL V/S MUZZLE CANS -- THE SCREW-ON MILLENNIUM CAN & THE WELD-ON MONOLITH: Early in 1994 Mark was visiting with silencer guru, Al Paulson, when the topic of future trends came up. Al was bemoaning the fact that the trends seemed to be going in the direction of small-diameter, integral cans - a movement to visually conceal the fact that a weapon was suppressed, rather than a frank, honest, traditional attempt to do the best job possible with available technology. While integral rifle cans may look neat, there are quite a number of serious problems inherent in their construction, such as expense, inaccuracy, fouling and reliability. Over the next two days Al laid out a convincing argument that his premise was sound.

About this same time Mark was influenced by George Dyson, a kayak builder/enthusiast/ historian/writer, living in British Columbia. George started as a young boy, building kayak frames and stringers from steel electrical conduit. After moving to British Columbia, George eventually found himself making native Alaskan kayak designs using lightweight aluminum aircraft tubing, held together with nylon seine twine soaked in epoxy. The construction method may sound unorthodox, but works surprisingly well. George then used these space-age kayaks to explore thousands of miles of Canadian and Alaskan coastline, some of the roughest water in the world. The thing that most impressed Mark was George's persistence as he built kayak after kayak, using variation after variation of native designs, ever searching for the most efficient models. The more George built, the better he became at the art, which after many years became an established science. Time and effort directed repeatedly toward a central theme eventually resulted in brilliant designs that worked extremely well. Mark started doing a similar thing with the screw-on Millennium and weld-on Monolith muzzle cans.

During the intervening years Mark and Sound Tech have conducted a considerable amount of original research into muzzle can technology. Because the .22 rimfire round has an extremely low propellant to payload ratio, much of the effort was concentrated there. Over 200 prototypes have been designed, built and tested. Mark performed barrel cutting/velocity experiments to find optimal barrel lengths for subsonic velocity in different calibers. He also performed ballistic testing to understand, in his own mind, what actually happened when a bullet struck, and what was important for optimal sub and supersonic terminal effect. Early exploration tended to be minimalist, with small diameters and short lengths. As the inexpensive, welded steel, M-Can series was advertised and sold, and as market acceptance increased, primary grid diffusers were combined with perforated blast and S baffles in increasingly larger envelopes. Cans were carried to extremes, and then reduced down to their logical conclusion. Patented M-Cans are now built in calibers ranging from the tiny .17 to .223, 6mm, .308, .338 Lapua Mag, .50 BMG & 20mm Vulcan.

Sound Tech muzzle cans are built of tough, welded steel. They are inexpensive, long-lived, efficient, robust, and the strongest in the industry. While chrome moly steel is tough, it is also heavier than aluminum, and our policy is to take toughness and reliability over a small savings in weight almost every time. Curiously, our centerfire rifle cans are lighter than those of the competition because they are welded instead of threaded together, and very carefully designed. New designs and different variations on the central theme have come out to claim a niche in the marketplace. The screw-on is popular where versatility is required, as it may easily be moved from weapon to weapon. The weld-on Monolith is popular where a rock-solid pistol or compact rifle is called for. We have improved the Monolith and now offer it on the Ruger 22/45, with the name of FAT BOY. The 1.4" diameter FAT BOY Monolith on a heavy-barreled 22/45 pistol allows an extended sight radius, as a front sight can be mounted directly on the exterior of the can. We have received rave reviews on the FAT BOY package from police training officers and animal control personnel. It is quiet and tends to foul the pistol’s action less than other designs. Quite a few FAT BOYs are being carried in the trunks of police cruisers, as they have turned out to be just the thing to handle snakes in back yards and animals injured in traffic, without arousing neighbors.

Four years ago we picked up a few new Czech CZ452, .22 rifles that were sold at a favorable price, and have been suppressing them. We cut the barrels to about 11" and welded a 1.1" by 7" can to the end. The net result is a very handsome, traditionally-styled, European classic rimfire rifle with a good trigger and excellent accuracy. This rifle must be used with subsonic 40-grain ammo for ultimate silence. It is extremely quiet with subsonic ammo, and is an excellent buy. We use our CZ demo weapon for offhand target practice on a 2" steel disc at 65 yards, for a break from long hours of working in the shop. One customer told us that the suppressed CZ 452 rimfire rifle was the finest thing we’ve ever done. He was very impressed with its offhand accuracy, having made some spectacular shots at 250 yards with his suppressed rimfire CZ. These excellent rifles continue to be available at a reasonable cost. If we could only have one firearm, the suppressed CZ would be the one that we would choose. The CZs are much better than the Ruger 77/22, since they have accurate barrels, good triggers and functional magazines, which many 77/22s unfortunately don’t. For overall performance it is very hard to beat a medium length (11") rifle barrel with a traditional muzzle can in a scoped, bolt-action rifle. We also treat the Ruger 10/22 in a similar way, calling both models The Classic. For some reason we have found the inexpensive semi-automatic 10/22 to be considerably more accurate than the 77/22 bolt rifle, however neither are as accurate as the CZ bolt rifles. CZ also manufactures more expensive American style bolt rifles in .17 HMR and .22 Mag, and these work better for extended ranges.

For those who must have the most compact package in an accurate rifle, the 10/22 Pocket Rifle combines a medium diameter, 7" can with a folding stock and a legally registered short barreled rifle action, to yield a weapon that is less than 18" when folded. We have to have an action that was made before 1994 in order to comply with the 1994 Brady Law and its provisions against semi-automatic assault rifles. Incidentally, these provisions will probably go away in September of 2004. In the meantime, we need a 10/22 with a serial number starting below 236-. See a very extensive article on this weapon in the 2001 Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement Annual. When asked about the most useful weapon we stock, we again have to recommend the CZ 452 bolt-action rifle with a short barrel and the 7" muzzle can welded to it. The CZ with a muzzle can is the most impressive silenced rifle we have ever turned out.

THE RUSSIAN SPACE PEN: This story started and ended within the early days of NASA, but it has bearing on present day attitude of the federal government because leaders and administrators are spending money (cubic dollars) that isn’t theirs. It is always easier to spend money that belongs to other people. Even before the U.S. sent men into outer space, scientists were concerned about being able to write with pen and paper in the extreme cold and zero gravity conditions of outer space. Grants were written and over five million dollars of hard-earned, taxpayer’s money was spent with contractors on the development of the so-called, ballpoint "space pen". The Russians spent nothing. They simply used pencils. Often we get caught up in things that are overly complicated when a much cheaper, simpler solution is already at hand. The left-handed, fine thread with a simple shoulder suppressor mount, v/s the complex quick release coupling is another case in point. The most elegant solution doesn’t always have to be the most complex.

9MM WET CANS: We have started to make wet cans for a number of pistols. The most reliable pistols are those that were originally designed by John Browning, who discovered that a cartridge of modest power would temporarily stick to chamber walls until internal pressure dropped, allowing the design of a semi-automatic weapon that did not require a locked breech. Offered in .32 auto and .380, these pistols were eventually copied by the Germans as the Walther PPK and by the Russians as the Makarov. They are currently in production by a number of companies. Some of the best are made by Bersa , Baikal and Beretta in .22 LR, .32 and .380 Auto. While a bit crude on the exterior, the Makarov in .380 is probably the most reliable of the lot. This family of self-loading pistols with fixed barrels will cycle reliably because they have exceptionally strong recoil springs, and because the blow-back style of operation is not diminished with the addition of the weight of a can on the muzzle. Pistols of this type are typically limited to .22 LR, .32 and .380 auto. More powerful cartridges will usually tear up this kind of action, hence the 9mms, .40s and .45s usually have moving barrels with fixed breeches. Pistols with moving barrels are delicately balanced, and are usually finicky in operation. Taurus and Beretta pistols seem to be more forgiving of weight addition and ammunition variants. While Glocks are the most popular pistols, they are the least likely to function with an unboostered suppressor. Additional weight on the end of a moving barrel usually prohibits reliable semi-automatic cycling, and while some don’t like this, others do because the sound level of a suppressed weapon with a locked breech is extremely quiet. The out-of-production Stealth, by Heritage Arms in FL has a fixed breech, a compact size and was available in 9mm and .40 S&W. This pistol has a fixed barrel and works well suppressed, if one can locate a threaded barrel for it.

Sound Tech’s unboostered wet cans are of steel, with some aluminum internals, and are 1.4" in diameter by 7" long. They weigh about 12 ounces, and will of course allow quiet cycling with any fixed barrel pistol and subsonic factory ammunition. The aluminum cans perform with about 34-dB reduction when used with ablative in the rear chamber. We occasionally insert a little water-resistant grease in the rear chamber of the cans to add a measure of corrosion control. Grease will last and dampen the sound level for about 12 shots, but it is filthy. A customer called to tell us about KY Jelly and ultrasound lube. These compounds work extremely well, and are easy to place using an extended tip. The can is easily washed out with water after shooting. We experimented with titanium cans, but will not offer them for sale because they didn’t hold up. Few of the other aluminum cans from other manufacturers will hold up indefinitely either, because aluminum is soft and prone to failure, even though it is very light in weight. With practice, a self-loading pistol can be manually cycled rapidly, and this will allow the use of very silent shooting in situations that require it. We will soon produce a lightweight aluminum can in 9mm for special situations. We expect that it will be fragile and need care in handling.

We also produce boostered cans in 9mm & .40 S&W. These are of all-steel construction, 1.4" in diameter, about 8" long and weigh about 20 ounces. They will allow any pistol with a moving barrel to cycle because a spring-loaded piston in the rear of the can boosts the barrel rearward with each shot to help cycle the action. The reason for the extra weight is that these have to be built entirely of steel in order to take the abuse from the internal recoil booster. We do not feel that cans with aluminum bodies will hold up indefinitely. We have built a few aluminum cans, but discourage the practice because of long-term reliability problems. If you want to shoot with relative, uncomplicated silence, use the smaller, unboostered can in either 9mm or .40 S&W, and cycle the weapon for each shot by hand. If you want semiautomatic action in a Glock pistol, go for the longer, heavier, boostered can. It will allow flawless cycling with subsonic ammunition. Use only subsonic 9mm 147-grain ammo in a suppressed 9mm pistol!

We used to build large cans to mount on scoped Thompson Contender pistols and rifles with 6" barrels in .38 Special, for control of deer and nutria. We now are using the same weapon in combination with the tiny 7" Wet Can for the same purpose. A little KY in the rear expansion chamber provides excellent suppression, and a soft lead FNHBWC 148-grain bullet at 800 fps expands and performs well on thin-skinned animals weighing less than 150 pounds. Indeed, as the animal control industry becomes more sophisticated, contractors and municipalities are going to the wet can mounted on the Contender in .38 Special for urban work, where a subsonic weapon is the most quiet. Supersonic .22 rimfire Magnum rifles work well for longer shots and animals up to 60 pounds. For feral hogs and wild dogs the stronger, heavier, Thompson Encore or Ruger bolt rifle is employed in .44 Magnum. The .44 Magnum can be used with supersonic loads for the larger, tougher hogs, while factory subsonic .44 Special rounds with wadcutter bullets can be used for thin-skinned animals. We use a 1.5" diameter wet can for the 7.62 x 39mm Russian round and for pistol calibers larger than .38. Subsonic .308 and subsonic 7.62 x 39mm ammunition is extremely quiet. Few within 30 yards will hear the report from either round. Those who do hear a report will often fail to recognize it as a gunshot. A single-shot weapon encourages responsible, aimed fire with a reasonable interval between shots. Larger calibers are typically louder because baffle and end cap holes often have twice the area. The rule of thumb is to use the smallest level of power that will perform effectively. Starting with .22 LR, the move is to .22 Magnum, .38 Special, to .44, and finally to .308. For rural areas and airport runways the move in the industry is to a full-powered .223, with a Black Hills 60-grain soft point round. We have been experimenting with the .223 necked up to 6mm, the 6mm PPC and the 6mm BR. These cartridges are hand-loaded propositions, but they deliver quiet, accurate power out to 200 and 600 yards, respectively. Please note that the less powder it takes to do a job, the quieter the suppressed report will be.

STEEL REACTIVE TARGETS: We have recently become aware of a small firm building a range of steel targets out of armor plate. The targets are well made and prices are reasonable. Phone Mike at Marine Supply for more information. 205 669 5414.

SUPPRESSOR ALIGNMENT: All screw-on cans need a threaded barrel and a shoulder to seat against. The threads pull the rear of the can against the shoulder, and this keeps the bore and the center of the can in alignment. Generally speaking, the direction of the threads should oppose the direction of the rifling. Most rifling is right-handed (with the exception of barrels for Thompson Contenders). Barrels with RH rifling should be threaded LH, as that tends to keep the can tight against the shoulder during firing. If both rifling and threads are of the same "hand" the barrel will tend to back out of the threads in the can (in reaction to bullet torque) as the weapon is fired. A single-point mount has the threads and shoulder in close proximity to each other. A two-point mount has the shoulder and threads from 2" to 8" apart. A two-point mount is considered to be more forgiving, stronger, heavier, more stable and more expensive. We used to make systems with two-point mounts, but they gave trouble with corrosion and failure to unscrew, so we are now using a single-point system of relatively large dimension. In most cases the quick release couplings used on large caliber rifles have been dismal failures. They often don’t release when they should, and have no provision for tightening after they wear and get battered. We recommend the occasional use of a little grease on barrel threads and in the rear chamber to slow the effect of corrosion. Threads and a carefully machined shoulder are now placed on the barrel's muzzle. The diameter of the threaded section of the barrel should be as thick as is practical for durability, resistance to unscrewing, and to stabilize the bullet at the critical moment of departure.

.22 RIFLE PROTOTYPE: As a suitable weapon does not currently exist, we were asked to make a survival rifle of extremely small size. We are building registered short barreled rifles based on Ruger’s 77/22 and CZ’s bolt action rifles. These typically have 5 to 13" barrels coupled to 7" Monolith muzzle cans. They are quiet, accurate and compact, but require two transfers to dealers and government agencies, or two $200 tax stamps to individuals. The bullpup prototype will not be available in the foreseeable future, but we are now working on rifles with folding stocks. Centurion is the importer of Aguila subsonic ammunition. Phone-- 800 545 1542.

