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View Full Version : What's the disadvantage of a silencer?


cmkeller
08-29-2001, 10:44 PM
Since there's a relatively small device which greatly reduces the noise made by a gunshot, why would anyone committing a crime with a gun not use one? Is there some loss of accuracy or power? Are silencers just expensive? Are they not available for the most popular guns?

Finagle
08-29-2001, 10:51 PM
About a gazillion years in jail is a pretty major disadvantage.

BingoBurringo
08-29-2001, 10:52 PM
To the best of my knowledge, a silencer isn't exactly something you can buy legally, nor is it a little thing you can simply screw onto your gun barrel. This ain't like the movies, hey.

I remember hearing that to adequately muffle a gun the size of a .38, the silencer would have to be roughly the size of a 2-liter soda bottle.

CnoteChris
08-29-2001, 10:53 PM
Probably because they’re not only illegal to use, they’re illegal to posses. Given that legal tidbit, no manufacturer produces them (With the posibility of overseas manufacturers). Conversly, they’re making guns by the boatload. Thus, you have a major discrepancy in the numbers.

Tedster
08-29-2001, 10:54 PM
The silencers you see in the movies aren't exactly realistic. IANASO, but from what I understand, they are quite large. There are other ways to muffle the sound of a weapon as well without carrying around a silencer.

.22 caliber rounds are used often, supposedly, because they are pretty inherently quiet. I've heard that more people are killed with this round than any other, but that's probably an urban legend.

Billy Rubin
08-29-2001, 10:57 PM
In most, if not all,of the United States, Silencers are illegal. If you're predisposed to commit a crime, of course, this is not an issue, but by the same token, people committing crimes want the loud report. Sort of a criminal's way of announcing "I'm here, and this gun just said I'm in charge"
As to availability, if you're resourceful, you can find a silencer or someone who will make you one, but it's a pretty good way to find yourself in the county lockup, while someone affectionately called "bubba" leers at you.

b.

Turbo Dog
08-29-2001, 11:02 PM
There is a loss of accuracy only in the sense that you can't really aim with your basic silencer using factory sights, so it's a close in weapon at that point. Silencers are also not something that you can just go out and buy. You can make an effective silencer using about $5 in hardware store stuff, and even for free with stuff in the garbage, but they are pretty much a one shot thing. A truly effective and reusable silencer though takes a bit of knowledge as well as machine tools. There is a science involved in it depending on caliber, barrel length, operation (gas or blowback) etc. Not to mention the machining of the weapon itself to attach the silencer. The basic street crook doesn't have the money, experience, equipment to have one made or make one. They are used in some crime, but not that many. Plus, even if you are a legal owner and carrier, the simple possession of a silencer will put you in the hands of the feds on very serious charges. Big difference between dealing with county jail and the ATF.

BingoBurringo
08-29-2001, 11:05 PM
Apparently, making your own silencers is something of a popular hobby:

[links deleted. These products seem to be aimed at people who have failed to go through the legal process the BATF requires, despite their protestations to the contrary.]

[Edited by bibliophage on 08-30-2001 at 10:22 AM]

kniz
08-29-2001, 11:17 PM
So find another way to deal with your mother-in-law.

CnoteChris
08-29-2001, 11:20 PM
After reviewing your original question, it seems you're more interested in why the criminals don't use them.

Well, part of my answer, along with those of the others, gives a hint.

To begin with, since their illegal to own and posses in the U.S., the numbers out there are pretty limited to begin with because no one's mass producing them.

Secondly, and more importantly, I believe, is that if their hard to find, the only alternative available is making one yourself.

And as far as I'm concerned, the average criminal isn't going to waste his/her time making one themselves- the time, knowledge, and tools to do it, aren't within his/her means.

starfish
08-29-2001, 11:32 PM
Silencers are legal in most states. They are just highly regulated. You have to be fingerprinted and get the chief of police sign your application. Then wait 3-4 months for the backgound checks and processing the application.

You then have to get your gun modified to take the silencer. And new sights since most silencers block the factory sights.

They also add to the bulk and make it harder to conceal the gun.

It's just too much trouble for most people.

If you get caught with an illegal silencer you will be breaking both state and federal laws. The federal penalties are severe, but prosecution is rare. Instead they get you to plea bargin and accept the state charges. You get to spend a long time in jail.

Also a silencer doesn't help that much with committing a crime. If you rob a bank or store, you're caught because of the security camera's and your bragging about it, not because of the noise you make. Same for drive by shootings.

Cops don't just happen to hear a gun shot and arrest the shooter. They can't even find the shooter based on the gun shot.

The police recently tested some new equipment in Dallas. They used simulated gun shots. All they could do was identify the neighborhood where the shooting to place.

CnoteChris
08-29-2001, 11:43 PM
I didn't know about that, starfish. Interesting. I had always heard they were illegal to own or use.

