Silencers 101

User Serviceable Suppressors

User Serviceable Suppressors

A Complete Guide to User-Serviceable Suppressors

Suppressors can get really dirty. In addition to the lead bits and vapors that come off of fired bullets, there’s a messy mix of unburnt powder and powder residue that exits the muzzle every time you fire a gun. Suppressors are designed to capture those gases that escape the muzzle, but the fin-like baffles inside the suppressor can also catch this debris. If the garbage builds up, the performance of your suppressor may be affected.

How often—and how—should you clean a silencer? If there were an easy answer, this would be a much shorter article. And it depends on what type of suppressor you’re shooting, too.

Some—those meant for pistols and rimfire rounds, are designed to be cleaned regularly. They’re not difficult to take apart and clean—that ability is built into their functionality. They’re often referred to as user-serviceable suppressors.

Those meant for high-powered rifle rounds require less cleaning. These are often called sealed suppressors and they do a pretty good job of cleaning themselves.

User-Serviceable vs. Sealed Suppressors

If you’re trying to decide which type to buy, consider what you’ll be doing with it. Rimfire rounds are really grungy. Faster, larger bullets with shiny alloyed jackets leave less lead behind. Some bullets aren’t even made of lead.

For those dirty rounds or rounds that aren’t likely to burn up all of their powder, you will need a suppressor that comes apart (when you want it to). If you don’t clean them out occasionally, they can fill with carbon and lead. It catches in the small grooves and will slowly fill in the empty interior space of the silencer. In extreme cases, the fouling can begin to block the path of the bullet.

User-serviceable suppressors are available for larger rifle rounds, but they’re not always needed. For these types of rounds, a sealed suppressor can be preferable. And with the higher pressures that come from these kinds of rounds, the sealed suppressor may add the benefit of strength.

Rifle Suppressors

High-powered rifle rounds are a completely different kind of beast. Almost all rifle ammunition is jacketed, which prevents the obnoxious lead fouling common to bare-lead bullets. The second thing to consider is how carefully formulated most rifle rounds are. They burn up more of their powder in the barrel—before the bullet leaves the muzzle—so they’re cleaner in this regard, too. And the pressure is immense. When those gases exit the muzzle, they shake loose any debris that has built up inside the can and blow it out.

Because they don’t need to be cleaned, almost all rifle suppressors are sealed. They’re welded shut. This has the added benefit of keeping the end-user safe. Sealed suppressors are less susceptible to user-error. You aren’t going to take one apart and put it back together wrong, or loosely.

There’s an extra benefit to a sealed suppressor—they’re usually lighter than a user-serviceable suppressor. Cans that open up and come apart have to have threaded end-caps to allow their disassembly. Those nuts and bolts can add to the overall weight.

User-Serviceable Rifle Suppressors

I’ve been singing the virtues of the sealed suppressor, but there’s a good argument to be made for a user-serviceable rifle-rated silencer. Consider the Banish 30 and Banish 30 Gold. Both are user-serviceable, and for good reason. These cans will suppress rimfire rounds, pistol rounds below .308”, and some higher-powered rifle rounds that don’t produce really intense pressures.

Consider the wide variety of 7.62×39 ammo that’s available. Hardly any of it is what I’d call clean. And subsonic 300 Blackout can be equally grimy. If you know you’ll be shooting some suspect calibers, or those calibers in that hard-to-define middle range on the power spectrum, I’d highly suggest having a user-serviceable 30 caliber suppressor. You won’t regret the ability to take-down the silencer and give it a good cleaning.

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Rimfire Suppressors

Of all of my cans, I clean my rimfire suppressors the most. I work with youth organizations and regularly teach shooting skills. There’s no better way to teach than with a silencer. But after a long day on the range, I’ll typically have 2,000-3,000 rounds downrange. And the suppressor is a mess.

This is where a user-serviceable suppressor is a must. When I break these down, I have to chisel out the fouling. I put on a respirator and carve away the residue with a knife blade. After, I soak the suppressor’s parts in the same cleaners I use to swab the bore of the gun, and that’s it. If things are really bad, I get a brass brush involved. Wipe it down, put it back together and you’re good to go.

Ideally, though, I’d take a rimfire suppressor apart and clean it after every range trip. The lower the round count, the easier they are to clean.

Pistol Suppressors

Pistol ammunition (and I’m talking about the squat center-fire kind—not the rimfire pistols or the rifle-caliber pistols) varies in design. Some rounds will burn all of their available powder inside the barrel. Some will emit epic fireballs from the muzzle (a sure sign that the powder did not burn up in the barrel).

With a silencer, that unburnt powder mixes with the fouling. There may be some lead build-up, but it is much less likely. If you’re shooting wadcutters from revolvers, or lead round nose bullets, there can be more. Typical jacketed hollow points, though, are less likely to leave lead behind.

Pistol suppressors will often have an outside tube. Inside, the baffles are stacked or aligned. Keeping these clean allows you to keep your suppressor performing at its best and will ensure that you will be able to continue to take it apart. If you leave it too long, the baffles may get cemented in place by the build-up and it can be a bear to get them apart and cleaned.

How often should you clean? I take my suppressors down every 300-500 rounds. I don’t keep a solid round-count, just an approximate. And some of this comes down to personal preference. How often do you clean your guns? If you’re fastidious about your firearms, I bet you’ll be fastidious about your suppressors.

Why the Need for User-Serviceable Suppressors?

Because suppressors are still somewhat precious, we like to keep them running at their best. If there were not a wait for ATF approval or the $200 tax stamp, perhaps we could design sealed rimfire silencers that could simply be recycled and replaced. But that’s not the case.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to pass your silencer on to your kids. Keep it clean, and you can.
I’ll admit that I don’t like to clean my rimfire cans. It isn’t fun. It is a necessity. Take the precautions you would take when dealing with anything made of lead and go to it.

The important thing is to realize that these devices, just like the firearms they attach to, work better when they’re well maintained. It seems absurd to say, but you can clog up a rimfire suppressor. It isn’t likely—and you’d probably know it was happening by the increase in noise with each shot—but it can be done.

Where Can I Buy a User-Serviceable Suppressor?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Silencer Central is your one-stop shop for suppressors. We specialize in only one thing—silencers. The process can start here, on-site, or with a quick phone call.

The process is simple. Our sales team will collect some biographical data and get the paperwork started. They’ll then send you documents for you to sign, create a trust to expedite the application process and send you a fingerprinting kit and instructions on how to do the fingerprinting and passport photo at home.

Once the application is together, Silencer Central sends off all of the needed notifications and forwards the application to Uncle Sam. After the ATF approval, Silencer Central will ship your suppressor directly to your door.

Whether You Need a Sealed or User-Serviceable Suppressor, We’ve Got You Covered

If you’re new to silencers, the learning curve can seem steep. Don’t get dejected. We’re here to help. The sales team at Silencer Central has an in-depth knowledge of the market. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. And they know the ins-and-outs of cleaning, too. If you know what caliber you intend to shoot, and how often you will be shooting, they’ll get you matched up with a suppressor that perfectly meets your needs.

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