Silencers are gaining popularity in the United States. In addition to the “big names” in cans it seems like every mom-and-pop gunsmith in the US now makes them as well, and as a result the market is flooded with inexpensive rifle and pistol suppressors. What the market doesn’t have, though, is a commercially available shotgun silencer. There have been a few one-off cans produced and short runs from smaller shops, but none of the “mainstream” shops have done a commercial run since silencers really started taking off. That all changed when SilencerCo introduced their Salvo shotgun silencer last month.
The very first question I had when I saw the can: how the hell does it work? Shotguns are inherently more complicated to suppress than rifles due to the nature of their ammunition — rifles use a solid projectile, but shotguns use a “wad” to propel the shot that would get stuck in a traditional baffle stack. Previous efforts have used a vented barrel design to make their shotguns quieter, but that means needing a new barrel as well as the silencer itself.
SilencerCo solved this issue by integrating a series of rails along the side of the channel in the silencer, keeping the wad centered and closed while still in the silencer and allowing it to expand once clear of the device. The system works, but even with the rails some of the plastic wadding will occasionally slip between the rails and get sliced off when the wad leaves the front of the can. For that reason, SilencerCo has designed the device to be maintained by the end user.
The silencer is capable of being disassembled with just the removal of the two rear hex screws. The baffle stack has no external housing due to the low pressure of the shotgun shells, and once the screws are removed the whole thing falls apart. One of the benefits of this system is that the size of the device can be altered by the end user — SilencerCo will be selling kits that will let users assemble the device with fewer baffles being used to make it lighter and smaller when needed. However, the silencer proper will be sold in only one size and spare baffles will not be available for sale. You can go smaller, but not bigger.
Mounting the can to the shotgun is done using the pre-existing system of choke tubes, so no modifications will need to be made to your existing guns. Assuming they take chokes, that is. SilencerCo will be coming out with a full line of silencer ready chokes for the most popular systems in the near future, but only a handful of models are supported at the moment. The plan is to have a kit available for purchase that includes the full range of chokes (cylinder to full) for your gun ready to attach to the silencer for mounting.
The system is a bit of a pain in the butt at the moment since it takes some time to configure the gun when moving between chokes, but I’m not sure there’s a better way to do it. The chokes use a tapered shoulder to connect to the silencer to ensure that the barrel and the can are lined up and to keep gasses from escaping.
With the can attached, a standard configuration shotgun will run just fine. The guys say that gas-powered shotguns like the FNH USA SLP or the Mossberg 930 series fare better than impulse based designs simply because the can adds more mass and screws with the physics a bit. While shotguns are already pretty darn quiet as-is, the silencer definitely brings things down a few notches and makes shooting downright pleasant.
As for the intended market, hunters are who SilencerCo believes will be the biggest purchasers. Just like a rifle can makes hunting much more pleasant and safe, a shotgun can greatly improves the experience for bird hunters. According to their guy on the ground bird hunting is a much more social experience than deer hunting, and adding a can into the mix makes it easier for everyone to hear the conversation and keep safe at the same time. Also, it does wonders to protect the hearing of hunting dogs.
The main downside to the Salvo is the size of the gun. Shotguns are already longer than rifles, and adding a silencer to that huge stick makes a comically large firearm. SilencerCo says that they are working on partnering with a couple gun companies to produce specially designed short barreled shotguns to accompany the silencer, but those won’t be ready for a while. In the meantime, form 1s are coming back within 45 days so cutting down your own shotgun is easier than ever.
The price right now is $1,400, which is on par for high end rifle silencers. It’s not cheap, but it’s not that expensive either. It seems to work fine, and doesn’t add as much weight to the gun as I had feared. The only question left: will it sell?