Anyrate, this gives me the chance to come back in here and say what I wrote above isn't law- I'm not a lawyer, silencer owner, or criminal. What I wrote above simply a re-hash of what I'd heard through friends (Supposedly) in know about these things a while back*.

*I sometimes think I spend more time clarifying and negating what I just wrote as opposed to originally writing out my intial post. I’m trying to be very clear these days, so get used to it.

Screengazer
08-29-2001, 11:47 PM
Most killers are simply stupid or, like Organized Crime, they want to leave an example and use disposable guns out in the boonies somewhere. A simple silencer for spur of the moment is a pillow and close range. Baffles in a carefully made silencer break down after a certain amount of shots, like a muffler wearing out, and the gun gets loud. Because of the amount of shootings in some areas, silencers are not bothered with because anyone hearing the shots isn't going to care.

The military have silencers for sneak work, including those for machine guns, but they are long and will loose their efficiency after a couple of clips, Simple silencers have been made and used out of household parts, but rarely because most killings are spur of the moment or deliberately public, like gang shootings. Silencers are used by people who take time to plot things out, who don't want to be caught and who are methodical.

Most killers are assholes, who want to act big or get a reputation for being a mean guy, like those all night store killings that happen frequently. There is no need to kill the employees but they do it anyhow to start getting a bad reputation for respect from fellow animals.

I've silenced a .22 before and it was pretty interesting, but the bullets can still be traced by the rifling marks. Since I'm not killer and I'm a tightwad, I haven't invested in an untraceable gun that I could throw away if I were to do the deed. I'm sure organized crime uses them because there are places that not only manufacture professional silencers but will do the James Bond thing of tapping out the gun muzzle for you and threading the silencer to screw in.

Over a certain caliber, silencers are useless. That's why marksmen rarely use them in wars, and they work best on only a certain range of weapons. Like no one would use a silenced .22 for a long range shot because by the time the little slug hits the target, it might not penetrate deep enough to do harm.

Tony Montana
08-29-2001, 11:58 PM
they are legal in some states w/a license. last i looked they avg. about 500.00

Tony Montana
08-30-2001, 12:49 AM
probably cuz it takes too much time to get one,where as you can pick up a gun quit easily. and re:other posts: no loss of accuracy, you can get special sights for gunz equipt w/silencers and that 2 liter bottle size BingoB was talking about-you can MAKE a silencer out of a 2 liter soda bottle,and some gunz dont need modification(IE mac-10),you can get silencers w/alifetime guarantee,to cnote yes there are manufacturers in the us(i have a link),to: finagle-time in jail doesnt deter your avg. murderer

Contrary to popular belief, silencers are legal to own under federal law. There are, however, 16 states, plus the District of Columbia , that prohibit the civilian ownership of silencers. At this time, the following states allow private ownership of silencers: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD,MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA,WV, WI, and WY. Of the sixteen states which do not allow civilian ownership, CA, IA, KS, MA, MO, and MI allow class 3 dealers and class two manufacturers to possess silencers.

Silencers, like machine-guns, are proscribed under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, and are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The procedure for owning a silencer may seem daunting at first, but actually requires less paperwork than buying an automobile.

In order to legally possess a silencer or any item which falls under the purview of the NFA, you must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the United States, and have no felony record. The first step is to locate a class three dealer in your state who either has or will order the item you are interested in. The dealer will provide the prospective purchaser with duplicate ATF Form 4's and two sets of fingerprint cards. The Form 4's must be filled out on both sides, with passport photos of the prospective buyer affixed to the backside of the form. The buyer then has the chief law enforcement officer (Sheriff, Chief of Police, head of state police agency, district attorney, a judge with the power of arrest, or any other law enforcement officer approved for this procedure by the National Firearms Act branch of the BATF) sign the rear of the Form 4 attesting the prospective purchaser does not possess a criminal record and is not wanted. The two fingerprint cards must be completed and signed by a law enforcement agency. The completed paperwork is then sent to the Department of the Treasury with a check or money order for $200.00. The $200.00 is known as a transfer tax, as it must be paid each time ownership of the silencer is "transferred" (in this case, the dealer to the prospective purchaser). As long as the silencer is owned by the same person, the tax need not be paid again. Only if the owner sells it will a new transfer tax need to be paid. An owner may will his silencer to a lawful heir, with no tax incurred.

Once the paper work is submitted, it normally takes less than sixty days to receive the approved, stamped paperwork from NFA Branch. It is only upon the return of the approved paperwork that the dealer can allow the prospective purchaser to take possession of his new silencer. A copy of the approved paperwork must accompany the silencer at all times (the original should be stored in a safe deposit box). Silencers can be transported to other states which allow their ownership, but to transport a silencer into one of the sixteen states which prohibit private ownership can subject the owner to serious state felony charges

Kalashnikov
08-30-2001, 12:50 AM
People, please don't just make up answers out of thin air, ok?

