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the high price of suppressors?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms and Accessories' started by tahoe2, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    That's assuming all suppressors, from the cheapest to most expensive are the same in complexity, materials, processes, certifications, and all other aspects.

    As a side trek, what makes the following two products (a block of steel 1"x2"x3" in size) vary so much in price compared to one another? Why are both items so incredibly expensive for less than $1 worth of tool steel? Surely they're even simpler to manufacture and have less complexity than even suppressors. The more expensive one doesn't even have holes. Surely there is a distinctive lack of high-speed, low-drag sex appeal in metrology and manufacturing.

    Taft-Pierce precision 1-2-3 block, model #9151-2.
    Price: $414.

    Brown & Sharpe US-made 1-2-3 blocks
    Price: $83.99
  2. Ken70

    Ken70 Well-Known Member

    Csponge, you obviously have a really big"dog" in this. Care to disclose it? I don't. I don't make a suppressor. You probably do....
  3. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    I understand that manufacturing a suppressor of a particular design can require a lot of precision machining. Not being able to use some of the most effective and durable stamped steel designs because of patent issues and relatively low sales volume is definitely a factor. The only really critical part is the muzzle end cap and seating surface to the threads/muzzle; a production tolerance of .010" in baffles doesn't make much difference.

    I've been wondering if optimizing the design and production methods could help bringing down the prices. By far the best cans I have are quite simple, stamped steel designs that have constantly outperformed precision-machined high-$ cans both in noise reduction and durability. Tight tolerances and precision manufacturing of non-critical parts do little else than drive up the cost, unless there's some additional value in bragging rights. Change of POI has a lot more to do with changed barrel harmonics due to added mass than even the loosest tolerances in baffle manufacturing. I've shot **so many ½-¼MOA groups with genuinely crappy cans that even the idea of precision baffles having any meaningful effect on accuracy sounds far-fetched.

    Remember AK philosophy. It's a simple, crude design that just plain works.
  4. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I understand where you're coming from, but on the other hand, why are there so many suppressors on the market that actively harm accuracy or repeatability? If you go over to SnipersHide, it's easy to find reports of problems, be it because of baffle design, overall structure (I would say artifacts from manufacturing method), or mount. I've seen and experienced many of those myself. If there had been a bunch of light weight and absolutely accurate and repeatable suppressors on the market in 2007, we would have never even thought to start a suppressor company.

    Agreed, but the rub is agreeing on what the critical parts and aspects are for accuracy. The proof comes from shooting and evidently many do not really understand that answer.
  5. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    If a can is dimensionally totally out of whack, accuracy can suffer because of bullets grazing the baffles or gas diversion issues caused by bad design, damaged baffles / end cap or severe misalignment. Much like damaged barrel crown in principle. I can't say I've seen anything that bad in a while, the worst examples have still been serviceable but loud, fragile, poorly finished or all of the above.

    Unfortunately "on the market" from the US standpoint excludes suppressors made overseas. Around here market is a bit different, there's no shortage of very high quality cans in $200-300 price point. Most of them are made of steel and they can be heavy; some alu+composite suppressors are light and very quiet but not particularly durable. It's often a compromise.

    ...speaking of which, how much paperwork is involved in exporting a suppressor from the US? I mean, I'd love to buy one of yours for testing and I've been looking for another lightweight can for one of my SBR-sized hunting AR:s anyway.
  6. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

  7. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Ouch. Exporting non-NFA items is a maze of red tape and months of waiting, this sounds much worse. So much for that idea.
  8. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    You sure are keen on making assumptions. The nature of manufacturing contracts on my end have nothing to do with suppressors or anything firearms-related. It's based around applications in aerospace and government projects, such as commercial passenger airliner components, F-22 Raptor components, satellite components, and projects like NIF's 500 terawatt fusion laser facility.

    What appears simple (a 1x2x3" steel block) can cost a lot more than what someone assumes it should be worth.

    HQ, do they allow full auto in Finland? The reason I ask is many of the people who dabble in suppressors also live in states that allow other NFA items. Suppressors that are used in sustained full-auto fire must be designed out of materials that retain strength at elevated temperatures and resist erosion. Some people severely beat their cans and guns. Running a lesser can would result in even shorter lifespans.

  9. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Good example of the logical fallacy: begging the question.
  10. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Full auto is allowed for registered collectors, approximately 1% of all civilian-owned guns in Finland are full auto. My personal "acid test" for suppressors is as many belts with a MG42 (or cmags with an M16/M4) as possible without frying the barrel. The can usually glows bright red; some cans are ok afterwards, some aren't and some even have been able to take that kind of abuse on biweekly-monthly basis for 15+ years.

