|45Osprey: multi-caliber pistol suppressor|
Silencerco, maker of cutting-edge and enviable sound-suppressing devices, recently uploaded a short, artsy-fartsy video to their YouTube channel which focuses on using silencers across a wide latitude of calibers. It is a nice and well-made video, and can be seen HERE if you're interested. I appreciate the cinematography of the flick, but it lacks something: words. Not the printed type; there were plenty of those. I mean audible words... narration. There are subtitles and images and stuff, but unless you're paying very close attention and reading very fast, you'll probably get lost on which silencer is being shot on which gun, which ammo was used, which piston was used and so on. The music is good though.
I deemed it prudent to help Silencerco out and follow up with this article to share a few words about multi-caliber use with suppressors. (I don't mind giving them this free publicity because I like their products and recommend them to my customers anyway. It just seems that a brief dissection of their video is in order).
First of all, yes, buying one silencer and using it across several guns of similar or sub-caliber makes sense. It's a good idea. It's not without its downsides, but overall it's a good idea. Why would you want to buy a silencer that's rated for a larger or more powerful than your host gun? Like, why would you want to buy a .45 pistol silencer, if all you happen to own are 9mm pistols? Here are two reasons why you might consider doing just that:
1. Cost. It's cheaper in the long run. Your .45 silencer is essentially several silencers in one. It can handle .45ACP (obviously), 40S&W, 9mm, .380ACP, .38SP, .300BLK subsonic and yes, even .22LR or .22 Mag if you so desire. I don't recommend shooting .22LR through center-fire pistol silencers for other reasons which I'll discuss later, but it's entirely possible to do it, and it actually works ok. If you ever buy a .40 or a .45 pistol, you'll be set if you already own the .45 silencer. When swapping pistol suppressors, all you need to do is change out the piston to match the gun's barrel threads. Buying multiple pistons is much cheaper than buying multiple silencers.
2. Performance. Most sub-caliber rounds shot through larger-caliber silencers are almost as quiet as the smaller round being shot through a dedicated sub-caliber silencer. For example, a 147gr 9mm round shot through an Octane 45 HD will be very close in sound signature to the same 147gr 9mm being shot through an Octane 9 HD. The dB may meter a little higher when the 9mm is shot through the 45 silencer, and the sound may not be as consistent shot-to-shot, but in real life, it's hard to tell the difference. In fact, sometimes a 9mm through a .45 silencer has a more "pleasing" sound. Many times, it has a deeper tone and you might perceive it as being quieter.
Using large-for-caliber rifle silencers on sub-caliber rifles has similar qualities. For example, you can buy a .30 cal silencer and use it on your 5.56 AR-15 no problem. And honestly, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference in sound. I've heard several .30 cal silencers on 5.56/.223 rifles that sound better than dedicated 5.56 cans. Part of the reason for this is that .30 cal silencers are bigger and therefore have more interior volume. More interior volume means there is more room for the gasses to expand and cool off. The end result sometimes results in better performance than a dedicated 5.56 silencer on your AR.
What are some of the downsides to using larger caliber silencers on sub-caliber guns? Here are a couple to file in the con category:
1. Size. The 45Osprey, for example, is larger than the 9Osprey. It's longer and heavier. Shooting the 45Osprey on your Glock 26 will work but your range buddies might laugh at you when they see you pull it out. Think a dwarf Australian Pygmy wearing Shaquille O'Neal's shoes.
2. Cost. Generally, the larger or higher the caliber the silencer is rated for, the more expensive it is. If you absolutely know that you will never ever own a .308 rifle... that you will always stick with your 5.56 AR-15, there is no reason to buy a .30 caliber silencer. Save your money and get a smaller and lighter dedicated 5.56 silencer.
A few words about .22LR silencers. Yes, with the right combination of adapters, pistons, mounts, etc. you can shoot just about ANY silencer on a .22LR pistol or rifle. I do not generally recommend it though. Why? Two big reasons:
1. Size. .22LR silencers are usually much smaller than their center-fire pistol silencer or rifle silencer counterparts. Especially in diameter. When you screw on a .45 can or a 9mm can to your .22LR gun, you will completely block your sights and the silencer will just look huge. And for most .22LR pistols, the extra weight of the big silencer just won't feel right. It will be much too muzzle heavy.
2. Lead. All .22LR guns spew lots of molten lead out of the barrel. This crud will coat the inside of your silencer. Therefore it's a good idea to clean your .22LR silencer regularly. Most dedicated .22LR silencers are designed with this in mind. 9mm and .45 silencers are not. In fact, some center-fire pistol silencers are sealed, meaning that they are not user-serviceable. A sealed silencer is manageable when shooting center-fire rounds, but with .22LR, I like to take my cans apart to clean them. Some people shoot .22LR through their nice expensive 5.56 silencer too. (Almost all center-fire rifle silencers are sealed). Yes, it's the same diameter projectile and the sound reduction performance will be great... but think about the lead building up on the inside of your $1,000 rifle silencer. You'll never really get all of that crud out, no matter how you try to clean it or soak it. It just doesn't make sense to shoot .22LR through anything other than a dedicated .22LR silencer in my opinion.
This is the tip of the iceberg about this topic, but hopefully you'll find this info helpful. If you have specific questions, as always, just shoot us an email via our website. We'll give you good silencer advice and help you get into the silencer game with little to no effort on your part. That's what we're here for.
Thanks, and happy shooting!
~ Eric Morton, Manager