AGUILA’S 60-GRAIN SUBSONIC ROUND (named SSS, for sniper, subsonic) will usually cycle in Ruger's 22/45 Fat Boy pistol, and in bolt-action rifles. In most semi-auto rimfire weapons we have found that the short case retracts from the chamber before the firing cycle is totally completed, causing a loud noise, ringing ears and particles to emanate from the action area. The same thing occurs with MK II pistols, although they feed better than 10/22 rifles because they have feed ramps. This is very disconcerting in any suppressed weapon. The slow 1 turn in 16" twist in existing barrels will not always stabilize the heavier projectiles in colder temperatures. This could result in hunting, tumbling and keyholing. Some weapons will do this, while some will not. Almost all solid .22 Rimfire rounds will flip to the base-forward position after entering tissue, causing greater damage. The SSS round often bends on contact, and then travels sideways through tissue. Hollow point bullets usually expand at the tip and do not tumble, generating a larger-than-normal but more shallow wound cavity in flesh. Generally, the faster twists (from a turn in 9 to 14") work more reliably with the SSS. Again, empty SSS shells eject prematurely on the 10/22s and MK IIs, causing loud noises when high-pressure gas dumps out the breech. The muzzle discharge noise from the SSS round is characteristically loud in any unsuppressed weapon, but extremely quiet in a weapon with any sort of suppressor mounted. An integral suppressor typically has a very short barrel inside, and one will not get very good ballistic SSS performance without a 10" long barrel. Barrels longer than 10" serve only to slow the bullets down, in our experience. Feeding is often a problem on the 10/22. Accuracy is fair, but not remarkable. When our bolt-action rifle was sighted in at 50 yards, we found a 14" drop at 100 yards. Up and down is a real problem at longer ranges. From point blank, or absolutely level elevation the SSS round drops from 13 to 17 feet at 100 yards, and from 63 to 87 feet at 200 yards. Again, barrels longer than 10" slow the SSS round down, increasing drop. We were shooting at a golf ball from a very solid bench rest at 110 yards. Sometimes the bullet impacted properly. Sometimes the impact point was 6" higher or 10" lower. The problem relates to differently metered powder charges in different rounds, a quality control problem that may have been worked out. The SSS ammo is very quiet in a suppressed weapon with a muzzle can. At 80 degrees F we got 760 fps out of a 5" barrel, 908 fps out of a 10" barrel, and about 650 fps out of a 28" barrel. We did a barrel cutting experiment on a 77/22 barrel and plotted the curve to find the length that delivered the greatest velocity, which again, appears to be about 10". We don't expect to ever see the 950-fps advertised by Aguila, as there is little room for powder in the .22 Short case, and powder is easily spilled during the loading process, preventing compressed loads. Since the 60-grain projectile weighs 50% more than a standard .22 LR round, it tends to penetrate more deeply. In impromptu tests we found penetration to be about a third greater than with standard ammunition. Our clients in wildlife management programs tell us that the heavy slug always penetrates, usually turns sideways, and rarely exits the skulls of deer that they collect. We are told that the stopping power of the slow-moving SSS bullet appears to be greater than typical 40-grain, .22 LR loads, but that accuracy is only fair. The round-nosed, flat-based SSS bullet may not be stable in flight. It is not particularly accurate in a barrel with the standard 1 in 16" twist. We got 6 to 8" groups at 100 yards with a factory 77/22 varmint rifle, and 2" groups with shortened, modified, silenced barrels. We also tried a ported, shortened barrel in a 10/22. The porting reduced gas pressure on the base of the bullet as it exited, allowing greater accuracy, and we now do this routinely on all barrels mounted to Monolith cans. Again, Centurion's phone number for orders is 800-545-1542. They also make a very quiet 20-grain round called the Super Colibri. This round is very useful for pigeons and small rodents inside buildings. Like the SSS, it is extremely quiet in a suppressed weapon. Read Mark’s intensive article on Aguila’s specialty rimfire ammo in the May 2000 issue of Tactical Shooter Magazine. Some Wolf rimfire ammo is very accurate.

Hornady now puts out their .17 rimfire Magnum round (HMR), with Ruger, Marlin, Savage & CZ making rifles to handle it. Every major manufacturer is now making rifles and for the .17 HMR. Rifle accuracy is good, with a velocity of roughly 2,500 fps, but the bore must be regularly cleaned in order to maintain that accuracy. We are building suppressors for the .17 HMR round and find that the report is fairly quiet, even though the bullet is supersonic. We shot the .17 at a 1-gallon water jug and found that it self-destructed and did not exit the far side of the jug. The .17 rimfire round works well on varmints weighing less than 2 pounds. It is not reliable on coyotes unless only headshots are taken. While the .17 is safer for use in an urban environment (because the projectile usually breaks up on impact) the .22 Rimfire Magnum is still a better, more effective varmint round for ranges up to 150 yards. Exiting a 16-inch barrel (the most efficient barrel length for both the .22 LR and the .22 Rimfire Magnum) we got about 1,850 fps with 40-grain ammo, and 2,000 fps with 33-grain. We built up a pretty little American style CZ rifle with a small 1.1 x 7" can. Accuracy was excellent, and the crack from supersonic ammo was minimal when shot over an open field. This is an effective suppressed weapon for varmints at intermediate ranges. We shot the little rifle into a block of hard, dry poplar and were surprised to see penetration of roughly 10".

The military and law enforcement personnel we talked to at the last SHOT Show want a very short, lightweight, compact rimfire rifle design for survival and for handling little problems that often come up. With all the stuff military personnel have to carry, the lighter some of that stuff is, the better. We are soliciting more input before finalizing a rifle concept. The compact nature of H&K’s little MP7 is close to what we have in mind. A heavy barreled 77/22 weighs about 9 pounds, complete with heavy wood stock, large scope and heavy suppressor. Our short-barreled 10/22s and Youth CZs weigh about 5 pounds. The full-stocked versions have an overall length of 29", while the folding stock versions measure about 18". ArmaLite built a tiny bolt-action survival rifle chambered in .22 Hornet back in the fifties. The wire stock version was closer to what today’s military is asking for, although they now want the rifle chambered in .22 Rimfire Magnum. A semi-auto rifle in the suppressed mode is not nearly as quiet nor as light as a rifle with a fixed breech, so after a considerable amount of deliberation we will probably go to a pump action with a bullpup or a folding or sliding stock. We have been working on this concept for many years, and finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

10/22 POCKET RIFLE: We are continuing with plans to produce a suppressed weapon designed to handle all .22 LR rounds, and another in .22 Mag. The rifle will have a small muzzle can. It will probably have a final weight between 2 and 4 pounds. It will have an overall open length of 35", in order to comply with Federal regulations for civilian ownership in the U.S. A shorter SBR version with folding stock will be available 18" in length. If the rifle turns out to be a pump it will have a bottom eject, a trap in the butt to retain spent cartridges, a single-column 10-round detachable magazine, and be equipped with extensive sound deadening to keep action noise down. A scope will be mounted forward, above the integral suppressor. We will release details as development proceeds.

STAINLESS MK II SURVIVAL SYSTEM: We have a removable, non-attached buttstock to aid in holding the 22/45 Fat Boy steady. We were surprised to learn that the iron sights work fairly well up close to one's eye, but note that Brownells carries a replacement peep sight insert for the rear sight that works even better. This three-piece set works well as a survival system for boat or camp. Those made of stainless are brushed and left bright. Those of chrome moly steel are powder coated black. Call if interested.

ANIMAL CONTROL: Some federal game control officers continue to use the .270 for deer collection on U.S. airport runways. Developed in 1925, the .270 has been used for this sort of work over the past 75 years. Better calibers are available, but tradition is tradition. If you build one of these, go for a proven, reliable weapon like the Remington 700 Varmint rifle with a synthetic stock. Don’t buy a piece of junk with a thin, whippy barrel and expect it to shoot accurately at long range. The .22-250, .223, .243 & 6mm BR are much better rounds, since they use fairly light, explosive bullets -- moving very fast. We were recently talking about this with colleague J.D. Jones of SSK Industries. In my view the larger, heavier calibers are a legal liability, since launching heavy bullets in an airport environment could result in an aircraft strike. Small, light bullets moving very fast will typically disintegrate on striking an animal or the ground. Heavy bullets could go on and either strike a passenger or damage an aircraft, which could result in a catastrophic crash later. There has been enough of a problem in this regard that guidelines will eventually be formulated to use calibers that are tailored to the task. Suitable bullets range from 45 to 60 grains in .223, the most economical caliber. The Black Hills 60-grain soft-point in .223 has become the standard in the animal control industry. These must be driven through a barrel at least 20 inches long in order to be effective and totally fragment. In .22-250 the bullet weight runs from 45 to 60 grains. In both cases the ballistic tip bullets have been shown to disintegrate most effectively. The 6mm BR is also a useful caliber, with a little more punch. Only headshots should be taken. Velocities range from 3,300 to 3,800 fps, and the effective range can be up to 300 yards.

More and more contractors and officers are using suppressed weapons for animal control. The 22/45 Fat Boy pistol is the weapon of choice for small animals at close range (if one can shoot it accurately) as it is more compact and can be holstered or stowed in a backpack if one has to walk a long way or carry heavy things. The animal control people have great respect for the Pocket Rifle, as it makes their job easier. Those skilled in the art are now using the .22 LR for all of their collection efforts.

A number of federal wildlife offices now use the CZ 452 American rifle in .22 Magnum Rimfire for intermediate tasks – such as the taking of does and coyotes within 100 yards in rural areas. Another caliber worthy of note is the Remington .221 Fireball, which was originally developed for pistols, but works well in a rifle with an 18" barrel. The small capacity case is very efficient, which means that it uses very little powder to achieve its velocity, and therefore is easily suppressed. Another cartridge with greater capability is the 6mm BR, which has a range out to 1,000 yards, yet uses little powder and is extremely versatile. Remington is currently producing rifles in .221 Fireball, which is effective on coyotes out to 300 yards.

Loaded subsonic .308 rounds are fairly expensive. In the past we've recommended the .44 Mag and .45 Colt with heavy, flat-nosed bullets for large animals. We now have effective .308 subsonic ammunition, and this gives the suppressed .308 sniper rifle far more versatility. Practice with something else, or load your own subsonic practice ammo, and use the expensive expanding stuff for serious shooting. Subsonic .223 rounds are available, but they offer little over the .22 rimfire. Black Hills is back in the game with two subsonic .308 rounds. Their standard subsonic round is very accurate but will not expand, leaving a wound channel about 1/8" in diameter and penetrating excessively. We have tried their new expanding round and find that, while it doesn't expand very much, the experimental sacrificial plastic nose does self-destruct on impact, leaving a very effective flat point to do more damage as it traverses through the target. From field reports we've had, the expanding Black Hills rounds are accurate and extremely effective on living targets. Pricing for subsonic and high velocity ammunition that deforms substantially on striking tissue is greater, as the bullets for these rounds are custom built. A standard 155-grain bullet ahead of 7 grains of Unique powder makes a fair subsonic .308 load. If accuracy is a problem with a slow twist, simply turn the bullets around and shoot them backwards. They will print better and do more damage upon striking. The 98-grain .223 bullets need a 7" twist in order to stabilize, and WILL NOT WORK with a 12" twist. Subsonic rounds that will not cycle the M16 action are fairly common. They are available from a number of suppliers at reasonable cost. They are also easy to build for the home reloader. Since they use less than 5 grains of propellant, they tend to be very quiet in a suppressed firearm. Don’t waste your money on a self-cycling .223 round if you are shooting a bolt-action or another manually cycled weapon – like the newer pump and bolt-action AR15 uppers that are coming out on the market lately.

IF YOU REALLY NEED SUBSONIC .223 AND .308 AMMO THAT WILL BE EFFECTIVE ON LIVE ANIMALS, ANOTHER OPTION IS TO CAST AND LOAD YOUR OWN BULLETS. Flat-nosed bullets with flat bases (a true cylinder) are most effective. The African hunters of old used solid bullets with noses shaped like a hemisphere (ball end), and these were the most stable of all the possible shapes. Regardless of what they hit on the way through, they continued on a straight and very deep path. There is a big difference between high-speed, supersonic bullets, and low-speed, subsonic bullets. Supersonic bullets should be sharply pointed, with a smooth, streamlined shape that will slip easily through the air because the frictional drag on supersonic bullets is roughly four times that which pulls on a subsonic bullet. It takes a lot of energy to break the sound barrier on a continuous basis. A properly constructed supersonic bullet moving at Mach 3 or 4 has the power, speed and centrifugal energy to easily upset on contact with a live target, expanding and delivering most of its energy in the process. A subsonic bullet will not expand to a significant extent; thus it should have a shape that will do the most damage before it leaves the barrel. Dr. Fackler's experimentation tells us that this most effective shape will be a flat nose. When someone pulls together an intensive body of research that leads to an obvious conclusion, we believe them. With regard to a flat nosed bullet, drive a piece of 1/2" diameter water pipe through a wooden two-by-four with a hammer, and you'll see what we are getting at with regard to damage resulting from such a shape. Our research tells us that the most effective bullets will have flat noses and bases, with just enough roundness on the front and rear corners to allow them to be shoved into cases and fed into chambers. A soft lead bullet deforms upon entering flesh and tends to be effective at relatively close range. A sharply pointed bullet does not make for effective subsonic animal control unless it has its tip filed to a 45 degree angle, so it will dive and go sideways like a spoon nose. Jacketed bullets are usually more accurate than cast bullets.

Some of the accuracy increase or decrease with subsonic bullets has to do with the way a powder charge obturates or mashes the base of a bullet forward. If the base is not flat the sides will not be supported by the barrel, and will often mash crooked. Indeed, if the forward part of the lead core is too thin and not supported by the bullet jacket it too will flatten out under supersonic acceleration forces during the first inch or two of travel. Think of the core as being made of Jello and it will be easier to understand. Some of our preference for a simple flat base has to do with the secondary step that must be taken when the so-called boat tail is added. A taper on

the back of a bullet is rarely put on perfectly straight. Putting that rebate on the back changes the front of the bullet. The boat tail is a fancied attempt to make a bullet tapered in the back like a displacement (slow) boat, or the tail of an airplane. In military FMJ bullets the boat tail is a feature that aids instability and helps the projectile to do a 180-degree flip on the way through tissue, causing more damage without violating the wording of the Geneva Accord. Bullets are not the same as boats or airplanes. Boats & planes are self-powered, and (hopefully) self-correcting. Bullets get only one power impulse to get and keep them moving, are not-self correcting, and extreme accuracy is important. It is easier to make and shoot an accurate bullet if it has a flat base. The bottom line is that the benchrest people tell us that flat-based bullets tend to be more accurate because they are more uniform when they leave the barrel. Flat-based bullets are also more accurate because the square base tends to leave or break with the crown of the barrel more cleanly, unlike a tapered base which is more easily pushed to one side or the other as a bullet exits a barrel. Finally, the flat base tends to remain stable in flight because the wider base touches the air stream on a continual basis, further stabilizing the bullet.

A .223 barrel with a fast 1 in 7" twist may be capable of stabilizing a hard-cast Linotype bullet as heavy as 100-grains, at 950 fps. A .308 barrel with a 10" twist will stabilize a 180-grain (or heavier) Linotype bullet at the same velocity, if the construction and weight distribution are correct. A heavy bullet with a deep hollow in the base has for years proven stable at subsonic velocities. All cast Linotype bullets should be tumbled in moly for 10 minutes. They should then be stood on end and given a light sealing coat of Hornady One-Shot, spray case lube on both sides. Don't use gas checks, as they sometimes fall off inside suppressors, and are tough to shake out. One is best off using a bullet with minimal grooving and only moly and One-Shot for lubricants. Melt and cast the lead out of doors to avoid getting lead poisoning from fumes. Stay with the harder Linotype alloy instead of pure lead, which is normally too soft. Seat blunt-nosed bullets deeply, so the shells feed and chamber easily from the magazines. Magma makes bullet-casting machines and molds for those who require high production.

.223 TACTICALCANS FOR ULTIMATE SUPPRESSION: Some time back customer had us make up a 1.6 x 5" .223 can for his M16 Commando (with a 16" barrel) for law enforcement demonstrations. The short can took about 26 dB off the report, yet made for a fairly compact system. It should prove handy for law enforcement operations in confined spaces. We now use the 1.6 x 5" as a compact model, a 1.5 x 7" as standard, and a thinner 1.4 x 9" can for use with subsonic ammunition. Expect about 130 dB with 55-grain military ball ammo, and 108 dB with subsonic. The 7 & 9" cans on bolt-action sniper rifles are extremely quiet and very accurate. Shots fired with .223 subsonic ammo were barely audible at 5', and absolutely could not be heard 25' behind the weapon. We shot some of the 22 LR dedicated uppers for the M16 in combination with the 7", .223 can. One option for occasional shooting is to use subsonic .223 ammo, which is becoming more available as the need becomes apparent. At Eddie's Alabama Quarry Shoot we were easily able to hit clay pigeons and small exploding targets laying against a rock cliff at 150 yards with supersonic military ball ammo. We liked the unit so much that we had Tom Hoel of Tactical Advantage in Colorado (303-940-1921) assemble an M16 demo unit that we suppressed in a similar manner. This rifle is the quietest M16 we've fired to date.

