June 17, 2021
Before we get started, I want to make two things clear. Yes, it's legal to own a suppressor (in most states), and I firmly believe every hunter should have at least one. That's how much I believe in the sound-moderating device most popularly known as a “silencer.” And, to be 100 percent honest, I'm saying that as someone who doesn't currently own a suppressor. But God and the ATF willing, that's about to change, thanks to one company that has made suppressor buying simple: Silencer Central.
The Case for Quiet
Obviously, you don't need to have a suppressor on your hunting rifle, but the arguments against screwing a can on the end of your gun are increasingly moot. To put it most simply, you have a muffler on your car so you can hear the radio over the exhaust. Heck, even many small motors in household appliances have sound-dampening devices. In fact, like a muffler on a car, those devices are often government-mandated. So why wouldn't you treat your rifle the same way?
Despite being dubbed a “silencer,” a suppressor does not make the report of a firearm silent. It does make it quieter. A well-crafted can, which includes nearly every suppressor on the market, reduces the report of a rifle (or a handgun or, with some models, a shotgun) by as much as 60 decibels. That takes the crack of a rifle from a painful and dangerous level to one that is not only more comfortable, but also much safer. Often, a suppressor-equipped rifle eliminates or reduces the need for hearing protection altogether. Meaning you can hear range commands and, in the case of hunting, ambient noise, including game animals. As it's often been noted, the use of suppressors in many countries is not only considerate but also mandated by law.
Sound reduction is the main benefit of owning a suppressor, but it's not the only benefit. A suppressor also reduces recoil to a comfortable level, making it a great addition to a gun used by a young or a new shooter. In many cases, it also enhances accuracy, both by stabilizing a gun's harmonics and, most notably, reducing the chance of the shooter flinching from either painful recoil or the loud report.
Currently, suppressors are legal to own in 42 states and legal to hunt with, in some fashion, in 40 states, including my home state of Nebraska.
Lowering the Bar
The only argument against owning a suppressor, and the No. 1 reason why I don't have one, is the onerous regulations placed on ownership by the federal government under the 1934 National Firearms Act. The NFA requires a $200 tax on top of the cost of the suppressor, a ream of paperwork, a copy of your fingerprints to apply for ownership, and a long wait while the ATF processes said paperwork. (Current wait times can be in excess of nine months.) Most dealers that sell suppressors also require the purchase of said suppressor at the time the application is submitted. That means while you may “own” a suppressor—and are out the cost of it and the tax—you can't actually possess it until the application has been approved by the ATF.
If that sounds like a hassle, it is. A hassle that's kept me and thousands of other hunters from going through the process. Then I heard about Silencer Central. Formerly known as Dakota Silencer, the South Dakota-based company makes buying a suppressor, dare I say, easy. Sure, you still have to wait nine long months to actually possess the can, but everything else about the process is relatively painless.
One Call Does It All (Mostly)
I started the process with a single phone call to a Silencer Central customer service rep. After discussing my needs and wants, we decided on the company's Banish 30 Gold Package: a titanium alloy suppressor designed to fit .30-caliber rifles. (Look for a review of the Banish 30 in an upcoming issue of Petersen's Hunting.)
It's worth noting here that Silencer Central manufactures and sells its own suppressors, as well as those from several other popular manufacturers. If you want to buy a suppressor made by another company, Silencer Central will work with you to get you what you want.
After selecting the Banish 30, the customer service rep walked me through the ATF application process, which isn't much different from the standard Form 4473 we fill out anytime we purchase a gun from an FFL. All told, I was on the phone for less than 15 minutes. Later that day, I received an email with my application attached that I was able to sign digitally and return to Silencer Central, along with a passport-style photo I snapped using my cell phone. Just like that, my application for a suppressor was in process.
Less than a week later, a package came in the mail with an ink pad and several fingerprint forms. Before Silencer Central, I would have had to make a visit to my local law enforcement headquarters to get fingerprinted. Instead, I went about fingerprinting myself and returning the forms to Silencer Central. (It helped that fingerprinting was a process I was already a bit familiar with due to some youthful indiscretions.)
Like any good business, Silencer Central is happy to take your money for the suppressor and tax upfront, but they also don't want to let finances stop hunters from legal ownership of their products. They offer an EZ-Pay plan that allows purchasers to send in their application with 25 percent of the price down followed by three installments in the following months. In short, Silencer Central has eliminated any excuse someone like me may have for owning a suppressor.
As I write this, it's been three months since that 15-minute phone call, and to say I'm excited is an understatement. To maintain that level of excitement—and to keep me updated—I regularly receive communications from Silencer Central on where my application is in the process. Come next fall, I'll be like a kid at Christmas, waiting every day at the door for the delivery man to bring me my new toy, er, I mean, tool.
One of the things that was most important to me was setting up my silencer under a trust. My partner, Tess, is an avid hunter and often takes a shine to my firearms. Without an NFA Trust, she wouldn't be allowed to shoot, possess, or even touch my suppressor. As a co-trustee as appointed by me, she essentially co-owns the suppressor and can use it at will, where legal.
Silencer Central not only will set up an NFA Trust for free when you apply for ownership through them, but also will actually encourage you to do so. It's just a small part of their commitment to making suppressor ownership easier and ensuring their customers stay well within the bounds of the law.
“We run a highly regulated business,” said Brandon Maddox, CEO of Silencer Central. “We have to do everything by the book—100 percent. We've pioneered a system that allows Silencer Central to be the pinnacle of service for our customers. We handle every step of the process, from paperwork to barrel threading to the final delivery of your silencer—straight to your front door. The process has never been more efficient.