Skip to main content

Suppressors Aren't Silencers

Suppressors Aren't Silencers
.300 Whisper 110-grain Hornady V-MAX.

This year, Hornady introduced two factory loads for the .300 Whisper.  One is a subsonic number firing a 208-grain A-MAX bullet at 1,020 fps, while the other is supersonic firing a 110-grain V-MAX bullet at 2,375 fps. The .300 Whisper was developed by J.D. Jones of SSK Industries intended to belch out a heavy bullet with a high ballistic coefficient at subsonic velocities. In a suppressed gun, the Whisper is "silent," hence the name.

.300 Whisper 110-grain Hornady V-MAX.

But a suppressor isn't a silencer. There are two main elements responsible for the noise we hear as a gunshot--the high pressure gases escaping from the muzzle, and the sonic boom created by a bullet as it passes through the air faster than the speed of sound (1,080 fps at sea level).

Think of the expanding gases like a balloon popping.  As the pressurized gas in the balloon escapes the confines of the ballon, it "pops." A suppressor works by moderating the expanding gas.

As for the supersonic crack, anyone who has spent time in the pits at Camp Perry knows you need to wear hearing protection even though the shots are fired from 1,000 yards away. That downrange crack of the bullets is made because the air passing around the bullet slams back together behind the bullet.  It's much like how a bullwhip makes a crack, and is something a suppressor cannot moderate. The answer, then, for the shooter who wants a "silent" load is to use subsonic loads.

I'm very glad to see suppressors gradually becoming more accepted and mainstream in America.  In many foreign countries, one wouldn't think of hunting without a suppressor. The noise, after all, would disturb the neighbors. Game departments across the U.S. are slowly but surely accepting that suppressors aren't some evil assassin's tool and are allowing them afield.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

It is unlike any other rifle on the market because it offers features no one else does; those looking for a rifle that fits like a custom-made firearm should look no further than the Benelli Lupo.

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand was on location in Idaho where he pushed the limits of the 5.56 NATO cartridge in this segment of “Long Range Tech” for Guns & Ammo TV. Pairing a SIG Sauer MCX Virtus rifle loaded with Hornady's 73-grain ELD-M ammunition, Beckstrand attempted to ring steel set at 1,270 yards, an incredible distance for any 5.56-chambered rifle and beyond the typical range for an AR-15.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now