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Suppressed Weapons....thoughts....

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Nightcrawler, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Well-Known Member

    Been thinking about the use of suppressed weapons.

    They have the distinct advantage of making a weapon quieter; they don't "silence" it, by any means, and that whole bit about the MP5SD's bolt reciprocation being more audible than the round firing is probably just a silly urban legend.

    However, a suppressed .223 or .308 round will still have an audible sonic crack as the bullet passes by, as the bullets are moving in excess of the speed of sound. Granted, a good .308 suppressor can give the rifle the report of a .22, making it much harder to locate the firer, and that's the idea.

    But for idealized suppressed use, you want to utilized subsonic ammunition. It makes an audible difference.

    Some weapons are more suited for this than others.

    Rifle rounds, typically, are not so well suited. The reason is this. There are two factors that contribute to how much energy a fired round has: bullet mass and bullet velocity. Subtract one and you need to increase the other to keep the energy the same.

    Most rifle rounds are bigger on velocity than they are in bullet mass (especially small bore rounds like .223 and 5.45mm).

    So, given that the speed of sound at sea level is roughly 1100 feet per second, let us consider 1100FPS at the muzzle the "speed limit" for proper suppressor ammo.

    Suddenly, 5.56mm isn't looking so good. 55 or 62 grains at 1100 fps? Pretty sad, performance wise. What's the heaviest 5.56mm bullet available?

    .308 fairs better, but not by much. The heaviest factory .308 loads seem to be 180 grains. (The only factory box of .308 subsonic I've seen had 180 grain bullets.) 180 grains at 1100 fps is barely low-level .357 Magnum territory. Now, they make heavier .30 caliber bullets than that; specifically, 220 grain bullets that some .30-06 loads use. I don't know if you could make one of these work in a .308 case, though.

    Pistol rounds typically give up less than rifle rounds in this department. For 9mm, you typically have 147 grain bullets at 950-1000 fps, which is a regular standard-pressure load. Other non +P loads are subsonic at the muzzle, too. But if you're maximizing suppressed power, you want the heaviest bullets possible, and the heaviest usable for 9mm is 147 grains, I believe.

    .45ACP gives up practically nothing as most .45 loads (including +P) are subsonic at the muzzle anyways. And if your speed limit is 1100 feet per second, a 230 grain bullet beats a 180 grain one.

    10mm...don't know how well this would work. There are 220 grain 10mm bullets, though they're not available in any factory load. 220 grains at 1100 fps is pretty respectable for a pistol round, and would offer better penetration than a .45ACP load. (Were any subsonic 10mm loads developed for the suppressed MP5/10mm?)

    .357 Sig. Probably better than 9mm in this regard, as it'd have an easier time pushing the heavier bullets to the 1100 fps limit.

    .40S&W: Most factory 180 grain loads are subsonic anyways, so unless you want the lighter bullets you're not losing anything.

    9x18mm: I believe all 9mm Mak loads are subsonic anyways.

    Then you get some oddballs, like .300 Whisper. .300 whisper is a GOOD idea. You can get the .30 caliber bullet to 1100 FPS without all of that wasted case capacity you'd get in a .308. .300 Whisper (in Cor-Bon's load) uses a 220 grain .30-06 bullet and pushes it to 1040 FPS; it equals the performance of suppressed .308 in a smaller, lighter package. (In theory, with the extra case capacity, .308 could push a heavier bullet to the same speed, but I think 220 grains is the heaviest .30 caliber bullet available right now.)

    What I think would be REALLY interesting for suppressed use would be some of the big bore magnum loads. Again, if your maximum velocity is 1100 fps, you may as well have the heaviest bullet possible. There are 300+ grain bullets available for the .44 Magnum. Obviously, suppressing a revolver has its own set of problems, but you could use the .44 Magnum round in a semiauto "thumper" carbine with an integral suppressor. Better suited to such a carbine would be the nearly-extinct .45 Win Mag round, with its 320 grain bullets. .50AE could work too.

