13 Reasons Why Suppressors Are Rising in Popularity

Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu

The first “commercially successful” firearms sound suppressor was developed by Hiram Percy Maxim, son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim – the inventor of the first machine gun. Patented in 1909, it wasn’t actually the first of the first. A Swiss inventor had devised a “silencer” that was intended to be used on the tool used to slaughter cattle, and he later claimed it could be adapted for use with firearms.

Maxim Silencer Brochure
The first suppressor was patented by Hiram Percy Maxim 113 years ago. This family invented the machine gun and suppressor - even Thomas Edison couldn't make such a claim!

Though largely forgotten today, the Maxim Silencer (as it was known) proved to win favor with former President Theodore Roosevelt, who had suffered from hearing loss (and who had been blind in his left eye since 1905 after a boxing match with a military aide while in the White House).

Later, vastly improved silencers were employed by agents of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the CIA, during the Second World War. Similar silencers were also used by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in missions in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Welrod Mark II
Designed for use by irregular forces and resistance groups, the Welrod is an extremely quiet gun thanks to its integrated suppressor. Approximately 2,800 were made during the Second World War II.

Today, the term “suppressor” is generally preferred in the firearms industry, yet it wasn’t actually first used until the mid-1980s. The former moniker likely came from the fact that most in the UK, where Maxim developed the original device, typically refers to motor vehicle mufflers as “silencers.”

More importantly, while known as “suppressors” or “silencers,” these remain regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. Despite that fact, there are now many reason why suppressors are gaining in popularity. Today, we are taking a look at 13 of those reasons.

SilencerCo Omega 300
There is a lot of misinformation about suppressors, but it is also easy to see why these are becoming increasing popular with shooters.

1. John Wick and other movie assassins have simply made them cool.

Although the practical benefits of suppressors are the most substantial reasons behind their use, we can’t deny the powerful influence of film. Movies have been a major contributor to suppressor awareness. One example is John Wick 2. Wick wasn’t the first movie character to carry one, of course – just like Dirty Harry wasn’t the first to carry a big-frame magnum handgun. But whereas Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry made the .44 Magnum an iconic part of pop culture, Keanu Reeves has done the same for suppressors!

John Wick suppressor muzzle blast
Anyone who has seen John Wick 2 likely wanted a suppressor. It ramped the cool factor up to 11!

2. Suppressors offer significant hearing protection.

Beyond the cool factor, the reduced sound levels that suppressors provide remain among the most often-cited reasons given among sport shooters. Simply put, firearms are loud and as we get older that noise isn’t doing our hearing any good. Reducing the decibels while shooting simply makes a day at the range a little more enjoyable

3. Recoil is reduced with a suppressor.

It isn’t just the noise that is a factor for many shooters. A suppressor can reduce the recoil considerably. Bruises may be a badge of honor in a “fight club” (not that anyone is encouraging that sort of thing), but we’re supposed to love our guns. They shouldn’t abuse the shooter, and suppressors can literally reduce the pain as well as the decibels.

4. Suppressors reduce muzzle flash.

Teddy Roosevelt may have taken a blow to the head that damaged his sight, but it is likely his years of shooting didn’t help matters. It is bad enough today that our large caliber firearms can leave us black and blue, while even with hearing protection our ears can ring. Suppressors help with both counts and can also reduce the blinding flash when shooting late in the day!

Teddy Roosevelt elephant hunt with suppressed rifle
Teddy Roosevelt was among the early adopters of suppressors, and for good reason – he suffered from hearing loss, and was essentially blind in one eye. A modern suppressor can help protect the ears and eyes.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 firing T-800
If the T-800 had a suppressor there wouldn't be that muzzle flash. Just saying.

5. Follow-up shots can be faster and easier.

Another benefit of suppressors that could be leading to their popularity is that as they reduce recoil and flash, they actually make it far easier to quickly realign your sights for faster follow-up shots. That can be especially important during big game hunting.

6. Does a suppressor help with accuracy?

Shooting is about accuracy and precision – and this is true both at the range and out in the field. A suppressor can’t actually improve the precision – that comes with years of practice and time at the range – the device can help with accuracy for the aforementioned reasons, including reduced recoil.

SilencerCo Omega 300 on precision rifle
A suppressor makes this gun even more fun to shoot!

7. Suppressors simply have an aesthetic appeal.

Even if you’re not a fan of John Wick, there is no denying that a suppressor can improve the looks of a modern firearm. At the same time, it adds a bit of “mystique.”. Because suppressors do require that NFA background check, not every gun owner has one. Shooters can’t always “keep up with the Jones,” but sometimes you can have that special something extra in your arsenal.

John Wick looks through scope of a suppressed rifle
Even if you aren't a fan of the John Wick series, it is hard not to "see cool" when a suppressor is attached to a firearm.

8. Suppressors are environmentally friendly.

To gun control types, shooting and the environment don’t seem to go hand-in-hand, yet most shooters actually care a lot about the great outdoors. The shooting sports – via the pays taxes and license fees – funnel a significant amount of money into conservation efforts. Moreover, even those who hunt our nation’s wildlife care about animals. Suppressors make shooting sports a little more “environmentally friendly.” When firing a suppressed firearm, it isn’t exactly silent, but it certainly reduces sound pollution with far less impact on people and animals near you.

9. Suppressors help gun safety.

Suppressors are gaining in popularity because they can make guns safer in a number of ways. In addition to protecting the ears and eyes, and not disturbing those who live near a range, it can make large caliber weapons a bit more manageable. In addition, suppressors can help gun-cautious spouses and kids to enjoy a day at the range. Without the loud report, firearms become that much safer.

10. Suppressors are more accessible than ever before.

It is now legal to hunt with suppressors in 40 states. Moreover, suppressors are available for rifles, handguns, shotguns, and even muzzleloaders. For those reasons, it is easy to see why more people are taking the time to go through the process to buy one.

11. The process for obtaining a suppressor is now much easier.

While some lawmakers still see these as dangerous accessories that only an assassin or terrorist would use, the ATF has made the process a lot easier. Individuals can apply with form 4 online, along with the required documents. That has reduced the wait time – which still requires a human background check – by several months.

ATF Form 4
The NFA branch of the ATF has entered the 21st century, and we no longer need to print clearly when filling out Form 4 to begin the transfer process when purchasing a suppressor.

12. Subsonic ammo is also more available.

Subsonic ammunition is a bit more readily available and when paired with a suppressor greatly reduces the sound – bringing us back to some of those previous points. Silence is golden, whether it is at the movie theater or at the range and in the field!

13. The information highway has improved access to information about suppressors.

Finally, John Wick and other movies aren’t the only reasons behind the greater awareness of the benefits of suppressors. Social media and other online resources have helped as well. There are now YouTube channels that can help walk you through what a suppressor is and is not. Also, there are plenty of opportunities to seek advice on the platforms and even get near real-time insight into how to deal with those pesky forms. What used to require a drive to the shop, phone calls, and no shortage of head-scratching can now be solved with a search on the internet.

All of these reasons are why 2022 has seen an increase in the popularity of suppressors and it is only likely to continue in 2023 and beyond.

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