Our small .223 cans were thoroughly wrung out at the Anniston and Piedmont Quarry Shoots, and they deliver their best performance when hot. Don't know why. We say that it is best to limit the amount of full-auto fire to a single 30-round magazine, but few heed this admonition. At 100 rounds the can will get so hot that the paint will melt or burn off the middle of the can. If the can gets red hot the primary expansion chamber will probably bulge, as steel becomes plastic at that stage. The barrel will also be permanently damaged at that point, as the use of a can greatly increases the amount of heat that is retained in the barrel as well. Tests conducted by the Naval Warfare Center at Crane, Indiana showed that a suppressor caused the barrel to heat up to such an extent that the rifling was totally gone after 140 rounds of rapidly delivered fire, and it wasn’t much longer before bullets started coming out of the side of the barrel at the sight tower, where the gas hole weakened barrel integrity. It may be fun to fire an M16 full-auto, suppressed, but be aware of the damage you will be doing to your barrel and action. We will not warranty heat damage. If you get a can red-hot from abuse, and it bulges; that's your problem, not ours. Remain vigilant and keep the can tight on its tiny threads! Use restraint with the M16! Unless one is in a very unusual combat situation there is no need for continued, excessive full-auto fire. We can thread post ban barrels 11/16" N F - left hand for pre ban rifles. This larger thread is more rigid and holds up better than the inadequate standard ½-28 thread.

OUR NEWEST LINE OF .223/5.56mm CANS: Now consist of the small 5" compact entry model (which has a base retail price of $485), a 7" & a 9" slim-line model that is custom-made. The price varies according to how much machine work we have to perform. The dB reduction on the cans varies from 26 to 42, depending on ammunition and barrel length. We like an M16/AR15 with a post-ban H-BAR, and prefer to thread the end at least 11/16", NF, LH for a single point mount. We demonstrated the 7" can on an M16 with a 13" H-BAR at a large indoor shooting range in the U.S., which had a metal roof overhead. We first fired military ball and subsonic with the can into a pile of rubber backstop material at 15'. The instructors and range officers did not wear ear protection, and were impressed. We cautioned them to wear ear protection. We then removed the can and fired the same ammo out of the bare 13" barrel. The report was devastating! The difference between the very loud and soft reports appeared to impress them a lot more than simply firing the .223 rifle, suppressed. At another demo at Ft. Lewis, Washington, an officer laid on the ground and fired over a thousand rounds of military Green Tip through one of Tactics/Professional Services new M16 uppers with a rapid straight-pull bolt, a 12" heavy barrel and Sound Tech’s slim-line can. The officer paused to let the uncoated steel can cool, since it was turning blue from the heat. Mark told him to go ahead and to see how many rounds it would take to cause damage. The front and rear of the can eventually turned gold from the heat, while the middle got and stayed blue. The can appeared capable of taking continual fire at a rate of roughly 50 rounds per minute (about the most rounds per minute that one can expect to shoot accurately on a continual basis). The officer was obviously highly skilled and shot 30-round groups off a bipod (at 50 yards) that were about an inch in diameter over and over through a period of about 2 hours. The can definitely got hot, but the impact never changed and the little, heavy-barreled upper continued to function flawlessly. Another thing we noticed was that the almost invisible stream of gas from the suppressor went straight forward and did not raise dust, while firing unsuppressed M4s left a blazing fireball and raised considerable dust.

Summary: If we have left you confused with regard to a .223 can, we recommend a simple, 1.5 x 7" Tactical model with a single-point mount and 11/16", left-hand threads in almost all cases. If you want ultimate silence with subsonic and supersonic ammunition, go with the thin line can with an 8 or 9" length. If you have a barrel that is already threaded we will thread the can to fit 1/2-28 threads. The small ½-28" thread works, but we are not thrilled with it. The 7" can will do all that needs to be done on the .223 on an M16. We do not use quick detach mounts as they sometimes fail to hold, or they corrode in place if one is not careful. Quick detach couplings cannot compensate for wear. LH, 11/16" threads (on the M16) and 13/16" threads (on Remington .308 sniper rifles) are stronger, cheaper, simpler, and they work. The screw thread system has been around for a very long time, and for some things, it is impossible to improve on. We can confidently say that threaded nuts and bolts will still be in use 100 years from now. One doesn’t put wheels on a pickup truck with ¼" bolts. Similarly, we are not happy with the standard ½" diameter thread on the M16’s muzzle. Just because the U.S. Government does something in a certain way doesn’t mean that is the best possible way to do a job. We are working at pressuring manufacturers and the government to use a stronger, heavier thread for holding suppressors on M16s.

LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE M16: A number of law enforcement personnel have asked for input on the use of a submachine gun (by definition, of pistol caliber) as an entry weapon. We suggested that they bypass the subguns as being ineffective and a legal liability in combat, and to proceed directly to a weapon with enough power to do what needed to be done - the M16. The M16 costs about half what the typical subgun costs. It weighs less, yet delivers roughly three times the striking energy of a typical 9mm round. A better round is the .223 cartridge necked up to 6mm, and we may eventually see this on the M16. Finns during WW II mentioned that, statistically, it took nine solid hits of 9mm ball to take an enemy soldier out of action in battle. Soldiers from other nations have reported similar findings in combat. While we currently have more effective ammunition, today’s individuals are typically much larger in stature. Some perpetrators and enemy soldiers are covered with a thick layer of fat, and may be in better combat condition than they were 60 years ago, after emerging from the depths of a depression.

As a battle rifle the M16 is a fairly good weapon with two major flaws. Its gas system dumps burned powder residue directly into the action - hence it must be kept fairly clean in order to function reliably, and it needs a little more pep than it currently has. It was said that Stoner considered an operating rod system, but rejected it because he felt that it would be detrimental to accuracy. While the Russian AK 47 is not as inherently accurate as the M16, it is a more reliable design. Filled with sand, lying in mud, allowed to get rusty, the AK 47 will still fire when called upon. A bit of sand, a primer, or a small pebble in the M16's action will tie it up. Recent reports from Iraq indicate that soldiers are very unhappy with the reliability of the M16 in sand, and this recent action may finally get some improvements implemented. THE M16 MUST BE KEPT VERY CLEAN IN ORDER TO BE RELIABLE. M16s & AR15s come with a number of different barrel lengths - 6", 10.5", 11.5", 13.5", 14.5", 16", 20", 24" & 26". As usual, the shortest and longest are of limited value. Initially developed for varmints in the U.S., the .223 cartridge was carefully redesigned to be a very efficient, low-powered, high-pressure military round. We personally feel that the military developers should have gone to a slightly larger diameter bore (like 6mm) in order to provide greater volume and mass for the projectile, but now we see the 6.8mm being tested.

The report from an M16 with a short 6" barrel releases a blast that is absolutely devastating. The shooter feels the impact deep in his chest and forehead, even with very good ear protection. Weapons with 6" barrels are prone to burning holes in their gas tubes. The longest 24"& 26" M16 barrels are also freaks. They deliver fractionally better energy than barrels of medium length, but not nearly enough to justify the added length and bulk. The U.S. military conducted quite a bit of testing with different barrel lengths - finally settling on an 11.5" barrel in combination with a collapsible buttstock for light duty and close combat, a heavier 14.5" barrel for intermediate range and general issue, and a 20" barrel for longer range. Other lengths are available in the civilian market. In use, the 11.5" barrel doesn't provide a long enough push through the gas tube for proper cycling - hence the chamber is purposely made sloppy, the gas port in the barrel is enlarged, and additional areas are tweaked to aid functioning. Dr. Martin Fackler, a highly respected military wound ballistician, feels that the 11.5" barrel robs the bullet of too much energy, and has serious concerns about its effectiveness in combat. Some M16s with 11.5" barrels are very reliable, but many more are prone to malfunction. A few manufacturers are making M16s with adjustable gas ports, and these are more likely to cycle with subsonic ammunition when adjusted for maximum gas flow. The adjustable gas port is a good idea for a number of reasons. It can be turned to minimum input for hot ammo, or turned to maximum in situations of extreme cold, or when the weapon is exceptionally dirty.

We talked with a number of different firearm experts, and all agreed that weapons with barrels longer than 14" are more reliable than weapons with very short barrels. However, if a weapon with a short 11.5" barrel has cycling problems, those problems will usually go away when a suppressor is attached, as a can holds the pressure in the barrel and gas tube for a much longer period of time. Those in enforcement absolutely must have reliable weapons. With a 55-grain military round, expect about 2,780 fps out of an 11.5" barrel, 3,050 fps from a 14.5" barrel, 3,120 fps from a 16" barrel, and 3,280 fps from a 20" barrel. The velocities for M855 Green Tip, 62-grain ball ammo is far more dismal with short barrels than the lighter 55-grain ball ammo. Muzzle energy is found by squaring velocity in fps, multiplying that by the weight in grains, and dividing that figure by a factor of 450,400. Respectively, the 11.5" barrel will deliver 944 ft. pounds of energy at the muzzle with a 55-grain bullet. The 14.5" barrel will deliver 1,136-ft lbs., the 16" barrel -- 1,200-ft lbs., and the 20" barrel -- 1,314-ft lbs. The 11.5" barrel thus delivers 80% of what the 16" barrel would, and 72% of what could be expected out of a 20" barrel. Remember that a tiny round that strikes with a velocity substantially below 2,200 fps will not deliver an effective level of stopping performance. This is a real problem with 62-grain ball ammo. Relatively heavy rounds tend to get more energy out of a short barrel than light rounds, but they will also penetrate walls beyond the primary target more heavily.

Several we talked to really like the M16 with the 11.5" barrel for its maneuverability. Most like the M16 with a 14.5" or 16" barrel. The 14.5" and 16" barrels deliver the most energy and accuracy for their weight and bulk. Few accomplished marksmen would hesitate to take a 200-yard shot with one, and we have found the three short barrels just mentioned usually more accurate than a 26" barrel. This is because barrel harmonics are lower and more stable in a short barrel. When a bullet spends less time in the tube it is more likely to be delivered in an accurate and consistent manner. We will talk about this in depth later, but a thicker muzzle is usually more accurate than a thin muzzle. There is a big difference between shooting paper and live targets with the marginal .223.

The light .223 bullet needs substantial velocity in order to work effectively. Initially the boat-tail round was designed to be marginally unstable, spun with a slow 1 turn in 14" twist. It tumbled on contact, breaking in half at the cannelure and causing two jagged wounds in one. Unfortunately the slow barrel twist caused problems in cold temperatures. Under Arctic conditions the weapon wouldn't stay on a dinner plate at 25 yards. Eventually a faster twist was adopted. NATO trials were held in Europe, where it became apparent that a more streamlined, heavier bullet would be more accurate and more effective at longer range. The standard round was lengthened and streamlined, resulting in the 62-grain bullet we have today. The 62-grain bullet needs at least a 1 in 9" twist. The long-range 70, 75 & 80-grain bullets need a 1 in 7" twist in order to work effectively at all temperatures. LE personnel are not bound by the Geneva Accord, hence may use any bullet that will do the job. Loaded ammunition is currently available in weights ranging from 40 to 150 grains, with 80 grains being the upper limit for supersonic, lead-cored projectiles.

Heavier .223 bullets are more strongly constructed, and will penetrate fairly well. Lead melts at 700 degrees F. On a warm day a lead-cored bullet will easily reach these temperatures from the combined influence of bore pressure, bore friction and air friction. Lightly constructed varmint bullets often blow up on the way to the target, as they were never intended to spin as fast as 337,000 RPM (in a 7" twist barrel), and should not be used. A number of departments have adopted the 40-grain bullet for use in entering trailers and apartments, as this light bullet typically dumps its energy quickly, and tends not to penetrate as many walls beyond the primary target. A light .223 round is preferred over a 9mm or .40 S&W round, as it will not penetrate walls as easily. Its effect during a headshot is devastating and instantaneous. Hornady builds TAP (tactical application, police) .223 (and .308) rounds in assorted weights that are designed to function in enforcement applications. We have not tested these extensively, but plan to in the near future. Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition Co. favors their 60-grain softpoint bullet as an all-around, .223 enforcement projectile. It is a tough bullet that opens well and tends to stay within the primary target. Black hills also makes a 77-grain round that is performing well on live targets. These rounds are very accurate and versatile. Ammunition manufacturers are very responsive of late, and are struggling to give the industry anything it will perceive as better. Other rounds that come highly recommended are Federal's LE223T1 - 55 grain, which has been rated best for incapacitation, Federal and Winchester’s 69 grain JHP, and Black Hill's 68 and 77 grain JHP.

For a JACKETED, SUBSONIC ROUND in suppressed weapons we like Speer's 70-grain semi-spitzer, soft point, as it comes closest to a round-nose, flat-base. We have seen lead-cored bullets as heavy as 100 grains, and tungsten and uranium bullets as heavy as 150 grains. These are not yet available as loaded rounds, and the U.S. is currently unhappy with uranium rounds in the hands of civilians. Loaded, subsonic .223 ammunition is currently available from Black Hills. The point of impact (POI) of subsonic rounds will be different from supersonic rounds (usually much lower and a bit left) because of different recoil characteristics. Some who use both rounds in the same weapon use an optical sight for high-powered ammunition, while the weapon's iron sights are adjusted just for subsonic rounds. While expanding the versatility of the weapon, this concept could spell disaster in a court of law if a shooting ever went sour. Another technique is to use the lower part of the vertical part of a duplex crosshair as the aiming point for subsonic ammunition. Extensive practice is recommended to achieve familiarity with both types of ammunition. Aguila currently distributes a .22 LR round that weighs 60-grains. These do not work very well in M16s that have been temporarily modified with a sub-caliber conversion kit. They often jam, and a single round loudly burps its gas out the breech because the shell is very short. Subsonic 40-grain ammunition works in the conversion kit, but the kits have to be kept clean and well oiled for any sort of reliability. Subsonic ammunition delivers a small fraction of the energy to the target, but the sound level from a suppressed weapon is virtually undetectable. Teams should practice with the rounds they have chosen, both on paper and on hard and simulated soft targets. Coconuts, tomatoes, cabbages and water-filled jugs are interesting, and the provide the shooter with useful simulation of what he or she can expect in the field in real life.

Remember that hot weather will increase pressures and velocities, sometimes to the point where non-crimped primers fall out of fired, commercially loaded cases, tying up the action. We wouldn't be mentioning this if it weren't a problem, especially in AR15s with a steel anti-auto block in the receiver. Practice in hot weather as well. Carry out malfunction drills until they become automatic. It is during hot weather (or in a very hot barrel) that chances are greatest that the lightest weight, hyper-velocity ammunition will come apart in the faster 7" twist barrels. When this happens, the rounds will turn to copper foil and droplets of molten lead in the air. They will not retain their integrity, and will not strike a target.

