A silenced High Standard Sport King with the completed SMG suppressor.
developing a suppressor for the Remington 870 shotgun, but no details were available at that time. But by May of 1981, Special Mission Group was advertising its Remington 870 suppressor kit for $225. A Mini 14 unit was also going for S225, as was the AR15/M16 suppressor kit. Their Ingram M10 model sold for SI80. All parts were included and each unit had a Parkerized finish.
In their activation instructions, the Special Missions Group people noted at the end of the operational steps. "Your suppressor is now installed in an inactive condition (Hollywood style) and will not suppress your weapon. Many of our customers prefer this as it avoids many problems. They wait until they are outside of U.S. territory to activate their suppressor."
The most flamboyant and humorous kit designer and seller is Detroit's George Dodson, who bills himself as "The Invisible Man." Anybody who has seen his attention-gathering "SU PRESS ON" ads will not soon forget this businessman. Claiming to be the man who invented the autosear for the AR15 and AR180, Dodson has a suppressor that "snaps and locks" on the barrel of the Ruger pistol. It's a good idea, as there is no need to drill or thread the pistol; just slip Dodson's unit onto the barrel and it locks in place until you want to remove it. He sells his Ruger units for ninety-five dollars. They are tough, of solid construction, and handle well when activated.
A set of instructions for assembly, plus the obligatory BATF warning, is included with each component parts kit. Dodson says all of his units can be assembled with hand tools, making the home workshop effort easier than with some kits. Dodson's instructions are clear, concise, and amusing to the point of black humor about the consequences of being nailed by the ATF for producing an illegal suppressor.
In addition to the sales rush for 1980s technology and the claims race for more and better silence, history has not been overlooked. Nostalgia aficionados no doubt got misty-eyed at the Shotgun News ad of D.A.Q. in Cicero, Illinois, offering a complete rebuild kit for those .22 caliber Maxim Model silencers that were not the sealed units. Or consider the excitement of collectors over the 1980 ad of G.V. Metal Products in British Columbia. in which a cutaway version of the rare Maxim Model 15 silencer was offered for sale at eighty-nine dollars.
Another brand of business also opens when the real thing is restricted by zealous government authoritarians. Lookalike and replica silencer products came on the market shortly after the first real kits became popular items.
Replicas have been around the firearms business for years, ever since a fine gentleman named Tom Nelson pioneered the concept in this country shortly after the 1968 GCA. Replica suppressors were first advertised in 1979, when the Garfield Target Range in Garfield, New Jersey, offered a suppressor lookalike for the MAC model submachine gun at S31.50. The following year. Security Programs, Inc. across the river in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sold much the same thing at $39.95. Neither item would perform the real func tion of a suppressor, so there were absolutely no restrictions on their sale.
The home workshop market seems to be a strong, profitable one. The companies that prosper in this field have the same characteristics as those that do well in any field: they offer a quality product at a fair price and deal honestly with their customers. Some of the silencer kits are ripoffs; some designs are no better than a competent person could do with his own hand tools and some steel. Yet some kit makers approach the work being done by the commercial people both in terms of workmanship and effectiveness; a few designs and units surpass that.
Although no official will confirm this, several insiders have told me that the government has bought and tested a number of the kit designs and that some are under active consideration for limited supply orders for special mission purposes. However, for the most part, these kits are being bought by tinkerers, experimenters, and people who just want to see what a silencer is and how it operates. Curiosity, rather than malevolence, seems to be the major factor behind most of the purchases. One ATF supervisor I spoke with said, "Sure some of the bad guys will try some of these mail order kits, but the vast majority of buyers are the same types of guys you're going to see at a gun show. I'm not too worried about them at all."
Isn't that a refreshing attitude? It's too bad it's not the official one.
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