Why do silencers cost so much...?


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SilentStalker
July 7, 2011, 05:55 PM
This has really been eating me up. I understand there is a lot of legal tape that has to be gone tHrough in order to own one but why the high cost? They are not difficult to make and the materials use to create them are not really expensive either. So, I ask again,"why do they cost so much?" any thoughts on this?

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BADSBSNF81
July 7, 2011, 06:21 PM
Limited market due to the tax stamp and associated paperwork. Quality costs.

kingpin008
July 7, 2011, 06:26 PM
Well, there are a number of factors.

As mentioned, the market is limited, so that's part of it.

Add in the cost of becoming and maintaining a FFL/SOT, buying/maintaining the necessary machinery, spending money on developing prototypes, advertising...the list goes on and on. When it comes right own to it, I'd wager that it's actually a pretty low profit-margin industry.

elcaminoariba
July 7, 2011, 06:40 PM
The "cool" plus "scary" plus tax/defacto ban without tax, aspects.

Shear_stress
July 7, 2011, 06:44 PM
Basically, suppressors are on the wrong part of suppy and demand curve. You've got a small demand and a small supply due to regulatory hurdles. That means that makers can't take advantage of economies of scale and need to sell a small quantity at a fairly high price.

And that just about exhausts my knowledge of economics.

Remo223
July 7, 2011, 06:47 PM
the tax alone on a suppressor is 200 smackers.

dovedescending
July 7, 2011, 07:14 PM
what everybody else said. the high tax has created an artificial squeeze on a what would otherwise be a fairly booming market. demand is not as high as it could be, so manufacturers have to charge more per each to make ends meet.

SharpsDressedMan
July 7, 2011, 07:27 PM
Ever try to build one? (Don't answer that! :evil:) Respectfully, there is a bit of design and precise machining that goes into one, and it isn't banged out in a matter of minutes (unless you are all set up with CNC, etc, and are pounding out a large number). If you are not precise enough, you get a bullet through your baffles, bad accuracy, a blown up suppressor, or all the above, and maybe worse (injury, etc). Throw in the liability associated with making one for someone else, and you get an idea of why they might be expensive. Don't forget, some designers and manufacturers really DO come up with great designs, and they want to make some money for the innovation and designing.

addedpulp
July 7, 2011, 07:33 PM
Because they can.

oasis618
July 7, 2011, 07:44 PM
Because they can.
Mostly this.

CapnMac
July 7, 2011, 07:51 PM
(We need that [snip] of all the costs associated with having a SOT.)

Double-whammy of a product "demonized" since 1934 and industrial economics. If it costs (just whistling an arbitrary number out of thin air) 48,000 quatloos a year to break even on a suppressor shop, and you only sell 12 per year, how many quatloos per each?

In sane univers, a suppressor ought be a $5 tax stamp, same as an AOW. But, such are the nature of political compromises. NFA was a compromise which started as a complete ban of all handguns (if memory serves right).

Prince Yamato
July 7, 2011, 08:13 PM
The price on certain silencers is going down. .22 cans can be had for around $300 and AAC's Eco-9 9mm can and the Thompson Machine 9mm cans can be had at around $400. I still think they could stand to come down another $100 or so.

LiquidTension
July 7, 2011, 08:16 PM
The markup on cans is pretty high. One of the guys at AAC said that a dealer can pay for their SOT by selling just two per year.

Legionnaire
July 7, 2011, 08:42 PM
It's all about knowing where to drill the holes. ;)

Zoogster
July 7, 2011, 09:23 PM
There is many suppressor designs, and some are very simple, and some are a little more complex.

One issue is the market, it is small because the percentage of gun owners that go through the NFA process is limited.
This means many of the parts are made in a shop with direct labor, not mass produced by the thousands by a large machine.

The next hurdle is the $200 tax based minimum. If someone is going to pay $200 already, they probably want something decent. Paying $200 for a $20 piece of junk makes less sense than getting something decent.

They have $20-$50 suppressors in parts of Europe in a bargain bin. Grab one from a bucket on your way to check out. They are intended to be cheap, work decent, and be relatively disposable.
Of course the firearm is the heavily restricted component there, being as much hassle as NFA firearms are in the USA just to get many basic firearms.