For law enforcement use the M16 with a 16", heavy barrel (H-BAR) represents the best compromise. There is enough length for reliable functioning and adequate ballistic performance, yet the weapon is still short enough to be handy. Some in LE are uncomfortable about the fact that either a short 14.5" barrel or the full-auto M16 constitute restricted, NFA weapons. There is some merit in the fact that, if a police duty weapon is used in a raid, and if it is a machine gun or NFA weapon, some bad press or legal problems could possibly ensue. The AR15 with a 16" barrel will neatly sidestep this issue. The 16" barrels are short enough to be handy, and they deliver fair ballistic performance at close range, while shorter barrels do not. The general public has seen the M16 for over 35 years. They are thus conditioned to its presence and view it as an "old" rifle, which is a positive public relations feature. Weapons that are smaller in stature are perceived as less dangerous than physically larger weapons. If the M16 is hanging by its sling against the side of an officer's body in a muzzle-down position it will be perceived as less threatening (by the general public and press) than if it is brandished or carried in the ready position on the way to deployment. Loudness of the .223's intense report is also an important public relations concern, and less noise is always better than more noise. A small silencer is a useful accessory, as is a flat-topped, receiver with a rail. If a scope is used the flat-topped upper and a gas block without a front sight tower are both quite useful. A scope mount that attaches to a carrying handle offers versatility, but puts the sight radius so high above the stock that it is awkward and uncomfortable to use. A flip-up rear sight is a handy backup to an ACOG sight, and both can be used together at the same time. SIGHTS THAT REQUIRE BATTERIES WILL OFTEN NOT WORK WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED, AND SHOULD NOT BE CARRIED. Don't be lured by the apparent ease of use of these sights. All one has to do is forget to turn one off, and it will be absolutely useless a week later.

Curiously, flash hiders are perceived as silencers by the uneducated general public, as are tactical lights that look like they would work as silencers. Both the 14.5" and the 16" barrels cycle an action reliably. Both barrels will deliver accurate fire up to about 300 yards. The 14 & 16" barrel lengths make the M16 or AR15 very useful entry guns for raids and hostage rescue. However, because of the inadequacy of the .223 cartridge, the only barrels we endorse are 16" and 20" H-BARs. Although many have had positive experiences with the 11.5" barrels, they have primarily been shooting paper in practice. When they say they have used such and such short-barreled weapon for years and it has never failed them, they are speaking about shooting at paper targets, not at armed adversaries.

The military designates the weapon with its flawed 14.5" barrel the M4-A1. Curiously (and unfortunately) the rear portion of the standard M4 barrel is turned quite thin, at a touch over 5/8". WE VIEW THIS REDUCTION IN DIAMETER AS A REAL MISTAKE, AS THE THINNER BARREL LACKS THE ABILITY TO REMAIN RIGID AND ABSORB HEAT LIKE THE H-BAR. The M4-A1 barrel was designed for a grenade launching attachment, and for this process a deep groove was cut forward of the front sight We feel that the reductions in barrel diameter seriously degrade the weapon's accuracy potential. Phil at Gemtech used such a barrel in the testing of his cans, and had his barrel bulge at the groove in front of the sight tower. Heat was probably a factor, combined with pressure. The bulge did not diminish the accuracy potential of the weapon. We are told that Colt delivers only this barrel with their version of the M4-AI. One can buy M16s and AR15s from Bushmaster or other manufacturers. Upon request they will provide them in the short H-BAR configuration without the offending rear reduction and groove in the barrels. Buy the weapon in the configuration you desire. A LE agency should not significantly alter weapons after they are purchased, as that may turn into a point of contention in court after a shooting. CYA.

It is said that Bushmaster makes the best weapons in the business today, although Colt has the reputation, having been in the business for over 160 years. The Commando-style, sliding buttstock is flimsy, but does offer a temporary 4" reduction in overall length. It is painful for anyone with a beard to use. We recommend the solid, plastic buttstock with a rubber buttplate instead, in the shortest version possible, and without a butt trap. This stock is steadier and more workable, yet still provides enough shoulder room for web gear and body armor. If you already have an M4-A1 with the defiled barrel, Bushmaster and other manufacturers will sell you a drop-in, match quality, post-ban (unthreaded) replacement barrel with all the hardware (barrel nut, forearm and front sight group) for roughly $200. A LE agency should send the entire weapon in for modification and replacement of critical parts. Test the weapon extensively upon its return. CYA. A 7" twist is preferred only for long distance shooting. An 8" or the standard 9" twist is more desirable, as it is considered to be more versatile. Most cartridges containing sharply pointed 70 and 80-grain bullets will not easily fit in standard magazines, and must be loaded into an M16’s port individually, by hand. Most Colt and Bushmaster barrels have chrome-lined bores. While not normally quite as accurate, chrome-lined bores are less susceptible to corrosion and wear, a consideration for a weapon that may only be cleaned infrequently.

When a law enforcement entry team is inside a building the members usually have one or both ears unprotected in order to hear the movement of suspects. Firing an unsuppressed M16 in a confined area is not only extremely painful and damaging to unprotected ears, it also destroys an officer's ability to hear the continued movement of suspects. The report is so severe that perpetrators and officers are often found bleeding from the nose and ears if a .223 round was fired inside a room that they occupied. The flash from an unsuppressed weapon can also blind a shooter temporarily in a darkened environment. We strongly recommend that the AR15 or M16 be equipped with a small, compact sound suppressor to take the edge off the severe blast, and the sometimes substantial flash. A good flash hider of the vortex type will remove some of the muzzle flash, but the felt report will be louder to the shooter’s ear. The down- range report may be lessened to a substantial degree by some flash hiders and muzzle brakes. While our suppressors will substantially reduce muzzle flash at night, they do not entirely eliminate it. The shooter won’t see a flash, but a smaller amount of flame can be observed at night from the side, with any suppressor. If the visual absence of light is critical, a bit of water in the rear chamber will quench that flame for a few rounds of .223. We have been experimenting with flash hiders, and now have one that is very effective. It fits on the same 11/16" NFLH thread as our suppressor. The assault rifle ban hasn’t helped us with regard to sound suppressors. It is not currently legal to mount a silencer or a flash hider on an AR15 with a post ban receiver, hence the rising value of pre ban lower AR15s, with police and military excepted. The receiver is of course the critical part, and listings of serial numbers are available to help determine which receivers are pre or post ban. BATF hasn’t made a serious effort at prosecution yet, but the day may come. The current unwritten rule of thumb is, if a prosecution will make headlines, BATF will make the effort. Again, law-abiding citizens and businesses are much easier to prosecute than criminals because they stand still and cooperate.

While there are a number of quick-release couplings on the market, we recommend the time-honored screw connection. Here's why - the standard barrel threading at the muzzle is 1/2-28, which means that the very end of the barrel has been reduced to a mere 1/2" in diameter, and at the root of the threads the diameter is less than 7/16". The grooves at the base of the threads act as stress concentrators, helping to propagate tears or cracks in the parent metal. While that threaded stub may be adequate for a flash suppressor, it is barely adequate as a base for a longer, heavier sound suppressor, which generates a considerable forward pull with each shot. The pull is very sharp and very strong, and in our view the small 1/2" thread is doomed to eventual failure if enough (2,000 to 10,000) cycles are loaded onto it. All or most quick-release couplings rely on a flash suppressor or lugs as a base for the connection. Ultimately one has everything hanging on a threaded, 1/2"-diameter stub with a .224" diameter hole in the center of it. Given the opportunity we would always opt for heavier threads. During the strain of a forced entry an officer may end up using his weapon as a punch or ram, and a heavy mount on a heavy barrel will more easily handle that strain without damage. When one screws a can onto a heavy mount he knows it's solid. It takes about 15 seconds to install a can on a threaded connection. Simplicity in this case is a virtue. A quick-release coupling is often weak, and sometimes not reliable. We have seen a can launch down-range more than once because the coupling either gave out, because the lugs weren't properly seated, or because-the system loosened -- allowing axial misalignment and bullet strike. The third sin of the snap-on coupling is not releasing on command. Corrosion, carbon buildup, or the failure of the spring-tensioner/piston has been known to cause the system to seize up. Accuracy problems have been traced to quick-release couplings that shot or wore loose, allowing slight baffle contact. Barrels have been bent and cans have been destroyed while trying to get frozen couplings to release. These couplings usually work fairly well when they are new and freshly greased. Shoot through one several hundred times and put it in the trunk of a cruiser, wet. Leave it there, unattended, for a few months in southern Florida. Humidity combined with heat will almost guarantee corrosion seizure problems.

If we were given an unthreaded, heavy match barrel (H-BAR) we would probably turn and thread the muzzle at 11/16" or 3/4" NF, LH rather than 1/2-28. Indeed, if the 3/4" diameter of the hole in the front sight tower were not an issue we would machine a heavy flange near the barrel's muzzle and install fine, 3/4" or 13/16" - LH threads at the muzzle for a more serious attachment point. While a two-point mount may be more secure, it is more likely to seize up than a single-point mount. When a two-point mount seizes it is extremely difficult to get penetrating oil where it is needed. A large, single-point mounting system would be non-standard, but far stronger and more rigid in all respects. The industry trend is toward single-point mounting systems, as they tend to be inherently trouble-free if made large enough to handle the stress of firing and abuse. Left-hand threads tend to self-tighten at the muzzle, while right hand threads tend to loosen in reaction to barrel torque as each bullet is spun in a right hand direction. That doesn't necessarily mean that LH threads will always stay tight, but they don't tend to loosen as easily as right hand threads. A suppressor needs threads to pull on and a shoulder to rest against or it will not stay in line with the bore. The threads tend to center the can axially, while the shoulder holds and controls angular alignment (as long as the can remains tightly screwed in place). If the threads and shoulder are very close together the system is referred to as a single-point mount. If the threads and shoulder are from 2" to 10" apart the mounting system is referred to as a two-point mount, and here the threads are usually buried deep inside the center of the can. Both types of mounting systems will compensate for the considerable amount of wear that occurs as a can is screwed on and off its barrel. Wear occurs from three main sources. First, the intense forward pull following each discharge applies considerable stress to the threads. Second, ground glass particles from the priming materials are thoroughly distributed over the thread surfaces. Third, the high mechanical advantage of threads also applies a lot of force to all surfaces. This is why we prefer large diameters and a generous shoulder or flange, so that wear will not be as significant. Cross-threading is occasionally a problem, and the only cure for a butchered thread is to cut the barrel off and re-thread it properly. The bottom line in all of this is that a simple, single-point, threaded mount of massive dimension will provide the best service with the least amount of trouble. If left-hand threads are used the rear of the can should be stamped LH to eliminate confusion.

It has been mentioned that post-ban barrels are typically shooting more accurately than pre-ban barrels. This is probably due to the fact that pre-ban barrels are turned down to 1/2" diameter at the muzzle. Most barrels are button rifled, and the rifling process puts a lot of internal strain on the barrel metal. Turning the outside diameter thin reduces that strain, and has the effect of enlarging the bore at the muzzle, which is the very place where the bore should be the tightest. As far as accuracy is concerned, the best results will occur when the barrel is thickest at the muzzle. Many European target weapons are built that way, but the practice never caught on in the U.S. Putting a can on a muzzle does stabilize it to some degree, but it doesn’t usually tighten the bore at that point. Accuracy problems have been traced to asymmetrical blast baffles and baffle apertures that were too tight to allow bullets to pass without striking. A last thought with regard to the small 1/2-28, threaded barrel stub - if a flash hider or a sound suppressor is screwed on too tightly it can have a bad effect on accuracy. This is of little consequence on an entry weapon, but can be a problem on a department's sniper rifle. The tightness of the can or flash hider will not be as much of an issue if the threaded muzzle stub is of a substantially larger diameter.

The .223 is such an intense cartridge that heat gain becomes a problem when a suppressor is attached. The more effective and the more compact a can is, the greater the heat gain. While rapidly shooting 20-rounds of military ball ammunition won't present a problem, 50-rounds might. In combat, we feel that one should use carefully aimed shots and be conservative with ammunition.

Because water is a major byproduct in the combustion process, a good deal of it will get trapped in a suppressor. A suppressor should be removed and allowed to air dry after each firing session. The internal baffles and the threads should be lightly oiled or greased to protect them from corrosion. We use TSI 301, Corrosion-Bloc, Boeshield T-9, or RIG (rust inhibiting grease). RIG will vaporize and leave a cloud of smoke in front of the weapon, which could cause a problem in some circumstances. Left-hand threads are good here, as they don't loosen as easily during firing. A suppressor will rust in place if the moisture aspect is not attended to. The rear part of a two-point mount acts like a seal against the slight swelling of the barrel just forward of the front sight tower. It will wear a bit with each use, and the seal will get better. The seal between the front sight tower and the gas port in the barrel is often less than perfect. High-pressure gas leaking here has been known to cause some amount of noise. A small bit of J B Weld applied before assembly will help. If you do this be sure that none gets into the barrel port or it will prevent proper cycling. Always store the weapon in a level position, or point it muzzle-down, with the action locked open. Do not store the weapon pointing up, as gravity will cause dirt and particles to fall downwards and lodge in the action. If the action is locked open, air movement will help dry accumulated moisture.

If suppressors are used, we believe that a team should train with them in place. It will not do to carry a suppressor in a pouch, to be used if the team leader feels it might be beneficial at the time. Any weight placed on the end of a barrel will change its point of impact A can should be removed for cleaning, drying and oiling after every use. A can should remain in place during training and deployment. The weapon should be sighted in with the can in place, as the weapon's point of impact will be different without that added weight. A weapon should not be fired without either a muzzle brake, a flash hider or a suppressor screwed on to 1/2-28 threads at the muzzle, as those threads have been known to expand without the support those devices offer to the thin, threaded area. The muzzle crown may expand, and the devices won't screw back on later. This is not a common problem, but it occasionally does occur.

A properly designed and mounted suppressor typically enhances accuracy. The weight of the can will stabilize barrel movement. The reduction of recoil and report make the weapon much more comfortable to shoot. While these little rifles are primarily used at close range, they are also capable of being very accurate at longer distances. With a proper sight and a skilled marksman headshots are definitely viable at 100 yards. Iron sights are normally adequate on the M16 carbine. They are compact, durable and battle proven. An attached tactical flashlight with a pressure switch on the forearm is a useful accessory, although it certainly can reveal one’s position.

If an officer is using the light to sweep and search an area at night the darkened sights become very visible. Different departments have varying opinions as to the wisdom of using an attached tactical light. Generally speaking, the military services will not use such lights, as they reveal a soldier's position. Law enforcement people normally view the attached light as a positive feature. While a light will reveal an officer's position, it also aids in the positive visual identification of suspects as threats, and this will be viewed more responsible in a court of law after a shooting.

B. R. TUOTE SILENCERS: We pulled B. R. Tuote's Finnish silencer website in off the Internet. Very impressive! As of yet, none are coming into the country. We are working on an agreement with Tuote and Hartikka to produce their silencers in the U.S. Silencers are not restricted in Finland, which means that they are available over the counter and at minimal cost. Tuote has a nice chart relating to bullet noise and velocity that is worth looking at. Transonic is between 1,000 fps and 1,300 fps, and the noise level goes up very, very steeply between those velocities. The noise goes up very slowly between 700 and 1,000 fps, and then takes a dramatic jump to between 90 dB (which is virtually nothing) to almost 140 dB (which is major noise, roughly 2,500 times louder) at 1,300 fps. Noise levels were measured 10 meters to the side of the bullet's flight path. It is nice to see some authoritative studies done on the subject. Measurements were taken all the way up to 3,800 fps, where the noise level increased slightly from that which existed at 1,300 fps.

Tuote silencers were invented by Finn Juha Hartikka and are welded together of tough steel. The primary expansion chamber is huge, and almost 2" in diameter. The gas generated during the firing sequence is dumped into and trapped within the huge rear chamber, which acts like a reservoir. Here, the gas lessens in pressure considerably, and slowly leaks out the front, past the compact baffle stack. The can is a deceptively simple design that has metal only where it is needed, and not where it isn’t. Mounting is typically a two-point system, depending upon the host weapon. A section of small-diameter tube leads back from the muzzle of the weapon. This tube or pipe eliminates the gas-sealing problem, which we usually solve with a 45-degree cone and carefully machined surfaces, and which leaks if it is not tight. The tube ties the middle of the can to the rear, making the unit stronger without adding significant weight. Hartikka's all-steel can is fairly light and very tough. He calls it a reflex design, as it forces the gas backwards, around the barrel, thus taking good advantage of wasted space without increasing the overall length of the weapon significantly. Instead of blasting forward, the gas is trapped in one very large chamber, and then allowed to bleed off slowly, reducing the noise of the weapon. We will eventually offer Hartikka's silencers for sale in this country. We believe that almost every firearm should be suppressed, and this style is said to make more universal offerings possible in the US.

