How Suppressors Work

Posted by Kris Vermillion on December 20, 2018

Trey from Rugged Suppressors stops by to talk with Kris at our Greenville retail store about the way suppressors work, and what you need to know before you buy one.

Suppressors are fantastic for a variety of applications. From hunting, to home defense and target practice, a gun producing less noise than normal will not only protect the shooter's hearing, it will also cause less of a disturbance to the natural environment in which the shooter is practicing or hunting.


Suppressors capture the pressure wave that is caused by the explosion within the firearm that sends the round down range.

The baffles inside the suppressor capture the gas, cool it down and make it move slower as it exits the suppressor, thus, suppressing the sound.

Typically, longer suppressors will provide more decibel reduction than a shorter suppressor, but it's really more about the internal volume of the suppressor when it comes time to talk about noise reduction. More internal volume means more noise reduction.

There are suppressors that are specifically designed to shoot multiple calibers which means less expense for the shooter who owns multiple rifles or pistols in various calibers. Don't forget that handguns will require an attachment called a "piston" to allow the suppressor to attach to the threaded barrel of your favorite handgun.


When it comes to cleaning, it's commonly accepted that rifle suppressors will essentially clean themselves out during use. The pressure and heat will clear the fowling and debris. However, handgun suppressors could use some TLC every 500 rounds or so. A "user-serviceable" suppressor will allow easy disassembly for a quick toss in a sonic cleaner to get your suppressor as clean as the day you bought it (if not more).

BONUS INFO: There's a bit of a debate about whether it's called a "suppressor" or a "silencer". Guess what? They're both right!

When Hiram Percy Maxim invented the modern day suppressor he filed a patent for a "silencer for guns". You can view his 1921 patent here. These days we refer to silencers as suppressors to maintain a more relevant term for the device. It doesn't exactly silence the noise as much as it suppresses it.

About Kris Vermillion

About Kris Vermillion

Kris Vermillion is a lifelong shooter who focuses his training on defensive shooting techniques and the shooter's mindset. Kris works for Palmetto State Armory, contributing to both Ecommerce and Marketing.

bill allen
2 years ago at 10:20 PM
Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim invented the Maxim machine gun. His son, Hiram Percy Maxim invented the silencer.
1 year ago at 12:48 AM
Not all pistol suppressors require a piston (Nielsen device), only those that use a delayed recoil action, such as JM Browning's tilt down unlock barrel etc. Semi-autos with fixed to frame barrels require no such recoil energy storage or delay type device). Suppressors, besides eliminating most of the muzzle blast noise, also remove a significant amount of secondary recoil (that part caused by the rocket like push back of the gas jet leaving the muzzle) this can reduce felt recoil by up to 50% or more. Lastly, suppressors eliminate muzzle flash even better than a flash hider, this can be particularly important if shooting in reduced lighting.
5 months ago at 10:23 AM
Has anyone had problems removing the A2 flash hider from AR uppers from PSA? Any suggestions?