Saturday, November 23, 2013

Using One Suppressor Across Multi-caliber hosts: Good Idea?

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


  1. Good inform here.... Maybe I can revive this year old column. . Now, what if you use a 45 can wet on a 9mm host? Would that not reduce the 9mm sound more, making its performance closer to a 9mm can ?

  2. Good question. A good answer is probably this: Shooting a wet .45 suppressor on a 9mm host will make it quieter than if the can were dry... until the coolant burns off, of course - perhaps a magazine or so worth of shots. And the wet .45 suppressor will probably actually be a little quieter than a dedicated 9mm suppressor on that same 9mm host. The biggest equation changer here is the coolant. It's safe to say that just about ALL pistol caliber suppressors will be quieter when shot wet. So, the answer to your question is yes, a wet .45 can on a 9mm host will be perform closer (or better) than a dedicated 9mm can on the same host.

  3. Is there any chance that a smaller caliber bullet shot out of a larger caliber suppressor can damage the baffles on it? I'm looking at purchasing my first suppressor in a few months and this article gave me food for thought.

    1. Nope. No chance for baffle damage, assuming the suppressor is concentric to the bore of the gun's barrel. In fact, there's LESS chance for a baffle strike when shooting smaller caliber rounds through a larger caliber suppressor. And with any suppressor, the device needs to be concentric to the bore, of course.

      Think of it like this:

      When you shoot a 5.56/.223 AR-15 through a dedicated 5.56 caliber suppressor, the bullet (which is .223" in diameter) will pass through a series of holes within the suppressor (the aperture of the baffles) and those holes have to be slightly larger than the diameter of the bullet. So they need to be AT LEAST .224" in diameter to allow the bullet to pass through. Although theoretically possible with .224" or .225", would still be very tight and there is room for error like a unstable bullet. So it's more likely that your 5.56 suppressor will have apertures as big as .290" to .300" to allow safe passage of the bullet with no chance of baffle strikes.

      Now think of a 7.62/.308 gun. A suppressor for a .308 gun needs apertures as large as or larger than .309"... but in the real world, those baffle holes are probably more like .375" to .400" in diameter.

      So when you shoot a smaller caliber bullet through a larger caliber suppressor, you're actually giving yourself more insurance that you'll never have a baffle strike. In the examples above, you'll have a .223" bullet traveling through a .375" or so diameter hole. That's plenty of tolerance and space for the bullet to pass through. You should not be concerned about damage to the suppressor for any reason in this scenario.

      Hope this helps!


  4. Is it possible to use a 30 cal suppressor (for my 300blk- but rated to 300winmag) on my FNX 45?

  5. Yup, go for bud. I'm sure that .45 diameter bullet will squeeze right through that .30 hole.

    1. I worded that question backwards. But I've since educated myself more. Thanks for being a smart ads though. That's always appreciated.

  6. Will a .22 caliber round be louder out of a .45 suppressor compared to a dedicated .22 suppressor because the hole is allowing so much more gas out, or is this even the case?

    1. Depending on the .22 ammo you plan on using and the location (inside or out side)or in a forest or desert will also determine the sound. IMHO, as long as the suppressor lines up with the host barrel, I don't see a problem. I use my 9mm can when shooting high velocity .22 and, it seems to me, to be much quieter then when using a dedicated .22 suppressor. But, keep in mind that if you use a .45 can, the threads may not be the same as your .22 threaded barrel (1/2x28). If your going to use any adapter to accomplish that, be sure it is of a high quality. I've witnessed these so called "Adapters" be out of alignment so bad, that just rolling them on a table top you could see the wobble. Give it a try. I did with my 9mm can. I've done this wet and dry, using wire pulling gel or even ATF worked great for me. I have been reluctant to use water, but I know a few who run their cans wet with water. Also, a word of advice is, if you do shoot .22 out of any center-fire suppressor, I highly recommend that you fire enough rounds of the ammunition the can was made for, to help burn out the residue from the .22 ammo. Didn't mean to get of on a tangent. Hope this helps.

  7. Can you use a .45 suppressor on a 5.56?

    1. Seriously? Think about it, can you fit a 5.56 screw through a .45 nut?

    2. FYI. Before you use any suppressor on a different host or caliber it was intended for, contact the manufacturer of the suppressor, and get the correct information from them. I have a 300 Blackout AR platform with a 7.5 inch barrel (with 1 in 7 barrel twist). I can use my Gem Tech 9mm multimount suppressor on this pistol as long as I use the 300 Blackout subsonic ammo. Same with my Diplomat II .45 (as long as I remove spring and replace the spring with a spacer), again as long as I use the 300 Blackout subsonic ammo. I have now attached my 338 Lapua suppressor to this 300 blackout pistol, and from this point on, that will be the suppressor of choice when using this 300 blackout pistol. Best advice I can suggest, is to contact the manufacturer of the suppressor you intend using on a different firearm or caliber, AND make sure you have the correct barrel twist. As I stated before in previous post above, I've used my 9mm suppressor on my .22. But, before you attempt this, contact the maker of the suppressor you plan on using. Don't fool around, suppress the sound.

  8. I agree with you. Investigate and gather ALL the information you can get, before you make that jump to use any suppressor on any firearm that it was not intended for. I too have a 7.5 inch 300 blackout pistol. I only use subsonic ammunition and it runs great with the Sig subsonic 220. I'm using my 308 suppressor on it and happy as can be with the results. I've even hit Ace of Spades playing card at 100 yards 10 out of 12 shots. Maybe I had to many Red Bulls. And yes, my 300 blackout is 1 in 7 twist. Maybe all 300 blackout barrels are 1 in 7 twist. Thank you for the information you FYI'ed above. It will come in handy.

  9. Hi there, I read your blogs on a regular basis. Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. Thanks for sharing.
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