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.45 and .380 ACP, unsilenced

.22 LR, unsilenced

.45 and .380 ACP Sionac, silenced .22 LR silenced

* Levels are approximate

This comparative chart shows relative sound levels from a variety of sources for comparison to silencer-equipped firearms. Credit: Mancullch Research Associates.

Thomas' rare and wonderful books on silencer patents, e.g., full descriptions, sketches, etc. Although his books are now out of print, many engineering, technical, and military libraries have copies. Check with the interlibrary loan department of your local library for details on obtaining this valuable design resource.

Today there is a small group of silencer builders who are truly professional in their methodology and approach. Their silencers are marvels of design and manufacturing technology. They are also expensive. They have to be because the retail price of each of their units includes a share of the R&D costs.

The price of this book is your sole R&D cost. Following are 10 designs that 1 have chosen for you after consulting with a group of today's real silencer experts, including some of the very same folks I alluded to in the previous paragraph.

These designs range from the quick-and-dirty simple of prison improvisation to the more difficult design requiring home workshop tools, a more-than-room-temperature IQ, and an hour or two of your time.

All of these designs can be built in your own home workshop or even at the kitchen table, just as I described in my first silencer book. In fact, dig out your copy of the first book when you go shopping for tools, ingredients, and equipment, because it's all the same stuff as before.

What? You loaned your copy of my first silencer book to your Aunt Nancy and sshe hasn't returned it yet? In the interest of family peace, and not just to fatten this book with reprint, I've included a condensed version of what you'll need (see box, next page).

Once you've checked my shopping list, you might be tempted to ask why not simply buy a silencer kit? Some intrepid companies still bravely advertise them in the appropriate periodicals. Recall my words of caution from the last book, i.e., our fearless feds sometimes go on witch-hunts using easily available UPS records that trace these kits and parts from shipper to your home.

Our brave New World Order Police also purloin phone,

Professionally produced silencers are usually gorgeously machined and gorgeously expensive. Many of them are so complicated that they baffle even the experts.

Nonsense. Your silencer will be as inexpensive and simple as you wish it to be. There are some common items you will need, though, to construct the silencers in this book.

Ammunition. You already know that most ammunition is supersonic, thus adding the sonic boom effect to your problem of quieting gunfire. You need to bring that round down to subsonic levels. This is done either by using an already subsonic round, like the .45 AGP, or by porting your gun's barrel into the silencer to bleed off gasses, thus slowing a supersonic round to subsonic. There is another very easy way, which I recommend. Simply buy standard or subsonic velocity .22 or 9mm ammunition in the first place. Caution: Do not tell them why you want this type of ammo. Some gun shop denizens suck up to BATF thugs by ratting on nice folks like you.

Sights. You may have to remove the front sight from your rifle or pistol to accommodate the silencer tube. Even the original sights on many commercial cans are useless because of the silencer's bulk, so they are removed to facilitate engineering.

It is likely that your silencer will be concentric, meaning it will render the front sight useless. Therefore, you are either going to have to reinstall a front sight on the silencer and realign your sights, or mount a telescope sight on the weapon.

computer, and other records illegally from both sellers and buyers. It's a nasty, tangled, evil web that our masters weave to ensnare the unwary tinkerer who innocently buys silencer parts with no evil intent.

Hogwash, you say? Forget Pearl Harbor... remember Waco!

If you're going to be tinkering with silencer kits, 1 suggest that you do so quietly, and, other than the federal legalities, the fewer folks who know, the better it will be for you.

There is another danger in using these do-it-yourself units. Some of the parts kit technology is even more dated than the historical designs in Don Thomas' books. Other kit designs are just plain scary, more dangerous to the user than the target. Often, they are poorly made of inferior materials, with no alignment control, i.e., just not safe at all.

But if you're going to buy kit parts, 1 have three suggestions. First, be sure you're doing so legally. Then, be sure you're buying safe, modem-design, quality parts from a competent seller. Finally, be sure of suggestions one and two a lot more.

Remember, too, when you're working with most of the materials mentioned in this book, that they are generally home-workshop-grade materials, not heat-treated steel, air-craft-grade aluminum or armor plate. You will bend or break aluminum or thin steel if you apply too much muscle or torque.

With all that heavy legal/safe effluvia out of the way, a few more technical points will help you understand what you're about to do. The major job of a silencer, or suppressor, is to regulate and restrict the flow of noisy explosive gasses caused by the explosion of a cartridge. This is achieved usually through multichambered and baffled silencer designs whose genesis is engineering and physics. Not knowing much about either discipline, I'm not going to attempt to explain that technical facet. Instead, this book will show you workable designs you can build yourself. If you want to learn about the physics, engineering, interior ballistics, and other technical details, it's all available. See the bibliography on page 83.

Don't expect to build a totally quiet firearm silencer. Even the big boys and the technowonks don't achieve that, because there is no such thing as a totally quiet silencer. The sounds you don't hear guns make on your home or cineplex screen are the result of soundtrack magic, not silencer technology.

In fact, the real silencer designers call their products "sound suppressors," as that is a far more accurate name for them. Their jargon name for them, by the way, is "cans." I will continue to call the units silencers because that's what old Mr. Maxim called them.

