Is a Silencer Worth the Time & Money? – Thoughts After Multiple Months & Range Days
When I last wrote about silencers on June 6th I said I was happy with the sound reduction with the .22 caliber silencer, but there were other issues. Well, it is time for an update and not all the news is positive.
We all know that .22 ammo is dirty, especially with lead bullets, lubricated or not. I have now shot hundreds of rounds of varying speeds and manufacturers through my silencer and the end result is the same: lead fouling the silencer. Even after 200 rounds the cleaning process can take several hours and include: sonic cleaning, scraping off lead build up with a scalpel and soaking the parts in lead removal solution to get the last bits off. Even separating the parts for cleaning can be a challenge.
The solution would seem to be copper-jacketed, sub-sonic .22 cal ammo. I have seen ads for such ammunition in magazines, but I have yet to see any on shelves. That solution is not readily available in my favorite sporting goods stores anyway. So, my favorite silencer is back in the safe, along with its best friend and traveling partner, the tax stamp document. I break the silencer out for classes, but it is too much work for general shooting. Hearing protection is far less messy.
I finally took my .30 caliber silencer (along with its traveling partner, the tax stamp document) out for a trial run on a bright summer day and the results were nothing, but fun! I have two hunting rifles (.243 Win and .270 Win) that I use for whitetail deer. I did not record a lot of data like you typically see in published product reviews. I have no idea about air temperature, humidity or wind velocity, but I was having fun.
For both rifles, I shot from a bench rest and sent a few rounds of my usual ammo (copper jacketed) down range to create a baseline. Then, the silencer was attached. For both calibers, the silencer reduced the sound by about 50% (my perception of the sound or psycho-acoustics) and recoil by about the same amount (again, my perception). This is a game changer for me. Part of the reason this is noteworthy is that shooting any hunting rifle for 40 or 50 rounds at a time ceases to be fun, at least for me, but not with a silencer. I am much more willing to spend the time and ammunition to fine tune the rifle/scope functioning to be spot on if I am not going to get pounded by recoil and noise during the process. With fatigue out of the picture, I can also begin to work on the biggest source of performance variance – the shooter.
Another interesting finding was that the silencer deferentially affected point of impact (POI). The .270 Win was minimally impacted and required a minor scope adjustment to fine tune the POI. The .243 Win was more severely impacted by the addition of a silencer. Ultimately, I had to put up a larger piece of cardboard to find where I was really hitting, but with some time and sequential steps I got both dialed in for the coming season. The end product was that I was able to consistently produce small size groups at 100 yards.
Did I mention sighting in these rifles with a suppressor was fun?