    Just some late night musings. Any thoughts?
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    I discussed this with JD Jones a few months ago. The big thing that comes into play is keeping accuracy and energy at distance. The frontal area of larger bore bullets is detrimental to both of these. His tests showed that the 220 and 240 grain .308 from the .300 Whisper was near about the best one could get with bullets that are commonly available.
  3. M67

    M67 Well-Known Member

    A sub-sonic 9mm can be suppressed to a level where the bolt - and the bullet striking the target - makes more sound than the shot itself. At least if you stand behind the weapon, it makes more sound down range. You can test this by shooting against for example a tree line and hear the echo. Full power 5.56 and 7.62 both make enough bullet crack to be uncomfortable (and I assume harmful) to shoot without hearing protection, but only just.

    What are you going to use it for? I would think there are other factors than muzzle energy alone that may be relevant. To do a little musing myself, let me see if I can think of some scenarios:

    "James Bond": You don't really need that much power to "thump" a commie spy at close range, it's all about bullet placement. Besides, I think it makes more sense to have a "can" suppressor for your regular weapon than to drag arond some Hollyweird contraption, both for logistical reasons and because of the fact that a .44 mag suppressor is going to be much bigger than, say a .32 acp suppressor, simply because there is a lot more powder gas to cool down. And the .32 is actually a pretty good little cartridge, as long as you stay within its limitations.

    FSH... SFTH... ah, crap, you know what I mean. "Tactical" stuff with lots of fancy acronyms. First, spray and pray. Is it worth the effort to make a submachinegun with a "non-standard" cartridge even if it is a bit more powerful than a subsonic 9mm? A suppressed MP5 offers the advantages of being the same as the "standard" non-suppressed one, as far as familiarity is concerned, and it uses standard ammunition (it bleeds off pressure to reduce the velocity of full pressure loads), which is a plus from a logistical point of view. Does the increased power make up for the increase in weight and size of the weapon? Secondly: Sniping. Accuracy is more important than power. I would believe a suppressed 7.62 with a subsonic 180 grain bullet will give more velocity and potential accuracy at longer ranges than a short, fat 330 grain pistol bullet will do, even if the latter has more energy at the muzzle. The rifle will have the added advantage of being able to shoot regular ammo if you need to "reach out and touch someone" beyond subsonic range - and the suppressor will still offer a considerable reduction of the noise.

    The use that is most realistic for most of us: Plinking, hunting, "yardwork". The only suppressed shots I have ever fired "in anger" have been at cats, rats - and one mouse... Otherwise it's plinking and target shooting without the need for hearing protection. A suppressed .30 caliber could be used with slow ammo for small game and regular strenght for big game, see "sniping" above. I've been thinking about buying a .30 cal suppressor for this, but I don't really hunt enough to need one right now. Which brings me to the next point:

    What does "need" have to do with anything? The "Shiny New Toy Syndrome" is also a factor. My only suppressors at this time are for .22s. I keep thinking that a suppressed .357 or .44 carbine would be really neat for yardwork, if you have rats that are too big for a .22. But realistically, I need to get myself a yard before I really need a gun specifically for yardwork. :)

    As you say, when the velocity is given, the only way to increase energy is to increase the weight of the projectile. Which brings me back to the fact that a heavier projectile requires more energy to propel it to that given veolcity. That means more powder and a larger volume of hot powder gas, which leads to a proportionally larger suppressor to handle that gas. At some point that size will become a limiting factor. I have no doubt that it is possible to build a suppressed mortar that will shoot bowling balls at 1100 fps, but it wouldn't be very practical for most applications I can think of. And finally, a suppressor does make a real difference with supersonic ammunition, even if it isn't "silent". A Finnish company makes a suppressor for use with full power .50 BMG. It reduces not only sound, but also muzzle blast - and it reduces felt recoil as well as or better than any other type of muzzle brake.