A silencer must allow the bullet to exit the firearm's barrel and the attached silencing unit with ballistic integrity (a fancy term meaning the round doesn't touch the sides of the can on the way out) so that accuracy is maintained. The silencer must also delay and smooth the passage of the hot gases that follow the bullet to avoid the BANG explosion that occurs when the gases exit the barrel.

As a humane little quality-control tip, let me suggest that when you design and build your silencer, be certain to allow an adequate opening for the bullet's passage. The alternative is to plug the exit area, which creates a very dangerous buildup of pressure. This pressure will eventually explode, and it usually follows Tugmutton's Law: The damn thing will blow up in your stupid face or the bolt will come roaring back through your eye. The point of Tugmutton's creed is to impress upon you to be careful. Speaking of care, that famed woodsman and rustic philosopher, Terry Sink, pointed out, "There're two ways to shoot yourself in the foot... metaphorically and physically. And, despite what you hear, one hurts a helluva lot more than the other."

With that safety so blessed, you need to decide which of your guns you wish to equip with a silencer—rifle or handgun. Generally, silencers are more effective on rifles than on pistols of the same caliber. That's because the longer barrel distance allows the gasses to smooth out and dissipate more slowly and for the powder to burn more evenly, hence, less BOOM and more fisssss ...

Obviously, a silencer for a pistol is far more efficient than one for a revolver, although some designers have built special housings to enclose the cylinder of a revolver and create a fairly quiet unit.

The experts discourage trying to put silencers on truly

In fact, the real silencer designers call their products "sound suppressors," as that is a far more accurate name for them. Their jargon name for them, by the way, is "cans." I will continue to call the units silencers because that's what old Mr. Maxim called them.

A silencer must allow the bullet to exit the firearm's barrel and the attached silencing unit with ballistic integrity (a fancy term meaning the round doesn't touch the sides of the can on the way out) so that accuracy is maintained. The silencer must also delay and smooth the passage of the hot gases that follow the bullet to avoid the BANG explosion that occurs when the gases exit the barrel.

As a humane little quality-control tip, let me suggest that when you design and build your silencer, be certain to allow an adequate opening for the bullet's passage. The alternative is to plug the exit area, which creates a very dangerous buildup of pressure. This pressure will eventually explode, and it usually follows Tugmutton's Law: The damn thing will blow up in your stupid face or the bolt will come roaring back through your eye. The point of Tugmutton's creed is to impress upon you to be careful. Speaking of care, that famed woodsman and rustic philosopher, Terry Sink, pointed out, "There're two ways to shoot yourself in the foot... metaphorically and physically. And, despite what you hear, one hurts a helluva lot more than the other."

With that safety so blessed, you need to decide which of your guns you wish to equip with a silencer—rifle or handgun. Generally, silencers are more effective on rifles than on pistols of the same caliber. That's because the longer barrel distance allows the gasses to smooth out and dissipate more slowly and for the powder to burn more evenly, hence, less BOOM and more fisssss ...

Obviously, a silencer for a pistol is far more efficient than one for a revolver, although some designers have built special housings to enclose the cylinder of a revolver and create a fairly quiet unit.

The experts discourage trying to put silencers on truly high-velocity rifles, e.g., .223, .308, etc. To properly suppress such a muzzle blast and powerful high-velocity round requires a very large silencer unit and a great deal of barrel porting to slow down the round to near subsonic travel. However, some of the experts do recommend a .44 Magnum rifle as somewhat ideal for a silencer. Otherwise, stick to the "low and slow" rule that 1 explained in my earlier book.

As caliber is a basic consideration, your choices will be within the .22, .25, .32, .380, 9mm, and .45 calibers for handguns. Your long gun choices are far more numerous, but some of the more popular are .22, .223, 7.62mm, .30/06, and .308. You'll note that all of those popular calibers are of the high-velocity persuasion, and you will have to port the barrel to bleed speed. Keep that in mind. Whatever your situation or choice, remember those early-on basics I explained, in that some calibers are far more suited to silencers than others. For example, the .45 ACP round is ideal because it is already subsonic. On the other hand, the .223 round is supersonic and therefore less adaptable for the silencer mode.

The most conclusive statement I can make about caliber choice and silencers is that gravity always wins.

The general construction rules given in the first book apply here. Assuming you have that basic knowledge, I will include specific instructions dedicated to each of the specific designs that are only a few more pages away. Now that you have the temptation, the legalities, the tools, the tactics, and the technicalities, let's consider sources before we tackle those titans of homemade silencer design in the how-to chapters.

The Source^' Apprentice

Walt Disney's cold-shoulder legal condition not withstanding, I have a creepy hope that 1 don't get litigationed for spilling a titular bucketful of bad pun. Can we sweep that aside... quietly?

The folks and companies listed below sell useful equipment, parts, supplies, and information if you are going to make a legal silencer for your own use. My listing them does not constitute a personal endorsement. 1 have been somewhat selective, i.e., there are some notable rip-off artists whom I have not listed. Be aware, though, that companies do come and go, but that all addresses were current when this book was written.

All of these folks are legal, within the system, yet discreet about your inquiry. Some maintain no sales records or mailing lists, for whatever reason I cannot imagine. Feel secure to contact them within these contexts.

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