Silencers 101
Are Oil Filter Suppressors a Good Idea?

Are Oil Filter Suppressors a Good Idea?

Are Oil Filter Suppressors a Good Idea?

You’ve probably seen oil filter suppressors in movies or TV shows and wondered if they really work. Hollywood magic can make anything possible on the silver screen, but real-world applications are often far different.

We’ll take a look at the similarities and differences between oil filters and suppressors and give you the necessary information for you to make the decision of whether or not you should turn an oil filter into a suppressor.

It’s important to note, however, that an oil filter suppressor is still subject to the NFA. You absolutely must complete an ATF Form 1 and have the approved form in your possession before you actually turn an oil filter into a suppressor. Failure to do so is a felony.

Oil Filter Anatomy

The internal cavity of an oil filter is filled with materials that are corrugated and/or porous so that the oil can be, well, filtered. You might posit that this material could allow for the necessary gas expansion required to reduce the report of a gunshot. In the most basic of explanations, that’s really all a suppressor is.

Suppressor Anatomy

If you looked at a cutaway of an oil filter and a suppressor side by side through Mr. Magoo’s eyes (that is to say that everything is really blurry and out of focus), then you could reasonably conclude that they’re the same thing. A suppressor’s baffles provide the necessary gas expansion required to reduce the report of a gunshot.

Apples to Oranges Comparison

Of course, once you put on glasses or pop in some contacts, the full picture becomes much clearer and you realize that there’s a lot more to it than that. Aside from both products allowing for gas expansion, they’re worlds apart and wildly different.

Oil filters are suppressors in the same way that sitting on the front of an ATV with a hand scythe while your friend drives you around the lawn would technically meet the requirements for being a riding lawnmower. Are you riding around while mowing the lawn? Technically, yes, but it’s not really a riding lawnmower. Are you suppressing gunshots with an oil filter? Again, technically yes, but it’s not really a suppressor.


Is It a Good Idea?

OK, so we’ve answered whether or not you actually can make an oil filter suppressor and the answer is yes. However, the better question to ask is if turning an oil filter into a suppressor is a good idea. In short, the answer is no, and here are some reasons why:

Build Quality

Oil filters aren’t designed to deal with the intense heat and pressure of gunfire. Some people have experienced oil filter suppressors that catch on fire after extended use. Others have seen them completely break apart when used on centerfire rifles. Actual suppressors are built from various types of metal that are durable enough to handle gunfire and last for tens or hundreds of thousands of rounds with proper maintenance.


Suppressors are not inexpensive, especially when you consider that you could buy an adapter and 50 or more oil filters for what one suppressor costs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t take into consideration the $200 tax stamp that you have to have in order to legally turn an oil filter into a suppressor. Now you’ve got a very expensive oil filter that isn’t built to handle gunfire and won’t last very long.


An oil filter suppressor has a very limited lifespan. Assuming you only use rimfire or pistol calibers, you might be lucky enough to get a couple of full range sessions out of it before the oil filter is no good anymore. You can expect a real suppressor to easily outlive its original owner so long as it isn’t subjected to abnormal use. The internal parts of an oil filter cannot be replaced, so every time you wear out an oil filter suppressor, you’ll have to go through the entire Form 1 registration process and pay for another $200 tax stamp.

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Who Should Make an Oil Filter Suppressor?

Now that we’ve established that it isn’t really a good idea to make an oil filter suppressor, there are still some people who will want to do it anyway. Given the cost and limitations of these makeshift suppressors, there are really only two types of people who should make one.

The first is the type of person who doesn’t care that it’s going to be a waste of time and money. They don’t mind that an oil filter suppressor is going to wear out quickly and that it will be a costly endeavor to make another one.

The second is the type of person who just has to have something unique. They understand the limitations of an oil filter suppressor and may not fire more than a few rounds through it – if any at all. They just want to have an unusual item in their collection simply for the sake of having it.

There’s nothing wrong with being one of those types of people so long as you understand the limitations of what you’re spending your money on ahead of time.

Invest in a Real Suppressor

If your main goal in making an oil filter suppressor is to save money, then you might want to rethink things. They’re actually a much more expensive option in the long run. Plus, there are definitely some added dangers due to the fact that they weren’t designed to be used as a suppressor. Contact us for questions or visit our online silencer shop today!