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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. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    If you have machine shop friends as mentioned above, you can get a fair idea from them what it costs from beginning to end since you mentioned their expertise on quoting jobs. Considering most of these small suppressor companies only sell a couple hundred to maybe a thousand a year because of an artificially bottlenecked market, the markup has to be higher or the company simply won't exist on profits from a few hundred $500-1000 cans. There are ways to lower overhead. One can use kanban, where the customer contracts to purchase 100 units a month for two years. We'll buy enough materials for the entire 2400pc order and run it all in one shot, and sell it to the customer in monthly increments and store the rest of the inventory in our warehouse. Sucks for us to invest in all the labor and materials up front. We don't see a profit until all inventory is sold. It's a positive for the customer because they aren't paying a a high per-unit cost for us to refill and run 100pcs each month. They're paying a per-unit cost on a quote for 2400 pieces but they only buy the scheduled monthly quantity of parts. They don't pay for all 2400 parts up front.


    It's worth mentioning its still way more than $30 in direct cost. You're saying the entire suppressor, adding in any outsourced processes and raw material cost, spends a cumulative 15 minutes on the shop floor from the time raw material is taken off the supplier's flatbed truck to the time UPS picks up complete and packaged parts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  2. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    No, it's obvious from this thread that the normal rules of supply and demand don't apply with NFA items. If the government wasn't limiting the supply, then the market would rule.

    All of this because Game Wardens, of all people, had sound suppressors dumped into the NFA. Why Game Wardens? They were convinced poachers would clean out all the deer during the Depression. Not Al Capone's people whacking a rival, like I thought from reading the Main Stream Media....I still think I could undercut the rest of the market if the ATF wasn't limiting the market.
     
  3. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    That is kind of my point. Buy an entire auto from any maker, then try to build one from onesies and twosies out of the parts house and compare the price. You can build millions of something and make it cheaper than a few.
     
  4. Kahr33556

    Kahr33556 Member

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    :) :) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  5. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    You underestimate the peeps with a South Bend and a Bridgeport. We have lots of time, can make things that the ATF just can't handle. If the first version doesn't work, make a couple more until it does. You don't have any machining skills, do you?
     
  6. hq

    hq Member

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    Do you have any idea how many "top of the line" cans with all kinds of superlative marketing spiels I've fried and and sometimes even melted with full auto? ;)

    In all seriousness, if cans were regulated or hard to obtain I'd probably treat them, as the saying goes, like sore body parts. But they aren't and I don't, which has resulted in some kind of personal insight in which ones are quiet, which can take horrific abuse, shot regularly so hot they glow red and still work as intended for years, even decades.

    Competition in suppressor market is pretty fierce around here, there hasn't been much room for anything loud or of poor quality in quite a while. There are a few patented, proprietary designs that have more or less dominated the market for several years, for a very good reason.
     
  7. Kahr33556

    Kahr33556 Member

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    Ken70 you probley would have been right on about 99 percent of the people here but WRONG been machining for 25 years thats how I make a living.I make parts a lot more complicated than that.
    The one thing I don't have experience with is welding,thats my downfall.
    I posted for the 99 percent of people that don't know how to use a mill or Lathe.
    But the real reason is to watch the kid put that silencer on after he chambered a round.Not safe.
     
  8. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I know exactly how much it costs because my company is a silencer manufacturer.

    I'm sure they could be made for a lot cheaper because a manufacturing job gets paid 10 to 20 times less per hour there than in Cheyenne WY.

    The http://americansilencerassociation.com/ reports approx 27,000 suppressors are purchased yearly.
     
  9. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    What? The government isn't limiting supply. There is no manufacturing cap on suppressors. You can make as many or as little as you want. Supply and demand has created a fierce suppressor market despite regulation. It's bottle-necked by restrictions but it's found equilibrium already. The market has established a price range where the manufacturer makes a profit for a product at a price consumers are willing to pay. If prices were lower, manufacturers would go out of business because they can't pay their bills. If prices were higher, manufacturers would go out of business because no one wants to pay the asking price. That's supply and demand in action. When was the last time you filled out a Form 4? I'm still waiting for one from June and the average waiting time has crept close to 7 months now. The demand is there. And the supply is here to feed the demand.

