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Maxim Silencer and so forth

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by 7.62mm.ak47, Apr 27, 2011.

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  1. 7.62mm.ak47

    7.62mm.ak47 Member

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    I understand that Hiram Maxim made the first suppressor. Was it only in .22? I have also read that gangsters used suppressors in the 1920s and 30s. Can anyone provide any info on guns that could be fitted with them? Thanks guys.
     
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The Maxim silencer was really a silencer, or as close as one can get. They were made for various weapons, including the U.S. service rifle, the M1903 Springfield, and some were issued by the Army. I once spoke with a man who watched a demonstration of one on a Springfield. The firing was indoors, shooting out through a window fifteen feet from the muzzle of the rifle. The only noise when the rifle was fired was the click of the firing pin.

    But the bullet made a racket going down range due to what was later called the "sonic boom" and the Army's ideal of a truly silent rifle could not be realized. Ultimately, the silencers were called back and most were destroyed.

    Maxim silencer use by gangsters was vastly exaggerated. The reasons they were restricted under the 1934 NFA had little to do with crime use and more to do with the idea that they were "sneaky" and somehow "un-American". It was another example of the utter stupidity of the U.S. Congress when anything having to do with guns is involved. Today, anti-gun fanatics are using insane hysteria and a massive campaign of lies to promote a magazine capacity limit, so things have not changed.

    Jim
     
  3. doom

    doom Member

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    What's more stupid is the fact that even anti-gun countries like Britain, allow their citizens to own suppressors. France and New Zealand even sell them over the counter.
     
  4. 7.62mm.ak47

    7.62mm.ak47 Member

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    Great info, thanks. Looks like I'm headed to New Zealand! If I do go through with paying the $200 tax stamp, do you guys have any recommendations for types of suppressors?
     
  5. Vaarok

    Vaarok Member

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    Actually, the main reason they were banned in the thirties was poaching during the depression. It's part of why in Vermont, where there are practically no firearm laws, silencers are not permitted- it's an old fish-and-game law.
     
  6. 7.62mm.ak47

    7.62mm.ak47 Member

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    @Vaarok, I never knew that. It seems like many gun laws are pretty antiquated.

    By the way, does anyone know which handguns or calibers could be equipped with a can in the 1920s/30s?
     
  7. SDC

    SDC Member

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    Goiing by Maxim's advertising materials, the most popular models of his silencers (he never used the word "suppressor" anywhere in it) were in .22 and .30, and he sold complete bolt-on adaptor mounts by mail; his original design was built for a 30-30 lever-action, but looked different than his later production versions; it resembled a pipe stuck to the side of a soup-can, then mounted on the rifle, but this was quickly changed after the principles were worked out.
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Maxim made silencers for a variety of guns and calibers.
    Google found reference to a Marlin .32-40 threaded for silencer and an article on the Winchester Model 94 said some were equipped with Maxims at the factory.

    Maxim would thread your barrel or furnish a clamp-on coupling. I think they sold complete outfits but my old brochure is long gone.

    Yankee Hill makes a cosmetic reproduction originally in cahoots with USFA and their proposed but not manufactured Woodsman. They use their own internals, claimed quieter.

    One big advantage of the Maxim type is the eccentric bore which lets you use regular sights.
     
  9. 7.62mm.ak47

    7.62mm.ak47 Member

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    Yea I saw a short video on the one that allowed the sights to be used. Pretty cool considering how long ago it was. I also saw one on a Luger P08 (7.65mm) from the 1920s but I don't know if Maxim made it. Anyone know if they made them for 9mm's or .45's?
     

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  10. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The Maxim design was quite complex and would be far too expensive to manufacture today with the limited market. It depended on partially enclosed curved vanes that directed the gas into a circular movement until it cooled down and lost its energy. Very effective, but also very costly. The term "suppressor" came to be used because modern "cans" are not silencers, but the Maxim was, at least as far as any device can quiet a fireram firing bullets at supersonic velocities.

    Some of the mililtary "silencers" were very quiet also. The one on the STEN gun is very quiet, but also bulky with the padding to quiet the bolt impact. The one developed for the M3 is also effective, but without sound deading material, the grease gun still sounds like someone hammering on an oil drum.

    Jim
     
  11. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Does anyone have sound reduction data for his curved vane silencer?
     
  12. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Not very good info. As far as I can determine, the noise at bullet exit from the silencer was 112-113 db 5 meters to one side, but that was firing a subsonic bullet at a chamber pressure of onl y 20,000 psi. That compared with 137 db without the silencer under the same conditions with the same ammo.

    The problem is that I can't equate that db figure to anything. It could be equal to a whisper, a hand clap or a nuclear blast. Maybe some sound engineer can help.

    Jim
     
  13. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Well, I asked because I was skeptical of the idea that that "silencer" would be more effective than modern suppressors ("The term "suppressor" came to be used because modern "cans" are not silencers, but the Maxim was, at least as far as any device can quiet a fireram firing bullets at supersonic velocities").

