Usually the chassis of a silencer is wasted space. No sights, no lasers, nothing but a chamber designed to contain and cool expanding gasses before they’re released from the muzzle. The folks at Alpha Dog Silencers surveyed that unused real estate and saw an opportunity. Using their machining experience they designed a new take on the pistol silencer, one that features a full length Picatinny rail along one side of the can.
The guys behind Alpha Dog aren’t new to the manufacturing world, but they are new to guns. Just like the Wright Brothers they got their start in bicycle manufacturing. Their first entry into the world of silencers has been on the market for about a year now.
On the inside, the silencer is a 7075-T6 aluminum based monocore design that makes it incredibly easy to disassemble and clean. The muzzle side of the baffle stack is screwed into place on the end cap. The main tube slides over the stack, and the the pistol facing end is held in place with the Neilsen device assembly. It’s a pretty simple design to disassemble for servicing.
Alpha Dog does couple things differently than other manufacturers. Normally each end of the silencer tube is threaded and screws together to contain the expanding gasses. In this case the ends of the tube simply slide on and are held in place by the baffle stack, the reverse of the typical solution. That allows some gasses to escape through the sides of the can if the machining isn’t correct.
Most take-apart silencers need a tool to disassemble the baffle stack for cleaning. Often that tool is proprietary, only available from their online store and God help you if you lose yours. Alpha Dog’s can also requires a tool, but theirs is available at any bike shop: it’s a standard derailleur tool. That’s further evidence of their long history in the bicycle industry, and a smart choice to ensure that buyers can always find a tool to service their silencer.
What really turns heads, though, is what’s on the outside of the can.
With very few exceptions silencers are round. Not only does this provide a good amount of surface area for heat dissipation, it also makes it easier to install the silencer on your gun because there’s no need to “index” the can and properly align it for your specific firearm. SilencerCo’s Osprey is one of those exceptions, an eccentric design that gives more internal volume without needing silencer sights on your handgun.
Using that same concept Alpha Dog’s added a Picatinny rail to one side of their silencer, giving pistols an easier option for mounting lights and lasers and optics.
One of the biggest issues you’ll run into with this kind of mounting option is heat. Silencers get extremely hot — the whole point of the device is to contain and slow down the hot expanding gasses that follow a projectile down the muzzle of a gun. As a result silencers absorb and transfer all that energy and heat to the surrounding environment.
According to Alpha Dog, adding the Picatinny rail you’ll see better heat dissipation performance because the rail adds more surface area and improves heat transfer, but the real reason for that design feature is the addition of optics and other accessories.
Normally heat isn’t an issue for Picatinny rails. On guns like the AR-15 the rail is far enough away from the chamber or barrel that it doesn’t heat up enough to impact the optic you’ve mounted. With the Alpha Dog can you’re directly mounting your optic to a very hot surface, one that gets hot enough to fry bacon should the need arise.
As such this rail section will eat through cheap optics like no one’s business, but quality stuff like an Aimpoint or a Trijicon should be fine for the most part. As for lights and lasers I’d never be comfortable putting those on this rail due to how much plastic is involved with those designs.
Or you could just shoot slower. Alpha Dog provides a handy chart to illustrate how hot the can gets based on how fast you fire.
No optic? No problem! The latest version of this silencer includes a three-dot sighting system integrated into the top of the can. Just in case that’s useful to you.
If the rail section doesn’t line up with your specific firearm and barrel, don’t worry! Just like the Osprey you can adjust the silencer to properly index it and align the rail to align with the top or bottom of your gun.
That rounds out the features, but the real question is whether the thing actually works.
NOTE: the Nick Leghorn in the video may be larger than the current version.
Shooting it on the range I can confirm that it does actually work. Noise is reduced to a comfortable level and there didn’t seem to be any more blowback than you’d expect from a normal suppressed handgun. In short, it’s fine.
Putting a red dot on the rail is in fact a thing that works. The silencer locks up tight enough that the red dot is mostly reliable, but there’s a new issue at work. The optic is so far away from your eye out on the can that you get a reduced sight picture through the window of the optic.
Lights are an interesting situation. Normally if you have a light mounted on the under-barrel rail of a handgun the top 45 degrees of the light arc is pretty much unusable due to the shadow the silencer casts. Mounting a light on the silencer itself makes the beam of light more useful. Then again, it’s hard to say how useful that is if the light is prone to melting.
I love innovation. I love new ideas and new design concepts. To that end, I really like what they’ve done here. It’s a nifty way to upgrade your handgun in one shot: noise suppression, rail space, and recoil reduction from one single device. While the design is cool I’m not sold on the utility. If I’m going to put a red dot on my gun then the better and cheaper solution is machining a mount onto the slide rather than buying something that requires a tax stamp. And I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable mounting my expensive optics directly on an incredible heat source.
Specifications: Alpha Dog Silencer
Rating: Pistol caliber, up to 9mm Luger
Weight: 10.2 oz (advertised)
Finish: Hard coat annodizing
MSRP: $775 ($495 street price)
Ratings (out of fiver stars):
Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * *
Fit and finish is pretty good, even on the pre-production versions. I have an issue with the design in that it uses two screws at the front of the baffle stack to attach it to the front end cap and keep the expanding gasses contained, and it doesn’t look like this is necessarily the strongest design for that purpose.
Sound Suppression * * * *
It works well. I didn’t have a sound meter capable of accurately measuring the suppression but it was definitely a comfortable shooting experience.
Overall * * *
What the Alpha Dog silencer has going for it is that it’s among the cheapest on the market. Available for under $500 retail, it’ll do the job and offer some unique features should those interest you, but it’s not full-auto rated and might not be able to handle .300 AAC Blackout loads. Definitely not if they’re fired with any speed.