There is also other concerns. The ATF has weird interpretations of what a silencer is. As a consumer you cannot just keep spare parts for your silencer, because those can be considered a silencer. If it breaks you cannot just order a baffle.
So what could be made really cheap should instead be made robust and relatively overbuilt and should have the ability to be opened, and readily cleaned. Instead of replacing cheap inexpensive parts when they wear out you should have heavier more resistant components that will wear slower to compensate for the law making it a hassle to replace parts.
If you are going to have all of that and related increased costs you might as well also have a design that works better than a cheap muffler.


You could mass produce a cheap version with wipes and an expansion chamber, but the minimum $200 tax, and required profit to make it worth the time of a SOT, already turns it into an item that is going to cost the consumer a few hundred dollars minimum, so it might as well be a quality robust item the customer will be delighted with for slightly more instead of stamping your company's name on a piece of junk.
While in places without all the legal restraints on silencers you can just make simple basic designs that are junk, but reduce the decibels effectively for awhile and price them cheap.


The same guy that invented the silencer also invented the muffler, being nearly the same thing just meant to attach to different devices. Another name for a muffler is a silencer, the UK for example calls all mufflers silencers.
One on automobiles is now mandatory in much of the world, including the USA. Instead of all drivers having to wear hearing protection due to the excessive noise generated by unmuffled engines, the vehicles themselves all have a silencer installed.

oneounceload
July 7, 2011, 10:35 PM
They are priced where they are because people will pay the price. Are they cheaper i other countries like England and NZ where they are sold over the counter as a safety device and not a sniper device? Yep

firemanstrickland
July 7, 2011, 11:08 PM
Because they can.
+1 Because they can

Aaron Baker
July 8, 2011, 10:47 AM
Because they can

I can't figure out if everyone who says this thinks that "can" is a clever play on words, and is chuckling at their keyboard, or if they're just being dense.

Yes, they obviously are able to price them higher.

But that doesn't answer the underlying question, which is: why can they?

And that answer is: supply and demand, and the strange economics of a part that people just feel like shouldn't cost less than its tax. Other posters have explained that well.

I just can't understand why you'd post "just because" as an answer to the question "why." That's unhelpful and a silly waste of time.

Unless it was a joke. In which case, groan.

Aaron

Kleanbore
July 8, 2011, 10:50 AM
Aaron Baker said it all.

Zak Smith
July 8, 2011, 12:08 PM
As a silencer manufacturer, I'll just point out the parts of the posts I agree with ;)


Add in the cost of becoming and maintaining a FFL/SOT, buying/maintaining the necessary machinery, spending money on developing prototypes, advertising...the list goes on and on. When it comes right own to it, I'd wager that it's actually a pretty low profit-margin industry.

Basically, suppressors are on the wrong part of suppy and demand curve. You've got a small demand and a small supply due to regulatory hurdles. That means that makers can't take advantage of economies of scale and need to sell a small quantity at a fairly high price.

The next hurdle is the $200 tax based minimum. If someone is going to pay $200 already, they probably want something decent. Paying $200 for a $20 piece of junk makes less sense than getting something decent.

In Europe, you can buy cheap, almost "throw-away" silencers. If you need to buy another one, who cares, it's like a new set of tires. Here, you're essentially married to the item for life, since there is almost zero market for used silencers (due to additional transfer taxes). So people here want to buy a really good one that will last a lifetime.

Ranb
July 8, 2011, 04:22 PM
I make silencers as a hobby. One of my last projects was for a 338 ultra mag rifle. I spent about $60 in material. It took me about 20 hours on the lathe. If my time is worth $20/hour, then that is $660 including the tax. But it should last a few thousand rounds at 90 grains of powder per round.

Ranb

MasterSergeantA
July 8, 2011, 06:57 PM
But you need to factor in the cost of the lathe, tools, etc. as well. The cost is still lower than what a 'commercial' can would cost, but there are other overhead costs that need to be recouped by the manufacturers as well. If you enjoy making your own, and don't mind shelling out the $200 for each one, you are actually getting away very cheaply.

Zak Smith
July 8, 2011, 07:21 PM
You can't buy machine time for $20/hr. Not even close.

oasis618
July 8, 2011, 07:41 PM
I can't figure out if everyone who says this thinks that "can" is a clever play on words, and is chuckling at their keyboard, or if they're just being dense.

