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the high price of suppressors?

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

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  1. mtrmn

    mtrmn Member

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    You people must not know who Zak is........or else this is all toungue-in-cheek and I completely missed it.
     
  2. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

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    The $200 NFA tax has thrown a fairly big monkey wrench into the suppressor market here in the US.

    I can build a .22LR suppressor for fifty bucks, but it'll be a low-quality disposable device like those found in the rest of the world. Would you buy it knowing that 1) the wait time to get it is six months, 2) it has a very limited life span so you'll likely need another in a year or so, and 3) it's "true" price is $50 + $200 tax = $250?

    Or, would you rather purchase a decent quality unit that will last for as long as you wish to keep it for $200 + $200 tax = $400?
     
  3. highorder

    highorder Member

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    I've been thinking the same thing all afternoon.

    Course, people could just click on the Thunder Beast link in his sigline...
     
  4. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    The $200 NFA tax stamp has never been as small a financial obstacle than it stands today. Imagine paying $200 for the same tax stamp in 1934 when a suppressor was a couple bucks out of a Sears catalog, at a time when you made a couple bucks a day.

    A 1934 Ford 40A Deluxe V8 2-door was $535 off the showroom floor. You could buy a small home for less then $3000

    Think about the NFA bill in context. You'd be looking at something like a $10,000+ tax stamp when you filled out a Form 4 for a suppressor, if the thing compensated for inflation and wages today. In another 100 years, the NFA tax stamp will hardly be a financial burden when a hamburger is $100. $200 today for a fun tax is a pretty cheap tax. It's the waiting and the paperwork that sucks.
     
  5. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Nope.

    I envy you guys across the pond for unregulated and cheap suppressors. That said, cheap and unregulated suppressors would be a crappy trade for losing all the other gun rights we enjoy here.
     
  6. hq

    hq Member

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    I'd be thrilled to see a nationwide RKBA for law-abiding citizens implemented here, but on the other hand I like being able to buy suppressors at will and buy and build modern machine guns with relatively easy licensing procedure. Oh well, you can't have everything, I suppose. I've seriously considered moving my company and family to the US several times, but having to leave my collection behind is one of the factors that have held me back. And there's no chance I could afford to replace it at current US machine gun prices.
     
  7. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    Direct costs are about $30, a foot of DOM 4130 tubing is less than $8. And that's buying it by the foot. 20 foot length is going to be about half of that. Aluminum baffles cut by a CNC machining center, probably $10 or so. Then the labor to weld the end caps on and do the finishing. Maybe a little more than $30.

    Like some of you have noted, the fixed costs are a real bugger. But if you sell 1000 cans a year and have to apportion those fixed costs over 1000 parts, that's one cost. Build 30,000 cans with the same fixed expenses, it gets a whole lot cheaper.

    One thing I've noticed over the years is how manufacturers just lie like crazy about what it costs to make whatever they make. I know of a guy that was making suntan lotion. The most expensive part was the .2 of a cent that the screwtop lid with the folding spout cost. That's right, the .2 of a cent was the biggest expense; the bottle and contents cost less than that. This guy was a multi-millionaire, which he should be with the profit margin he had. Another was the guy that owns Aim Surplus, he was claiming he paid $120.00 for a spam can of ammo he was selling for $140.00. I know he can't make his costs with $20 in profits, but he lies about it. To give you a reference point, AK Saigas, brand new, where being sold for $14.00, EACH. Within the last 10 years. If the population knew how much it cost to make something and how much they were getting ripped buying it, I hope they'd sit on their wallet.
     
  8. JTW Jr.

    JTW Jr. Member

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    What is it that you have made ? I am guessing you haven't had much made where you outsourced stuff ? I know how much it costs to get a bunch of things waterjet a few years ago. The sheet of .100 titanium cost me $100 then , which was much cheaper than the cad workup and the water-jetting.

    please point me to someone who will CNC baffles for $10
     
  9. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I've been very surprised by two things in this thread.

    (1) Ignorance about how modern suppressors are made, what materials go into them, and what real costs of manufacture are, and

    (2) The idea that a company is somehow ripping people off by selling a product at a profit, even a healthy profit.

    The former is excusable. The latter is disgraceful.

    In response to the prior post by Ken70, why should a company even tell you how much it costs them to make something? That's really their own business. If you don't want to pay what the market dictates as the selling price (ie for going concerns, this is basically close to their MSRP), you can make it yourself or go without. In no way are they ripping you off. If someone figures out how to make a good one-ton truck for a cost to themselves of $10k instead of $25k+ or whatever, then more power to them. (And to the prior poster, the term "one ton" refers to a historic payload weight for class 2b and class 3 trucks -- not the weight of the vehicle itself; they typically have a payload of 2-3 tons nowadays.)

    Capitalism and the free markets are great because together they provide the best goods to the most people at the best price, overall. If someone really has 99% profit, it should be easy for someone like you to step in, sell a similar product at the same quality for half the price, take "only" 98% profit, and corner the market. But then someone can sell at 1/2 of your price for 96% profit, etc. This process continues until the market stabilizes. The end result is that companies making the widget have to be very competitive and the customers get the best value.

