President Teddy Roosevelt was a big fan of silencers. The only silencers available to him were made by Maxim. A silencer for his takedown model 94 Winchester .30-30, above, cost a whopping $9.70 in 1909. He used the rifle frequently on his Sagamore Hill estate on Long Island, New York.

It was the classic use of a suppressed rifle. He used it to cull pests without disturbing his neighbors, the Du Ponts and the Tiffanys. From

Whenever Winchester introduced a new model, Roosevelt was quick to put it through its paces. He acquired an 1894 similar to all his other rifles in extras and embellishments and used it on an antelope hunt. His “little .30” as he called it, was able to knock down a good sized antelope at a distance of more than 180 yds. After witnessing the fantastic shot and the irrefutable and immediate results, his guide said that the gun was just “aces” in his book. He also used a Model 94 outfitted with a Maxim silencer at his Long Island home “Sagamore Hill” so as not to disturb neighbors when varmints were in need of culling.

The Sagamore takedown .30-30 wasn’t President Roosevelt’s only silenced firearm. When he traveled to Africa for his specimen collecting safari, he took two other silenced rifles.

The last case to be added for the trip was case number 15. The contents of the case are shown below.

The ship left port in 1910. Notice that crate #15 contained two rifles fitted with silencers. They were a “U.S. magazine rifle, M’ 1908 chambered in .30 Govt. It was fitted with illuminated sights. The other, an M’95, would be a lever gun chambered in 405 W.C.F. The 405 Winchester is a powerful cartridge, as made clear by President Roosevelt’s use of it to collect the rhinoceros pictured below. It is unknown if the rifle pictured was the M’95 that was fitted for a Maxim silencer.

From Theodore Roosevelt Hunter-Conservationist, published by Boone and Crocket, 2009, page 253, Loeb informed Winchester in 1910:

“And so on the 27th of February Loeb let Winchester know they would be receiving “from General Crozier [US. Army Ordnance] a Springfield rifle and a 405 Winchester rifle, both fitted with Maxim’s silencers, and one of them with an arrangement for shooting at night, together with 200 Springfield cartridges. Please add to these 100 cartridges for the 405 Winchester and the cleaning apparatus, with oil, and have them put in a case that will enable the President to use them on the steamer…”

TR knew full well that he could hardly spend some three weeks at sea and resist the temptation to open his tin-lined cases and shoot. The two rifles with silencers would solve that problem nicely.

President Roosevelt understood and appreciated Maxim silencers. He used them for their intended purpose; to prevent annoying his neighbors and fellow travelers.

Silencers serve the same purposes today. And we know too how important they are in protecting hearing when hunting or target shooting. When the Franklin Roosevelt administration later made silencers prohibitively expensive and absurdly regulated for the common man, no one could explain why. No reason was given in the legislative history.

The hope is that silencer regulation will either be reformed with the Hearing Protection Act or eliminated by the SHUSH Act.

I suspect that if T.R. knew of the proposed legislation, he would say “Bully!” and heartily approve.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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25 Responses to President Teddy Roosevelt Liked His Rifles Suppressed

  1. Since when do politicians need to provide sound logic or reasoning to write/pass legislation?

    Especially gun regulations, feelings and hopes are good enough

  2. Theodore Roosevelt would have killed his niece’s husband if he knew about him cheating on her. Shame he didn’t.

    • Say what you will about his politics, but it’s impossible to find anything involving Theodore Roosevelt that’s boring.

    • TR got a little caught up in the early 20th Century Progressive movement. Now, not everything about Progressivism was bad (e.g., public health, sanitation, hygiene, etc.) but a lot of it was bad. Very bad. Every whacked-out idea that came along found a home in the Progressive Movement. TR was a Big Government kinda guy.

        • Perhaps Republicans forget 90%, conservatives look at both and say both men were flawed, as all men are. TR took the power of the government too far and RR didn’t reign in the power of the government even though he had the ability to.

  3. President Teddy Roosevelt … used the rifle [with suppressor] frequently on his Sagamore Hill estate on Long Island, New York.

    Hah! Can you imagine someone today using a rifle, on Long Island, with a suppressor, and none of it registered/licensed?!?!?!?

    Oh, how far we have fallen.

    • The closest you could do on a 94 now is changing the magazine tube to a shorter one (Trapper for a Carbine/Short Rifle, or Carbine/Short Rifle for a Sporter) and then removing the front sight and threading the barrel. Then you could either dovetail in the front sight farther back or get a scope mount (easier on all the modern 94AE models, but you could do a scout scope on an older 94). You don’t get stamps for threads- you get them for each can. From the pictures of Theodore with the rhino, it looks like he had the front sight moved back and the barrel threaded.

    • “Remind me, can I get a tax stamp for a thread adapter and just add my own cans?”

      What Rincoln said.

      According to Cadiz Gun Works, who sells an oil filter adapter can, the filter itself is registered along with the adapter.

      Once the filter is trashed, you have to send the adapter-can-combo back to Cadiz, where they will serialize the new filter, and charge you 20 bucks.

      Yeah, it sucks. If we get cans off the NFA, that $75 adapter will be *very* popular until the can companies catch up…

  4. A couple of years back I had a job interview and was asked the standard silly question of “What historical figure would you like to have dinner with and why?” I answered “Theodore Roosevelt. He overcame great physical problems to become a soldier, hunter, outdoorsman, explorer and conservationist. We could talk naval history, tell some hunting stories and talk guns.” I didn’t get the job.

  5. “A silencer for his takedown model 94Winchester .30-30, above, cost a whopping $9.70 in 1909.”

    I bet I could build one for that price tiday if it wasn’t for the cocksmokin goverment.

    • $9.70 was hardly chump change in 1909. You could buy an ounce of gold for $20. At current prices that puts that sile ncer over $600. Even after FDR devalued the currency by changing the price of gold to $35, a buck an hour was a decent wage for a working man.

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