Yes, they obviously are able to price them higher.

But that doesn't answer the underlying question, which is: why can they?

And that answer is: supply and demand, and the strange economics of a part that people just feel like shouldn't cost less than its tax. Other posters have explained that well.

I just can't understand why you'd post "just because" as an answer to the question "why." That's unhelpful and a silly waste of time.

Unless it was a joke. In which case, groan.

Aaron
They "can" because it's a niche item and people "will" pay it. There is more invested in research and technology in a VCR that you can buy at Target for $30.00 than there is in a silencer but until silencers are mass produced and more readily available, like VCR's, they "can" charge more.

jbkebert
July 8, 2011, 07:45 PM
I wish I had a employee that cost only $20 per hour. Figure insurance, taxes, work comp, tools ect. I have a couple guys at $20 an hour but have to charge $47 an hour to break even. More if I want a little money on the deal.

Ranb
July 8, 2011, 11:40 PM
That is why my hobby will never pay me. With only $2000 invested in tools, my cans have cost me a bit under $450 including tools, tax and material. And just between you and me, my work is not worth $20 an hour. :) If I had to make a living selling silencers, I would starve.

Ranb

daorhgih
July 8, 2011, 11:50 PM
Don't try to make one out of an empty aerosol can with Brillo-pad® stuffing, because that only works the ONE time. Don't even ask. (Not accurate, either.)

NOLAEMT
July 9, 2011, 12:01 AM
probably not a good idea to talk about felonies committed on an open forum.

anomoly40
July 9, 2011, 10:16 AM
He paid his $200 tax. It was all he could afford after it though.

hq
July 9, 2011, 12:13 PM
Ever try to build one? (Don't answer that! :evil:) Respectfully, there is a bit of design and precise machining that goes into one, and it isn't banged out in a matter of minutes

Well... I've built a few, the easiest builds having consisted of outer tube, 1" pieces of smaller diameter tube, washers, a plug and a thread adapter. Not exactly commercial quality fit & finish but all of them have been fully functional and very effective. All you really need is just enough precision to line up the baffles with the barrel.

All in all they're very simple devices. There are exceptions like reflex suppressors etc. but it doesn't take a pro machinist to make a working "can" out of hardware store materials in a couple of hours.

Usually I just don't bother, suppressors are available everywhere with no paperwork and prices start at around €35 ($50). Some of them have a limited life expectancy, especially on full auto guns, but I have yet to have any suppressor fail on me @ <3000 or so rounds.

dprice3844444
July 9, 2011, 01:32 PM
machinery is very expensive,usually shop rates are approx 100 per hour.if useing cnc machines,higher.cnc machines start about 75-100k and up for the large production models.silencers are usually limited production runs,so not cost efficient in most cases.remember,as soon as they complete it,a excise tax has to be paid on it quarterly.

oneounceload
July 9, 2011, 02:09 PM
but until silencers are mass produced and more readily available, like VCR's, they "can" charge more.

Wat makes you think they AREN'T mass produced? There are many countries where they are available OTC. Just because they are hard to get here, doesn't mean the companies aren't cranking them out for export

Ranb
July 9, 2011, 02:43 PM
Unfortunately we can not get those cheap cans imported to the USA. I would like to see how those silencers made overseas compare to the ones I make in the USA.

Ranb

Zak Smith
July 9, 2011, 04:17 PM
The countries "over there" are not "cranking the out for export" to "over here" because silencers cannot be imported to the US for other than government use.

Tirod
July 11, 2011, 10:53 AM
The hassle of getting a tax stamp forces the entire purchase of a suppressor into a drawn out timetable and completely negates it being an impulse purchase. A younger shooters money burns holes in his pockets and he won't wait.

The mature shooter looks over the whole mess and thinks 1) Public perception is negative, my buddies will think I'm some kind of operator wannabe, 2) I don't really shoot it that much, so I'll just wear muffs for 5% of that cost, 3) my spouse isn't likely to agree with that kind of money spent with discretionary funds, we need a new living room couch and a set of tires.

