March 07, 2016
Suppressed shotguns: Hollywood has shown us a few, including a particularly shiny one that gets some mileage in the movie "No Country for Old Men." However, there hasn't been an effective solution to quieting scatterguns brought to market. Today, Utah-based SilencerCo appears to have cracked the code. Not only is it suppressing shotguns, it has designed a scalable device customizable to the shooter's preferences. It's called the Salvo 12.
Despite some initial frustrations, Jonathon Shults, Harrison Holden and the SilencerCo team couldn't let the idea of a suppressed shotgun slip by. SilencerCo commands a significant share of the U.S. rifle and pistol suppressor market, but a shotgun concept like the Salvo 12 was a stretch even for them. Engineers struggled with several nagging problems, the first being how to control the sound and pressure of such a large muzzle (relative to the bore of modern pistols and rifles). Threading the thin, outside wall of a shotgun barrel was not something most owners would likely be interested in doing, but barrels with internal, factory-spec choke tubes provided SilencerCo with an idea.
The second and perhaps more technical challenge was how to keep the wad column functioning properly as it passed through the Salvo 12. Last, the Salvo had to be large enough to materially reduce the shotgun's signature but not so large that it impaired the shooter's ability to swing the gun naturally with a moving target. Solutions would be no minor chore, and forward steps would be small, but Shults and his team found a way. To test their work, Guns & Ammo took the SilencerCo Salvo for a spin at Utah's Miller Motorsports Park last August.
How It Works
The Salvo 12's unique design hinges on two major elements: a nine-rod internal rail system to guide the wad column and a modular baffle stack that can be adjusted from 6 to 12 inches in length.
Though SilencerCo's design team had a head start on building suppressors, the internal ballistics of a shotgun barrel and the wad column-guided projectiles were a different story. Their early designs, modeled from rifle and pistol suppressors, behaved like a cheese grater on the soft-plastic shotgun wads. The idea arose to use a circular, longitudinal rail array to guide and control the wad as it passed through the suppressor to prevent the baffles from tearing it to pieces.
After a few versions, the concept worked and became the framework for the adjustable-length system. Additionally, to give customers maximum flexibility on length, the guide rods are made from standard 3/32-threaded rods cut to the desired length. The rods are inexpensive and available at any hardware store, and they are therefore not a "silencer" part, as per the BATFE. This allows the consumer to configure multiple rail sets for various lengths of the same suppressor.
The Salvo exoskeleton is constructed of a squared, multipart baffle and spacer system made from 17-4 stainless steel and 7075 aluminum. Originally conceived to facilitate testing audible suppression at different lengths, the modular system became a key element in the Salvo 12's final design. With stacked baffles that can be removed or added in 2-inch increments, the Salvo can be adjusted by stacking baffles and trimming the rods to the user's personal sweet spot of length, weight and decibel control.
How It Attaches
The Salvo 12 adheres to the barrel by way of an adapter that connects to the internal threads cut for choke tubes. If your shotgun isn't threaded for interchangeable chokes, you're out of luck. However, SilencerCo produces mounting adapters to attach the Salvo to Benelli, Beretta, Browning, Mossberg, Remington and Weatherby shotguns. They can be pump action, gas operated semiautomatic and inertia-driven semiautomatic; it doesn't matter. The system is compatible with 2 3/4- or 3-inch wadded shot shells and rifled slugs. The Salvo adapter screws into the muzzle, and the suppressor screws into the adapter. Attaching it feels a bit like repairing a garden hose. Should you ever decide to go back to full-volume shotgunning, simply replace the Salvo adapter with the compatible choke tube of your choice.
The Salvo 12 comes in four chokes from Improved/Cylinder to Full. Shults notes, "The Salvo 12 typically opens the choke one step, but the better the wad design, the better the pattern." He also added that most "flight control" wads perform more consistently through the Salvo than not.
Configured and attached, the Salvo 12 is rectangular in shape and rides below the line of the bore, which keeps the suppressor out of the line of sight. For military and law enforcement customers, SilencerCo offers a muzzle extension for breaching duties.
How It Feels
At the full 12-inch configuration, the Salvo 12 weighs 34 1/2 ounces, or just over 2 pounds. Mounted to the shoulder, it's not overly noticeable. In fact, some shooters may benefit from a more nose-heavy swing and reduction of muzzle rise in addition to the reduced recoil. As previously mentioned, the Salvo 12 can be shortened by as much as half to better adjust to shooters who prefer reduced weight over a reduction in audible volume. In its 6-inch configuration, the Salvo weighs only 21 ounces, but it still delivers a suppressed volume of 140½ dB to the ear. The suppressive effect is increased further by the direction and distance of discharge away from its user.
Standing behind a crowd of people firing away from several stations with shotguns suppressed by the Salvo 12 was a bit like watching a NASCAR race run entirely with hybrids. The action was the same — clays broke, empty shells flew and actions cycled — except there was little more of an audible report than would occur if a kid slammed a plastic toy on a table at a restaurant. It takes a few minutes of observation and firing several rounds to get your head wrapped around the change from a lifetime of sensory conditioning to a shotgun's typical sound, but the Salvo quickly becomes part of the shotgun. It truly was a pleasure to shoot with less noise, less recoil and minimal impact on downrange performance.
The applications for the Salvo 12 are numerous, particularly for the hunter who needs to maintain his awareness until just before the shotgun fires. This is in addition to considerable recoil suppression that will undoubtedly ease a full day with magnum shells. More than a few bird dogs' ears will surely benefit as well.
The Salvo 12 sells for a suggested retail price of $1,400.
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