Tip of the hat to Thunderbeast Suppressors (TBAC)


March 13, 2011, 11:11 PM
Shane, Zak and Ray put on one heck of a spread today. Come one, come all shoot their stuff as much as you want, or do like I did and bring my own rifle to try out a fancy new can.

Good sized crowd today, I'd guess as many as thirty folks gathered around Pawnee Sportsman's Center near Ault, CO, for the safety and technical briefing where Ray guided us through their product line from ultra slim 22 silencers to mack daddy cans fit for a .338 Lapua. He covered how to clean them and how to purchase them, all the while keeping the Q&A interesting and engaging. More folks trickled in as the day went on. Each signed up guest got a 5% off coupon for any one suppressor from TBAC, available at Rocky Mountain Shooter's Supply in Fort Collins.

TBAC stresses accuracy over everything, these cans should help tighten up your groups (I'm no engineer but I'm suspecting barrel harmonics play a part in that) and hold zero at extreme ranges. Let's hope next time we get a long range berm to test that theory out--I suspect one of their sporting rifle matches might be in order. We were limited to 30 yards or so, don't feel like it was 50. Ray demoed each weapon on steel and into the berm. With EVERY centerfire 5.56, 308, 338 the sound of the bullet striking the steel was far louder than the weapon itself. The 22 magnum and 17HMR rifles sounded like air guns and the 22 pistols with subsonics sounded click loud clicks rattling off. (I realize that it's different in FRONT of the muzzle, but within 45 degrees of either side of the shooter those pistols were just downright stealthy.)

Zak was kind enough to let me bring my 6920 down to the party and in short order I had unscrewed my DPMS slipover flash hider and swapped it for a model 223P suppressor. The weight of the titanium and stainless can is just a hair heavier than my existing 5 inch slip over... while the weight was nearly identical when mounted you can tell there's a little more barrel out there in front of you but it's still a compact package.

Between myself and other eager shooters we managed 150+ rounds out of my rifle. Even without a 'gas buster' charging handle I didn't end up with a smudged nose, though in rapid fire I did notice the stronger smell of burned powder up my nose and a stinging feel behind my shooting glasses... more gas is definitely coming back through the action. (More on that later.) The 223P and my Colt worked flawlessly. No jams, no double feeds, no fte's, no failures to seat. (I did notice these in issues in a few of our hosts rifles, more often with novice shooters.) I fired Century "HotShot" M855 62gr w/penetrators and PMC 55gr FMJ.

A word of warning: those centerfire cans get HOT. Ray explained that each bullet adds 8 degrees or so the temp each time you pull the trigger. So if it's 50 degrees F out, and you fire 30 rounds, thatís 30x8+50 or 290 degrees in a hurry. (He may have meant centigrade, all I know is they get HOT.) If you wrap a can like that with a piece of paper and rapid fire several magazines, that paper will not just burn it will FLASH ignite. Keep a welder's glove handy and watch where you lean/lay your rifle when you are done shooting.

I fired 308's with HOT South African ammo and subsonic thumpers. The subs were amazing as you'd see the big slug bounce off the steel and not even realize you'd pulled the trigger. The 338 was awesome, as was the 7 inch full auto AR. (This one I did NOT see jam.)

Lest you think Iím just a fanboy, there was a failure on a .338 can. I was setting up to shoot when out of the corner of my eye I saw something big and black hit the berm. Scratch one high end suppressor. Now folks, to their credit it failed in the RIGHT way, by heading downrange rather than splitting open and making shrapnel. Ray hauled in the offending tube and declared it was a cracked weld. This can was a prototype as I understand it, designed to fit over a large flash hider. The hider was removed, the can replaced with a one that fit those threads and a very brave lad took another shot with the same rifle. Color me impressed. Not just for the brass pair on that kid, but proving that the rifle was unharmed even after such a mishap.

While most of the crowd munched on hot dogs another gentleman (I'm sorry I did not catch his name but I suspect he's involved with RMSS) showed me off a wealth of AAC pistol silencers. I fired 9mm and .45 cal SW M&P's and a Beretta PX4 carbine in .45. TBAC is not currently making centerfire handgun cans, so the additional tubes were a welcome treat.