On the maker's end, they can charge what they like, Mercedes Benz does - about a 35% markup just because, and the decline in truck sales is hurting Detroit the same - their large markup is diminishing.

C'mon, Nike athletic shirts aren't really $25 better than Starter at Walmart. It's the swoosh. The suppressor owners are completely to blame for their support of high prices because they pay them. It's a well heeled niche market.

Making one? After the research is done, baffles could be stamped out on a CNC turret press by the thousands per shift. The dies aren't that expensive when you can punch 100,000 baffles in just a few weeks. Tubes would be a no brainer. Nobody lathes parts on CNC machines when you can cast, forge, or punch them and get a 100X increase in production for the same setup. The reason they do is because that's the least expensive method for the few they make - like billet AR receivers, their special custom fences and contours won't cover the cost of a set of forging dies - or they would do that.

Quantities are very important in choosing production method, you don't unreasonably pick the most expensive just because you think it's cool.

Let's consider a major fielding of suppressors - the Koreans are issuing one per soldier, 653,000 active, and supposedly getting one for every rifle. Much less the 3.2 million reserves.

Who's got that contract, what's the contract price? Maybe it's me, I suspect it's cheaper than we think on a per unit basis. As said, it takes very little in material costs to do it, the freeze plug and tube garage version can be done for less than $30 AT RETAIL MARKUP PRICING. Bulk cost of those parts is pennies.

Priced by the 100,000, I speculate you could do it for less than $45 each, add 200% for administration, overhead, labor, and profit. I doubt the bidders did that, they are a small community, and wouldn't give away the farm just to put their name on the side.

$45? Am I freaking kidding? Well, how much does the average stainless performance car muffler cost? Not retail, cost? They retail for less than $60, right, with 50% markup.Those have to reverse gas pulses to quieten down multiple discharges, and handle a huge flow rate, totally exposed to the environment, for a decade of use, and meet a legal standard. They do it in the tens of thousands per year - which is what it takes to get the cheap pricing.

Exactly what we see in Europe. It's not economics - it's about quantities justifying production costs. And we don't buy enough to make cheap ones.

oneounceload
July 11, 2011, 11:35 AM
Folks misread me - I meant the companies HERE cranking them out for export overseas to NZ and wherever

sturmgewehr
July 11, 2011, 01:37 PM
They don't have to be expensive to be good quality. Check out my thread about the Huntertown Arms suppressors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiBaQibw4QI

Cop Bob
July 11, 2011, 07:07 PM
Depending upon the machine... machine time can run upwards of $300.00 an hour..

I still have several manual mills and lathes, and I would figure my time out at about $40.00 an hour for one or two parts. It is the set up is what takes time with manuals.. and they are slow, as stated about 10-20 times slower that a CNC.. Depending upon what you are making.

With CNC, the initial fixtures and set up, PLUS programming is what eats up the time... If you have programs that will write the G codes directly from the .DXF file, you have spent a BUNCH of money just on the software, and then the machines can run well into 6 figures... Lord help you if you break one or it goes down...

I had to replace the CPU on just one axis of a small CNC, the hardware was $4500.00 and $200 an hour for a tech to come out... it is NOT cheap. I could not wait to get rid of it... i figured that buying what appeared to be a good used machine that on initial set up was holding within .002.. was costing be about $200.00 an hour of spindle time...

Add to that rent or mortgage, workman's comp, labor costs, whiny machinist that don't want to show up, city licensing, water, lights and gas. Materials and tooling. Carbide ain't cheap, and your metals in a product like this and better have certs. That triples the price....

I have no experience making silencers.... But we did try a shot in the custom and performance motorcycle parts business.. But clearance is clearance, cutting metal, is cutting metal... If you can read the plans and make one, you can make the other...

Manufacturing anything is not cheap when you have government regulation, oversight, inspection and product liability involved... Or as I used to tell customers, if you want cubic inches, it costs cubic dollars... It too was a niche market..

Tirod
July 12, 2011, 07:48 AM
Again, the type of production necessary for the quantities involved means choosing one or the other based on set up costs.

A set of forging dies for an AR lower isn't cheap - but make ten of thousands with them, and lo and behold, you see finished lowers trading for less than $50. Why? Forging platters to shape and finish machining is cheaper than CNC cutting the entire thing from billet.