AIMING POINTS FOR SUBSONIC/SUPERSONIC: We finally figured out a way to deal with the use of subsonic and supersonic bullets in a single suppressed .308 rifle. It requires a scope with a dual reticle and dual controls. Use normal crosshairs for the high velocity stuff, and a small square or dot below the crosshairs for the subsonic stuff. Each point of aim would be adjusted with its own adjustment knobs. Subsonic rounds usually hit 13" lower than supersonic rounds at 100 yards, the difference being primarily in recoil characteristics and barrel rise. Eventually the world will get into the subsonic/supersonic theme, to the point that such a scope will be worth building. Another option is a pivoting, spring-loaded mount, like the one we are using on the universal .22 rifle. Up & down movement is linked to a ballistic cam with ranges marked on the side of the mount. Distances up to 800 yards can easily be ranged with one of many affordable range finders on today's market.

PEEP SIGHTS & SCOPES: While on the subject of sights, the major reason for using an optical scope is to more clearly see the target. A lot of scopes are not optically perfect. We don't care if the edges of the field are clear or fuzzy, what we do care about is that the center aiming point not move when we move our eye from side to side. The gun press has lately taken a fancy to concentrating on the edge of the optical field instead of the center, and that has led manufacturers to concentrate on that aspect, to the detriment of parallax. On the other hand, a peep sight can be very accurate if the target is clear enough to see properly. We've recently been practicing with a cheap .22 bolt rifle (suppressed, of course) with a 6" barrel welded to a short Monolith can. The rifle has a peep sight on the receiver and a tapered front post of hardened steel set into the top of the can in the front. We are able to hit things at 100 yards with this rifle that others armed with very expensive rifles and scopes can't. Those who shoot the M14 and M16 in Hi-Power matches turn in some very high scores and tight groups with peep sights. There are some who can shoot tighter groups with a peep sight than they can with a scope. Simpler than a tube full of lenses, iron sights are inherently accurate. A good scope offers superior visual acuity, but its ability to remain directionally stable is not necessarily better. A few of our clients in animal control use nothing more than a suppressed, single shot .22 rifle with a peep sight. The standard of the military and LE industry appears to continue to be the Leupold Vari-X III, with a side wheel focus. There are better scopes available (like the Night Force) but they cost twice as much.

RUNAWAY MAC! -- GET A GRIP! Some time ago a customer brought his MAC 11 by so he could test one of the above cans. The weapon would not fire (broken part) after the first round, so he put the upper into a different lower. I took the weapon over to a nearby bank and pulled the trigger. The weapon ran away, dumping all 28 rounds out into the backstop. Releasing the trigger of course had no effect. While the observers were very pleased with the performance of the can, and while I had a solid, one-handed death grip on the weapon, this brought to mind various accidents newcomers have had in the past with MACs. As it exists, the pistol version of the MAC is quite dangerous because it will sometimes run away. The tiny threaded stub of a barrel that projects from the front end isn't anything the average person wants to wrap his weak hand around. The hand strap that comes with some weapons isn't much help in this matter either. This weapon needs a can or a barrel shroud on the end that affords a decent grip. In the past novices with weak hands have either injured themselves trying to control a runaway, or dropped the weapon and had it spin around on the ground, spewing bullets in all directions. Some novices lose control of the weapon in full-auto fire, and don't know enough to release the trigger. In some cases they have turned towards individuals nearby while the weapon was firing. It is instinctual to turn towards those nearby to look for help. This may be done mindless of the fact that the front end of the MAC is spewing death wherever it is pointed. Women and children are especially at risk because they often have a lower level of experience and hand strength. While MACs are interesting toys, they are also very dangerous weapons. If you have one of these, put a can or a barrel shroud on the front end. Some sort of buttstock isn't a bad idea either. Don't give a MAC to an inexperienced person with a full magazine. Load only two or three rounds to start. Only practice can prepare one for what needs to be done when the weapon starts to fire. To a lesser extent this sort of thing has also been known to occur with AKs and SKSs, and novices have been known to drop them while they continued to fire. We should do everything possible to encourage a safer situation in what is a potentially a very dangerous pastime. Train and Educate!

LONG-RANGE CARTRIDGES: Starting with a whopping .69 caliber, the trend in the U.S. over the past 200 years has been to move towards smaller and smaller bore diameters. We are told that the 6.5/.284 cartridge was cooked up by the boys in NC who shoot in the 1,000-yard competition, and that the 6.5mm bullet remains accurate out to 1,500 yards. To the untrained eye it looks a lot like the 6.5x55 Swede, which holds 60 grains of water, while it (a child of the 30-06, or more properly, a .284 case) will hold about 84 grains of water. The extra capacity is good for another 200 fps. For the record, a .308 will deliver normal 4" field groups at 400 yards, but then group accuracy often deteriorates to 20" at 600 yards. By 850 yards the standard 168-grain bullet will enter the transonic mode, where it becomes so unstable that it tumbles in flight. The U.S. military has gone to a heavier 175-grain projectile in the .308. This has a longer, sharper taper to partially correct the situation. The 7mm-08 or 6mm-08 (either of which will get our vote) represent better solutions to long-range military sniping problems, but the military is slow to change, and most of NATO is set up for the .308. The .338 Lapua Mag is now the current fair-haired child for military long range sniping. It is a peppy round, with the 200-grain bullets delivering the most impressive performance. The .308 and the .338 will probably continue to hold the roles over the next 30 years. Extensive testing should be carried out, but this is unlikely to happen in the near future. The American 1,000-yard benchrest crowd represents an extreme but effective test bed for extended ranges. The major defects in the application of what may have been learned on the competitive benchrest for military purposes are weight, efficiency, compactness of the ammunition, and barrel longevity. None of these factors are considered in competition, while they may all be very important for military purposes.

The diameters, points and profiles of bullets are very important in the search for greater efficiency and long-range accuracy. Air weighs .075 pound per cubic foot (p/cf) and of course represents the major frictional challenge to overcome at long distance. A thin, heavy, streamlined bullet with a sharp nose penetrates air most effectively. In the past we have utilized lead as the major projectile material, as it is relatively dense at 708 p/cf, is easily formed (the Romans were casting lead balls for their leather slings well before the time of Christ), and easily conforms to rifling profiles. Lead is so soft that it deforms and will cause barrel-leading problems when driven beyond 1,400 fps. This is why Mauser started using a bullet jacket in the 1800s-- to help contain the lead and get a better grip on the rifling in his bolt-action rifles. Interestingly, Mauser was able, well over 100 years ago, to drive projectiles at velocities approaching Mach 3, or 3,300 fps. Today we can get to Mach 4, but it takes extraordinary measures to do so. Most "normal" rifle cartridges (designed for efficiency and barrel longevity) attain velocities between 2,600 and 3,000 fps. It takes a lot of effort to reach much beyond 3,000 fps. The effort is translated into large cartridges with excessive amounts of powder and a very intense muzzle blast. Short, compact cartridges are more efficient, have lessened bore erosion, and a quieter report. Again, the 6mm diameter bullet in a slightly fatter, slightly shorter case would be a decided improvement over the .223 military round.

For the past 100 years the copper-jacketed, lead-cored bullet has been de rigueur for supersonic rifle and pistol bullets. Lead is relatively heavy, easily obtained, and quite cheap. The design of a bullet's tip represents the biggest challenge today. For efficiency's sake the tip should be sharp and very streamlined, even though such a shape is inherently weaker and less stable. While more efficient, a long, pointy nose is unstable in flight - hence a bullet with a sharp tip needs to be spun faster in order to maintain reliable accuracy. A bullet with a flat or cupped base is typically more stable and more accurate. A fast rifling twist puts more strain on both the bullet and the rifling lands during the first inch or two of travel. Gain-twist or progressive rifling is a partial solution for the stress near a chamber's throat, but such rifling is more costly to produce and has not shown exceptionally accurate results in the past. Is it a great idea with poor execution, or a flawed concept? Lately some have picked up the gain twist again and are said to have made some progress in accuracy with it. Plenty of work remains to be done in this area.

Progressively thinner bullets have been used with the passage of time, culminating in the .223 or 5.56mm in current military use. Bullets as small as .17" in diameter have been tried, but found wanting. A 6mm (.243") diameter appears closer to optimal. The relative softness of bullet construction, mass density limitations, and the smaller base area of the bore are the chief impediments to the use of ever-smaller diameters. In hunting large game the .22 caliber often lacks sufficient payload to be effective, while 6mm, 7mm & 8mm are progressively more adequate. In military use the .22 is probably still at a disadvantage. It is interesting to note the recent movement towards heavier 70 and 80-grain .223 projectiles. A more dense material, such as tungsten at 1,224 p/cf, has begun to be experimented with. Powdered tungsten costs roughly $15 per pound, about 30 times the cost of lead. Exposed lead on the tip of a bullet is soft, fragile and easily deformed. When a soft-nosed rifle bullet is driven fast the tip will heat from air friction and melt off; leaving a shape that is no longer ideal for efficient movement. Military bullets often use a sharp projection of the jacket material or a steel penetrator as a tip. These are harder and more durable but won't expand, thus much of the striking energy is often wasted beyond the primary target. A slow spin rate or a void in the tip will cause tumbling shortly after contact, but this is not at all conducive to accuracy, especially at extreme range. A few domestic manufacturers have taken to using bullet tips of molded polycarbonate plastic. While these also ablate from air friction, they don't do so as rapidly as lead. They do help initiate the movement of an expanding bullet on contact. In the future we will probably see a gradual movement towards even thinner, more streamlined bullets composed of denser materials. While homogenous materials are more uniform, they may be harder and promote more rapid bore wear. Bullets turned from solid copper or bronze rod do tend to be more accurate and less easily deformed, although they foul bores rapidly and badly.

One of the problems with VLD streamlining is that the very tip of the bullet must be flat so that it can be pushed out of its die with an ejector pin after manufacture. If that pin is too small it will break in the process, so almost all bullets are swaged with that tiny flat on the tip. Also, if the bullets are too sharp and remain in a rifle's magazine the tips will get beat up and bent during recoil. If the bullet is single-loaded and turned in a screw machine it can be made sharp on the tip, and that will help it slip through the air more easily. The flat tip and the typical military cannelure (designed primarily to lock the core in the jacket and keep the bullet from being rammed back into the case during loading or recoil) cause disruptions in laminar airflow. Bullets without cannelures are of course more accurate. While single feeding of carefully prepared rounds will encourage the highest level of accuracy in competition, a military round should be fed from a magazine, as that will encourage more rapid delivery in the heat of battle.

The 6.5-.284 cartridge is essentially a 30-06 cartridge necked down to 6.5mm. Rifle accuracy is to a great extent limited by the quality of the bullets produced for a particular caliber. Sierra's 142-grain VLD (very low drag) bullets seem to be holding the edge in accuracy for the 6.5mm. Winning 5-shot groups at 1,000 yards are coming in at 3.5" to 4" at matches in the East. In the West the more compact and considerably less powerful 6mm BR seems more popular. I was told that winning 5-shot groups in CA were a touch over 1.7" with the 6mm BR. A 1 in 8" twist seems to be optimal for both the 6 and the 6.5. If the bullets are good it is always better to overspin (at a faster twist rate) than underspin. The 6.5mm bullets are leaving barrel muzzles around 3,000 fps. At 1,000 yards they are still traveling at a velocity approaching 1,600 fps. At 1,500 yards they are traveling at 1,120 fps, having entered the transonic range, where we think they will be unstable. We are told that a 6.5-.284 barrel will have its throat shot out by 500 rounds, and will need to be set back an inch or two, and rechambered at that time. This is unacceptable in an enforcement or military rifle. The 6mm BR should be good for at least 4,000 rounds in plain chrome moly, and about 2,500 rounds in the soft, lead & sulfur-filled stainless steel barrels. Winchester’s Short Magnums (WSM) are still creating a stir, as are Remington’s similar versions, available in both .30 and 7mm. The 7mm WSM may turn out to be the favorite new 1,000 yard cartridge. For ranges up to roughly 1,550 yards the .338 Lapua Magnum is still the round of choice.

CALIBERS FOR SNIPER RIFLES: Starting from the very bottom, we have the 5.56x45mm or .223. Even though the .223 is our current military caliber (and easily suppressed) we do not feel that this cartridge has quite enough pep to be effective. The next obvious step up from the .223 is the .22-250, a U.S. cartridge that has seen heavy and very effective anti-personnel use by the British in Northern Ireland. While the .22-250 is very effective on headshots, its tiny bullets lack sufficient mass to do what needs to be done on body shots and armored targets. The next steps up are to the 6mm BR and .243 cartridges. These are both effective but have seen only limited use because they are not industry standards. The 7mm-08 is even better than the .308 for the role, but few use the rounds in actual practice – so it will not become an industry standard either.

               

About 90% of the current sniper rifles are chambered in .308. At short ranges the .308 is more than adequate for the role, but it is prone to over-penetration in quite a number of cases. The standard default round has been the 168-grain Federal Match load – a target round (not designed to expand) that works effectively only some of the time. In order to be effective the .308 should be loaded with a lighter bullet (120 to 145 grains) that is formulated for controlled expansion. Hornady TAP (Tactical Application – Police) rounds are formulated in this way and are one of the few rounds that have the word Police woven into their title – an important consideration for the inevitable court cases that usually arise from police shootings. With proper ammunition the .308 rifle (with a 20 to 22-inch barrel) is adequate for almost all of the domestic sniping scenarios in the United States today.

A few law enforcement departments and some military units are using slightly more powerful rifles chambered in the .300 WSM (Winchester Short Magnum) and the older .30 Winchester Magnum. These rounds have a little more pep, reach out a bit farther and hit slightly harder than the .308. They work fairly well, providing that medium weight bullets of about 150 grains are used. For those few who really need long range capability the only obvious current choice is the .338 Lapua Magnum – a non-belted cartridge that first came to be in 1983, in the United States. While the round languished for several years in its homeland (even Jesus never did very well in Nazareth, where he grew up) certain members of an ammunition manufacturing company in Lapua, Finland saw promise in the non-belted magnum and worked to develop it further. While the .308 round still reigns for shorter distances in NATO countries, the .338 Lapua Magnum with a 200-grain bullet is the only obvious choice for the longer ranges (from 600 to 1,500 meters) since it remains supersonic and relatively accurate up to that point. European nations have been working with the .338 LM round for quite some time. It is only recently that the advantages of the .338 LM have become patently obvious to those in the United States.

FN P-90: We've seen and played with these on and off over the past several years. Developed by FN in Belgium in 1990, the P-90 has a 9+" long barrel, an overall length of roughly 20", and carries 50 rounds of 5.7 x 28mm ammo in an unusual magazine that lies above the barrel. It weighs about 4-pounds, and is a most unusual and highly innovative design. Its power level is roughly equivalent to a .22 magnum rimfire cartridge, although it fires bullets that are lighter (23 to 30 grains), sharply pointed, and non-expanding. FN developed the bullets to defeat armor, and also manufactured a pistol for the same cartridge - thus insuring that the cartridge will never be offered for sale to civilian populations in the U.S. - as there is a U.S. law prohibiting the sale or use of AP ammo in pistols.