    Government restrictions simply drive up costs of bringing this particular type of item to market and reduces the potential demand due to end-user costs incurred for ownership but $200 and waiting for months isn't a huge deterrent for many people given it's not a particularly large sum of money. It's the same economic game with any other regulated commodity like most consumer products or pharmaceuticals. The government has restrictions on almost everything available to purchase. Suppressors are nothing special. Are we complaining about cars? Their cost is much, much higher than one in an unregulated market because government intervention has forced automobiles to steadily increase curb weight due to increasing crash standards which require more safety equipment being installed in every vehicle. Compare the curb weights of today's cars with those of the 1980's. Meanwhile the same government has forced automobile manufacturers to increase gas mileage. Manufacturers are stuck with the double-whammy of trying to squeeze out increased gas mileage at a rate that exceeds the weight gains from safety regulations.

    That's actually not an argument at all for your "$30 direct cost" of a manufactured product that some other company invested in to sell to a consumer as a ready-to-use product. If I gave you two tons of raw iron ore, roughly trading at $120 per metric ton currently, and a few hundred pounds of various alloying metal elements, a big sack of silica, and some rubber tree seeds, you could build an automobile given enough time and effort. That doesn't mean automobiles are a ripoff because there's only $300 worth of raw materials.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  10. Ken70

    Ken70 Member

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    The longer this thread has gone on, the surer I am about direct costs of $30 or so, per suppressor. I'm not going to refine a couple of tons of iron ore, I just buy the finished product. In this case, a DOM 4130 foot of tubing. Division of labor has been the way it is for the last 1000 years. Buy from somebody that is set up to make it efficiently. And so on.

    I have the South Bend and Bridgeport combo, I look at what a commercial supplier makes and copy it. I don't have the overhead, regulations, that a commercial supplier has. So I can make a $30 or less copy of what I see. Government doesn't jump on me, you can make a copy for personal use. If that is accurate, 27,000 sold in a year, then I can see why they cost so much.....Not enough volume. Being from Detroit, I know about volume.
     
  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It would be interesting to know how many makers that includes and also what the total number is with form 1's included.
     
  12. 3DHUSKER

    3DHUSKER Member

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    I always though all the stupid people lived here in SW Missouri with me... Boy was I dead wrong.

    I own one of Zaks Titanium suppressors and it is worth every cent I paid for it.

    I will own at least one of every suppressor he makes as soon as I can.

    LOL, I have 2 posts in 11 months.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  13. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    As a side note, there is no "personal use" exemption for patent infringement.

    So you're saying that if you don't consider your equipment costs or labor costs, you can build some suppressor* for $30 worth of finished materials, therefor suppressors are overpriced.

    If we ignore all facts related to actual suppressor costs and just focus on the argument's logic, this actually proves Cesiumsponge's point and goes against your own thesis because by the same logic, you could make that DOM 4130 for a few pennies from raw material instead of $8 if you didn't count machine and labor costs. Therefor 4130 is grossly overpriced.

    QED.


    * "Some" suppressor because it will be a not be a high performing .22 suppressor, nor a halfway decent centerfire one.
     
  14. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Ken70 said:
    That is the real reason.
    But it is not unique to NFA items, just more obvious and harder to work around.



    Normal rules of supply and demand do not apply to a lot of firearm things.
    Many of the most popular Concealed Carry pocket pistols would be illegal to import. The ATF has two lists for pistols and revolvers to score points that apply to imports but not to domestic manufactuers, and they include a minimum size and minimum caliber, along with some features that can increase costs over a rival that does not need to add something the market may not demand. Something like an LCP or P3AT would be illegal to import. This means domestic manufacturers do not have to compete with foreign manufacturers for a large segment of the market.
    Many of the most popular long guns have 922r restrictions that prevent import in the configurations the market wants, and as a result have additional costs to turn a foreign made thing into what the market desires. This increases the cost and makes it easier for domestic manufactuers to compete because of that advantage.