Production quantities of 600,000 suppressors means almost 0% CNC lathe or mill time, you can shape baffles with a CNC turret press - it has literally tons of press ability, can shape the blank, die form it, and punch an entire sheet in less than five minutes. Depending on the overlap and layout, you could get hundreds per sheet. A CNC lathe operator couldn't even begin to keep up, the turret press could make 150 each sheet, 12 sheets an hour, two shifts daily, 5 day week is 144,00 baffles that work week.

That's not even worth constant production or investing in the capital. Job it out, plenty of small shops looking for little things to do for a month. That machine will be making cabinet parts for a water jet cutter, electrical boxes for the cab of a 240 ton dump truck, or any of 1,000 other things later, like disconnectors for AR15's.

Nothing wrong with calculating the costs per hour for a one man shop, major production runs do it with $1.5 million dollar machines. It's the same difference between a small button rifler making barrels, and Remington hammerforging them all year. Krieger doesn't sell as many and can't afford the capital investment. The Koreans aren't getting $1,500 suppressors any more than Ford is putting $1,500 rims on F150s.

There's another aspect - the effective cost of machining over the life of the product. How precise does the tolerance need to be on a suppressor baffle when it deteriorates in use? At it's half life, are all the ports still within +/- .015", or does that even make any difference? Is expensive $400 an hour machining actually overkill on a product that can be made by pressing a ball bearing into a freeze plug with a bench vise made in Taiwan and then boring a hole in the center with a 40 year old Craftsman drill press purchased for $60?

The ironic part is a CNC turret press worth millions made the freeze plug, they retail for about a $1.

The real expense in suppressors is all in engineering and discovery of how to improve them - not fabrication or materials. Ask Colt about that, they may have the contract, they aren't the major player on the aftermarket now that an understanding of the dynamics of Direct Impingement is a common topic of forums. We'll get to the same thing with suppressors, baffle spacing, shape, and controlled expansion are what they are about.

Bubbles
July 12, 2011, 08:57 AM
Job it out, plenty of small shops looking for little things to do for a month.
While that's true, they want nothing to do with getting the FFL/SOT required to do it legally. Remember that the ATF considers baffles the equivalent of a complete suppressor under their interpretation of the NFA.

See Sec 2.1.7 Silencer, starting on page 15:
http://www.atf.gov/publications/download/p/atf-p-5320-8/atf-p-5320-8-chapter-2.pdf

Zak Smith
July 12, 2011, 12:38 PM
I was going to post what Bubbles just posted.

Carl N. Brown
July 12, 2011, 12:57 PM
Silencers in the US (as opposed to say France, UK or Finland) have been over regulated due to legislators having a unrealistic, demonised view on them, starting with the 1934 NFA aka gangster weapons act.

Paul A. Clark, "Criminal Use of Firearm Silencers", Western Criminology Review 8(2), 44–57 (2007)

ABSTRACT
Both the public and sentencing judges regard silenced firearms as more dangerous than ordinary unsilenced firearms, and the federal penalty for possession of a silenced firearm during crime is a 30-year mandatory minimum. The assumption that silenced firearms are more dangerous than ordinary firearms has never been empirically researched.

This study examines federal and state court data to compile statistics on who is being prosecuted for possession of silencers and what crimes they are used to commit. This data indicates that both on the federal and state level those prosecuted for crimes involving silencers are far less likely to have a criminal record, and are far less likely to actively use their weapon than those people convicted using ordinary unsilenced firearms.

The data indicates that use of silenced firearms in crime is a rare occurrence, and is a minor problem. Moreover, the legislative history of silencer statutes indicates that these provisions were adopted with little or no debate. The silencer penalty has been justified by a need to crack down on “professional criminals” or to punish people using “dangerous weapons.” The evidence suggests that 30-year minimum sentences make no sense. Mandatory minimums should be repealed and sentencing judges permitted to treat each case on an individualized basis.

The high price is because every one involved, from the federally licensed maker, Class 03 dealer, to the registered owner, have to tippy toe on legal egg shells and landmines every step of the way.

razorback2003
July 12, 2011, 02:59 PM
I would hope the mark up for suppressors is good. It is not easy to find a title 2 dealer in a lot of places. I bet the title 2 dealers out there have a decent mark up to compensate for their extra paperwork and knowledge.