Suppressors (the correct term) are legal to possess and use according to U.S. law, they are a type of NFA (national Firearms ACt) weapon as are full auto weapons, shortbarreled shotguns etc. This means they must be registered (and you have to pass a background check). They are legal to possess and use in about 36 states.

They are manufactured and sold commercially. There are also firearms (mostly .22 pistols as far as I know) that have suppressors built in. They look just like an ordinary pistol but with a longer barrel.

There's a range near me that rents various nfa weapons. I've tried a suppressed MP-5. One problem that I enountered is failure-to-ejects, that is, there was not enough gas pressure to cycle to mechanism of the gun.

Here are some links to manufacturers and dealers. You can see that they don't have to be all that bulky (pistol calibers can be as small as 1" x 6"), and they are made for larger calibers.

[I deleted the links, but only to be on the safe side-bibliophage]

[Edited by bibliophage on 08-30-2001 at 10:41 AM]

Triskadecamus
08-30-2001, 01:04 AM
Ok, legal question: If I live in a state which allows civilian ownership, have a legal concealed carry permit, and manufacture my own silencer, I have not transferred the thing at all. Am I therefor in compliance with federal law? (Assuming that I don't sell the thing, and make it out of materials which are not part of other silencers, or such.)

Aside from the residency issue, by the way, none of that description is of me. But I know a guy who would make one at the drop of a hat, if he knew of the existence of the loophole in the law. (That's where he got his cannon!)

Tris
----------------------
"People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge." ~ Lao Tzu ~

Doc Nickel
08-30-2001, 01:17 AM
Back to the original post: Crooks don't use silencers for two major reasons. First, as already stated above, they're thoroughly controlled and require a great deal of paperwork n' cash to obtain. They are also very hard to steal, since only a very few places in the entire US have or supply them. (And those places tend to have security that makes knocking over a Brinks' Truck look easy.)

Second, crooks actually rarely use firearms at all in crimes. Yes, the "gun crimes" get all the press, but for every criminal use of a firearm, there's probably ten or twenty or thirty more (wild guesses) crimes where no gun is involved. (And yes, we're still talking muggings, rapes, burglaries, etc.)

In fact, it's been noted that almost no crook uses a holster. There was an article in a gun magazine wherein the writer, a retired, 30-some-odd-year veteran officer, stated that he had never, not once, dealt with a crook in any fashion, who had or used a holster for his gun.

He speculated that there were two reasons: A) The crook has no idea what a holster is, why he might need one, or where to get one. Or B) The crook, assuming he does know what a holster is, does not bother with one, as it's easy to ditch a gun, less easy to remove a holster from your belt, etc.

(And I am speaking of "concealed" holsters, by the way- not the John Wayne lo-slung speed-draw special, or the big, black cop-type. :D )

The officer did have reason to detain/speak with several individuals over the years who DID have a holster, all of whom were eventually proven to be a "good guy".

Anyway, even if the typical street thug knew what a silencer was, and/or had an idea where to get one, it doesn't fall within his usual thought process: Can I use it to get drugs? No? Can I use it to get money to buy drugs? No? Can I use it to force somebody to give me money so I can buy drugs? No? Can I trade it FOR drugs? No? Should I spend money on a stolen one instead of buying drugs? No? Etcetera, ad nauseum.

Doc Nickel
08-30-2001, 01:23 AM
Originally posted by Triskadecamus
Ok, legal question: If I live in a state which allows civilian ownership, have a legal concealed carry permit, and manufacture my own silencer, I have not transferred the thing at all. Am I therefor in compliance with federal law? (Assuming that I don't sell the thing, and make it out of materials which are not part of other silencers, or such.)

Aside from the residency issue, by the way, none of that description is of me. But I know a guy who would make one at the drop of a hat, if he knew of the existence of the loophole in the law. (That's where he got his cannon!)


No. Manufacturing a silencer requires ATF testing and approval, following the same fingerprint/background check and payment of the fee, as would buying one. Slightly different paperwork though, as you'd be manufacturing it, not buying/transferring it. And if I understand it correctly, the guy who makes it has to file the paperwork, not the guy who pays to have it made. And if he made it FOR you, he'd have to pay to make it, you'd have to pay to take custody of it.

The cannon is probably a blackpowder unit, which are nowhere near as thoroughly controlled as cartridge arms. Anyone with a lathe can make a blackpowder cannon. Friend of mine makes 'em on a regular basis.

Bill H.
08-30-2001, 01:45 AM
To get a concealed weapon license requires filling out the appropriate paperwork, and a big question asked (at least in California) is why you need to conceal a weapon. That's pretty easy, an obvious one is if you are a small business owner who has to carry cash on a regular basis.