Initially FN wanted to sell the tiny rifle only to the military, but as sales didn't materialize, is now trying to interest the law enforcement market, for use against armored personnel. The P-90 was used in the assault against terrorists holding a Japanese embassy in South America, and appeared to give a good account of itself there. While not devastating in its lethal effect, the tiny round does penetrate armor and is capable of stopping an opponent with a hit to the CNS. Since a 23-grain bullet moving at 2,800 fps will only penetrate about 6" of soft tissue, the wounding ability of the weapon is spotty. The results of some shootings have been spectacular, while others have been dismal. Generally, smaller-framed people are out quickly, while exceptionally large, obese individuals can absorb a lot more punishment without incapacitation. The fragile P90 magazine carries the rounds stacked perpendicular to recoil forces, which prevents damage to the fragile bullet tips. The pointed bullets do penetrate the air more easily, and appear to create less noise in the supersonic mode than blunt-nosed bullets. Greg Latka mentioned that the supersonic flight noise of these bullets appears to be substantially quieter than that of other bullets (of similar caliber) he has observed. We have already spoken of the beneficial effects of a sharply pointed tip and careful streamlining for supersonic bullets.

The P-90 is relatively inexpensive to purchase. We have heard prices ranging from $650 to $1,600 each, depending on sights, accessory equipment and modifications. At present the major limiting factor to the sale of the P-90 to law enforcement in the U.S. is the difficulty of obtaining ammunition, and the excessive cost of it. We have been told that Federal, Remington and Winchester would produce ammunition, but have not seen any offered for sale. We seriously doubt if any of the major manufacturers will produce it until the quantity of P-90s in the states approaches the mythical critical mass that will justify a production run. The Import Branch has thus far managed to prevent importation of major amounts of P-90 ammunition produced in Europe. Until this chicken/egg problem is resolved there will not be enough P-90s around to let us see how effective they can be. The P-90 is operated by blowback, and both the ammunition and the weapon are carefully tailored to each other, so a switch to a different caliber or ammunition type may not be all that easily accomplished. Ballistically, the centerfire round is roughly equivalent to the .22 Magnum rimfire – commonly found in the U.S. A similar weapon could be made in .22 Magnum rimfire, but it is very doubtful if this will ever happen.

H&K has produced the MP7, which has a locked breech and a small, fairly peppy cartridge that fires an .18 caliber bullet. We shot one of these a few times at the last SWAT Roundup in Florida, and were very impressed. The MP7 is a very compact rifle/pistol with a 7" barrel and a compact 30-round magazine that fits nicely in its pistol grip. The weapon is accurate and as powerful as one could expect with its short barrel and tiny bullet. It is a wonderful, very loud toy that is truly a joy to handle.

RUSSIAN VINTOREZ (THREADCUTTER) SILENCED SNIPER RIFLES: Although these have been around for at least 20 years, few have been seen inside the U.S. They were quietly used by covert groups inside the USSR. They fire the subsonic 9 x 39mm 250-grain round in AK variants equipped with 12", ported barrels. They are said to be very quiet, moderately accurate and very effective in combat. We need something like the Russian 9x39mm rifle in the U.S. for animal control.

SUPRESSED PISTOL COMMENTS BY MARK: Silencers are primarily used on firearms for hearing protection. Some people enjoy shooting, while others must shoot for a living, as a part of their job. In either case, a silencer on a pistol stifles the sound at its source, therefore it is far more effective as a protective device for hearing than a pile of earmuffs. Law enforcement personnel often use silenced pistols or short rifles when they enter buildings and trailers. If a shot has to be fired within a building the report will not cause either temporary or permanent hearing damage. The ability to hear the movement of suspects inside a building during a search, after a shot has just been fired, is very important. The loudness of just a single gunshot within a room will virtually destroy one’s ability to hear and comprehend verbal commands for several hours. Police and military operators need the ability to preserve command and control, and silencers on firearms allow that ability to be perpetuated. The report from just a single gunshot can cause irreparable hearing damage. While silencers (also called suppressors or cans) have been around since the early 1900s, they are just coming into their own as useful accessories for pistols and other firearms. In the United States silencers are federally controlled devices, although they can be lawfully owned by private citizens in 35 of the 50 states. Silencers can also be used by police, municipalities, governmental agencies and military organizations in almost any state.

The Glock family of pistols is among the most reliable of modern handguns. The only weapon that surpasses the Glock in this area is the John Browning/Colt/Walther-inspired Makarov in .380, which has both a fixed barrel and a double action. Browning designed the original pistol after discovering that brass pistol cases would temporarily stick to chamber walls due to internal pressure, and after the pressures dropped somewhat, the remaining amount of energy could be used to eject the spent casing, cock a hammer and insert a new round. Browning’s breakthrough design began to be manufactured by Colt in 1908. Walther later copied it as the PPK during WW II, for use by selected officers in the German Luftwaffe. The Russians took Walther’s pistol and tooling after the invasion of Germany at the end of WW II, copied it, changed many of the features, and turned it into the Makarov. While the end result may have looked crude, it was made stronger, more durable and more reliable than its predecessors, things that the Russians are noted for. The fixed barrel in the Makarov (combined with an extremely heavy operating spring in the blow-back-action) virtually guarantees proper, reliable cycling. The barrel remains rigidly fixed in position, allowing flawless feeding from the single-column magazine, regardless of how varying external forces act on the barrel. If the ammunition is strong enough to cock the hammer and cycle the non-locking slide when fired there will be no cycling problems in the Makarov. The Makarov’s double action allows a rapid second or third attempt at primer ignition in the event of a misfire – an important feature that the Glock lacks. I mention the aging, but well-designed Makarov because it has four features (a fixed barrel, a very powerful operating spring, a blowback action, and a double action trigger that can drop a hammer again quickly in the event of a misfire) that Glocks don’t. These features are extremely important to proper cycling with any suppressed, self-loading pistol.

A pocket pistol with a blow-back method of operation is unfortunately only effective with cartridges of limited power, the most common of which are the .22 rimfire (40-grains at 1000 fps), .32 auto (71-grains @ 900 fps) and .380 (90-grains @ 1000 fps). Cartridges of greater power (9mm through .45 ACP) tend to require operating springs of inordinate strength, and even then they will beat their slides and frames up. The Russians initially beefed their Makarov round up to 94-grains @ 1,100 fps. They later increased the round to 106-grains @ 1,100 fps when they found that it wasn’t performing on individuals that wore body armor. A blowback pocket pistol of greater power (like the 9mm Parabellum, 115-grains @ 1,200 fps) has been the unattainable Holy Grail of firearm designers for many years. Power levels substantially greater than those of the.380 tend to require pistols with locked breeches, and these must be very finely tuned in order to use a much smaller amount of residual power, delivered at a much later stage in the firing cycle. While a recoil-operated pistol with a locked breech can be made to handle very powerful cartridges, the nature of recoil-operated, locked breech designs means that alterations (the addition of weight in the form of a suppressor) will cause a number of cycling problems to be visited upon the host pistol. The down side of any semiautomatic, suppressed firearm is that the pressure curve inside the barrel will be lengthened. This will cause noise and filth to exit through the weapon’s breech, where it will allow that noise and filth to escape into the shooter’s face and deposit a coating of grit and soot in the weapon’s action and magazine. The only way to avoid this will be to convert the weapon to manual operation, which many individuals are reluctant to do.

As a frame of reference, SAAMI specs call for a limit of 21,000 pounds per square inch of pressure (21 kpsi) in both the .380 Browning and .45 ACP cartridges. This should not be surprising, since they were both designed around the same time by the same man, over 100 years ago. The Makarov round runs that limit up to 24 kpsi, while both the 9mm Luger and the .40 S&W have their safe pressure limits set at 35 kpsi. The Beretta and the CZ 52 in 9mm are two pistols that have shown themselves to be most tolerant of additional barrel weight in the form of an added muzzle can. That doesn’t mean that they will necessarily cycle easily without a recoil booster, but they are more likely to than any of the other locked-breech pistols. The Beretta pistol is quite common, and the Brigadier is the desired model, as it has more material built into the slide to handle the extra shock and abuse. The CZ 52 is a big, heavy, inexpensive, all-steel pistol that has been available at low cost for many years. It comes in .30 caliber, but can be converted to 9mm when one orders a threaded barrel from Federal Arms Corp. Bullet weights up to 158 and 200 grains are available in 9mm, but the reader is advised to be cautious when using these, as they have been responsible for broken pieces in the barrel/slide lockup. Heavier bullets will increase pressures in any cartridge, and anything heavier than 147 grains has been shown to break parts in the shoulder-mounted H&K MP5 as well. We have noticed that the locking surfaces on Glock Pistols in .40 S&W are getting rounded over faster than on other calibers, and attribute this to a very steep pressure curve in a medium-sized bore, throwing a heavier chunk of lead. The .40 S&W round is probably the most effective combat round ever designed, and it pushes the edge in terms of operating pressure. As an aside, it should be noted that 200-grain solid, soft lead wadcutters are quite effective in a downloaded .357 case in a Thompson Contender for animal control. The rounds are extremely quiet and perform much better than any of us ever expected.

While Glock has done well with pistols carrying barrels that weigh about four ounces, the self-cycling situation becomes far more complex when a firearm sound suppressor enters the picture. Since a suppressor must be attached to the weapon’s barrel, it can easily double or quadruple the weight and destroy the delicate balance of that barrel. Since a weapon should cycle properly with or without that added weight, it is possible to enter a situation where, if the weapon is arranged so that it will cycle with the weight, the stronger, more vigorous, recoil-operated power impulse will cause damage to the barrel, slide and frame when that inhibiting weight is removed. The cleanest way to have a pistol work well in both modes is to have a blowback weapon with a fixed barrel. So, now we’re back to .22 LR, .32 auto and .380. Glock makes a .380 pistol, but it is for some reason not available in the U.S. And even if it were, the .380 is a marginal performer. Why Glock has never made a .22 rimfire pistol remains a mystery to us.

On another tack, the Russians were selling a lot of pistols in the U.S., but that was eventually brought to a halt by the gun-hating, Clinton Administration. With regard to the Makarov, the original .380 round is called the 9x17mm, while the supersonic Makarov improvement was called the 9x18mm, as the case was slightly longer. Since the Makarov barrel has to be changed to a longer, threaded version for suppression, it has always been a simple matter to change the caliber to the subsonic .380 simply by purchasing and installing a different barrel with a slight chamber modification. The blowback weapon works perfectly with either round. The Makarov pistol was eventually modified to handle the upgraded, more powerful 9x18mm Makarov round and the even more powerful 9x19mm Luger round. Certain areas were slightly beefed up, and the chambers of the weapons were fluted with shallow, spiral grooves. The brass or steel of each case was thus forced into the shallow depressions during firing, and this retarded extraction to the point where the smaller, simpler, blowback action accommodated the more powerful round. These Makarovs haven’t been allowed into the U.S. either, although that could possibly change in the future. Glock could take this approach with special, heavily-built, fixed-barreled, blowback pistols designed to be suppressed. Whether they do this or not remains to be seen, although it is doubtful that they will. The technology is finally in place, and it is possible that a blowback system could also be made to work in .40 S&W.

Pistols Designed for Suppression, and the Concept of Retro-Fix - Very few pistols are designed from the ground up to be suppressed. H&K made a stab at it with the oversized MK 23, and actually won a contract from the U.S. government. But their efforts have moving barrels that are so sensitive that they have to use a recoil booster (Neilsen device) grafted onto the rear end of a government-contract-supplied .45 caliber suppressor. Recoil boosters are short pistons with short springs that use propellant gas to accentuate the movement of a barrel so that it will unlock easily from its slide during recoil. Suppressors that have recoil boosters are called boostered cans in the trade. While they are sometimes the only answer to pistol cycling, they have their own problems, adding length, weight, bulk, slop and infirmity to a system that already makes most handguns awkward. In addition to that, they represent potential alignment problems, because they add at least three more pieces that have to be built and joined with axial concentricity in mind. When they are new and freshly greased they work fairly well, although they do add weight and length. When they get old and corroded they stick, and that causes weapon malfunction. When they are used underwater the salt, sand and grit cause additional problems. When boosters get worn and used up they could allow an attached suppressor to droop, and that will result in bullets striking baffles. We build our own boosters at Sound Tech, and these are actually welded inside each can as we build it. They allow the Glock to cycle flawlessly but have to be periodically greased to keep corrosion at bay. Many cans are built with baffles that have less than 20/1000ths of an inch clearance on each side of departing bullets. This is usually sufficient at a point very close to the barrel’s muzzle, but the potential for a glancing blow worsens as a bullet traverses the length of a can. We call this potential path the cone of dispersion, as it increases in diameter after it leaves the barrel’s muzzle. Some cans allow 40 to 50/1000ths of an inch on each side at a can’s muzzle. At best, a baffle contact causes inaccuracy and bullet tumbling. At worst it will result in bullet impact inside the can, and that usually rips the can from its threads or coupling and sends it loudly flying off in an unknown direction. We often use a tapered bore inside the can, increasing the diameter of the holes progressively as baffles get farther from the host weapon’s muzzle.

While we are on the subject of cycling, a self-loading pistol that cycles completely when fired will be inherently louder than one that is hand cycled. Again, this is because a suppressor will capture and hold gas, allowing pressure to issue from the opened breech area of the weapon before a new round has been inserted. Not only does filth and corruption enter the weapon’s action, noise issues forth from both ends, and the sound belching out of the back of a cycling weapon is usually louder than that coming from the muzzle of the can. When discharged at night, fire can often be seen flashing out of both ends of most suppressed semiautomatic weapons. Our boostered cans mitigate this to some degree because the pistol’s breech won’t unlock until the blast of gas from the barrel’s muzzle impacts the piston, and that delays the cycle, reducing the amount of gas coming out the chamber at the rear.

Threads, Hand, Shoulders, Axial Alignment and Baffle Strike - On the H&K MK 23 pistol, the barrel appears to have been designed as an afterthought, containing a very thin muzzle section and extremely fine, RH threads. After all the money that was spent on government contracts for that pistol, it turned out that the locked breech was too tight and too complex. The weapons jammed with sand and grit and wouldn’t function when they came through surf zones on beach insertions, so they aren’t currently being used. The older H&K pistol, designated the P7, had a fixed barrel and contained a small but efficient gas-delayed, blowback operating system, but it was apparently dropped from consideration before the actual government contract was let. The P7 works reliably in foul conditions, but has been out of production for a number of years. A simple blowback design based on the original Browning principle, like a scaled up and refined Makarov, would probably work in all conditions. At this time only the Heritage Arms Stealth pistol effectively uses the gas-delayed blowback system for 9mm and .40 S&W rounds. Grant and design money would have been better spent on that simpler system, but our government officials are apparently fascinated with complexity. We can’t wait to see the new pistol designs with global positioning, red (don’t shoot) and green (headquarter approval – shoot) lights and interlocks, with shot-counting LEDs and a TV camera built into the handgrips. Think that won’t happen? Think again.

While we’re on the subject, most pistols have barrels that spin their projectiles in a right-hand direction. Although it happens so quickly that few notice it, this imparts a rapid left-hand twist to the weapon each time it is fired. The twist throws the pistol’s handle into the palm for a right-handed shooter, but tries to move it out of the hand for left-handed shooters. Indeed, with very powerful cartridges, some left-handed shooters have actually had weapons come out of their hands upon firing. A suppressor mounted to a barrel with right-handed threads will tend to loosen during firing, and the operator must be very attentive to this, since a can will droop as it loosens. H&K came up with a smaller version of the MK 23, called the USP Tactical, available in .40 & .45. It has tiny threads on the muzzle as well, but at least they are left-handed. As a general rule, the direction of threads on a barrel’s muzzle should oppose the direction of rifling, in order to maintain suppressor tightness during discharge.