    The US market for suppressors is not totally "free" due to the NFA and the import restrictions. This has affected their historic use and the demand (as an inverse proportion to inflation). It has also affected the psychology of purchasing. Since the possibility of resale is low (one or two more Form 4's are required) and the paperwork is fairly involved, most people want to buy a high quality suppressor that will last their lifetime. This has influenced the cost and quality/performance of the suppressors sold in the US market, and that is one reason why we have a lot of more expensive ones.

    One other issue complicating this discussion is that there is very wide variety of suppressors on the market, varying significantly in suppression, durability, accuracy, longevity, features, etc. What is "a suppressor"? I made an example of the cost of Ti tube and the retort was about a plastic pop bottle (presumably with the $200 adapter). Both may be "a suppressor" but one might be good for a few shots of .22LR while the other has a lifetime of a bazillion rounds of whatever centerfire rifle cartridge you want, as long as the bullet fits through the hole.

    Anyway, at one end of the spectrum, there are .22LR suppressors that suppress OK and are basically just a tube and some very simple washers/spacers made of aluminum. At the other end of the spectrum might be a .338LM suppressor that weighs not even a pound and a half, aids accuracy, and makes the rifle almost hearing safe, and will last as long as any part on the host rifle. In the middle we might have the "$800" one in this quote,
    That $800 suppressor is not any .22LR suppressor, and I don't know any centerfire suppressors that can be made for $30.

    I know intimately how much it costs to manufacture silencers. For the following, let me assume we are not talking about a "threaded tube with washers" but a contemporary well-performing suppressor: The idea of "$30 for parts and labor" or $10 for finished baffles or whatever is absurd. It has no relation to reality. I am not saying this to be mean or to defend any business, but just as a reality check.

    $30?

    The bar stock and tube alone used for any centerfire suppressor cost at least 2x-3x that, much more for larger caliber suppressors.

    You can't outsource silencer parts to anyone that does not have a class 2 SOT. But even if you could, you'd be looking at a shop rate of $40-60/hour for machine time. If you do it in house, divide the cost of one machine-month (machine cost amortized per month, or just how much you pay for a lease) by 171 (if you're lucky enough to keep it busy 8 hours a day). A machine operator is about $15-20/hr. A trained welder costs more than that. The machine-hour costs is somewhere in that same range. (How fast do you think you can run a boring bar into 316 SS, 718 Inconel, or Ti? Hint: it's way slower than aluminum.)

    Is it possible to build a suppressor for $30? Only if you use a small amount of cheap materials (which limits application), discount all cost of machinery and consumable tooling, and don't pay anyone for their labor. By that logic, nothing should be sold for more than the scrap rate of the raw materials contained therein.

    This is not to say there aren't some suppressors on the market that are priced beyond their level of performance, but that's true for any product in any market.

    And the above analysis completely ignores all overhead, including licensing and compliance overhead.
     
  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The problem is selling the kind of volume it takes to get to the cost your talking about. If you could sell them like flashlights they would be much cheaper but hpw many stores sell flashlights and how many sell suppressors? I have several factory cans that are serial numbered well under 5 digit serial numbers, big difference.

    What all are you counting in "direct costs", your cost is unrealistic to someone who owns a shop.
     
  11. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    One can't claim it'll cost $10 to make something as it has absolutely no context. Here's how it typically works for production work in an aerospace environment. We have tons (literally) of titanium, stainless steels, inconels, and superalloys at the saw at any given time. OEM customer comes to us for a quote. We purchase material from a supplier, which the supplier sells to us at a profit. We mark up the cost of the material a percentage and figure per-part cost. If the material is no good or flawed, we eat the cost and redo the job at a loss since we don't charge additional labor. At least for aerospace work and some commercial work, we buy material that has been chemically certified by a lab to ensure compliance. Any shop that is ISO or AS certified will have additional cost in the form of extensive paper trails for tracebility.

    We calculate labor costs-per-part based off a fixed rate. Aerospace shops here typically charge $80-100 per hour. This factors in average worker wages plus averaged tooling costs. With larger customers with various contracts, we actually do many jobs at a loss and others with a sizeable profit; it averages out being in the black. The shop rate will be multiplied with total time for planning, programming, setup, sawing the material, each unique operation, inspection time, cleaning, assembly, and packaging. Any outsourcing we do to vendors such as heat treat, coating, grinding, or things not handled in-house are done by a network of vendors who charge us a profitable fee for the work. We mark up the cost of this by a percentage as any screw-ups by vendors, we eat the cost and do the job over again at a loss for the customer to keep their business.

