The guys at Advanced Armament Corp. produce devices that reduce the noise and light associated with firing a gun, and it’s a part that has been called many things over the years by different people. Suppressor? Can? Gun muffler? According to AAC there’s only one correct answer to the question of what to call their devices and that’s “silencer.” Why? Because Hiram Percy Maxim told them to.
Riding up to the range with John Hollister he gave me a little background on the terminology.
“In 1909 Hiram Percy Maxim patented the ‘firearms silencer’ – that’s what he named it. Today, if you fill out a Form 4 [paperwork submitted to the ATF to purchase a silencer] in the block where it asks you what it is you write in ‘silencer.’ In the 1980s there was a magazine article written that a writer called it a ‘suppressor’ and his reasoning was that it didn’t silence the shot, it just suppressed the sound to the point where it went below the OSHA hearing safe levels. It’s been in a couple movies that ‘no, it’s not a silencer it’s a suppressor.’
“I even had a gentleman yesterday tell me that there’s actually two levels of devices; there are silencers and there are suppressors, one made it completely silent and one just suppressed the shot. He said that it was illegal to own a silencer, but you could own a suppressor. So there’s a lot of disinformation out there. Our position is that if you invented the Band Aid, we’re gunna call it a Band Aid. We sell what Hiram Percy Maxim patented in 1909 and he called it a silencer.”
I then asked about some dingy looking tubes behind Kevin’s desk which were original Maxim silencers, and about Kevin’s obsession with Maxim. The man, not the magazine.
“He is, to the best of my knowledge, the foremost collector of original Maxim memorabilia and firearms and silencers. He has quite the collection. Whenever any of us sees a Maxim silencer, a tube, an ad, a firearm… we’re under orders to just buy it and he’ll take it.”
The Firearms Silencer, patent # 916,885, was issued March 30, 1909 by the U.S. Patent Office. The original patent can be seen by clicking on this link.