Silencer vs Suppressor: Difference and Comparison

A muzzle device is an attachment to the guns or vehicles, which redirects a portion of propellant gases to counter recoil and unwanted muzzle rise.

Similarly, the silencer and suppressor are way more important than the barrel, magazine, trigger, trigger guard, and pistol grip in any gun. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Silencers and suppressors aim to reduce firearm noise. Still, silencers focus on minimizing the muzzle blast, while suppressors tackle both the muzzle blast and the noise from the bullet breaking the sound barrier.
  2. Silencers employ a series of internal baffles to diffuse and cool the escaping gases. At the same time, suppressors use a combination of internal structures to slow down and redirect the gases and sound waves.
  3. The term “silencer” is considered a misnomer, as these devices do not completely silence firearms; “suppressor” more accurately describes their function.

Difference Between Silencer and Suppressor

A silencer is a muzzle device attached to a weapon to attenuate the sound of a gunshot or firearm. It reduces the intensity of the sound of gunfire. A suppressor is a muzzle device to attenuate gunshots, eliminates muzzle flash and reduce the intensity of a gunshot.

Silencer vs Suppressor

As mentioned above, a silencer is a legal muzzle device that can be fixed to a weapon that helps to attenuate the noise of a gunshot or any cacophony intensity efficiently.

To put it in simple words, while firing, the gunshots are inclined to produce sound, so the silencer is attached to the gun to reduce the intensity of the shot. 

On the other hand, a suppressor is also a muzzle device like a silencer but with an additional job, that is, to reduce the acoustic intensity of a gunshot plus to eliminate the muzzle flash as well.

However, a suppressor is a common market name used for silencers to amass more customers. 

Comparison Table for Silencer vs Suppressor

Parameters of ComparisonSilencerSuppressor 
Meaning A silencer is a legal muzzle device that can be fixed to the weapon and helps to undermine the sound of a gunshot or any cacophony intensity. A suppressor is also a muzzle device attached to the gun or any weapon to reduce the acoustic intensity of a gunshot and also eliminate the muzzle flash. Generally, the suppressor is a technical term that is used to promote the market of silencers. A suppressor is a market name for the silencer to entice customers. 
Etymology In 1902, Hiram Percy Maxim invented the world’s first commercial silencer on the market. In 1909, Maxim got his patent and used the term ‘Suppressor’ instead of Silencer, to tout the product in the market. 
TypesThere are four types of silencer used as a firearm- Reactive, dissipative, dispersive, and absorptive. There are two types of names used in the market to refer to suppressors- monocore and stacked baffles. 
UseA silencer is used during a firearm, to reduce the noise produced by the gunshot. The noise is generated by gases of the engine, so a silencer is attached to reduce the sound.A suppressor is used for debasing the gunshot noise, as well as the muzzle flash, so that a shooter can view the scene lucidly.  
Design A silencer is made up of aluminium, steel, and titanium in a cylindrical shape that is attached to the muzzle of a weapon. In simple words, various suppressors, baffles, and spacers are added together into a single assembly to brew a silencer. A suppressor is similar to the design of a silencer, but internal baffles are added to the suppressor that eliminates muzzle flash by releasing gas inside the device. 

What is Silencer?

A silencer is a legal muzzle tool that can be fixed to a weapon that can help to curtail the intensity of a gunshot or any mellifluous sound while firing.

Hiram Percy Maxim, an American inventor and son of the gun inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim, is imputed for the discovery of commercially available silencers in 1902.

Hiram took products from hardware stores to come up with this invention. Subsequently, Hiram was given the patent for inventing the silencer, a tool that could make firearms quieter to not disturb pedestrians while shooting. 

A silencer is made up of aluminium, steel, and titanium in a cylindrical shape which is attached to the muzzle of a weapon. Along with various suppressors, baffles, and spacers, a silencer is also included to complete the setup of a proper gun to function.

And since then, silencers have been widely used during firearm, eventually to minimize the noise produced while shooting guns.

Moreover, these cacophonous noises are generated by the gases of the engine, so everyone has started using a silencer to reduce the sound. Furthermore, four types of silencers are introduced, such as reactive, dissipative, dispersive, and absorptive.

