Ten years ago, Utah-based SilencerCo jumped out of nowhere and began making some of the best cans on the market. In 2014, they broke the mold with the Salvo, a modular 12 gauge suppressor. Then came the Maxim integrally-suppressed 9mm pistol. The Maxim 50 silenced muzzleloader. The Chimera, Octane, Sparrow, Omega, Saker, Harvester, Osprey, Warlock, the list goes on.
I spoke to company founder Josh Waldron in 2016, when SiCo was pushing out a staggering 10,000 suppressors of all kinds every month. In the business of suppressors, that is Glock-like numbers. Back then, everything seemed like it was roses.
Then came the elusive promise of the Hearing Protection Act, the change in Rule 41F which triggered a melt-down for those buying with trusts, and the change in White House administrations with the resulting “Trump slump” in gun sales– all of which chilled new suppressor sales a bit. This triggered smaller silencer companies to go belly up, others to get bought out (e.g. S&W picked up Gemtech) and layoffs at SiCo, along with Waldron’s stepping down as the head banana.
So even with the bad news in the suppressor industry the past two years, it is great that things are looking up– and SiCo is still debuting good new stuff.
I give you the sub-$500 Switchback.
Following up on past success with modular suppressors, such as the Salvo, the Switchback can be configured in three different lengths, ranging from 2.5- to 5.75-inches, with corresponding performance.
In its most optimized configuration, a company whitepaper lists the suppressor as delivering an average of 108 dB sound report while mounted on a rifle using standard testing methods. Even in its shortest 3.2-ounce stack, the suppressor is hearing-safe when mounted to a 16-inch barrel.
Which is mad quiet.
More in my column at Guns.com
Kamas, Utah-based Dead Air has come in from the cold to bring a new user-configurable suppressor to the market that is thin enough to accommodate factory handgun sights. I give you, the Odessa 9:
The 9mm suppressor uses a 1.1-inch tube to allow utilization of regular sights, rather than force the user to go without or install high-profile aftermarket sights or optics, and can be adjusted baffle-by-baffle from pill bottle size to a full-length can.
More in my column at Guns.com
One of the more interesting cans I saw at the American Suppressor Association media day event at the Griffin Gun Club was the DD Wave, named such in recognition of its cascading “wave” pattern baffle geometry.
The WAVE uses Inconel, a nickel-chromium-based superalloy, with stainless steel and titanium to produce a 7.6-inch can that is crafted completely through direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) additive manufacturing. The method negates the traditional tube and baffle system used by legacy platforms. The suppressor base is the serialized part, meaning the main body of the WAVE can be sent in for service if needed without an NFA hassle.
This week the good folks over at Silencerco dropped a number of new suppressor designs to include an integrally suppressed 9mm handgun design dubbed the Maxim 9 after the inventor of the Silencer—Hiram Maxim. The thing is, the concept, while super sweet in its latest form by Silencerco, really isn’t that new.
Somewhere in occupied Europe…
In the darkest days of World War II, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and American OSS ran a myriad of operations behind the lines in both Nazi-occupied Europe and Japanese occupied Asia. They set up resistance groups of local insurgents and supplied them with weapons, training, and equipment to help set the Axis rear aflame.
One of the weapons they supplied was meant especially for assassination. This mysterious suppressed pistol was known as the Welrod. The Welrod was not a traditional pistol fitted to a detachable silencer, it was a pistol built *around* an integral silencer.
To keep gas from escaping due to a cylinder like on a revolver, or a cycling action like on a semi-automatic, the Welrod was bolt action. The simple and effective bolt action could be worked rapidly for a follow-up shot if needed, and doubled as a safety device. The integral suppressor built around the barrel was made up of 12 thin metal washer baffles separated in groups by three leather wipes.
The baffles would start to deteriorate with use and typically was no longer suppressed after about 15-20 rounds. The nose cap of the suppressor was hollowed out to allow it to be pressed into an intended target without undue back blast. The magazine itself, encased in a rubber sleeve like a bicycle grip, formed the pistol grip. With few moving parts, it could be broken down and stored in pieces that did not resemble a firearm. In fact when disassembled it rather looks like a bicycle pump.
Chambered in either the British and German army’s standard submachine gun round, 9x19mm Parabellum; or 32ACP (7.65x17mm), the same caliber as many popular Italian, German, and Japanese pistols, they were heavy at 52-ounces besides being large with an overall length of 14.22-inches. Nevertheless, they were quiet and word is although just over 16,000 were produced, at least some have remained in service with the British military for those special moments even though they are now some 70+ years of age.
Custom integrally suppressed pistols
Over the past couple of decades, a number of companies here in the U.S. have been in the business of taking otherwise factory-stock rimfire semi-autos and making them integrally suppressed. These companies include SRT who take a Browning Buckmark or Challenger; or Ruger MkIII, MkII, or MkI and add a 7-inch tube directly to the gun designed for the US military specifically for use with 40 gr CCI MiniMags.
The cost $725 and up.
Others who do similar are Dark Horse, Norrell, AWC and Coastal but you can be sure with something like 3,026 National Firearms Act Special Occupational Taxpayers (SOTs= gunshops cleared to make suppressors) there are likely far more.
However, these are all rimfire designs. Sure, you can get a screw-on can for the heavier .45/9mm stuff, but where is the fun in that?
The BT Vet gun
Several years ago the Swiss company of B+T AG (formerly known as Brugger & Thomet) came up with the spooky quiet VP-9 “veterinary pistol.”
This modern take on the WWII Welrod made with polymers and modern metallurgy is a single-action (cock it each time) 6-shot 9mm that tips the scales at just 30-ounces and is (only) 11.3-inches long which is something of an improvement size-wise over the 1940s tech its based on. However this rare bird is meant to put down sick and injured wildlife, not make hits on random SS sentries guarding der fuhrer.
Although it could be used for that purpose if you really wanted and had a time machine.
Nevertheless, you can’t walk into your average gun shop and place an order for a VP-9 here in the states.
Which brings us to the…