    PS: Ain't it nice to live in a country where you can mail order a suppressor without having to ask Big Brother for permission? :neener:
  4. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

    Nightcrawler, along your same train of thought is the Russian 9x39. Bascially (as I understand it as there aren't any in the country) it is a 7.62x39 opened up to .35 caliber, utilizing a heavy bullet at around 1000 fps. After reading Cutshaw's review of the cartridge and the guns it is chambered in (think miniture integrally supressed AKs) I want one really bad.

    I have a friend who owned a suppresed Remington 700 in .308. The interesting thing was that when he used regular ammo there was still the supersonic crack, however it wasn't nearly as bad to shoot with out hearing protection. And the best part? You could not pinpoint where the sound came from. He also loaded up some subsonic loads, and we were still able to make good hits out to 200 yards. With this load it sounded like you were dryfiring, and then the clang as the bullet hit the steel target. :) Very fun stuff.

    I don't own any suppresors yet. But I will. :D
  5. cordex

    cordex Well-Known Member

    Largest I've heard of is 100 grain loads.
  6. BerettaNut92

    BerettaNut92 Well-Known Member

    You suck!:cuss:

    You too, Kobun!!! :cuss:



    Anyone know anything about the new HK subsonic caliber?
  7. Skunk,

    You realize you couldn't buy or make that thing? A suppressor is also a flashhider.
  8. John Ross

    John Ross Well-Known Member

    Nightcrawler: "What I think would be REALLY interesting for suppressed use would be some of the big bore magnum loads."

    With this in mind I rebarreled a Ruger #1 with a 16 1/2" bull match barrel in .50 Alaskan with a 10" twist. You can shoot 750 grain Hornady match bullets at 1050 FPS with sub-minute accuracy. Velocity decay at extended ranges is VERY little. Dale Blaylock made a stainless can 10" long. Very quiet.

    API slugs and spotter bullets make for interesting shooting. Neat gun.

    JD now does a .500 Whisper on a Weatherby action, using shortened .460 brass. More expensive and more trouble to make ammo than my gun, but he gets 3 shots total.

    JR, the .500 Specialist
  9. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Hm. Mullins ammo makes several heavy subsonic 5.56 loads, at least one which is designed to NOT cycle a AR15/M16 ation.

    I'm thinking of having a "Ghost Scout" .35 Whelen built on one of my 1917 actions. I plan on using heavy .357 XTP's.

    Been thinking of the "ideal" suppressed bolt weapon for years. Done a lot of thinking 'bout a turnbolt .45 Colt. 260 or 300 grain HP at 1000 fps, zeroed at 50 meters...

    JD was kind enough to talk to me years ago about suppressive technology. Among other things, we discussed integrally suppressed 12 gauge rounds, but he said that each round would have to be licensed...

  10. Starpower

    Starpower Well-Known Member


    What would you do with it???? Ok, picture this. I mean, close your eyes and feel it with me! It's 2:00 am, you gotta get up at 5:30, and your neighbor three or four houses down has had his stereo thumping on extra max plus bass for the last 4 1/2 hours. It's so bad that the windows in your house are actually vibrating and rattling in their frames. You've called the local Po-Po twice, but when the boys in blue arrive, the jerk turns it down, waits for them to leave, and cranks it even louder!!! Are we there?? Can you feel it? OK, now enter a nine MM carbine (CX-4 Storm?) with a suppressor and a 9 or 12 power night vision scope, and you can see the stereo sitting on the floor, through the purposely opened window, and he's just sitting there, laughing. CHOICE! The stereo or the neighbor?? Oh, the agony of indecision!!

    Just for the record, this is all tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. I'm not advocating ANYBODY fire into their neighbors house, however justified it may seem at the time. But, yes, there are uses for it.


    :: ;)
  11. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus


    Not to advocate anything dangerous, illegal, or stupid. BUT once upon a time in college I knew a certain person who shall remain unnamed, whose downstairs neighbor in an apartment complex kept playing their stereo at super high volume at all hours of the night. The neighbors were also idiots, who refused to be civil to anybody else in the complex.