    China is also forbidden from exporting firearms to the United States, so while the vast majority of products the typical person buys come from China, firearm manufactuers do not have to compete with China (just ask our Canadians about all the quality Norinco designs they have access to and enjoy.)


    All of these things increase the cost of firearms, but they also make producing various firearms something that can still be profitable in the United States. US based firearm production does not have to compete on an equal level with foreign producers like most other industries do.
    As a result the firearm industry is one of the most protected industries in the USA.


    As for NFA items specifically, the very real costs of business operating to produce items on a small scale or custom is expensive.
    There is labor, rent, tooling, etc along with unforseen expenses like legal expenses, and still a strong profit margin necessary to make it all worthwhile.

    Mass production is where things can be less expensive, but mass production of NFA items is not practical because of the laws and limited market.
    Mass production costs even more in initial investment, and if the market changes or suddenly starts being sold on some selling point of a new design you may eat a lot of the cost.

    For example I have seen many unrelated non firearm products sell better simply by having more features to list and tout, even products that had more problems, were less reliable, and of overall lower quality, than a product meant to do the same thing with fewer traits to list and use as selling points. So even making a quality product is not a guarantee, the market often has shifted towards desiring worse quality products that seem fancier or have more marketable features. If you invested in mass production of something that sells slowly and suddenly some new bell or whistle becomes a prime selling point, you can be in trouble if you already have tons of inventory without that bell or whistle that the market suddenly thinks is needed. If all that inventory becomes less desirable you may be going bankrupt. While if you stuck with low volume production you just adjust to the new market desire in a market that does not move a lot of product annually anyways.

    The level of quality the market often wants can also be higher than would be the case if they were not bound to that item via an NFA registry. For example a sealed can that you throw out when it gets too gunked up may work elsewhere, but in the USA I would certainly want something that I can open and clean and maintain every component. I would also want a design that has reduced wear over many popular designs elsewhere because dealing with things like a new baffle can be a real annoyance with the NFA in place. So I may pay more for both a design and materials that would otherwise be excessive for what the can needs to do.
    There can be unique market requirements because of the artificially created hassle of such a regulated item. Doubling or tripling the cost to create something that lasts much longer and is of a design that is much more convenient to maintain may be reasonable when that item is tied to you via a registry requiring a tax stamp with a several month wait.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  15. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    The longer this discussion has gone on, the longer you've contradicted your own arguments.

    Why won't you take the time to refine a couple tons of iron ore? Oh that's right! Your time is worth money and you're not going to spend 20,000 hours turning iron ore into an inferior car to save $19,700 when you can buy a superior finished product for $20,000. Turning $300 in raw ore into a car means it'll cost you pennies per hour of labor to create an inferior car.

    If you claim your direct cost is $30 to make a suppressor, your time must be equally worthless as because after raw material costs, you're going to spend countless hours on manual milling, turning, and welding machines trying to reverse engineer and develop a functional suppressor that won't even meet the standards of commercial products. Dividing the labor costs after raw materials, and being generous in assuming you have a fully functional product after a full week of trial and error, you've put in 40 hours of work minimum. For $10 worth of inferior raw materials and another $10 to grind up some remedial lathe tools for your baffles, you're working for less than a 25 cents an hour.

    Also, you're not "copying" any suppressor by buying DOM tubing and using aluminum baffles. The fact you'd specifically select steel tubing that was drawn-over-mandrel as a material that will be turned on all surfaces on the lathe shows that you have no idea what's going on with materials or material properties. The entire point of DOM is uniformity for certain applications in fabrication. Likewise, 4130 has very little use in a high heat application like a suppressor. Have fun with the can rusting away. You might as well get precision honed and OD ground tube stock and machine away all the surfaces. The selection of aluminum shows the same forethought as baffle materials. I suggest you talk to those machine shop owners you claim to know.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  16. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    While I have built a number of cans from 4130, 4140 and aluminum, for centerfire rounds including full auto, using "drop" materials that were "free", the "$30 direct cost" statement is not something that anyone who has the ability to create an end product would say and is very short sighted.