Suppressor shops seem to be small shops and kind of a specialty. This is not a mass produced item made at a big factory. Some are even special ordered. Naturally even the cost will be higher before mark up from the manufacturer to the dealer.

If you want to make some side money, and grow a business, and know steady buyers, you might want to get the paperwork to sell title 2 firearms. A lot of those guys seem to special order the title 2 firearms for the buyer and not keep a lot of inventory on hand. That saves storage costs.

MrM4
July 12, 2011, 03:01 PM
The cost of R&D and Manufacturing plus the limited number of end users due to the NFA process contributes to the mark up being what it is. However the guy who post earlier in this thread about 2 cans paying for a SOT lic. each year is sadly misiformed. Unless the dealer is charging full MSRP on something such as big bore titanium can there just is not that kind of money in cans ( SOT is $500 per year hence $250 profit per can). Even then it would be hard to clear $200 profit without going over MSRP.

There is also alot more time involved with selling NFA items. Rather then the normal talking to the customer and then doing the 4473 and a "have a nice day" on title 1 gun.

The NFA items require alot more time to talk with the customer , sometimes multipule times prior to purchase( which maybe be the case with Title 1 guns to be fair), filling out all the paperwork and explaining the process to them, including the prints and sign off or the trust route. Then the 1/2 dozen phone calls asking ( "is it in yet", not everyone does that but some guys are a twice aweek deal with a 10-15 minute phone call which adds up over 3 months) finally once its approved there is the 4473 and the time involved with doing that part.


I enjoy talking with people and so it does not bother me that each transfer takes so much time but in the case of a large shop who is paying wages for someone to stand there and do all that I listed above, there needs to be some mark up to make a profit.

SharpsDressedMan
July 12, 2011, 05:20 PM
Back in 1934, the NFA $200 tax was very prohibitive due to the times and the economy. Today, $200 is nothing. Spend the bucks on the suppressor of your choice. Combined with the NFA tax, the total price will be less prohbitive than the tax alone was back in the 1930's.

CoRoMo
July 12, 2011, 05:29 PM
Anyone remember my thread about the TacSol Cascades? Those things are selling down around $100 these days. If that ain't affordable, nothing is.

GoingQuiet
July 12, 2011, 07:26 PM
I would hope the mark up for suppressors is good. It is not easy to find a title 2 dealer in a lot of places. I bet the title 2 dealers out there have a decent mark up to compensate for their extra paperwork and knowledge.

Suppressor shops seem to be small shops and kind of a specialty. This is not a mass produced item made at a big factory. Some are even special ordered. Naturally even the cost will be higher before mark up from the manufacturer to the dealer.

If you want to make some side money, and grow a business, and know steady buyers, you might want to get the paperwork to sell title 2 firearms. A lot of those guys seem to special order the title 2 firearms for the buyer and not keep a lot of inventory on hand. That saves storage costs.
It's not the markup, it's the time.

I had an extensive post that got me banned on ARFCOM about how long it takes to do a transfer right. I had one that took in excess of 10 hours.

For many dealers, it is not worth the pain.

Bubbles
July 13, 2011, 12:21 PM
I had an extensive post that got me banned on ARFCOM about how long it takes to do a transfer right. I had one that took in excess of 10 hours.
FYI it wasn't the post that got you banned, it was the fact that 1) your username was the same as your company name, and 2) you posted your rates. You got the banhammer for advertising.

GoingQuiet
July 13, 2011, 12:27 PM
FYI it wasn't the post that got you banned, it was the fact that 1) your username was the same as your company name, and 2) you posted your rates. You got the banhammer for advertising.
That makes more (barely) sense, but that still doesn't change the fact that it's a little loony over there.

Thankfully I still have a parachute.

Zak Smith
July 13, 2011, 12:28 PM
Discussion of other forums and actions on other forums is off topic. Please do not persist.

Watchman
July 13, 2011, 09:06 PM
I just did a group buy on another board for .22 suppressors for 185.00 bucks, so they are coming down.

Some of the suppressor manufacturers are buiding some great cans, and they have reduced overhead costs to be able to compete.

Its never been a better time to own a suppressor than it is now.

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