That was my first try with an M&P, pretty solid handgun if you like plastic. I'm not a fan of the grip. The PX4 grew on me as I messed around with it, feels much more like a pistol with a stock than a carbine. I'd make sure your red-dot allows you to co-index your sights though. A red dot with a dead battery is a pretty sad sighting system. Still it threw 230gr slugs downrange in a hurry and with the mounted can it was a pussycat.

I spent the last hour of the day messing around with various TBAC rimfire suppressors on pistols (Ruger Mk2, Mk45, and a Walther P99). Can't say I liked the Walther much, the grip was too short, controls not to my ergonomic liking and the sights seemed cheap. The cans though? Like I said pulling the trigger on a subsonic 22 was like the snap of a rubber band.

Thirty or more shooters fired for 4 hours, almost no one put on ear muffs or plugs. (I did slip in some foam at one point as the .338 hitting steel is LOUD.)

As the sun waned and the wind picked up I called it a day at 2pm. I'm not sure WHICH one I want to buy, a 22L or a 223P (I kind of want both) but I suspect there is going to be a can in my future. Thought about it all the way home. A 223P is $925, the 22L $510, each requires an additional $200 tax stamp from BATFE. That's not small change.

Now for nitty gritty. I have NEVER seen my AR so dirty in my life. Mag well is filthy, BCG is black, even the buffer has a big smudge of soot on it. The back pressure on those cans really blows junk into the AR. The can itself (I took them on and off several times, tried 2 different ones) didn't even look discolored.

I'll probably turn a red shop towel completely black with the first go-over. But my Colt was still running like a top, I suspect a field expedient wipe down with a rag would keep it running hundreds of rounds with one of these TBAC suppressors, and that's certainly enough to run a complete tactical rifle match.

All in all a GREAT day, thanks again to ThunderBeast and Rocky Mountain Shooter's Supply for turning me on to the silent world.

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March 13, 2011, 11:15 PM
Just a few more pics from the day, I was more interested in trigger time than shutter bugging!

March 13, 2011, 11:33 PM
Very cool. Suppressors have been heavy in my mind lately too.

March 14, 2011, 12:39 AM
My rifle is dirty like I want to soak it in a parts washer dirty. Uck.

Zak Smith
March 14, 2011, 12:39 AM
Speaking of cleaning, here's how we clean our 7" M16

The .338 can that had the failure was a prototype of a design that is not in production. It was actually put together differently (than prod. cans) and had some other issues, including taking some damage from being launched off a rifle last year when a rifle's muzzle threads failed. Anyway, that's why the design isn't "in the wild" yet. I was standing about 6' from the muzzle when it launched, and I'm pretty sure it did suppress the shot, but let go when the gas hit. There were no strikes inside the can.

I think over the course of the day, 60-70 people showed up.

In the future, we definitely want to run the demo at a range with 300+ yard capability. Shooting $10k LR bolt guns is a waste in a 50 yard berm. I think some of the hot .300WSM rounds poked holes in my steel, and they took a beating from the .223 at close range anyway.

In the end, we used up about two bricks of .22LR subsonic and over a case of .223REM- I'm afraid to count up the .338LM empties...

Thanks for coming out! Definitely a success.

March 15, 2011, 11:45 PM
Cleaning after supressor shoot

mag well full of carbon

power residue in trigger group

fouling on back of bolt head

gas bleed off fore and back end of handguards

Cleaning wasn't too bad, but I did it outside on the picnic table over a shallow pan with Ed's Red, completed with a CLP wipedown. Might shoot again next sunday, so no overlubrication for storage.

March 15, 2011, 11:54 PM
Ed's read really ate up all the extra residue, just needed to do it outside as it was a sloppy job and I don't have a power washer handy. ;)

PS glad I'm not going to the airport anytime soon as I'm COVERED with GSR (it takes a few days to wear away with regular soap n water.)

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