Evolutionary dead-end, the Army’s Moore and Maxim Silencers

Today the U.S. military issues suppressors from SureFire, Gemtech, AAC and others almost routinely as they help with accuracy, flash reduction (very important in combat–especally at night) and, oh yeah, sound suppression. In fact the new Army Modular Handgun contract tender calls for a “suppressor kit” to include higher than normal sights and a threaded barrel as standard.

Well this isn’t really a brand new idea for the Army at least. You see the suppressor was invented in the U.S. with the Hiram Maxim’s design selling popularly over the counter.

Between 1908 and 1910, the Ordnance Bureau purchased 100 Maxim models in .30 caliber as well as another 100 from a chap named Mr. Robert A. Moore. Both of these were by default the M1910 Silencer.

The Moore (top) compared to the Maxim on a U.S. M1903

The Moore (top) compared to the Maxim on a U.S. M1903

Tests of the Moore Silencer at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii indicated the following:

“There is a marked difference in the recoil; the recoil with the silencer being very little. The sound is lessened greatly with the Moore silencer but not as much with the Maxim silencer. There is a large reduction in the blast. In firing shots at 500 and 1000 yards range groups of 10 shots were fired which showed that there is no difference in the accuracy with or without the silencer and with or without the bayonet; with the bayonet attached to the silencer however the rifle is thrown out of balance making it harder to hold on the target. Also, the bayonet had to be put on again after each shot because the recoil threw the ring of the bayonet off the silencer, this on account of the fact that the muzzle of the silencer is too rounded.”

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Tests of the Maxim at the School of Musketry found the Silencer gave the following advantages:

Firing the 03 Springfield with the Maxim silencer, 1910. From left to right Hiram Maxim, Lieut. Col. Richard J. Goodman, and Capt. Earl D Church

Firing the 03 Springfield with the Maxim silencer, 1910. From left to right Hiram Maxim, Lieut. Col. Richard J. Goodman, and Capt. Earl D Church

maxim suppressor

(1) The lesser recoil of the rifle with Silencer operated in two ways: It greatly facilitated instruction of recruits in rifle firing. It materially lessened the fatigue of the soldier in prolonged firing, such as would occur in modern battle, which is a distinct military advantage. (2) The muffling of the sound of discharge and the great reduction in the total volume of sound which permits the voice to be heard at the firing point about the sound of a number of rifles in action, greatly facilitate the control of the firing line, and extends the influence of officers and non-coIt was found where the tactical conditions required a quick opening of fire, a sudden cessation of the fire and several quick changes of objective – all of which are difficult with several rifles firing – that verbal commands could easily be heard, and that it was possible to give perfectly audible instructions when the Silencer was used.


Cutway of the Maxim 15 on a 1903 mockup

Overall, the Army found the Moore was more accurate but the Maxim more durable. While the Ordnance Bureau advised two sharpshooters per company should be equipped with suppressed 1903’s, the money just wasn’t there.

However in 1917-1918, the Army did apparently move forward with a plan to acquire and issue some 9,300 star-gauged (tested accurate) Model 1903 Springfields fitted with the Model 1913 Telescopic Musket Sight and improved Model 15 Maxim Silencer.

Warner and Swazey M1913 Musket sight scope and Maxim M15 on star-gauge M1903

1913 Warner & Swasey Musket Sight (telescopic sight) and Maxim M15 on star-gauge M1903. Note the carrying case for the sight and suppressor. These combinations were serial numbered together

While a few were acquired, most were disposed of through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship by 1925, with a few of both kind kept at Springfield Armory for reference, where most of these imaged are from.


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