In most cases threads on a barrel do not provide axial alignment. They merely pull the rear of a can backwards and hold it in place. Axial alignment is usually provided by a shoulder at the rear of the threads. An analogy is to stand erect with a six-foot tall cardboard tube over one’s head. If the tube fits tight around the head it will still be hard to balance the tube. If a larger diameter tube sits on one’s shoulders it be more likely to remain in balance. The analogy is flawed because forward and back have to be considered in addition to right and left, but hopefully the point has still been made. A shoulder on a barrel is so named because it slightly resembles human shoulders, with the threaded portion resembling the human head. It is the only hope for proper alignment of a suppressor to a barrel, so it had better be right. The same can be said for the rear surface of a suppressor. Screw threads provide a very powerful mechanical advantage, and they will align the rear of a can to a proper shoulder on the muzzle of a barrel. Bigger is almost always better when it comes to a joint of this nature. Most manufacturers try to skimp on metal in this area, which leads to problems with axial alignment. Some cans have their rear end caps welded in place on a tubular body, while others are threaded. While either system works, it will always be best if the rear of the can is bored and threaded after it has been fixed into position. A correspondent from France tested quite a number of suppressed pistols by firing them into the deep end of a swimming pool and collecting the spent bullets. Marks on the sides of the bullets indicated that most were striking baffles on the way out.

Suppressors are often made from aluminum (which is one-third the weight of steel) where weight is a consideration. While aluminum is easily machined and light in weight, it is also very soft and easily damaged. If a suppressor is made primarily of aluminum the rear end cap will often benefit by having a steel or stainless steel insert and a steel blast baffle. Aluminum threads do not normally hold up to wear very well, and aluminum blast baffles suffer from peaning by unburnt powder particles. The peaning will eventually close up the hole in an aluminum blast baffle to the point where bullet contact occurs. An all-steel suppressor may weigh three times more than an aluminum one, but it will be much more durable. The time-honored steel of choice is 4130, chrome moly. While this steel does rust it is nevertheless quite strong, welds well, and is extremely resistant to fatigue. Chrome moly is the standard of the aircraft and firearm industry. Stainless steel may not rust as easily, but cans made of that material are prone to rupture at the longitudinal seam in the suppressor body. Barrels that are not unusually thick should be made of chrome moly, as stainless steel will bulge or burst. Stainless is prone to fatigue, is harder to work unless alloyed with lead and sulfur, and tends to be much more expensive. We have seen quite a number of stainless cans fail during use, bursting and then tearing down a seam. A solid baffle strike in an aluminum suppressor will be a catastrophic occurrence, while one in a steel can may not cause damage.

Suppressibility and Reliability - While the Glock is the pistol we would most want to carry in battle because of its light weight and reliability, there are characteristics inherent in the Glock family that do not make them ideal candidates for sound suppression. As we move from the.22s, .32s and .380s, and go up the ladder of power to locked breech pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, we find that Glocks are the most reliable pistols on the planet. The designers at Glock started from ground zero and produced a weapon with cycling characteristics that approach perfection. The Glock pistol is relatively light, yet extremely tough. It will take an incredible amount of abuse and neglect while still performing effectively. The story of a Glock salesman doing a law enforcement demo by dragging a pistol down a gravel road on a cord behind his car for a mile or two is true. When he was done the sights were gone and the slide and the rear of the grip had suffered an amazing amount of damage. He trimmed some of the frazzled plastic grip area back with a borrowed knife, inserted a full magazine, and rapidly fired all of the rounds, one after the other. The weapon no longer looked very much like a pistol, but it continued to perform reliably.

My personal carry pistol is a Glock 23 in .40 S&W. I’ve used it hard for over ten years, and aside from several easily-cleared misfires, it has never let me down. It should be remembered that the .40 was developed in the United States as an attempt to improve on the .38 special and 9mm, after a very embarrassing and well-publicized moment suffered by the FBI. A lot of contemporary thinking and expertise went into the design of what is now the .40 S&W cartridge. Even though the .40 may have a power level slightly below that of the .45 ACP, tabulated results from actual shootings over the last 10 years show that the .40 S&W, with JHP bullets, has had more effective results (a higher percentage of stops and fatalities) than any of the other popular pistol cartridges. While we won’t conjecture or labor on about why this may be so, we will again point to statistics that say that the .40 S&W appears to be working more effectively than any other contemporary pistol cartridge on the street. The .40 S&W apparently combines power level and magazine capacity in a proper mix with penetration and controllability. Roughly 75% of the law enforcement community currently uses the .40 S&W round in their issued Glock 22 duty pistols. Current estimates are that the .40 S&W round will be used by 90% of the law enforcement agencies by 2010. The street price for a Glock pistol is around $500, although some military units are able to buy them for a little over $100, in quantity.

Effective pistol suppression rates vary both with caliber and with the length and volume of the suppressors used. Not surprisingly, the larger diameter cartridges are significantly louder than smaller diameter cartridges, when suppressed. That is to say, a .22 rimfire suppressor will be the most silent. A 9mm suppressed system will typically be quieter than a .40 S&W suppressed system. And all of these will be notably quieter than a .45 ACP suppressed system. The outside diameter of the suppressor body is also important, but there is a point of diminishing returns. Suppressors measuring between 1.25 and 1.4 inches in diameter appear to be most effective. Simply stated, the larger the borehole through a suppressor, the greater the sound level that will issue forth. While internal ballistics and cartridge design can get very complex, this one simple fact continues to stare us in the face.

Whenever one uses a suppressed pistol he will be best off using only ammunition that moves with a velocity below the speed of sound (called subsonic ammunition in the trade). The speed of sound is roughly 1,100 feet per second (fps), and a bullet traveling at this rate of speed in air will generate its own noise. The sound is called a sonic crack, and it is normally almost as loud as an unsuppressed gunshot. The most commonly used centerfire pistol cartridge in the United States, if not the world, is the 9mm, although it is being phased out in U.S. law enforcement by the more effective .40 S&W. Common loadings in 9mm Luger have been 115-grain bullets propelled at roughly 1,200 fps. Statistics have indicated that 9mm, 115-grain bullets overpenetrate, and are not as effective as heavier 147-grain hollow-point bullets moving at the more sedate, surprisingly more effective subsonic velocity of roughly 950-fps. A number of experts have stated that an impact velocity between 700 and 900 fps is physiologically far more effective than moderately higher, supersonic velocities with pistol-caliber bullets. That is the reason why the 115-grain 9mm round at 1,200 fps has never worked as well as a slower, heavier bullet. It goes right through, wasting much of its limited energy beyond the primary target. This fact has been apparent since World War I, but keeps getting forgotten in the search for more power with pistol cartridges. One will have to get well beyond 2,200 fps to achieve the second order of tissue destruction, and that can only be found with rifle cartridges.

A 9mm suppressed pistol can be very quiet when combined with a silencer of moderate size. We conducted a small silencer demonstration for a meeting of chiefs of police on the lawn of a city hall in a large city in the Southeastern United States, during the spring of 2001. We fired three hand-cycled 9mm shots through a Glock 17 connected to a 1.25 x 7" wet can, directly down and into a burlap sack full of shredded rubber lying on the ground. The shots were fired about six feet away from a small assembly of the chiefs while they were standing on a sidewalk during a break. The bullets were 147-grain subsonic hollow-point, traveling at 1,020 fps. The shots were so quiet that caterers carrying food in for the meeting’s luncheon on another sidewalk 40 feet away did not even turn their heads towards us as they walked. While our back was to those food workers during the demo, the chiefs lost no time in pointing this out afterward. The chiefs were not comfortable with silencers of this nature being in the hands of civilians.

Sound levels are not always what they appear to be. We remember watching an annual contest for the world’s loudest human on TV. The finalists consisted of a drill sergeant, an old female town crier from England, and a 13-year-old girl. The sergeant and the old town crier had deep voices that may have sounded loud to humans, but the sound meter was not impressed. The young girl was last to compete, and gave out a short, high-pitched squeal that wasn’t very impressive, but peaked the meter. She won the contest handily. A high-pitched sound can be louder and carry farther than a low-pitched sound without appearing to be impressive to the human ear.

A good, expensive, calibrated sound meter is the only device we currently have that can give us authoritative, repeatable numbers. If a suppressor sounds good to a meter it will probably sound good to a human ear as well, but variations in pitch and duration do make some cans of equality by a meter’s standard sound different to the human ear. While human ears can’t give us repeatable standards, they should still be considered as the final judge of a silencer’s effectiveness. As we move into the 21st Century, silencers are getting smaller and more effective for their size. In most situations a fair amount of suppression is all that is required, and one can shouldn’t be rejected because it is a dB or two louder than another. Silencers, like firearms, are working tools and they should be as light, robust, dependable and effective as possible. In the future we will see silencers more integrated into the lives of firearm users in the civilian, police and military sectors. They protect hearing, allow command and control, and permit stealth in those areas that call for it.

Sound levels are measured in decibels, commonly abbreviated as dB. The scale is confusing, because it is not linear. It starts with 1 dB, which is the lowest sound a human can hear. Each increase of 10 on the dB scale is roughly 100 times greater. Because the scale expands exponentially, as it nears the top the numbers mean far more at that end than they do near the bottom. Soft speech is rated at 65 dB, or 0.00004 pounds per square inch. A .38 Special revolver is rated at 161 dB, which is equivalent to 0.35 psi of pressure. If you hear an impulse sound of this level three feet away your unprotected ears will hurt and ring for days. A .308 rifle with a short barrel and a muzzle brake will deliver 172 dB, which is equivalent to 1.2 psi. If someone fires a rifle of this caliber in a small room those inside will bleed from the nose and ears from the shock. A level of 231 dB is equivalent to 1,000 psi, and exposure to a sound level of this magnitude will cause immediate death. A .22 LR pistol reaches 155 db, but a good suppressor can quench that down to 114 dB. This is a reduction of roughly 40 dB, and the resulting impulse sound will not normally be noticed 30 yards away. A silencer is considered to be good if it will reduce sound 30 dB in the dry mode, a reduction of roughly 1,000 fold on a linear scale. Many suppressors on the market will only reduce sound by 20 dB. A 9mm pistol will reach 160 dB, and can be suppressed to 135 dB dry, and about 126 dB with a good wet can. A .40 S&W pistol will reach about the same dB level without a suppressor, but can be reduced to about 130 dB with a similar can. The .45 ACP is a little louder than either of the two, unsuppressed, but can only be reduced down to about 134 dB with a wet can. The .45’s silenced report can still be heard up to 60 yards away, but casual bystanders may not recognize the sound as a gunshot.

A good bullet for the .40 S&W cartridge is the 180-grain Federal Hydra-Shok JHP, which moves at about 1,000 fps when fired out of a 4-inch barrel. In general terms, this .40 caliber load will be about 15-percent louder when fired though a suppressor of a size similar to the one mentioned above, with a 9mm, 147-grain JHP load fired at a similar velocity. Bullets available for the .45 Auto or .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol, developed in 1905) range from 185 to 260 grains in weight. Velocities run as high as 1,000 fps with the lightest bullets, dropping down to as low as 800 fps with the heaviest. While one might think that the .45 Auto should make no more noise than the .40 S&W, this is definitely not the case. Even after being suppressed with a very effective silencer, the .45 Auto can be expected to be about 20-percent louder than a good suppressed .40, and almost 35-percent louder than a suppressed 9mm subsonic round. We are speaking in very general terms, and individual cases will certainly vary from this rule.

The 9mm is a very quiet round when properly suppressed, yet it still packs a powerful subsonic punch. The industry has learned a lot about building hollow-point bullets over the last 15 years, and now has some (like the Gold Dot) that perform very effectively. Black Hills, Alabama Ammo and Orbit Ammo now make a truly subsonic 147-grain FMJ 9mm round that can be used in subguns and pistols in situations where suppressors will not handle HP bullets. Because the 9mm is the quietest of serious calibers when suppressed, and because it is very common, much of the security, police and protection industry in the world has settled on 9mm for suppressed pistol fire. The 9mm is very available, relatively easy to control, and provides very quiet subsonic fire. It is the standard of much of the military and enforcement industry, and many have found that it doesn’t pay to buck standards.

                 

Barrels - Although it may not be immediately obvious to some, existing barrels on Glock pistols are unsuitable for the attachment of suppressors because they do not project far enough from the front of the slide to allow attachment. While aftermarket barrels are available with threads, they are almost always RH threads. In addition, many of the aftermarket barrels have chambers that are too tight, and these will prevent the weapons from cycling. While factory barrels will usually fit and function well, the aftermarket barrels will often require hand fitting in order to work in a Glock pistol. While the aftermarket manufacturer may not think that this is a big deal, the owner of the pistol will disagree. While fitting is not normally hard, one needs both the tools and very specific knowledge in order to do it correctly, and this may turn out to be a highly frustrating and ultimately insurmountable obstacle. Four of many suppliers of aftermarket, threaded barrels are Bar-Stow, Brownells, Federal Arms Corp. and Fire Dragon. None of the aftermarket barrels will ever work as smoothly out-of-the-box as a factory Glock barrel. Glock barrels have sloppy chambers that usually allow them to work with any ammunition made for the parent weapon. They are built with proper tolerances in all the right places, and are covered with a very hard Tenifer coating that will not gall.

The owner of a pistol that he wants to get suppressed is often shocked to discover that he will have to pay from $150 to $600 for a barrel that will allow him to mount a suppressor to his weapon. A threaded .380 Makarov barrel, by contrast, often goes for as little as $50. A suppressor may cost as little as $400, or as much as $1,200. The transfer tax for a silencer to an individual is a one-time fee of $200, while a federal transfer to an institution or law enforcement agency goes free of charge. A few Glock pistols have barrels long enough to thread if they are installed on shorter models. If you have a local Glock dealer who is friendly to your cause you might be able to purchase a suitable barrel from him. Bring your pistol and make absolutely certain that it will fit and function before purchasing. Another hurdle is threading a barrel that has a hardened coating. This can be done by a competent gunsmith with a lathe and a carbide, single-point threading tool. The barrels are a little on the thin side, but they do have more metal in their walls than some other pistol barrels. The Makarov barrel, for instance, is 3.7-inches long, and only weighs 1.7 ounces. Thin as they are, we have never heard of one bursting. Manufacturers of silencers have a vested interest in threading barrels accurately, so they will fit their silencers to line up axially and function properly. It is essential that the rear end of the silencer clear the tip of the operating spring’s guide rod and frame during the cycling process. This can be accomplished if the shoulder on the barrel projects ½- inch in front of the slide. If there isn’t enough clearance the weapon won’t cycle at all, and damage may be done to the barrel and the guide rod.

               

Wipes, Ablatives & Coolants - There are several methods of enhancing the performance of standard models of compact silencers. Some of the older models of silencers used a system with wipes. Cans with wipes are rarely used anymore, but they are fairly efficient when new. Wipes consist of discs of elastic material that bullets can penetrate. The bullet penetrates one or more discs, and then those discs close up to some extent to contain propellant gas within the can. Hollow-point bullets cannot be used with wipes. Accuracy usually runs from poor to horrible, and velocity is diminished. The number of shots that can be fired through such a system run from 3 to 12 before the wipes must be replaced. Sometimes such cans are used in combination with an ablative or coolant, such as grease or water-filled gel. Cans with wipes are generally special purpose, very small, and are rarely used in this day and age. They can be useful in a pilot’s bail out kit, where a sidearm will only be fired in an emergency, and not often.