    Most modern dB tests are done in accordance with the mil-spec procedure with equipment that meets certain rise-time requirements. To paraphrase the former, muzzle one meter off the ground, microphone one meter to either side of the muzzle, and some mic orientation requirements depending on the type of mic.

    Using this setup, a typical .22LR might be around 150-155 dB unsuppressed, but 110-120 dB suppressed. A typical full power .308 might be 160-165 dB unsuppressed, but 130-140 dB suppressed. The variance depends on specific suppressor design under test, barrel length, and ammunition.

    To translate dB numbers when adding distance, the formula is 20*log(d2/d1), where the ratio of the distances is d2/d1. In this case, if we're 5x as far (5 meters instead of 1 meter), that would add approx 14 dB to your numbers. This would put them at 151 unsuppressed and 126 dB suppressed using the modern standard (1 meter). The net dB reduction does not change in either case, about 25 dB.

    For comparison, many modern centerfire rifle suppressors have net reductions in the 25-30 dB range using full power supersonic ammunition, while .22LR suppressors are in the 30-40 dB range (net reduction). Based on the limited data for the Maxim, it does not seem to me like it would give modern suppressors a run for their money.
     
  14. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Seems you know a lot more about that than any of us do. I got the info from a Frankford Arsenal publication (Silencers - Report R-1896) but not being an audio engineer like you are, I could not really interpret the info in practical terms.

    Jim
     
  15. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Not an audio engineer, but I am an engineer and have used mil-spec sound-level meter equipment to measure suppressed and unsuppressed muzzle blasts.
     
  16. Ranb

    Ranb Member

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    I consider this to be a wild exaggeration or based on a claim made by a person who had severe hearing loss. Any firearm using supersonic ammo is going to be very loud when fired indoors. Any time I have fired supersonic ammo from a suppressed firearm indoors it hurt my ears if I neglected to wear ear plugs. The sound of the firing pin is simply not audible compared to the noise of the sonic boom.

    The word silencer is merely synonymous with muffler, so that is why it was used to describe Maxim's noise reduction devices. The Maxim company still makes industrial silencers for machinery. While I have heard that Maxim's silencers were effective, until I see test results with proper meters and microphones, there is no reason to believe that Maxim's devices were called silencers and today's devices are called suppressors because Maxim's were superior in noise reduction.

    Ranb
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  17. Ranb

    Ranb Member

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    Silencers have never been banned at the federal level. The $200 tax was a defacto ban only. I have never heard of anyone being denied ATF authorization as long as they filled out the forms correctly.

    Ranb
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    My favorite Maxim story was the account by one of the old line writers, Hatcher or Whelen most likely, who described seeing a silenced Springfield shot. There was a row of telegraph poles down the side of the range. He said the shock wave reflecting from the poles back to the firing line sounded like a machine gun burst.

    I have little exposure to silencers/suppressors; like three in person.
    The big old can on a MAC-10 was impressive in full auto even with a worn wipe that let out some noise. It was quite audible but it didn't sound like a gun.
    A modern small device on a .308 rifle was more comfortable to shoot next to than a bare barrel but it was not quiet enough to go without ear protection for more than a shot or two. It was interesting to hear the brief whistle after each shot as the tube depressurized.
    An Osprey on a 9mm pistol with subsonic loads was very quiet, to the point of hearing the slide slap louder than the shot.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  19. dogrunner

    dogrunner Member

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    Had an original 1910 Maxim way, way back in the early '60's............22 version, offset to the bore, totally enclosed baffling that was not removable. Bottom end had a longitudinal vented groove. Threads were interrupted & the entire unit was fitted to an adapter unit that fitted onto a rifle or pistol bbl behind the front sight.

    Thing was relatively effective and reduced the report of a standard LR round substantially at the muzzle, tho as has been stated a down range report could be easily heard if the bullet passed an object while exceeding the speed of sound.

    Baffling was, to my best recall, what appeared to be a continious circular strip (oriented toward the left.......I assume because most rifling is right twist). It had an initial expansion chamber of perhaps one half plus inch prior to the baffle assembly.....the rear portion was of very good quality milled construction with the Maxim logo, the balance...ie: main tube and front were stamped, but quite well fitted.

    Overall the device was very well made, but since it had apparently seen many a day with corrosive ammo it was not in the very best of condition....further, the permanently enclosed construction really limited one's capacity to clean the thing other than by immersing it into some solvent solution.

    Wish I'd kept the thing, but when you're a young fella things have a way of slipping thru your fingers...........kinda like that .375 Super grade that I got talked out of along with my Johnson '06......Oh well!


    Meant to add that I actually used that Maxim for hunting squirrels...........had it mounted on an old Marlin .22 LR........and it really did the job well. You could easily drop one or two in a row without spooking a tree full. Course in those days the use of one wasn't even mentioned in the game reg's, unlike now! Never tried it on anything bigger, but I am sure that it'd have worked quite well on deer too.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
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