    When we have it all factored in, we calculate the per-part cost at various quantities and the customer decides how many they want to order. Once the OEM customer receives the parts, they inspect and verify them. They repackage them for retail. They mark up 30-50% typically (depending on the industry) of what we charged to cover their operational costs such as employee salaries, marketing, etc. Everything is marked up by everyone everywhere along the way, from the steel mills to end mills and cardboard boxes we use to package product. No company is purchasing products of similar complexity and size of a suppressor from a machine shop for $30.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  12. hq

    hq Member

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    Pricing and quality are very relative things. For example, $200 (€138 + tax) or so buys one of these: http://guns.connect.fi/rs/index.html
    They're pretty much indestructible, many people including myself have put several thousands of full power rifle rounds through them without any sign of wear and they really have a fantastic reputation. They also designed the official suppressor for finnish M92S/RK95 assault rifle.

    With lower sales volume and all the paperwork and licensing required to manufacture and sell similar suppressors in the US, the price would probably triple or quadruple. Around here they're just reasonably priced, good cans.
     
  13. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    Like some of the foreign posters mentioned, they can buy a suppressor for a lot less than what is charged in the US. It's one of those boutique products that the cost of production and retail price don't have a lot to do with each other.

    I realize all you guys with machine shops don't want your customers to have any idea what it costs for you to make something. I know a couple of guys with machine shops, they've been at it so long they can spend 5 minutes or so looking at a blueprint and tell what number they need to make a very healthy profit. They won't even bid on anything small, without a really good "nut" for them. It's really enlightening to listen to them describe the thought process as to how they're going to make the part and how much each step is going to cost. They rarely get fooled. They don't build big things, like a wing spar for a 747, mainly things you could pick up with one hand.
     
  14. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    I just laid out how profit margins were typically calculated in detail. There isn't some big shadowy conspiracy. What a shop charges, what the customer sells for, what the market will bear...all can be reasoned out. The worst is when people complain about the expense of things they won't own. Petition the US government to take suppressors off the NFA and see how quickly prices drop with European competition.
     
  15. Odd Job
    • Contributing Member

    Odd Job Member

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    That's probably the rub of the matter...
     
  16. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I know exactly how much it costs and the numbers you've posted bear no relation to reality. Does that mean the global conspiracy of manufacturing has been successful in duping you or you just don't know how much it actually costs to manufacture suppressors?
     
  17. Ironman

    Ironman Member

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    You can buy a top of the line SWR octane9HD2 9mm suppressor for around $500 from a reputable dealer. How is that a bad deal?

    Let's see. Silencerco/SWR costs...licensing, building rent, CNC machining, mills, laser machine for serials, raw materials, employee salaries, marketing, website fees, shipping, warranty work, finishes/coatings, R&D, sound metering equipment, maintenance on the machines and shop, etc.

    Yup, $500 from me sounds fine for a super quiet lifetime useable 9mm suppressor that's user serviceable and makes cans from Europe look like disposable loud garbage.:D
     
  18. tyeo098

    tyeo098 Member

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    Because the 'actual' cost is $700 when you account for the fun tax.
     
  19. rdhood

    rdhood Member

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    nevermind
     
  20. mtrmn

    mtrmn Member

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    Yes-they cost a lot. It's the country we live in-get over it. Buy one while you still can if you want one, and you'll probably be like me wishing you'd done it years ago.
     
  21. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    Don't mention who it is, but I'd like to see the numbers. Can you do that?
     
  22. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    Lets be fair and spread high profit margins all around. You don't think it actually costs glock $500 for a make a g17 do you? You don't think costs pfizer $10 a pill for viagra? or HP $45 to make an ink cartridge? Everybody makes profits, often high profits. (well, not detroit or the post office the last couple decades. rimshot!).

    I'm quite sure you could take the blueprints to zak's cans to a large factory in china and say "make 800,000 of these, we're going to sell them in walmart, and if you don't hit our low price demand we'll go to the factory next door and they'll make it" and they could make them for I don't know, 100 bucks a pop. But that's not how can's are made. They come from small shops with lots of hoops to jump through, made by people who want to turn out a high quality product that they have to warranty forever and may well be misused by idiots. And there's not a whole lot of competition.
     
  23. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    I don't think Ken realizes Zak and his relationship to Thunder Beast Arms Corp suppressors yet. In any case, there is no ethical obligation to tell you what the profit margin is. Nor can anyone expect you to tell us what your wages or salary might be.

    You're going to have to sell a lot of cans with a $30 markup to stay afloat. Consider all the cans I own have serial numbers in the xxx to 2xxx range. No one company is selling millions of these. Not even tens of thousands. Maybe a few thousand...over the entire production life of the product.
     
  24. tarosean

    tarosean Member

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    I would fathom to guess that number is larger than the entire US civilian market rather an individual company's. Its not like these are flying off the shelves at your local wally world. We are talking a very select market where every company may only sell a relatively small number.
     
  25. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    You're right, I didn't know whom Zak works for. So I guess we don't get to know the real numbers. I wish he would have kept his mouth shut about that... I was really hoping to find out.

    Grayling 22 makes an interesting point about the boutique nature of NFA parts. That's what I've been spouting off about, normal supply and demand doesn't apply with NFA. ATF is keeping the market limited by taking 6 months to process an application. Plus the $200 stamp.

    It's not a $30 markup, it's $30 in direct costs. Or somewhere around there. Definitely not $300 to make it, I was hoping for some actual numbers. No luck...
     
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