Some silencers are built with baffles that are designed to be used in a dry condition. These cans are often larger and fairly effective – say 1-3/8-inch in diameter, by from 5 to 9 inches in length. Most of these cans improve in efficiency with the use of a small amount of grease or KY Jelly in the rear chamber. Since the products of gunpowder combustion are water combined with unburned powder particles and various corrosive acids, the use of a little RIG (rust inhibiting grease) will serve to protect all of the internal metallic components from corrosion, to some extent. It is primarily a matter of which gets into the metal’s pores first – corrosive compounds or grease, as to the degree of internal corrosion a silencer will suffer. Most suppressor manufacturers now ship their cans with the primary chamber coated with RIG, a practice that will prevent a lot of corrosion. The primary expansion chamber should be recoated after each soaking or cleaning in order to maintain protection. Expanding gasses from each shot will carry the protective material deep into every crevice. New greases are coming out all the time. Dry cans are typically larger in diameter than wet cans, and the diameter can get in the way of sights, forcing one to use the imaging technique of aiming.

Wet cans usually vary from 1 to 1-1/4-inch in diameter. A 1-inch diameter can will allow the use of sights unimpeded, while larger diameters will normally occlude or impede vision through the sights. An ablative is a material or compound that erodes or sacrifices some of itself in order to protect and cool the underlying strata. A coolant will mix with the hot gasses coming from a pistol barrel, quenching the flame front to some degree, and cooling the gasses. Since the powder charge in a 9mm subsonic load is only about 5-grains, that will result in about 3.5 grains of gas combined with 1.5 grains of unburnt powder. It should be pointed out that most of the powder burning that takes place will do so before the bullet ever moves out of the cartridge case. A pistol is fairly similar to a pneumatic air gun, except that it uses the more powerful effect of burning, hot, expanding gas, rather than compressed air. When this hot mix of gas and particles hits a small amount of water, grease or gel in the primary expansion chamber in the rear end of a wet suppressor, it will mix with and be rapidly cooled by that material. The net result is that a small-diameter wet can will provide silencing performance that is all out of proportion to its size. A wet suppressor can be incredibly efficient at silencing a gunshot.

The most common materials used in wet cans are greases, foaming greases, soaps mixed with water, gels and plain water. Grease will last for as many as 40 shots, and has the advantage of protection against corrosion. Water will last between 4 and 6 shots, depending on the interior volume of the can and the complexity of the baffles inside. If grease is used it should not be overdone, as it can get in the way of the bullet path, and this could cause problems with baffle strikes and accuracy. Some cans have tolerances large enough to allow the use of HP ammunition. Others require that only FMJ ammo be used. Since semiautomatic weapons always open before the pressure has dropped completely inside suppressors, the expanding gasses will usually come back out the rear end of the barrel. Filthy goo belches out of both ends of the weapon, and this can make the wet can unpleasant to operate in many situations. Some may not mind the mess, but others will. Gels are typically water-soluble and can be rinsed out under a faucet. A military man on a mission will want grease or water in his can to improve the stealth of the operation. A lawyer in a three-piece suit and out to impress his buddies behind the courthouse will be less than pleased with black grease spots on his $400 silk tie and tasseled Gucci shoes.

Sights - Again, a small can of an inch or less in diameter will not get in the way of most pistol sights. Cans larger than an inch in diameter will occlude the sights. Some put another set of sights directly on the exterior of the can. Others install extended sights that are higher than the existing factory sights. Since these are specialty items they will be far more expensive than factory sights. Still others simply sight down the suppressor tube. Most modern sights have a white dot and square, or three white dots that will stand out fairly well. These sights can be used to line up towards the area where bullet impact is intended, regardless of whether the silencer covers the exact point of impact or not. With practice, any of these systems can be used effectively, especially in subdued light.

Hand Cycling - Most locked-breech, recoil-operated pistols are very difficult to get to cycle. Remember that they were never designed to be suppressed. While most pistols will last through many thousands of rounds of normal fire, suppressed fire can be expected to shorten their useful life. Common techniques used to enhance cycling involve altering cam angles, lightening the operating spring, lightening the suppressor with lightweight materials or flimsy construction techniques, and the use of recoil boosters. Altering the cam angles and the use of an operating spring of lighter compression (most standard operating springs run from 18 to 25 pounds) may cause damage to the host weapon, and could result in severe personal injury to the operator or bystanders. The use of a recoil booster will enhance cycling, and if a limited number of rounds are expended the weapon may not be harmed by this. If a lot of rounds are expended the pistol may eventually suffer premature wear and damage.

While military operators and police want a weapon that will cycle by itself each time the trigger is pulled, there are others who may not mind hand cycling. Hand cycling is almost identical to carrying out a malfunction drill. When practiced, it can be very fast and almost instinctive. Hand cycling will result in the cleanest operation, because the breech will remain closed, causing all the filth generated to go out the muzzle of the suppressor. Hand operation will also be the most silent, as silencers are designed to stifle the flow of gas and noise from the muzzle, not back through the opened breech of a semiautomatic weapon. The worst situation will result with a weapon that only cycles some of the time. One will never know when to hand cycle, and when not to, and that confusion will result in indecision and lost time. If the piece actually cycled properly, racking the slide will eject a perfectly good round out onto the ground. A weapon that is hand cycled will not be subject to the slamming that results from the movement of a barrel that weighs three to six times what it was designed to because of the added weight of its silencer.

                 

Ammunition - The standard manufacturers (Remington, Winchester, Federal, etc.) supply subsonic ammunition in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Again, Black Hills, Alabama Ammo and Orbit Ammo offer an uncataloged 9mm FMJ bullet loadings that run about 950 fps in a handgun and remain subsonic out of a subgun. The general rule of thumb is to use FMJ is all but tactical situations. It feeds better and will usually stay in one piece if it strikes a baffle. Load your own (5 grains of Accurate Arms No. 5 under a 147-grain bullet) if you have the time and patience. Try to stay at or below 950 fps, so a mild accidental overload won’t go supersonic.

A QUIETER UNSUPPRESSED RIFLE: We were recently talking with a varmint-hunting friend in Canada, where silencers are not legal. His favorite cartridge is a modified .221 Remington Fireball chambered in a bolt-action varmint rifle. Because the case is very short the powder column is more compact (spherical appears optimal) and the cartridge is even more efficient than the .223. He is getting roughly 3,200 fps with a 40-grain bullet, using 20 grains of powder, roughly 2/3rds of what the .223 would take. The .22 PPC is a similar cartridge, with a larger diameter case. We have said all of this in order to speak to the subject of relative loudness and efficiency, because varmint hunters do not enjoy using ear protection, for the most part. The reduced capacity of the .221 Fireball makes it a more efficient cartridge than the .223. The Fireball delivers its projectile with less noise (and about 180-fps less velocity). The .17 caliber Mach IV is also worth looking at for small varmints and medium ranges, however is very fussy about a clean bore.

For those who want to shoot in the open and do not have the option of a silencer available, the use of a more efficient cartridge is an option worth looking at. Continuing in the same vein, the use of some sort of funnel or bloop tube on the end of a barrel will direct some of that noise away from the shooter's ear. The old .303 British Jungle Carbine had such a funnel, and it acted like a rocket nozzle, projecting the ear-damaging muzzle blast away from the shooter's ear. Quite a bit of noise still issues forth, but it will be slightly diminished, is more directional, and will therefore not be as painful to the shooter. Typical muzzle brakes, by the way, INCREASE THE LEVEL OF SOUND BY ROUGHLY SIXTY-FOUR TIMES over what the shooter would normally hear. The report the shooter hears is devastatingly painful. Just a single exposure can severely damage one's hearing when ear protection is not used. Some of the brakes are purported to cause less noise, but this is untrue. Shooting any modern centerfire rifle equipped with a muzzle brake without hearing protection will severely damage anyone's hearing!

The new devices look like muzzle brakes, but they are not. They do not reduce recoil. They merely shield the shooter from some of the noise. Longer and larger in diameter will of course be more efficient. There are some in the enforcement business at BATF who will look upon these as silencers, and that is starting to cause a problem as word comes down to hassle gun owners wherever possible. With the change in administration this policy may diminish, or it may not. Firing a .223 or .300 Winchester Magnum rifle equipped with one of these devices in a courtroom should remove all doubt as to the efficiency of these as effective silencers. BATF has long held that any device that decreases the sound level by as little as 2 dB should be considered a silencer. Two years ago we reported that BATF has not attempted to prosecute those who use bloop tubes. While it has been this way for 65 years, we now hear of a case in Memphis where an individual from California was charged. Apparently BATF officials across the country are now moving against any individuals who have bloop tubes on their target rifle or pistols. If you have one you are urged to take it off and cut off the attachment component. It doesn't matter what the material is made of, how it is attached, or how long an individual has used it. If it is mounted on a firearm and if it reduces the sound level significantly, the owner/user is at risk for prosecution. On a theoretical level this is mildly interesting. If it happens to you it can be incredibly expensive, harrowing and time-consuming. These people have no sense of humor, and will not hesitate to prosecute if it will make headlines. Believe me, you do not want your name in the paper, nor do you want a $20K legal bill, a $100K fine and ten years in the slammer. Remember, normal citizens are much easier to prosecute than criminals because they stand still. The word is now out that BATF will not hesitate to prosecute a high profile case in this area.

ORDERS: We are still struggling hard to keep up with orders. We have been working 70 hours a week for five years, and have canceled all but one of our ads. Be patient. We are pedaling as fast as we can. Your chances of getting a suppressor from Sound Tech are better if you order something that is more rapidly made. For instance, Millennium Cans in .22 LR, .223 & .308, and MONOLITH Cans are items we have a steady call for, hence we make up and register a few tubes whenever we are able, and usually have some in stock. If you want us to suppress a large-bore Magnum sniper rifle we have to build all the pieces from scratch, and that can take quite a bit of time, especially if we have to order materials that are not normally in stock. AS A RULE, SCREW-ON CANS ARE DELIVERED QUICKLY. INTEGRAL CANS FOR RIFLES ARE NOT. Please bear this in mind. With today’s technology muzzle cans with subsonic ammunition will do almost anything an integral can will do (except not look like an unsuppressed weapon) and they tend to stay cleaner and work longer without cleaning. We don't normally rebuild cans from other manufacturers. It is a dirty, filthy, lousy, nasty, thoroughly unpleasant, miserable, thankless, difficult, low-paying job, and we are already very short on time. It is not legal for us to "save" a number from another manufacturer's suppressor tube, destroy the tube, and make a new one with the same number and the other manufacturer’s stamp. Don't ask.

 

STAY SUBSONIC FOR MAXIMUM SUPPRESSION: In a different vein we have made up a number of CZ 452, bolt-action rifles with muzzle cans fused to their short barrels. One has to use ammo with moderate velocity (about 950 fps) for maximum sound suppression with these rifles. The fused cans are extremely quiet, and they have an incredibly long service life. We recommend subsonic ammo whenever possible. Russian Baikal Jr. Brass, and Wolf subsonic, although filthy, are also subsonic; and are very accurate when fired in one of the new CZ rifles with a muzzle can. Aguila 20, 40 & 60 grain subsonic ammo is very quiet in a suppressed pistol or bolt-action rifle. The 60-grain round is not quiet in a semi-auto rifle as the case is extracted before the pressure drops substantially. The 60-grain SSS round will tumble in most .22 rifles with slow twists. Aguila anticipated building a 90-grain round for the .22 Magnum. Interesting idea, but this round will definitely need a barrel with a really fast twist. Don’t buy hot .22 Federal HP or CCI Stinger ammo that exits around 1,400 fps. The ammo is normally not accurate, and the supersonic bullet crack is fairly loud. A number of people have bought 9mm suppressors for their Glock, Beretta, etc. pistols and shot 109 or 115-grain supersonic ammo through them. Dumb! Why bother having a can with supersonic ammo? Use 147-grain, 9mm subsonic.

9MM AND .40 S&W PISTOL CANS, BOOSTERED AND NON-BOOSTERED: We now have a standard line of M-Cans for 9mm and .40 S&W pistols. The regular can is 1.4 x 7 or 8 inches long. It is OK dry, and incredibly good (at least 46 dB) in the wet mode. It will prevent most pistols from cycling because it is made of steel and increases the weight of the barrel. It is incredibly quiet and many have been astounded by its efficiency. Most pistols will have to be cycled by hand for each shot. We also make a boostered can about 8-inches long, and this allows any self-loading pistol to cycle. Even though the construction is identical, the boostered can will never be as quiet as the plain can. We are not totally sure why the boostered can is louder, but that is the way it is, and we do not feel that the status will change anytime soon. If you want optimal silence, go for the plain can that requires hand cycling. If you want a fair level of suppression and a pistol that cycles flawlessly, go for the boostered can. If you anticipate using a .40 S&W pistol, the.40 can will also work with 9mm. A 9mm can will not work with the .40 S&W round! Think about what you really want and then order.

THE MASSIVE .50 BMG CAN: We will continue to stay with the original 2.3 x 12-inch can for this powerful round. The can weighs 5.5 pounds but works better than any of us ever expected. Retail price is $1,250, with discounts given for quantities. Hard to believe, but most of the M-Cans, from the tiny .22 LR Squelch , through the .223 and .308, to the massive .50 BMG are all built around the same general plan and proportion, with size being the main variant.

ANTI-GUN ACTIVITY: We have seen a continued increase in atrocities committed with firearms, many of which have been perpetrated solely to sway public opinion against firearms. Now that the Clinton administration has ended we will hopefully see a discontinuation of those staged, politically perpetrated atrocities in the U.S. It has been said that the new millennium will see a rise in terrorism, and I personally know one boy who is now paralyzed from the waist down because of such an act perpetrated at sea in the Caribbean. If you must travel to a foreign country, take some of the common precautions to ensure that you aren’t added to the victim list. Stay out of those countries that the US State Department warns us against. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be flashy. Go for gray. Blend. Wear what the locals wear. Take a course in self-defense with bare hands, a knife and a pistol. Stay out of areas where trouble can occur late at night. Keep your vehicle well maintained, with a full fuel tank, new belts and good tires. Carry a couple of good flashlights (tiny and large), a cell phone or CB radio, a small fire extinguisher and a can of Fix-a-Flat in your vehicle. Stay up with the current techniques of defense against car-jacking. Remember that the cocoon of safety provided by car windows can be an illusion. A metal baseball bat or sharp point can shatter that illusion in a second. Try not to get boxed in by traffic or a passing train at a crossing. Stay way back, and leave yourself one or more escape routes. Be aware of those around your vehicle.

We have seen quite a few firearm manufacturers fold because of pending lawsuits. Pressure has also been put on UPS and FedEx and they are bending as well. The assault may have slackened a bit recently, but the political machinery against firearms is now very powerful and well established. It will maintain a steady pressure. If you really want something unusual, don’t wait around forever. Think about what you really want. The day will come when it is banned, and the opportunity to acquire it will disappear.

SHIPPING FIREARMS: The rate of thievery is still very high, even with the newer measures UPS, Fed Ex and the U.S.P.O. have taken. Use large, strong cardboard boxes to ship small firearms, insure for full value & do not label the weapon as a firearm. Use initials if the weapon is sent to a dealer with a firearm-related name. Ask for an adult signature. Send the weapon COD, as even a small amount ($10) will cause the driver to make sure that a human being has to be present on the receiving end to pay for the package. Please do not forget to label your firearm with your name, address and phone number! We still get a lot of weapons with no name, no phone number and no letter of instruction inside. We are not mind readers! We take from 400 to 600 phone calls a week, and have a hard time sorting everything out. If your weapon has a magazine, send one (and only one) magazine with the weapon.

A pile of granulated rubber is still the safest and most silent backstop medium available. Shoot quietly. Shoot safely.