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    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  17. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    holy canoli jmorris. that last can is huge. yours is way bigger than everybody else's :)
     
  18. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Makes less noise too. It is for a 458 socom and most of it telescopes over the barrel. Didn't want a two stamp rifle and didn't want it as long as a pool stick.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  19. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Come to think of it on the $30 level, you can't get the FF tube for that.

    As Zak spoke about, if you don't already have the skills and equipment, the cost is much higher.

    Even my crude welding set up would cost $1000's if you didn't already have it for other jobs.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  20. crazy-mp

    crazy-mp Member

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    So you can't read, the materials BEFORE being machined cost more than that

    Patent infringement in some cases, and unless you have several thousand dollars in those machines you will not get quality work, the Harbor Freight tabletop model will not build a precision can.

    Still have to apply and receive your tax stamp on a Form 1 cost is 200.00 and you pay before you build it. So you still will not have a 30.00 dollar suppressor.

    What do you know about volume? How much we import? How many jobs the UAW have lost in the past 4 decades?


    Zak is laying out the truth and everybody on here just wants to argue how this works, or you have no understanding of how a business which manufacturers a raw product into a sell able item works.

    Can you go to the local hardware store and get a bolt and drill a hole init and screw a oil filter on it and make a suppressor for what 10.00? You bet! Will you look like a fool at the gun range with your WIX oil filter screwed onto the end of your gun (assuming you did the proper paperwork and its legal), you bet!

    Suppressors are not like guns you don't order one from buds gun shop and have it in your hands 3 days later and decide you don't like it and sell it to your buddy 2 days later, and most people don't have 50 or more, well there might be a couple but I know several gun collectors that have over 100 guns. Suppressors are a niche market. Its not for everybody.
     
  21. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    +1 and I'll stop at that. We can talk about lumber costs in your house but it has little factor in what it is worth or costs, again short sighted.

    It will only get worse once we have a VAT tax.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  22. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    And so we have it. A guy that works in the manufacturing field. A guy that owns a suppressor company. A guy that has built his own suppressors.

    crazy-mp, a South Bend and Bridgeport are American-made manual milling and turning machines. A Bridgeport is the gold standard kneemill that everything else is compared to.

    The smallest, new South Bend toolroom lathe is about $20k with basic tooling. A basic Bridgeport with DRO runs the same. We've got a couple of fantastic Hardinge toolroom lathes. They were over $50,000 new. For a manual lathe with cranky handle things.

    These aren't $500 Harbor Freight brands. A Hardinge HLV toolroom lathe doesn't leave the factory unless it has spindle TIR under 0.000025" (25 millionths of an inch). I'm afraid you jumped on Ken prematurely.
     
  23. crazy-mp

    crazy-mp Member

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    Cesiumsponge - If the guy has a 20K Bridgeport or any other brand end-mill/lathe in his garage he surely knows the cost of materials. Or he got a used one and either works in a machine shop and takes scrap pieces home or has a buddy who gets him scrap pieces.

    I will admit I am partially used to machine shop jargon, when somebody says Bridgeport I automatically think end-mill. Like when somebody says crescent wrench you typically don't think of the brand rather the "adjustable wrench," that it's name has become synonymous with.

    And yes I most likely did jump on Ken, but when the nations leading precision suppressors is laying out why they are not selling suppressors for under 50 dollars and your saying he is lying, your wrong that's a pretty black and white issue there.
     
  24. hentown

    hentown Member

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    Even considering overhead, the margins for suppressors have to be pretty substantial. They don't require the same precision and labor intensity that manufacturing a nice firearm, but cost as much or more than many nice firearms.

    I'm going to try out the Huntertown Guardian for my G17. If it doesn't work well, then I won't have spent $1000 to find out. ;)
     
  25. Prince Yamato

    Prince Yamato Member

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    I had the same complaint a couple of years ago while looking for a 9mm can, then AAC came out with their ECO-9. Thompson Machine also has their Isis 2 can. Both are in the $400 range. Once can price hovers around there, I consider it affordable. I think the next big leap will be sub-$300 centerfire cans. I think we'll see them in the next couple years as the manufacturers try and outdo one another.
     
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