Types of Silencers

Thread-On Silencers

Thread-on silencers are among the most popular silencers used by firearm enthusiasts. As the name suggests, these silencers can be threaded onto the barrel of a firearm. They feature a threaded adapter or muzzle device that attaches securely to the barrel. Thread-on silencers offer versatility as they can be easily installed and removed, allowing users to switch between suppressed and unsuppressed shooting. They are available in different thread patterns to fit various firearms.

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One advantage of thread-on silencers is that they can be used across multiple firearms, provided the thread pattern matches. This makes them a cost-effective option for those who own multiple firearms and wish to utilize the same silencer. Additionally, thread-on silencers can be disassembled for cleaning and maintenance, allowing for easier upkeep and longevity.

Integral Silencers

Integral silencers, also known as monolithic or built-in silencers, are designed as an integral part of a firearm’s barrel or barrel assembly. Unlike thread-on silencers, integral silencers cannot be detached from the firearm. They are specifically manufactured to be permanently affixed to the barrel, ensuring seamless integration.

One of the significant advantages of integral silencers is their compact design, as they eliminate the need for additional muzzle devices or adapters. They offer enhanced manoeuvrability, reduced weight, and a streamlined appearance. By integrating the silencer into the barrel, integral silencers can provide optimal noise reduction without compromising the overall length or balance of the firearm.

Slip-On Silencers

Slip-on silencers, also known as over-barrel or reflex silencers, are designed to fit over the existing barrel of a firearm. They feature a tubular design that extends beyond the barrel’s length, enclosing it partially or completely. Slip-on silencers are secured in place using clamps, set screws, or other attachment mechanisms.

One advantage of slip-on silencers is their ease of installation. They can be quickly attached or removed from the firearm without the need for specialized tools. Slip-on silencers also offer flexibility as they can be used on different firearms with compatible barrel diameters, allowing shooters to switch between multiple platforms.

Benefits of Using a Silencer

Reduced Noise Pollution

One of the primary advantages of using a silencer is the significant reduction in noise produced by the firearm. When a firearm is discharged, it creates a loud and sharp noise called the muzzle blast. This noise can be not only unpleasant but also potentially harmful to the shooter’s hearing and the hearing of those nearby.

Silencers effectively muffle the sound by trapping and dissipating the high-pressure gases released during firing. They act as acoustic devices, reducing the sound signature of the firearm and making it more manageable. This reduction in noise pollution is beneficial in various scenarios, such as hunting, shooting ranges, and tactical operations.

Silencers help protect the shooter’s hearing by reducing the risk of hearing damage caused by repeated exposure to loud firearm noises. Additionally, they contribute to a more comfortable shooting experience, minimizing the startle response and reducing noise-related fatigue.

Improved Accuracy

Another advantage of using a silencer is the potential improvement in accuracy. When a firearm is fired, the high-pressure gases escaping the barrel can create muzzle rise, also known as muzzle flip. Muzzle rise can affect the shooter’s ability to maintain proper sight alignment and quickly reacquire targets, especially during rapid or sustained fire.

By reducing the pressure and controlling the gases expelled from the barrel, silencers help mitigate muzzle rise. This improves control and stability, allowing shooters to maintain better accuracy and target acquisition. Reducing noise and recoil also contributes to a more controlled shooting experience, enabling shooters to focus on their aim and follow-up shots.

Reduced Recoil

Recoil, the backward movement of a firearm upon firing, is an inherent force that shooters must manage. While recoil is influenced by several factors, including firearm design and ammunition, silencers can help reduce its effects.

Silencers utilise expansion chambers and baffles to slow down and dissipate the high-pressure gases released during firing. This process helps counteract the rearward force generated by the firearm, resulting in reduced felt recoil. The recoil reduction allows shooters to maintain better control, improve shooting technique, and recover their sight picture more quickly.

silencer 1

What is Suppressor? 

On the contrary, a suppressor is also a muzzle device like a silencer, which can reduce the acoustic intensity of a gunshot as well as eliminate the muzzle flash while firing guns.

Furthermore, a suppressor is referred to as a silencer in most markets, as it is used by sellers in the marketplace to attract customers to the business. 