    The most common use for suppressors is hunting; in last weekend's deer hunt eight out of ten guys had suppressors, which isn't uncommon. Hunting rifles don't get shot much, but cans take a beating when entering/exiting trucks, climbing to treestands and so on. By far the only situation where suppressors aren't very common is practical rifle competitions because they're not loud enough to trigger the timers. On some ranges there has been talk about making suppressors mandatory, to keep noise levels down.

    At the moment the best selling suppressors are Ase-Utra, BR Tuote (reflex suppressors), Vaime and Brügger & Thomet. Ase-Utra is the current military standard suppressor for Sako assault rifles, LMG:s and sniper rifles as well as having a distribution contract with Beretta. $200 a pop, available over the counter everywhere like car mufflers.
  11. Ken70

    Ken70 Well-Known Member

    Csponge and Zap Smith, now I have enough information to know where you're coming from. You probably don't remember the $400 claw hammer and the $640 toilet seat.

    That was in the mid 80's; Congress had discovered the military was paying $400 for a $3 claw hammer, or $640 for a $5 toilet seat. If you read the articles, they could justify those ridiculous prices, how the paperwork and bidding process produced those prices. It's a mindset you develop when you sell to the government or the government is regulating the market; like NFA items.

    If you were buying into that market, instead of selling into it, you'd have a different view. But you have the yuppie "Nuremberg" excuse; I have to pay the mortgage:).
  12. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member


    That analogy is completely broken. And yes, I do remember the 80's.

    Just about everything you've posted to this thread does not track with reality. I obviously cannot post company private financial data, but I've been in that business for about five years. Before that, I was just a suppressor customer. I've been a member on THR throughout the whole time period and I have no reason to mislead people. If I could produce the same suppressors that we make now for costs remotely similar to what you post, I'd already be retired. Your data does not compute.
  13. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    Zak's products don't have a NSN. There are no magic government overhead costs on his product.

    I own an Ops Inc Model 12 suppressor which are used on Mk12 SPRs built by Crane for the Navy SEALs. It didn't cost more or less than current civilian suppressors. My AAC supressor cost more than the gubment product.

    The government regulates every market. Every car, toy, gun, suppressor, or steak you buy is heavily regulated by some alphabet agency. The true cost of steak isn't 5 cents a pound and cars don't cost $500 to make.

    HQ, I wish reflex suppressors were more popular in the US. Ops Inc's design requires a special barrel profile and AAC's only reflex model has been discontinued. There isn't an available reflex option for my 20" Sako TRG-22.
  14. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    I feel your pain. A BR T8, for example, would solve that problem easily.
  15. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    Comparing a Beryllium copper hammer that is needed in an explosive environment to something you can get from Harbor Freight for $5, is a lot like compairing a Coke bottle adapter to a suppressor that uses Inconel for baffles.

    looks like they have gone up a bit since the '80's.
  16. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    Suppressors are legal. The $200 transfer tax has nothing to do with the manufacturers' prices.
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I will will end this with why $.30 of plastic costs $80.
  18. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    You're free to make a Form 1 suppressor from a water bottle. Just pay the $200 tax and wait for your stamp to arrive. Who needs that expensive, over engineered junk! I'm sure a water bottle will work great on your .338 Winchester Magnum or .50 BMG!

    This is really the crux of the matter.

    Who's going to pay a $200 dollar tax on a cheap, short lived piece of junk?
    What manufacturer is going to set up a huge, highly efficient assembly line to make an item that, due to government regulation and taxation, he'll probably only sell a couple thousand of?

    Any time you decrease the scale of manufacture on an item, you increase the per unit cost.
    Any time you increase regulation, recordkeeping, associated paperwork and legal fees, production costs, and therefore prices, will go up.

    Don't blame manufacturers for the high price of cans, blame the nonsensical Federal regulations.
  19. Eureka40

    Eureka40 Well-Known Member

    After reading this entire thread, it is very clear to me that some folks just don't realize the costs involved in modern manufacturing and machining.

    From issuing purchase orders for raw material to meeting payroll the dynamics are huge. As was stated above, the tooling costs for stainless and titanium are through the roof. Even the simplest things like tool coolants are just not cheap!!

    Zak is absolutely correct on how a price point is arrived at. There are sooo many costs involved that nobody even thinks of unless they do it for a living.
  20. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    Enough already!

    There's nothing to stop anyone thats posted in this thread from starting their own company and taking over the industry by selling a better product at a lower price.

    DO IT, and I'll definitely be a customer. :)

    Otherwise, don't show your ignorance of how a (more or less) free market system works, it's :barf: !

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