But to get a suppressor permit must require answering that same question, i.e. why do you need to suppress a gunshot. What possible answer could there be that would satisfy the authorities?

felix9x
08-30-2001, 02:10 AM
I want to ask the obvious question.
If silencers are legal why would a civilian need one for a legitamate reason ?
The only people i can think of that can have a legal use for it can are police or military.

HP Ellison
08-30-2001, 02:26 AM
Fellas, fellas, can we stop it with the links to illegal pistol modifications? Nothing's going to shut down this thread faster.

Doc Nickel
08-30-2001, 02:31 AM
Originally posted by felix9x
I want to ask the obvious question.
If silencers are legal why would a civilian need one for a legitamate reason ?
The only people i can think of that can have a legal use for it can are police or military.

Why does somebody need a Lamborghini Diablo?

Why does Jay Leno need $45 million in cars and motorcycles?

Why does the owner of Dillon Precision need his own halftrack with a Quad .50 (four fifty-cal M-2 Browning machine guns) on an electric traverse-and-elevate anti-aircraft mount, mounted on the back?

Why does Don Trump need his own office building?

Why do people need a BMW Z3?

Why does Ted Turner need 150,000 acres in Wyoming?

Why does somebody need a 52" TV?

Why would a woman want a $65,000 diamond necklace?

Why would somebody have a 1.9-Ghz system and a 35 Gig hard drive just to surf the 'net?

Why would somebody spend a year and $50K on an off-road truck he drives once or twice a year, and even then only really slowly, over rocks and up river canyons?

Why would somebody have a $20,000 car stereo?

Why does a single guy need a 6,500-sq.ft house with three bathrooms?

Why would somebody vacation in the Bahamas?

Because you can, that's why. :D

It might surprise you to know that there are something like a hundred thousand fully-automatic firearms ("machine guns") in private hands in the US right now. Why do people go through the paperwork, the background checks the hassle and the wait, just so they can pay $200 for the privledge of paying a further $5,000 to $15,000 for a "machine gun"?

Because they can.

Kalashnikov
08-30-2001, 02:45 AM
Originally posted by Bill H.
To get a concealed weapon license requires filling out the appropriate paperwork, and a big question asked (at least in California) is why you need to conceal a weapon. That's pretty easy, an obvious one is if you are a small business owner who has to carry cash on a regular basis.

But to get a suppressor permit must require answering that same question, i.e. why do you need to suppress a gunshot. What possible answer could there be that would satisfy the authorities?

I don't know about California, but in most of the states that allow NFA weapons (inc. suppressors) they don't ask any questions like that. In most states you aren't required to need something in order to have it.

johnson
08-30-2001, 07:30 AM
I used to work with a number of people in the chief counsel's office of the ATF. They said if you were caught with a 2-liter soda bottle on the end of a gun, you were potentially in big trouble. I suppose unless you had the proper paperwork for your 2-liter bottle.

enipla
08-30-2001, 09:08 AM
Also, you need to use subsonic ammo. Or you get little sonic boom. This will reduce your power a little bit. And you can't use a silencer on a revolver. Too much gas (read sound) escapes between the cylinder and barrel.

Perderabo
08-30-2001, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by felix9x
I want to ask the obvious question.
If silencers are legal why would a civilian need one for a legitamate reason ?
The only people i can think of that can have a legal use for it can are police or military.

I think that this is a legitimate question and I didn't see any serious answers.

The sound that a firearm produces is really noise pollution. In general, we strive to make our various devices more quiet. Think mufflers on cars. Guns actually make a somewhat dangerous level of noise.

In my case I am taking shooting lessons. Both I and my instructor must wear ear muffs to protect our hearing. I can tell you for sure that this impedes instructor to student communication.

I've been told that hearing protection is especially required indoors. My eventual use for my gun will be self-defense. I would hate to deafen myself because I couldn't get my hearing protectors on in time.

A quieter gun would be a better gun. And there's no need to go all the way to silent.

bibliophage
08-30-2001, 11:37 AM
What a damn mess you people have made of this General Question.

BingoBurringo We do not allow posts that instruct people how to circumvent the law. The products you linked to are quite obviously aimed at people wishing to avoid the BATF regulations. The products being sold may not be illegal, but we do not allow such links here.

Tony Montana, you are required to cite your source when quoting. The more coherent part of your posts appears to come directly from http://www.advanced-armament.com/owninfo.html

kalashnikov, I honestly don't know about the legality of your links, but I'm deleting them too, just on general principles.

Doc Nickel, first, this is not Great Debates, and second, encouraging illegal activity is forbidden there too.

I hope the OP's general question has been answered, because this thread is closed.

bibliophage,
moderator, GQ