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Letter Re: Advice on Registered Suppressors

Jim:
Interesting question – is it worth it to get a Class III firearms license to legally buy a sound suppressor ([commonly, but erroneously, called a] “silencer”)?
I’d always dismissed it as a a big hassle, but I’m now told it is not the hassle it used to be. Full auto firearms are a waste of ammo for the most part, but it occurred to me that a silencer would be a huge tactical advantage:
1. No muzzle flash and very little noise to give away your position, or attract return fire.
2. No muzzle flash or noise so you keep your night vision and hearing for the firefight. Especially if shooting indoors, preventing long term hearing damage in invaluable. Post-TEOTWAWKI [1] you really wouldn’t want your first defensive shooting to be the end of good hearing ability, now would you? 🙂
3. Can train more discreetly, and without bothering neighbors
Of course, there is the $200 tax stamp per suppressor, and the loss of privacy, etc., etc. Your thoughts on the matter? Comments from Class III folks? Regards, – OSOM

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I can’t make a blanket recommendation. Why? Every individual must weigh the risk/benefit ratio of acquiring any federally registered firearm or suppressor for themselves. As you mentioned, they do have some tactical advantages. But the risk associated with owning one is the higher profile that comes along with the registration process. That might not be an issue in some locales. Suppressor ownership is considered “cool” in some western and southern states. But it is considered quasi-criminal or even “borderline whacko” in many of the more populous Nanny States. So take regional differences into account when considering a purchase. Some SurvivalBlog readers in parts of Europe–where suppressor ownership is commonplace and virtually unrestricted–might laugh at this. But sadly, here in the U.S., Hollywood movies have warped public perception of suppressors, particularly in the big cities.

I must also mention that it goes without saying that untaxed/unregistered (illegal) purchases or home manufacture should not even be considered, since they carry the risk of a felony conviction in the US.

Although I have several friends and acquaintances that own registered full auto firearms and suppressors, I decided not to buy any. For me, even living in a rural and lightly populated pro-gun state, the risks of the high profile outweigh the benefits. But your mileage may vary.