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Stealthy Pursuit: A Guide to Hunting With a Suppressor

Stealthy Pursuit: A Guide to Hunting With a Suppressor

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Kat Ainsworth

Kat Ainsworth

Hunting with a suppressor offers plenty of benefits. First and foremost, it’s a great way to protect your hearing and the hearing of anyone near you. The benefits don’t just stop there, though. With a suppressor, you can pay more attention to the soft sounds of nature and notice what’s going on around you. And, of course, maintaining the ability to communicate with fellow hunters is an important benefit too. If you’re hunting with a young or new hunter, you’re far better able to give them instructions when the time comes to take a shot.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a suppressor to your hunting gun, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at why and how hunting with a suppressor is so advantageous.

hunting with a suppressor
Hunting with a suppressor is a great idea, for multiple reasons.

How do you hunt with a suppressor?

For the most part, hunting with a suppressor is similar to hunting unsuppressed, but there are a few things to plan for. Before you go, be sure your optic is zeroed with the suppressor in place. It’s also a good idea to put any tools you might need in your pack, as well as gloves in case you need to check the suppressor when it’s hot.

While you’re hunting, it helps to keep a few things in mind to get the most out of your suppressor. Take care not to bang your suppressor on trees and rocks — just like you do for your gun. It’s also important to be aware of height over bore as it relates to the suppressor — don’t forget how long your gun is or what might be in its way.

Be aware that if you’re hunting with a handgun and want to suppress it, you need to take the sights into consideration. If you’re hunting with iron sights and a suppressor you’re probably going to need to change out your factory irons for suppressor-height sights. On the vast majority of modern firearms, this is an easy process.

Is it legal to hunt with a suppressor?

At the time of this writing it’s legal to hunt with a suppressor in most of the United States. Suppressor ownership and possession is currently legal in 42 of the 50 states. Of those 42, only one — Connecticut — doesn’t allow them to be used for hunting. This is always subject to change and it’s your responsibility as a gun owner and hunter to be familiar with the laws and regulations where you reside and hunt. Claiming ignorance of the law is never a valid legal defense.

Beyond the legalities of the suppressor itself, you must be following related hunting laws while using a suppressor. That applies to the caliber of the weapon and other details that can vary by state. 

silencer state map
Suppressors are legal in 42 states and may be used for hunting in 41. Since this map was published, Vermont has legalized hunting suppressed. (americansuppressorassociation.com)

What animals can I hunt with a suppressor?

From a practical standpoint, suppressors can be used on any predator, varmint, or game animal. That means you simply get the correct suppressor for your firearm and go hunting, assuming it’s legal in your state or the state you’re hunting in.

Everything from coyotes to deer and elk can be hunted with a suppressor. And if you’re hunting an animal like feral hogs that travels in large sounders and has no limit — in most locations — a suppressor can mean the ability to take multiple animals in a row with less spooking.

Chase Glenn with a buck he took down hunting suppressed.
Chase Glenn, SilencerCo's Director of Business Development, with a buck he took down while hunting with a suppressor.

What suppressor should I use for hunting?

The suppressor you use for hunting should be compatible with the caliber of your hunting firearm. Beyond that, you might consider the overall length and weight of the suppressor and how it might affect your hunt.

If you’re hunting varmints or pests like squirrels with a 22 LR, a rimfire suppressor is a great choice. The SilencerCo Sparrow 22 is compatible with the 22 LR, 17 HMR, 22 WMR, and 22 Hornet. The Sparrow 22 was the first suppressor SilencerCo designed and manufactured and remains extremely popular today. It’s user-serviceable which is important for a rimfire and it’s only 5.08 inches in length.

SilencerCo Sparrow on a Walther handgun, best 22 suppressor of 2023
The SilencerCo Sparrow 22 sets the bar for sound performance, size, weight, easy cleaning and caliber versatility in a rimfire suppressor.

For long mountain hunts that require carrying your rifle a significant distance, a suppressor that offers length choices can be important. One example of this is the SilencerCo Omega 36M. This silencer is designed for modularity and features a removable front piece so the hunter can make it shorter or longer as needed. It’s also a multi-caliber suppressor that’s rated up to 338 Lapua Magnum and 350 Legend, so whatever caliber you’re hunting with, the Omega 36M will probably work well. 

Hunting with a suppressor - SilencerCo Omega 36M
The two-piece modular design of the SilencerCo Omega 36M gives hunters the option for a shorter and lighter suppressor while maintaining impressive sound suppression.

SilencerCo offers a full line of suppressors that perform well in the field and are great for hunting. Whether you’re a handgun hunter or use a magnum rifle, SilencerCo has you covered.

Can you handgun hunt with a suppressor?

Yes, you can handgun hunt with a suppressor. It can take some getting used to the additional length on your gun and how it feels in your hands, but it’s well worth the results. Suppressors like the SilencerCo Octane 45 are great for handgun hunting. The Octane 45 is compatible with 10mm which is a solid option for hunting all manner of game and predators. If your gun doesn’t have a threaded barrel it’s possible to get one so the gun is suppressor ready.

best 10mm suppressor - SilencerCo Octane 45
The SilencerCo Octane 45 is a great choice for handgun hunting.

Another option for handgun hunting is the SilencerCo Hybrid 46M. This model is made to suppress all centerfire pistol cartridges currently on the market and is also compatible with rifles up to 45-70 Government and 458 SOCOM. It ships with a variety of front caps for caliber compatibility and is an especially smart choice if you need a suppressor you can use on more than one gun.

Should you hunt with a suppressor?

Yes, hunting with a suppressor is a great idea. It creates a more successful, enjoyable hunt and provides hearing protection. How much a specific suppressor reduces sound depends on the model of the suppressor, the caliber of the gun, and the specific ammunition being used. Do your homework when selecting a new suppressor to make sure it’s exactly what you want and need. Above all, enjoy your hunt, but do it quietly.

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