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When is a silencer a silencer?

Discussion in 'NFA Firearms and Accessories' started by Caliper_Mi, Apr 9, 2018.

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  1. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    I've pondered the idea of using an off the shelf washer, unmodified, as a baffle. If such a washer were used (and its primary purpose is arguably to be a washer for a bolt), would that fall into the category of an oil filter in that once it is removed it is not a silencer part?

    Similarly, if a moderator had a drain plugged by a setscrew or a standard bolt, would removal of such a drain plug be likely to run afoul of things? I don't think a drain plug is a commonly recognized silencer part, although the legal language seems to be pretty open on parts. Or, would a drain plug need to be designed such that it is permanently attached to the moderator with a short cable (like used on ACOG scope caps) or some sort of lever arm or hinge so that removal required cutting?
     
  2. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    A Chore Boy is designed to scrub pans, but if I stuff it into a glass tube and smoke crack with it then it becomes a crack pipe component, especially since it’s now covered with cocaine residue.

    Chore Boy pads have also been used in silencers. I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to claim a Chore Boy covered with gunpowder residue is just a pot scrubber.

    A screwdriver that was used to stab a guy will always be a murder weapon even after they pull it out of his chest.

    The drain plug might be different because it doesn’t really contribute to sound reduction in any way. That just a guess.
     
  3. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    Point taken... Especially with something so integral to suppressor function as a baffle.

    I think something could be made where a captive screw is used to tension a cover closed, thus no removable parts but still cleaning access.
     
  4. HankB

    HankB Member

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    If the muzzle loader's barrel were heavy enough, would it be possible to mill out the last 6 or 8 inches of the barrel to the configuration of a monocore? Couldn't be more integral than that, and then any tube that fit over it would just be a tube, right, especially if it were, for example, a standard threaded plumbing pipe of some sort?

    If the barrel was NOT heavy enough to make a decent monocore, could annular discs be welded to the solid barrel, and then vents or orifices drilled into the welded-up assembly between said discs? And if there was some provision to screw on a standard, off the shelf threaded pipe would that still be legal?

    I DON'T KNOW if integrally machining the barrel would still be OK if the outer casing was removable, even if the outer casing was just a simple tube, without incorporating any removable baffles. .
     
  5. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    You would need to bore it so you could use a loading tube, at least if you were planning on using loose powder. No idea on the legality of the tube. Interesting idea.
     
  6. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    That was my idea in post #4, but others felt that once the outer tube was used in a moderator that it would become a silencer part if removed. Especially after reading the the ATF letter to Silencerco.

    I'm currently thinking that a system relying more on volume than fancy (and hard to clean) baffling may be the way to go. Using a tube or set of tubes around the barrel to give expansion volume but so that a flexible bore brush could be used to clean them from the back end with some sort of drain opening. Maybe not as effective as a baffle stack, but better than having the thing be full of fouling and rust down the road.
     
  7. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    Call the ATF and ask them.
     
  8. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    I thought that in order to do that, you first had to make the item and send it to them for approval.
     
  9. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    The ATF is more than willing to work with you to ensure you stay within the legal bounds. If you have any questions at all, write or call them before you start your project. They will help you step by step to keep you from running afoul of the law. Too many people have gotten themselves into trouble because they did not contact the ATF ahead of time.
     
  10. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I'm just wondering if anyone has built a "moderator" where the baffles are all welded to an inner frame that is permanently attached to the weapon and the outer sleeve then slides over that assembly and then screws onto the barrel. This would allow for easy cleaning of the mechanism.
    How would that sleeve be considered by the ATF once it is removed for cleaning?
     
  11. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    Silencer.
    I have a Huntertown Arms Fusion that is a barrel with baffles in front of it. Tube slides over and screws into the breech end of the barrel. That tube has the serial#.
     
  12. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    No, moderator. Reread the thread. This is about a sound reducing device being permanently affixe to a muzzleloader barrel, this not being an NFA item.
     