    One night (during finals week) the before mentioned loud neighbors were playing Nine Inch Nails Hump you like an Animal at the same decibal level as a 747 at takeoff. The neighbors were having a party, and there were a large number of very drunk people in the downstairs apartment.

    Our unnamed person had called the police a few times with no result. Finally the unnamed hero retrieved a three foot length of pipe, and went downstairs. He killed the power to the building. (the fuse box for all apartments was in the hall). Then in the dark, he proceeded to kick in the door of the apartment, shoved his way through the confused drunks and smashed the stereo repeatedly with the pipe. He then exited during the confusion.

    No one was hurt, but the stereo was destroyed. The drunks wandered off when they couldn't figure out how to turn the power back on.

    NOTE this person would not do this again. And I'm guessing he would not advocate anybody else doing it because it was really stupid. But it sure makes a good story. :D

    Sorry for the thread drift. Now back to our original thread.
  12. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    This person was not approximately the size of Sasquatch, was he?

    No? Just asking. :D
  13. BerettaNut92

    BerettaNut92 Well-Known Member

    LOL that's the funniest story I've read in a while. How did the 'operator' find the location of the target?
  14. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Well-Known Member

    Hey, I live in a college dorm, with thin walls...somebody farts 3 doors down and you can hear it....people have stereos...

    lead pipe, you say? Cut the power first, you say?


    (Of course, I'd rather dick with those obnoxious art students next door that are always parking in our lot (against the regs) and taking up our spaces. Heck, this morning I was woken up by them throwing wooden blocks into a steel dumpster. Granted, it was like 10:45AM, but when your first class is at noon you're not really inclined to get up any earlier than that.)
  15. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

    Skunk, from what I was told, he had seen it before through the open door because of the previous times he had been down there to ask them to be quiet. :)

    Enough thread veer. Sorry.
  16. Kobun

    Kobun Well-Known Member

    Hey Skunk! I haven't even said anything yet. :confused:
    And I still suck when I have invited your furry tail over here for some shooting?
    Don't make me change my mind now... ;)

    Cordex, I have heard of 105 grain 223 bullets. Don't know if they are available though.

    Starpower, that is why the "compressed metal" training rounds are so great.
    When they hit something hard, they dump the energy and turn into dust.
    Anyone know where I can get some? (Bullets only please). :)

    A bullet made from compressed graphite might be something for loud stereos. It would be a small version of the graphite bombs that are used to short circuit powerplants. :cool:

    I guess I should post some pictures of a supressed rifle.
    Its built on a K98, is fully supressed, and is chambered for a wildcat that is really easy to make; .458-2"
    Take a .458 Winmag case, and cut down to 2"
    Load with convential bullets, or cast 770(?) grain slugs.
    Its a great rifle, but at about $3000, its a bit too much for me now. :(
  17. BerettaNut92

    BerettaNut92 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, you still suck! You and your Neostead!!!! :D :D :D (can you put a suppressor on that???)
  18. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Well-Known Member

    From what you're saying, the 45/70 is the ideal suppressed round.

    The factory 405 grain Remington JSP loading usually makes just under 1200fps from most rifles.

    Load it up with a 500 grain bullet at 1000fps muzzle velocity and you have a rifle that will get impressive results out to as far as you can figure the trajectory. Easy to do if you have time and a laser rangefinder.

    I think the 500 grainers at that velocity will easily make 1000 yards if your sights can handle the adjustment.

    Plus, the 45-70 is a very low pressure round as rifle rounds go--I think it would silence very nicely...
  19. M16

    M16 Well-Known Member

    The only problem is that the larger the bullet diameter the harder it is to suppress well. In my experience the ideal round is the .300 whisper with the Sierra 240 grain hpbtm. Very quiet until the bullet smacks something.
  20. DMK

    DMK Well-Known Member

    You're over engineering the problem. Most stereos these days are encased primarily in plastic or very thin metal. If your shot placement is right, a decently powerful pellet gun disables a loud stereo pretty effectively and quietly I might add....or so I've heard. ;)

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