To put it in simple words, a suppressor is a silencer in markets whose job is to eliminate the muzzle flash in addition to reducing the firing sound.

The inventor of the silencer, Maxim, was also the inventor of the suppressor, but the only difference is the term Suppressor is used instead of Silencer in the marketplace to tout the product. 

With the internal baffles added to the suppressor, the whole system eliminates muzzle flash alongside the noise by releasing gas inside the device.

To put it in a nutshell, a suppressor is used in a gun to attenuate the noise of the gunshot as well as the muzzle flash. So, accordingly, while shooting, the shooter would get a crystal and clear target with their silencer or suppressor attached gun. 

Over and above, suppressor also has two types, namely, monocoque and stacked baffles in the marketplace. 

Choosing the Right Suppressor

Calibre Compatibility

One of the most critical factors to consider when selecting a suppressor is its compatibility with the calibre of your firearm. Suppressors are designed to work effectively with specific calibres, and using the wrong suppressor for a particular calibre can lead to suboptimal performance or even damage to the suppressor and firearm.

When choosing a suppressor, ensure that it is rated and designed to handle the calibre of your firearm. Suppressors are labelled with compatible calibres, so it’s crucial to match your firearm’s calibre with the suppressor’s specifications. Some suppressors are designed to be versatile and can handle multiple calibres, while others are specific to a particular calibre or a range of calibres. Consider your shooting needs and the calibres you plan to use with the suppressor to make an informed decision.

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Material and Construction

The material and construction of a suppressor play a significant role in its durability, weight, and overall performance. Suppressors are commonly constructed using materials such as stainless steel, titanium, aluminium, or a combination.

Stainless steel is known for its strength and resistance to corrosion, making it a popular choice for suppressor construction. It offers excellent durability and can withstand high-temperature conditions associated with firearm use. On the other hand, Titanium is renowned for its lightweight properties while still providing strength and durability. Titanium suppressors are highly sought after for their reduced weight, which can enhance the overall handling of the firearm.

Aluminium suppressors are lightweight and can be a more cost-effective option. However, they may not be as durable as stainless steel or titanium suppressors, particularly when subjected to intense use or high-temperature conditions. Consider your priorities regarding weight, durability, and budget when choosing the material and construction of your suppressor.

Mounting Options

Mounting options for suppressors can vary, and selecting a mounting system that suits your needs and preferences is essential. Two common mounting options are direct-thread and quick-detach (QD) systems.

Direct-thread mounting involves threading the suppressor directly onto the barrel of the firearm. It provides a secure and permanent attachment, ensuring alignment and stability. Direct-thread systems are straightforward and reliable, making them popular for precision shooting applications.

As the name suggests, quick-detach systems allow for quick attachment and detachment of the suppressor from the firearm. These systems use locking mechanisms, such as levers or ratchets, to secure the suppressor to a compatible muzzle device or adapter. QD systems offer convenience, allowing for rapid transition between suppressed and unsuppressed shooting or easy transfer between different firearms.

Maintenance and Care

Cleaning and Lubrication

  1. Regular cleaning is crucial to remove fouling, debris, and corrosive substances that can accumulate in the barrel, action, and other components of a firearm. Cleaning should be performed after every use or at regular intervals, depending on the frequency of use and environmental conditions. Here are the basic steps to follow for effective firearm cleaning:
  2. Unload the firearm: Before cleaning any firearm, always ensure it is unloaded, and the magazine is removed. Verify that there is no ammunition in the chamber or the magazine well.
  3. Disassemble the firearm: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to disassemble the firearm, separating the barrel, slide, receiver, and other removable components. Pay attention to small parts, springs, and pins, keeping track of their orientation and placement.
  4. Clean the barrel: Use a bore brush and cleaning rod to scrub the barrel with a solvent appropriate for your ammunition type. Follow up with clean patches until they come out clean. Use a toothbrush or nylon brush to clean other parts, ensuring all surfaces are free from dirt, carbon buildup, and debris.
  5. Clean the action and components: Use a cleaning solvent and brushes to clean the action, slide, bolt, and other components. Remove any fouling or residue, paying attention to areas where carbon buildup is common. Wipe off excess solvent and debris with clean, lint-free cloths.
  6. Lubricate the firearm: Apply a light coat of lubricant to the moving parts, slide rails, pivot points, and any other areas that require lubrication. Use a quality firearm lubricant specifically designed for firearms, as it will provide effective protection against wear and corrosion.
  7. Reassemble the firearm: Carefully reassemble the firearm, following the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring all components are properly aligned and seated. Perform a function check to ensure everything is in working order.