  13. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    The question being answered was specifically about removing parts of the device (the outer sleeve). If parts of the device can be removed, it's no longer "permanently affixed" and the ATF is almost certainly going to take the position that those parts are regulated.
     
  14. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    Got it. Forget that idea.
     
  15. pdsmith505

    pdsmith505 Member

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    To expand, consider the end-result of the determination and litigation surrounding the SIG MPX "muzzle brake":
    MPX-C-Detail-Hero.jpg

    Yes, it's not an antique non-firearm, but the muzzle brake was very obviously a silencer part, even though, without the tube, it actually increased the noise of the firearm. It was subsequently determined to be a silencer, followed by a court opinion that the determination was correct.

    Now, a tube that slides over what is very obviously a baffle stack on an antique could just as easily slide over a baffle stack such as the one on the MPX. It's pretty clear that it is a silencer part at that point, and, since it's not permanently attached to the antique, the tube is legally a silencer by itself.
     
  16. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    The difference here is that the SIG MPX is legally a firearm, but a muzzle loader isn’t. By your reasoning, a tube for a large flashlight would automatically be a silencer part and would be illegal to possess.

    What’s the fundamental legal difference between a removable tube on a non-silencer “moderator” that has its internal baffles permanently affixed to a non-firearm muzzle loader, and the tube on a large flashlight?

    Both are hollow and cylindrical. Both are made to be installed on an item that isn’t legally a firearm and therefore neither are legally silencers or made to be parts of a silencer. Neither can be used by themselves as silencers on a firearm. But both could easily be removed from their current non-silencer usage and be used to make a silencer.

    I still haven’t received a good answer as to why the ATF says the parts to a non-silencer “moderator” are legally “silencer parts”. So long as you can’t remove enough parts to make a functional detachable firearm silencer, I can’t see how any of the individual parts are automatically silencer parts, just as the tube of my flashlight isn’t automatically a silencer part even though I could easily use it to make a silencer if I wanted to.
     
  17. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    That is a difference.

    BUT it is ONLY a difference as long as the device is permanently affixed to the muzzle loader and parts can't be disassembled from it.

    If the device can be disassembled from the muzzle loader then the difference disappears because it is no longer permanently affixed to the non-firearm and now it meets the definition of a silencer.

    If any parts can be disassembled from the device then the difference disappears because the parts of the device that can be removed, lose their status as being permanently affixed to a non-firearm and now meet the definition of silencer parts.

    The legal status of the device and the legal status of its parts are exclusively the result of the fact that it and its parts can't be removed from the non-firearm. It shouldn't be the least bit confusing that changing the one thing that makes the device not legally a silencer and that makes its parts not legally silencer parts, also changes their legal status.
     
  18. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    “Any parts”? I agree that if enough parts can be disassembled from the device to make an obvious firearm silencer, then that’s legally a silencer and all included parts are silencer parts. But why would one specific part automatically be a silencer part even if the rest of the parts needed to make a silencer were permanently attached and couldn’t be removed? Especially considering the device that part come from isn’t legally a silencer?

    I assume we can agree that both a flashlight and a muzzle loader are not firearms. So if I remove a hollow, cylindrical, tube-shaped part from my non-firearm flashlight, why is that not a silencer part, but if I remove a hollow, cylindrical, tube-shaped part from my moderator-equipped (non-silencer) muzzle loader that’s considered a silencer part? Both cylindrical parts came from items that aren’t legally silencers and aren’t attached to (or intended to be attached to) firearms.

    I’m not arguing that you’re wrong necessarily; it seems the ATF agrees with you. I’m just arguing that your (and the ATF’s) stance doesn’t seem to make sense from a logical standpoint. So I’m guessing there’s some legal argument I’m missing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  19. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    I share your frustration with current law, but when the ATF has put people in jail by calling a rifle and a shoelace a "machine gun", I'm not inclined to try and test legal precedent. I think they would use the "designed or redesigned" wording that is so prevalent in the NFA to make their case.
     
