I just walked in the door from the Cedar Ridge Carbine Match out here in San Antonio. Naturally I had brought along my 300 AAC Blackout rifle and silencer, since the larger bullet gives me a hair more wiggle room in the scoring department (and did in fact help eliminate a penalty or two today) and the silencer is just tons of fun to use. But I ran into a problem that I had not anticipated, one that makes me re-think using a silencer for competition shooting…
Time is everything in USPSA / IDPA / 3-Gun style competition shooting. The time you take to knock down the targets is the single most important scoring metric available, and the only way to accurately record your time on a stage is by using a computerized timer. The timer counts from when the buzzer goes off until it hears the last round downrange, and that’s your time for the stage.
Therein lies the issue. These timers are designed to pick up on the traditional loud bangs of firearms going off, using cheap sensors to cut down on the price and therefore not very sensitive. So when you throw a silencer into the mix its a shot in the dark as to whether the timer will pick up on the (comparatively) whisper quiet reports of the firearm.
Thankfully my RSO’s timer was able to pick up my shots, but the nagging question in my head was whether this would be exception to the rule. I have my rifle zeroed with the silencer attached, a factor that drops the point of impact a good few inches compared to the standard configuration, but the question in my mind as I prepare for the summer competition season is whether I should keep it that way. Or should I swap back to my 5.56 gun and forget all this silencer nonsense, since that will definitely be picked up by the timer.
There are definite benefits to the 300 AAC Blackout round. There are definite benefits to a silencer. But I think I may have found the one scenario where a silenced 300 AAC Blackout rifle may actually be more of a hindrance than a help. Guns are loud and obnoxious, and when your score depends on a cheap mechanical sensor picking up the shockwave from your muzzle that’s exactly what you want.