“Last week, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board voted unanimously to allow hunting with silencers in the state,” al.com reports. There’s a lot of joy in Mudtown – and a lot of people who still don’t know what suppressors can and cannot do . . .

The effectiveness of a silencer depends greatly on the gun and the type of ammunition. While the silencer suppresses the explosion of the powder, it does nothing for the sound of a bullet breaking the sound barrier after it leaves the barrel. A silencer used with sub-sonic ammunition can make as little sound as a pellet gun, while higher velocity rounds can still make a lot of noise.

Yes, well . . . I’ll let TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia weigh-in on that simplification. Suffice it to say, the article does a good job of dealing with the commonly held view that a suppressor is to poaching what a door jimmy is to car theft.

Silencers might seem like a dream for poachers shooting deer in the dark, but [Fred Harders, the assistant director of wildlife and freshwater fisheries for the Alabama Department of Conservation] said the rule change is not likely to have a big impact on illegal hunting.

“When crossbows were talked about, the same thing was said about that,” he said. “A poacher typically uses whatever they’ve got. They’re not going to go out and fill out a lot of paperwork.”

A few might, he said, but it’s not the noise at night that lands poachers in trouble.

“Our officers don’t follow the shot,” he said. “We use other methods.”

We could tell you those methods but then we’d have to reenact The Most Dangerous Game. Anyway, result. Alabama hunters now have a better chance of entering their golden year with fully-operational ears. [h/t JP]

Note from Jeremy S:

In case it matters at all, I was always told that the problem poaching being done by folks with silencers was not of wild game, but of livestock. When the NFA was passed in 1934, it was basically the worst point in the Great Depression. The claim is that desperate people would shoot cattle and other animals on farms and ranches, doing so in the night with suppressed firearms. It was farmers, ranchers and their lobby that got silencers added to the NFA.

Apparently. But logically it makes sense to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody cared too terribly much about hunting license enforcement during the depression, but having your livestock stolen is serious stuff.

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44 Responses to “Suppressors Enable Poaching” Claim Debunked

  1. WINNING!
    I mean Alabama has the option to purchase cans to begin with.. Sadly here in CA, it is still verboten!

    • Right you are! Sadly my local gun club near a small central CA town deals with mostly noise complaints from the neighbors. Having suppressors available would probably keep that range open for many years. As it is every year we keep it going surprises me. Silencers are as good for firearms as mufflers are for cars.

    • why are you speaking German? It’s not like the word changes any when it’s translated to English.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out why suppressors are regulated at all… It’s like regulating after market mufflers for your car

    • …but in the other direction.

      Some states, such as California, do regulate aftermarket eexhaust systems already, at least for motorcycles. But that’s in no small part because too many wannabe Ricky Racers bolt track pipes on their street bikes, and too many wannabe 1%ers want to make the cagers flinch.

      Loud pipes don’t save lives … But they do lose rights.

      Anyway, sorry … Squirrel!

      • CARB regulates ALL exhaust systems for all vehicles. Which is why a muffler costs three times what it costs anywhere else because it has to be tested and certified by CARB for use on road vehicles.

    • watch, some person will duct tape a muffler to his rifle and then we will have to take our cars to the ATF for a $200 dollar tax stamp. $400 if you have a dual exhaust….

  3. Hunting with cans in the norm in South Africa. Even with the firearms control act, cans are still unregulated and the norm among big bore shooters.

  4. I always laugh when people tell me that hunters will poach with suppressors because wardens won’t hear them. I don’t recall anyone requiring you to blow an air horn after a shot during archery season……just sayin’

    • The funny thing is: I hunt deer in MN with my father & brother, we have 3 stands the furthest is about 2 miles away, we use .30-06 rifles. I don’t hear it when my father shoots. My father can’t hear it when I shoot. We can both hear my brother ( his is kinda in between – & there’s a hill in between me and my father).

      Now granted, we all have significant hearing loss – but that’s exactly the point isn’t it. 2 miles, & you can’t hear the shot through the woods anyways.

      If livestock poachers were that concerned about being silent – wouldn’t they just walk up and slit the throat?

      Unfortunately, for all the other good MN has going for it suppressor’s are still “illegal for us mere civilians”.

      • Am I missing something? Isn’t “poaching” illegal? Doesn’t that take care of the problem? Passing a law doesn’t accomplish anything, we must pass another law? Can no one see the silliness?

      • My closest neighbor is 400 meters away. There is a woodlot between us.

        I once went to apologize to him for any disturbance I may have caused using my Airforce Condor .22 air rifle to shoot targets.

        He replied he hadn’t heard a thing, and then asked me if I had heard him firing his .410 the same afternoon.

        I hadn’t heard anything either.

  5. Jeremy S, silencers weren’t originally part of NFA ’34, just MGs, SBRs and SBSs. Silencers were covered some years later but not in the original Act.