  20. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    That one actually makes sense to me. Under current law, the parts required to make a firearm full-auto are machine guns themselves. That shoelace allowed a semi-auto firearm to fire more than one shot per manual manipulation of the trigger. So as ridiculous as it seems, a strict interpretation of the law made that shoelace a machine gun.

    But in the case of the “moderator”-equipped muzzle loader, there are no firearms involved. And part of the definition of a silencer involves using it (or intending to use it) on a firearm.

    Though I agree that I don’t recommend testing the ATF’s stance on this subject.
     
  21. SC45-70

    SC45-70 Member

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    Chew on this
    On a muzzle loader, what if you use a monocore soldered and pinned to the barrel.
    On the muzzle end of the monocore is a ring larger than the inner diameter of the tube so that the tube can not be removed from the muzzle.
    Several inches (toward the breech) another ring that is larger than the inner diameter of the tube is soldered and pinned to the barrel, so the tube can not be removed over the breech. Example if the tube is 8 inches long, fix the ring 10 inches toward the breech. The tube would be permanently attached to the barrel because it can not be removed, but simply moved back to clean the core.

    SC45-70
     
  22. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    ONLY silencers/silencer parts that are permanently affixed to a non-firearm aren't regulated as silencers/silencer parts.

    Is it a detached/detachable part of the device? Regulated since it doesn't meet the standard to be exempt from regulation.

    Is it a permanently affixed part of the device? Not regulated since it does meet the standard to be exempt from regulation.

    Is it some other generally similar looking thing that isn't part of the device? Then it's irrelevant. :D
    The ATF has said that end-wipes are not regulated as silencer parts.
    That's not the standard for regulation. It's far more restrictive than that
    I'd want an official ruling, but that approach makes sense to me.
     
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  23. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    I don’t think I’m doing a good job explaining my question. I fully understand the regulations as they refer to silencers and silencer parts. But we’re not talking about a silencer here: This device isn’t a silencer since it’s not designed to be used on a firearm and is even permanently attached to something that’s not a firearm. So why would any of the parts on it be regulated at all?

    Suppose I had a lawnmower with a muffler on it. And that muffler could be removed and used as a silencer (since lots of things can be used as silencers). But, as used, that muffler isn’t a silencer since it’s not intended to be used as a silencer and it’s not being used as a silencer.

    Legally, how is this non-silencer “moderator” any different from a lawnmower muffler? Both are installed on items that aren’t legally firearms. Both are intended for use on items that aren’t legally firearms. The only major difference I can see is that one is closer to a traditional silencer design and is therefore more readily adapted for use as an illegal silencer.

    But, until that non-silencer is actually used (or intended to be used) as a silencer, I’d think it wouldn’t actually be considered a silencer, even if some of the parts were detached from the muzzle loader. Just as an oil filter isn’t considered a silencer until I attach it to a firearm.

    Obviously the ATF thinks my stance is wrong, so my simple question is “why”? Why do you need to permanently attach all the parts to this non-silencer moderator to this non-firearm to keep it from being used as a silencer, but I don’t have to permanently attach my non-silencer oil filter to my non-firearm car to keep it from being used as a silencer?
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  24. SC45-70

    SC45-70 Member

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    Why?

    Because back in the late 70s and early 80s people were selling all the parts to assemble a silencer.
    One person would sell you the tube and both end caps (legal back then)
    Then his buddy would sell you all the baffles (legal back then)
    As all of these parts were just considered parts back then as long as you didn't sell someone all the parts at once they were legal.
    That's why BATFE made a ruling to consider all silencer parts as silencers.

    SC45-=70
     
  25. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    That doesn’t answer my question. Again, I understand the issue with silencer parts. My point is this: How can parts for an item that’s not a silencer and isn’t intended to be a silencer be considered silencer parts?

    My car isn’t a firearm and my oil filter isn’t a silencer, even though the oil filter can be used as a silencer if removed. It’s not a silencer until it’s used — or intended to be used — as one.

    Legally, how is a non-silencer moderator any different from an oil filter? Both are not silencers and they’re both intended to be used on non-firearms.
     
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