What Does It Take To Buy A Silencer?
What is a silencer?
Buying a silencer, or otherwise know as a suppressor, requires a bit of know how. Usually only Hollywood movies refer to suppressors as silencers. This is because silencers don’t actually silence the sound of a bullet exiting a gun. They only SUPPRESS the sound. This is why most people in the firearms industry call them suppressors rather than silencers. So for the sake of remaining accurate, we will refer to them as suppressors and not silencers for this article.
What does it take to buy a suppressor / silencer?
In order to purchase a suppressor, you first have to fill out a form 4. Buyers can submit the form to the NFA (National Firearms Act Branch) division of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). That form then goes to multiple divisions within the NFA for review and approval. The crazy part is that even today, in 2018, they still are not using automation within the government. NOPE! They manually enter your information into their first generation computers EVERY TIME YOUR FORM SWITCHES HANDS. No wonder it takes 9 months to get a form 4 approval.
A form 4 consists of multiple identifying pieces of information including name, address, birthday, even social security number. This is to assist the NFA branch in running multiple background checks. They do this to verify your identity and eligibility in owning and NFA weapon. Caveat: I don’t believe that suppressors are a weapon. Suppressors are nothing more than a muffler for your car. Suppressors are no more than a simple device used to reduce the sound of a bullet to below the damage level. Our government makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year on NFA tax stamps. Many people feel that silencers should be removed from the restricted NFA list. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will ever relinquish that revenue since government is so good at wasting money.
How does a suppressor/silencer work?
As a bullet exits the barrel of a gun, there are many things that will determine the sound level or decibels of that round. It depends on the caliber of the round. The amount of gun powder used in the shell. And surprisingly enough, the length of the barrel and a couple of other factors too. But for now, let’s focus on the 3 main factors that I have mentioned.
For example, let’s start with a 9mm bullet which most people are familiar with. A standard 9mm bullet has a muzzle velocity (speed at which the bullet is traveling upon exiting the barrel, ie: muzzle, of a gun) of 1050 ft per second. If we shoot a sub sonic round (a bullet that exits the barrel moving slower than the speed of sound), the muzzle velocity will be less. Muzzle velocity that is measured at less than the speed of sound is considered subsonic.
The decibels at which a standard 9mm round will exit a firearm is going to be somewhere around 160db and 163db. (http://www.caohc.org/UserFiles/file/Shot%20of%20Prevention%20extra%20handout.pdf).
What will a suppressor do for me?
A suppressor will reduce or SUPPRESS that sound only by 30 or so decibels. The damage to your exponentially reduces if you can reduce the sound of the round below 130db. The sound is reduced by a bullet traveling through a series of compartments known as baffles. Additionally there are spaces between the baffles to absorb the sound produced by the bullet exploding from the shell. It is a pretty simple concept that hasn’t had any major technology breakthroughs in years.
The use of a suppressor / silencer will in essence, save your ears. They reduce the damaging sound effects of a bullet shot significantly enough that it is below the damage threshold. I have been shooting with suppressors for years now and love it. My kids love it. My wife loves it. We can all enjoy shooting without having to worry about going deaf.
How do I go about buying a suppressor?
First things first, you need to find a firearms dealer in your are that is also an SOT. An SOT is a Special Occupational Tax firearms dealer. This means that the firearms dealer has gone through additional measures to help you through the processes of buying NFA items. NFA items include, suppressors, silencers, SBR’s (Short Barrel Rifles), SBS’s (Short Barrel Shotguns), Full Auto Machine Guns, and AOW’s (Any Other Weapon) like a cane gun or belt gun, etc…
Once you find an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) to help you with your suppressor purchase, you will have to pick a suppressor you love. Definitely take advantage of the knowledge that many of these firearms dealers have when it comes to make that purchase. They know what they are talking about. You can also jump onto forums, blogs, etc… To fill out your information for the purchase, I would highly recommend the Silencer Shop process. It is hands down the best method out there and is super simple and faster than the standard method.
Just sign up for an account with them and then follow their prompts to submit your information through one of their kiosks. There is most likely an FFL near you that has a kiosk. You can find one from the Silencer Shop website. That dealer can also assist you in finding the right suppressor for your needs or wants.
I hope you enjoy your suppressor purchase.