Storage

  1. Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the condition and safety of firearms, especially during periods of inactivity. Here are some key considerations for firearm storage:
  2. Safe and secure storage: Store firearms in a locked safe or secure storage cabinet away from unauthorized access. This helps prevent accidents, theft, and misuse.
  3. Climate control: Ideally, store firearms in a cool, dry environment with controlled humidity. Excess moisture can lead to rust and corrosion, while extreme temperatures can affect the performance and integrity of the firearm.
  4. Protective cases: Consider using protective cases or gun socks to protect against dust, moisture, and scratches. These cases can also help prevent damage during transportation.
  5. Long-term storage: If firearms are stored for an extended period, apply a light coat of rust-preventive oil or storage-specific lubricant to protect against corrosion. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for long-term storage procedures.
  6. Ammunition storage: Store ammunition separately from firearms, following proper safety guidelines. Keep ammunition in a cool, dry place, away from heat sources and moisture.
suppressor

Main Differences Between Silencer and Suppressor

  1. A silencer is a muzzle device attached to the engine to undermine the sound of a gunshot or fire. On the other hand, Suppressor is similar to a silencer, but a suppressor helps to eliminate the muzzle flash. 
  2. A silencer was invented by Hiram Percy Maxim in 1902, Whereas a suppressor was introduced to the market term for suppressor in order to entice customers in 1909. 
  3. A silencer is designed with steel, metal, aluminium, and titanium in a cylindrical shape and attached to the muzzle. Besides, a silencer is generated by a single assembly made from several suppressors, baffles, and spacers. Notwithstanding, Suppressor is created by the instalment of internal baffles to eliminate the muzzle flash.
  4. Silencer has four different types: Reactive, dissipative, dispersive, and absorptive. To contract, a suppressor has two major types- monocoque and stacked baffles. 
  5. The silencer is used for the purpose of spurn of the acoustic sound of a gunshot or the engine, albeit a suppressor works to reduce the noise of the engine as well as annihilate the muzzle flash for a clear view. 
Difference Between Silencer and Suppressor
References
  1. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/136113
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/15796876

Last Updated : 21 August, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Silencer vs Suppressor: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The explanation of the various types and designs of both silencers and suppressors is quite enlightening. It’s fascinating to learn about the specific functionalities of each component.

    Reply
  2. The historical background provided about the invention of silencers by Hiram Percy Maxim is extremely interesting. It adds another layer of understanding to the topic at hand.

    Reply
  3. The structural composition of silencers and suppressors has been well-explained, shedding light on the internal workings of these devices. It’s a well-constructed article.

    Reply
  4. The elucidation of the types and uses of silencers and suppressors is highly informative. It’s evident that this article has been meticulously researched to provide accurate information.

    Reply
  5. The detailed overview of silencers and suppressors offers readers a well-rounded understanding of these firearm components. The historical context adds depth to the discussion.

    Reply
  6. The functionality of both silencers and suppressors is detailed in a clear and systematic manner. This article serves as a valuable reference for anyone interested in firearms.

    Reply
  7. The distinction between silencers and suppressors has been elucidated very effectively. It’s interesting to note the etymology of both terms and how they have been used in the market. Well done!

    Reply
  8. The article’s explanation of how silencers and suppressors impact gunshots and muzzle flash provides a comprehensive understanding of the practical applications of these devices.

    Reply
  9. This article provides a thorough explanation of the differences between silencers and suppressors, as well as their functionality. I appreciate the detailed breakdown of each term and their historical background.

    Reply
  10. This article offers a comprehensive comparison table that clearly outlines the differences between silencers and suppressors. It’s a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand these devices.

    Reply

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