How a John Wayne Movie Sparked Modern Suppressors

I’ve been in the gun industry off and on for some 25 years, spanning from working the counter at a small-town FFL in my early 20s to full-time writing and editing. In that time, I’ve met some really smart and pioneering guys in the gun world, such as Mark Serbu and Jim Tertin.

However, probably the biggest brain guy in the gun industry in terms of suppressors is Dr. Phil Dater, MD, founder of Gemtech and a man considered by many in our industry to be the modern-day godfather of silencers.

Dater back in the day

Jake Kunsky, who developed quiet products for NEMO Arms, Gemtech Suppressors, Smith & Wesson, and Maxim Defense and now runs JK Armarment, recently sat down with the gun world’s “Dr. Phil” — now 86– and talked about a wide range of subjects for an hour.

Topics include

  • Where Gemtech got its name?
  • How Dr. Dater, a Radiologist by training, brought silencers out of nearly a century of obscurity?
  • How a microphone’s diaphragm affects decibel measurement?
  • What arguably the most experienced man in the industry thinks about various methods of measuring silencer performance?
  • How military and consumer requirements for a silencer differ?
  • Why the ATF Form 4 approval process took only a few weeks back in the 70s?
  • How John Wayne inspired the modern silencer renaissance?

If you have an hour and are interested at all in gun culture or suppressor history, check it out.


  • just sayin' Ma...

    John Wayne? Or Robert Stack? My first introduction to the Silencer was in the TV series “The Untouchables” with Robert Stack, which appeared in Season 2 Episode 14 “The Masterpiece” aired in 1961…

  • It was probably “McQ”. He had a MAC-10 with suppressor in that one. First time in the movies.

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