Is it a ‘Silencer’ or a ‘Suppressor?’


The YouTube trolls love to argue all the time.

They also love to tell everyone what they are allowed to have on their gun as if it is their decision.

One thing that they love to scream about is what goes on the end of the barrel of a gun.

You know, the one that quiets the report of the gunshot — is called a “silencer” or a “suppressor.”

I’m here to tell you that they’re both completely correct. As is a “firearm muffler.”

And here’s why….

Article continues below. Scroll to continue reading.

Time for some history.

Hiram Percy Maxim, son of the inventor of the Maxim machine gun, designed these devices while inventing similar mufflers for automobiles, and he called both the gun ones and vehicle ones “silencers.”

He started the Maxim Silent Firearms Company to sell his silencers.

To the inventor goes the naming rights, which seems fair.

Then, the 1934 National Firearms Act, which is still the law of the land, regulated the possession of various firearms. To regulate something, the law must first define it . . .

The terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm muffler” mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler. Any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

“Suppressor” became common parlance at some point afterward.

When? I have no idea.

It’s industry jargon — it’s a slang term, really — because it’s more accurate than “silencer” since silencers don’t make gunshots silent, and it’s not as dorky as “gun muffler.”

At any rate, since the federal government says they are “silencers” and anybody who pays their $200 tax to get one or to make one is signing forms that say “silencer” all over them, but “suppressor” nowhere, and every law and legal definition everyplace in the nation refers solely to “silencer,” “silencer” is a perfectly acceptable and correct term for these things.

Just ask SilencerCo, likely the largest manufacturer of suppressors, or Silencer Shop, the largest distributor of suppressors. Er, silencers.

The federal government also defines silencers as “firearms” so . . .

That’s absurd, but that’s the government.

You’ll find there’s no way to register or pay tax on a “suppressor.”

We say “suppressor” with those not “in the know” because it’s more descriptive and less scary. Internally, though, we know “silencer” is correct, and we use it at least as often as a “suppressor.”

Bottom line: “silencer,” “suppressor,” “firearm muffler,” and “firearm silencer” are all perfectly correct.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *