And here we though the ATF under Donald Trump would be much more Pro-2A than previous administrations. Word comes from Dead Air Silencers that the ATF has made the unprecedented decision to consider silencer wipes as a silencer part, making them just as regulated as the rest of the silencer itself. Why is this an issue and what the hell is a wipe? Let me break it down for you.

Early silencer designs were pretty crude. Lacking the precision manufacturing that we have available to us today, early designers made their metal baffle stack openings excessively wide to avoid any baffle strikes from the bullet passing through. One way some silencer manufacturers tried to make a tighter and quieter can was to add a “wipe” or a series of wipes to the bullet’s path. These plastic discs were designed so that the bullet would rub against them as it flew through the can, providing a much narrower passage while not harming the internal components of the silencer.

The problem with bullet wipes in silencers is twofold. First, the fact that something is rubbing against the bullet has a tendency to throw the trajectory way off course and make the firearm massively inaccurate. Second, the bullet wipes would wear out quickly and need to be replaced.

Replacing bullet wipes should be a simple operation — just keep a bunch in your pocket and swap them out as you go — except that the ATF has an issue with this whole “constructive possession” thing. According to the ATF silencer parts are in and of themselves silencers. You can see this lunacy taken to its logical and extreme conclusion when the ATF declared that pot scrubbers were regulated silencer parts. Ownership of pot scrubbers by a silencer owner constituted intent to construct another unregulated silencer and was punishable under the law.

For decades the ATF has declared that bullet wipes don’t have this problem. A letter dated from 1999 confirms that the ATF believed silencer wipes to be specifically exempt from this onerous and rediculous regulation. Until recently the ATF had a pretty good track record of respecting and being consistent with their own opinions, but starting with the SB Tactical arm brace open letter that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Dead Air’s Ghost 45M silencer (released not too long ago) used bullet wipes to increase the performance of their silencer. This is consistent with decades of rulings from the ATF saying that wipes are legal. Recently the ATF reached out to Dead Air and told them that, actually, they had changed their mind about the whole thing.

From Dead Air:

Last week, we were notified by the BATFE that they consider the accessory aperture wipe on our Ghost 45M suppressor to be a “silencer” part. We presented them with the Bardwell ATF opinion letter (http://www.titleii.com/bardwell/atf_letter66.txt)* that is commonly used as justification for the use of wipes and replacement of wipes in silencers by their owners. This morning, we were informally notified that the BATFE FTB does not share the opinion of the Bardwell letter regarding wipes not being silencer parts, and asked that we take immediate corrective action. As such we are immediately discontinuing the sale of accessory wipes for that product. The aperture wipe for the Ghost has always been an optional use item. We have consciously decided NOT to pursue the issue with FTB, as the resulting opinion letter, based on the informal notification to us, may have a potential negative impact on ALL owners of suppressors that utilize wipes in the design.

Moving forward we are conducting research on a wipe constructed of a more durable material, that will be included with the Ghost 45M. Extra or additional wipes will not be available for sale. Other options and clarifications are being sought as well.

Dead Air has developed and will release a new linear compensator product for handguns and submachineguns that will lead to cross compatibility with some Ghost accessories, including pistons, fixed mounts and caliber specific caps.

We appreciate the support of our customer, dealers and wholesalers, and will continue to bring innovative, quality products to the market. If there are any questions regarding this issue or any questions about our products, please contact us at info@deadairsilencers.com,
Thank You

Gary Hughes
Director of Sales
Dead Air Silencers

What’s the impact of all this?

To start, at least one currently manufactured line of silencers is now illegal. That’s a whole lot of time and money spent by Dead Air to bring a product to market which they thought followed the rules but is now completely useless. It also leaves Dead Air’s customers in a bind, since those who purchased this silencer (and any extra wipes) may unknowingly be committing felonies simply by owning the extra wipes. And possibly any other silicone based materials they might have laying around.

What’s unclear is if this makes historical silencers illegal as well. Designs such as those on the MAC-10 and MAC-11 made extensive use of bullet wipes, and many others followed suit. Given the new status of bullet wipes this might make ownership of these silencers (which has been legal for over half a century) illegal.

Why the sudden change? There’s no definitive proof, but my rampant speculation is that the ATF may be trying to crack down on silencer parts in an effort to put a stop to homemade silencers and 3D printed parts.

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72 Responses to BREAKING: ATF Re-Classifies Silencer ‘Wipes’ as Baffles, May Make Old Designs Illegal

  1. Inconsistent regulation is arguably worse than simply onerous regulation.

    At least if the rules stay the same you have a prayer of success.

    Making up new rules is bad enough. But capriciously changing old ones …

    • Arbitrarily, no less; it’s not like there was a pressing need presented as justification for this sudden reversal after two decades or anything

    • I wonder if any Obama holdovers are in ATF. Other departments are suffering these moles who try to derail Trump actions.

    • I wonder if there are Obama leftovers in ATF that are taking advantage of Trump’s extreme activity on so many things that they can screw with “the right” while things are so distracting for our President.

      Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me… 😉

    • “How can you stop homemade silencers?”

      Is that a serious question?

      By making the penalty of being caught with one so onerous you don’t dare risk making or being in possession of one (or more) of them…

      • It does nothing to stop criminals from making suppressors so the intent is to harm legal law abiding American citizens.

        • Somewhere along the way, probably circa Woodrow Wilson, our federal leadership class began to acquire wants and desires more sympathetic to the criminal class than honorable citizens, to the point they now have more to gain by harming the virtuous.

    • Hahahahahha. A comedian this one. Trump spends the next 4-years getting squat done, signing on for a relabeled Obamacare and claiming everyone is spying on him, then the dems are back. If you’re lucky, very lucky, no new firearms regs will be added…oops, too late.

    • At this point I’d say Trump is .5:2, wins/losses for gun owners. He signed the reversal of that nonsense with fiduciaries automatically disqualifying people (likely destined for failure in court anyway) which while nice, affected only a tiny number of gun owners. He also reversed the non-ban on lead ammo on federal land that Obama had set to take place long after either of them were out of office; nothing burger.

      Meanwhile, the ATF has clamped down on first solvent traps and now the long-standing wipe “exemption” for no discernible reason I can see but revenge for the lawful proliferation of NFA goods. Improv silencers & silencer kits have been a thing for a long, long time, so it’s not like that aspect is new, nor even a headline-grabbing bloody shirt to invoke for these new restrictions. Nope, the ATF is merely gettin’ while the gettin’s good, just in case Trump & the Republicans (terrible band name, btw) are blowing smoke up our asses on this Hearing Protection Act thing, which is seems increasingly likely they are.

  2. I would ask if this is a last act of defiance but I’m pretty sure these bastards aren’t going anywhere.

  3. More proof we need to repeal the entire NFA and totally revamp ATF. We are in the modern world; SBR(s)/SBS(s), silencers, full auto(s), etc., and buyers/owners are far easier to track than ever. Time we got rid of this old bullshit and the folks that thrive off of getting their kicks out of domination and control. Ridiculous.

    • No, more proof we shouldn’t be looking to freshly “pro-gun” politicians with no record to fight for us on these issues. With the slavish adoration of the NRA and many gun owners from the beginning despite his extremely checkered history, why does Trump owe us *anything* as far as progress on gun rights? Clearly he gets more pro-gun votes by bragging about deals and bitching about immigrants, so why should we be surprised when this is all he does?

      • NO … we need to repeal the NFA and flip ATF upside down and start all over. We should not need anyone to “fight” for us in the first place. Repealing the NFA and overhauling ATF is really what’s required if all this ignorance is to be finally put in check otherwise we will continue to skateboard in hill country.

        I understand your frustrations and I share them but I have to understand DJT has not even been in office for even 100 days yet and we all know that nobody’s guvmint ever moves fast to begin with. I’m still willing to give him time.

        I also agree with some of the other commenters on here that he’s still being severely undermined by communist holdovers and this takes time to flush all those turds out.

        The silencer law is all but passed as of now. I didn’t expect it to be done too soon anyway because of all the corrupt liberals trying to ruin everything.

        I suspect one of the big 3 pro-gun groups will attack this soon enough and most likely they will succeed.

        • “The silencer law is all but passed as of now.”

          I’m not a political scientist or anything, but isn’t the passing of a bill the hardest and most critical part? That’s kind of like saying a pile of lumber is “all but a house”.

          I won’t be engaging in any chicken-counting until the HPA has Trump’s signature on it, and the ink is completely dried.

        • Remember how none of that “on day one!” shit got done? Remember how many joyous voters were cheering over how much he would accomplish in his 1st hundred days? Now for the first time for any president I’ve ever heard of, we hear excuses for why he won’t make progress on much/any of his projects during the first hundred days.

          The fact is he has failed to unite the party (it looked for a while like he had, until making several bone-headed/tone deaf cabinet appointments) and contrary to what all the Trump- bots said about him rising above to drain the swamp by himself, flaming sword in hand, his past behavior is once again biting in the ass right after the “hard sell” (2016 election)

        • Silencer laws? Ha! Just about everything the BATFE does is a ‘Regulation,’ not a ‘Law.’ The result of congress giving so many agencies the power to issue regulations that congress knows nothing about, and can do nothing about, unless someone calls their attention to the absurdity of the millions of regulations that put so many people in jail, or in debt.

  4. So, for an extra $20, can’t Dead Air include a few hundred extra wipes with the original silencer? This sounds like it is the extra wipes which are prohibited because you didn’t have to pay another $200 and wait another 6 mos. to get them. So just include them in the first place, beg forgiveness for prior customers that you forgot to include them in the original package, here are yours.

    • From the article that’s literally at the top of this page :

      “Replacing bullet wipes should be a simple operation — just keep a bunch in your pocket and swap them out as you go — except that the ATF has an issue with this whole “constructive possession” thing. According to the ATF silencer parts are in and of themselves silencers.”

    • When you consider the life of a wipe they would need to include a lot more than 100.

      If you figure the can uses five at a time and you get 15 shots before replacement is necessary, that’s 300 rounds and you’re done. That’s about the service life of old cans that motivated the guy who started GemTech to start making better suppressors.

      • Include a bag of 100 of them and the ATF will require a separate $200 tax stamp for each individual wipe in the bag.

        That’s gonna get *very* expensive…

  5. DJT isn’t going to do anything to help us anytime soon. He’s more worried about border issues, Obamacare, and travel bans. His son however, needs to be the guy getting in front of a camera and telling people what is what and what is up with all of this silencer nonsense the anti’s are throwing around. “These are going to able spree killers to kill massive amounts of people and not be heard by anyone! Oh the horror!”

    • Hell, *gun owners* are more worried about Mexicans, welfare queens, and jerbs; who can blame him? This very site publishes an article about “gun owners taking their eye off the ball” and almost immediately posts some bullshit about abortion. 46 to 35 comments in favor of the abortion article.

      I’ve come to realize that gun owners are the cheapest of dates, with no standards at all. Meet the new Fudds, same as the old Fudds, with AR15s.

      • Hey barn, how many times do I have to tell you some of us can multi-task, in that we can care just as passionately about other issues as well as firearms rights. You are such a one trick pony. You just plow ahead with your head down and your ears plugged.

  6. “… may unknowingly be committing felonies simply by owning the extra wipes.”

    Unlikely. Highly unlikely. The existence of a BATFE letter declaring them legal is an acceptable defense. The fact BATFE explicitly said their new opinion was informal, is further defense.

    Don’t freak out about the situation, but owners of such silencers should write to BATFE and file FOI requests seeking letters and correspondence internally. The more pressure, the more BATFE will be likely to issue a new letter/determination that is formal. At that point, owners/makers will have to decide if they want to sue or dispose of wipes.

    • ahhhh…. an affirmative defense. Thats nice for the guy that gets the felony charge, has his property (weapons) and freedom taken, has to put up bail, then find all the cash to defend himself against a prosecution with an unlimited budget….

      thanks for making it all fine. and ignoring the idea that they can change their interpretation at a moments notice and charge you… Think they cant?

      • Even a public defender would have a field day with that case, armed with an ATF definition letter. The ATF must first *formally* change their opinion before prosecution.

        Even then, I doubt BATFE would ever charge someone for this, except as an enhancement to other crimes. Meanwhile, all the silencer owners can be filing FOI and determination letter requests, which is a *second* affirmative defense – petitioning the government to clarify their stance, which BATFE themselves have made murky.

    • Yeah, there’s a definite rap/ride calculus that comes into play where the ATF is concerned. That, and unlike normal law enforcement (i.e. constitutional law enforcement systems) their interpretations *are* the law since judges defer to their expert opinion as a matter of precedent (Chevron deference). So yes, just like with legal open bolt guns made illegal decades after their production are contraband today if they were not registered during the ‘amnesty’, extra baffles (and I assume discarded baffles) for a vintage can would be considered actionable for prosecution under this new interpretation. Only a jury would save your hide, but it’s highly likely they would (just like the multiple cases involving vertical foregrips on pistols). Hopefully the ATF doesn’t murder your whole family & burn the house down in the process,.

  7. In before all the freedom hating fuds comment about how silencers should be regulated and big brother knows best.

    • Huh? You went to the wrong website. If not, show me some examples. I’ve never seen a comment such as that here in the past.

  8. I have rubber washers, the ID is probably .30 and the OD is 2.5..so since these could be used in a suppressor am I a felon now? I just got rid of all my shoe strings, hack saw blades, pot scubers, mag lights, freeze plugs, oil filters, two litre bottles, duck tape, and pillows.

    • If you have something those washers will fit that functions as a suppressor, yeah, you will technically be considered a felon.

      Personally, I *highly* doubt that order came from Trump himself or his administration.

      That whole thing smells strongly of the ‘deep state’, AKA, ‘The Resistance’ which is out to thwart *anything* Trump wants to accomplish. There are a *lot* of appointments Trump has yet to make. It is currently estimated Trump won’t fully have the control of the .gov until June or so…

      • They are Trump’s agents, now; sorry. The buck stops with him, like it or not. In ten seconds Trump could tweet “ATF Abusing it’s authority banning rubber washers; shameful!” and this garbage goes *poof* like Trump’s promise to have Hillary prosecuted.

    • Unenforceable; original foreign made gun components don’t usually have unique markings for 922r purposes. Why is there a multi-million dollar 922r industry?

      Unenforceable; hacksaws are cheap & many guns have swappable barrels. Why are there are zillion goofy “wrist brace” products?

      Unenforceable; the odds of any gun you sell to anyone being traceable back to you via an interstate transfer are vanishingly small. Why are people so insistent upon sending everything through an FFL, even within states, even within states that don’t have UBC laws?

      This may come as a shock, but most law-abiding folks *DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO BREAK THE LAW* and that’s where the compliance comes from, and why moves like this unofficial double-secret-probation regulatory change are so biting.

    • Nope; mandating that all silencers be permanently sealed to prevent unlicensed modification or servicing. A ‘denial’ feature, same as is the case to keep full auto parts from even fitting in guns, same as the bad old days of SBR law where factory ‘long’ barrels for semiauto Uzi’s and the like had to be made to difference outside diameters than factory ‘short’ ones so they could not be swapped –never mind all the unlicensed hacksaws out there, or the fact that silencers are easy to construct for anyone so inclined.

    • I will grant the ATF one tiny smidgen (Obama word) of Devil’s Advocacy in saying that the distinction between “baffle” and “wipe” has been dogging the Bureau and gunowners ever since that stupid letter drew a legal distinction out of whole cloth. That advocacy ends when I recognize that the ATF should have never sought to clarify/expand its regulatory scope through these unilateral pronouncements and instead sought additional formal guidance from congressional committees before issuing rule changes.

  9. But….but…….one of President Trump’s kids likes guns and likes to hunt. I was assured that that’s all the assurance I needed that guntopia was on its way. I guess I have a lot of growing up to do.

    Or not. After all, I didn’t vote for that carnival barker megalomaniac in the primaries. YOU ALL did!

    • No shit; we’re actually at less than zero from when Zero left office, now that the ATF is clamping down whole-hog on all silencer stuff (first solvent traps & DIY kits, now this). Oh, he signed that one bill that got like ten senile veteran geezers their guns back, so the various bloggers could gloat about how damn pro-gun their Yankee blueblood is.

      Still haven’t seen a single picture of Trump ever shooting a gun…just like Obama for the longest time.

    • There’s never been a shortage of fools; hell, even I was one this go-around for thinking things might be different with the Democrat party so utterly weakened and inept, and grass-roots gun rights so resurgent, that we would have the sense and courage to fight for leadership interested, in our interests. Instead we went for the biggest braggart greenhorn in the room, since he made it sound like he would do all the work and we wouldn’t have to fight for ourselves.

  10. I am trying to jump in and see this thing from many angles. Suppose you had an integrally suppressed firearm where the suppressor is part of the firearm. Yeah it is not longer in Class I territory but it would seem like the suppressor itself is a gun part (separate serial number yes or no) and maintenance on any and all firearms is allowed.

    Which raises another question: why even have a serial number on a can if non-serialized parts are counted the same as serialized ones?

    I guess we can never go back to the days where screw the wife and don’t eat from that one tree where the only rules 🙂

  11. Well, All these hardcore hobbysmith gun folks out there trying to push SBR, National reciprocity, The Hearing protection act: Silencers, etc.,etc..I believe we need to focus on strengthening the 2nd amendment on both federal, state, and local levels…For people like myself that live in , or are stuck in “Socialist Liberal Progressive enclaves/with, Draconian Left-wing Globalist Anti-American, Anti-Freedom Laws/ Defined as an Authoritarian Police-States. (Where as in, local and state law enforcement community controls a US citizens 2nd Amendment right as a might issue privilege”) We need to get together skilled legal help to produce unstoppable re-enforcing legislation that makes It a “Capital Crime” for any entity. Such as politicians, government agencies , law enforcement, private business, organizations, private individuals, etc. From infringements, and deprivation of this right. To not allow any such entity the ability to pick or choose any form of restrictions or prohibition to “personal small arms, or accessories. ” (meaning anything that could be used for the common defense. Such as rifles, pistols, knives, dirks, daggers, etc, etc. That can be used by an individual by shoulder, or by hand for an anti-personnel role for the common defense . No entity shall “limit any constitutional right”. Additional criminal penalties for infringements with imprisonment, and compensatory damages of not less than 250k per each case of incident…This would not interfere with real actually crimes of violence, robbers, or direct tangible acts of wanton criminal acts of that would adjudicate someone a “felon/capital crime.” Since MURDER is ALREADY a crime…And is against the law…) I think it would be better to attack it full force, and make sure the 2nd amendment is available to everyone. Not just a few elite hobbyists. Without any bureaucratic interference by the law enforcement community in leftist states without having to hire the expensive presents of an attorney….

    • Unfortunately, due to long term public ineptitude and the uncontrollable growth of big government and its shadow divisions…We are already learning to late that now, “The Tail is wagging the dog !!! NOT the dog wagging the tail !!! ” Currently, we see an unprecedented “cold civil war ” being orchestrated by the “DNC/ Anti-American EU Globalists/ Militant Liberal Progressive Socialists, and their allies. To undermine the Trump Presidency, to destroy anything American, to limit and abolish the US Constitution-Bill of Rights. We need to stand up and fight the future…Or Soon You might be sitting down with Supreme court activist judge Ruth G. Reviewing your government issued “Citizens handbook, & privileges” modelled after the South African: Bill of Privileges that this SC activist judge is so fond of …No type of 2nd amendment is found, and “Aunt Ruthy” really likes it !!!! 🙂

  12. I actually have a Dead Air Ghost 45m, and I was extremely pissed when I heard about this today. Part of the deciding factor for getting one for me, over an Octane 45, was the modularity and the ability to use a wipe in the end cap. Just to be clear, the Ghost DOES NOT use wipes as the standard battle material, it uses a steel click together stack of baffles like the Octane, Spectre, and others. It simply has a provision to use a wipe in the end cap to improve noise levels from shooting undersized calibers through it, aka anything other than 45 caliber bullets. I believe when I talked to their rep they said it makes about a 5db difference. This is also a modular can, you can take the front section off and put it in a K configuration, and the addition of a wipe in the end cap in this setup would make up for some of the shortcomings. I run mine with a wipe and 9mm subsonic loads are very quiet. Extremely unhappy to hear this, and hoping Dead Air will produce some 9mm endcaps for us.

  13. “To start, at least one currently manufactured line of silencers is now illegal.”

    “The aperture wipe for the Ghost has always been an optional use item.”

    That would seem to me to imply that the Ghost 45M is just fine (i.e. not “now illegal”) for use without the wipe (albeit a bit louder). Am I missing something?

  14. So, how does this make the old DESIGN illegal? I’ve never heard of a suppressor design that was illegal… Only that suppressor parts were treated the same as suppressors. So what they’re saying, stupidly, of course, is that you can’t have extra wipes… just like I can’t have extra baffles. I can send the suppressor back and have baffles replaced… just like these could be sent back to have the wipes replaced. Sure, it takes away some of the benefits of the design, but I’m not seeing where it makes the design illegal…

  15. I am more worried about what’s to come next. I fear my arm brace is next. Thermo? SBR uppers? 50 round drums? Belt fed conversions? Half my collection will not b able to leave the house, or shoot? Stupidity

  16. How exactly do you discern a suppressor wipe from say, a common rubber washer or gasket? HomeDepot and my plumber need to know if they should be getting $200 tax stamps for each one.

  17. This article should have been spell-checked.

    The anti-gun crowd already believes we are uneducated morons. Let’s not give them any ammunition.

  18. This “wipe being a suppressor part” has been around for decades, as have I and my SOT Class 3 license. I think ATF more or less forgot about wipes since they more or less went away in production suppressors years ago… It has always been illegal for a company to sell you extra wipes since about the mid to late 80’s. What is not illegal is for a wipe suppressor owner to simply send their can back to the manufacturer with a copy of their Form 1, 3 or 4 and the company can fix or repair the suppressor. Yeah, yeah…. too many trips, too much postage, too much wait time… but as more durable polymers are used it may not be such a big deal after all. I know lots of people who do it this way. And buy at least one wipeless can for your platform of choice so you can still shoot quietly while you wait a whole week or 10 days to get your can back…. It’s a pain in the ass but I believe what the BATFE is concerned about is you having extra wipes, not the fact that your can came from the factory with a wipe in it. From what I read Dead Air was only told to stop selling extra wipes, not that they can’t still make cans with wipes.
    I’m on your side guys but the reality is that right or wrong, the feds have changed their mind again…

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