      • That I wasn’t aware of, I don’t think. Regardless, I’ve heard many times from various folks that their inclusion was for livestock theft/poaching, not wild game poaching. …but again, it’s still hearsay and I don’t know if it’s true or not. I haven’t attempted to research the subject and, for all I know, there’s no way to “prove” the reason for silencers going on the NFA at this point anyway…

  6. I guess arrows are real noisy so poachers go with subsonic rifle ammo and cans on rifles.

    Anything to sway public opinion I guess.

  7. Ah. The good old “Blood will flow in the streets” argument. Now new and improved, with poaching added!

  8. God that “expert” in the video is a moron. He is a Fuddy idiot that thinks he has been through a single form 4 is knows everything about silencers.

  9. Well I chose to wear hearing protection when I hunt instead of pursuing a suppressor. But if I had the chance I wouldn’t be apposed to one.

  10. While a decent video, there are misconceptions and downright falsehoods in it. I get no one wants to watch a 37 minute video going into the various avenues of suppressor acquisition, but man, there are major cringe worth statements in that video.

  11. The obstructionist civilian disarmament industrial complex used the same reasoning here in North Carolina. Too bad they still lost!

    We can hunt with suppressors here, too, now.

    Even with a bolt-action rimfire rifle shooting sun-sonic ammo, you’re still dealing with upwards of 125 dB of sound. That’s louder than someone screaming at you.

    • Well of course it’s loud … after all you are shooing sun-sonic ammunition. By the way how long does it take a .22 LR sun-sonic bullet to reach the sun?

      /end_snark

    • Good .22 LR cans meter in a lot quieter than that. Like 110 to 115 dB. Heck, my Mystic will do 124 dB on a 9mm. And that’s off to the side of the muzzle. All these numbers are even quieter to the shooter.

  12. This is a great post Robert! I am still completely baffled (no pun intended) at how little people actually understand about suppressors. The worst part is that a lot of the dropped jaws and wide eyes I get when I tell them about my plans to suppress the AR I just built, come from friends who I would say are firmly in the camp of pro-2A and POTG. I will admit most of them are primarily hunters and maybe own a pistol (usually a revolver) for the odd finishing shot or as a sidearm to carry around the ranch for snakes and predators so they are at risk of being at least slightly fuddy. The comment is always what on earth would you need a silencer for ??? (intentionally used silencer there).

    I start by explaining that silencers as they call them are anything but silent… That usually brings incredulous expressions and disbelief, so I show them videos of even the lowly 9mm and some of the suppressed 5.56 AR’s I have shot over the years. Then I go on to explain the physics behind sound, how an unsuppressed rifle is in the neighborhood of 160 decibels, think 747 jet on takeoff roll, and that a suppressor only brings a supersonic rifle round down to about 130-135 decibels which is still 5-10 decibels louder than your average outdoor rock concert. That analogy usually does the trick. Occasionally I throw in the near absence of violent crimes/ mass shootings committed with a silenced weapon.

    I always like to stress the safety of being able to hunt in a group without hearing protection, and just the simple convenience of hunting alone with out blowing your ears out or risking scaring an animal close in while trying to slip on a pair of ear pro right before the shot.

    We really need more people explaining the benefits and relative lack of danger of suppressor ownership, think of how nice range trips would be if bubba puts a can on his 300loudenboomer that he uses to hunt those dangerously hard to kill whitetail deer with.

    • Silencer is a perfectly acceptable term. It is the term that is used by the ATF, and it is what the inventor called them.

      Suppressor isn’t a bad term for cans, but it is no more correct than calling them silencers.

  13. Poachers are to stupid to fill out the NFA paperwork….If they use a “silencer” it’s going to made in the idiots garage with parts bought from home depot. Suppressors are worthless to poachers, since the invention of crossbows……Poachers are opportunists…they don’t hunt..they just shoot…quickly take valuable parts and leave like cowards. I with the wildlife deputies filled those fake deer with 50lbs of tannerite. That would be priceless!.

      • Like the punishments for a prohibited person trying to buy a firearm, you mean? The one which is NEVER enforced?

  14. In Sweden most hunters use suppressors. Actually almost no one else uses them. The reasoning is that at a shooting range everyone would have to use a suppressor or the benefits against hearing damage are gone = no one should use them. Very stupid. Suppressors should be mandatory safety equipment really. The state should subsidize them!

  15. Hollywood has done a wonderful job of demonizing suppressors. The anti-2As have had their work cut out for them in that regard. The hitman always uses a suppressor, and the sound is no louder than a stapler in an office. “Thut-thut” and the target falls, and anyone nearby is confused as to the origin.

    Again, the process of purchasing a suppressor is a huge limitation on commerce. I’m not an impulse buyer, however, on any item of cost, which a suppressor is, I like to have it within a reasonable amount of time. A lot of my LGSes here in Miami are stocking suppressors now. I’d have bought one, except I can’t make the mental adjustment needed to plunk down (after it’s all said and done) nearly a thousand dollars only to have to wait a year.

    The first thing off of the NFA list needs to be suppressors. It will create a multi-million dollar industry overnight. If suppressors were dropped off of the NFA today, I’d be at my LGS right now purchasing one for my rifle.

    • No shit. I bet “overnight” is an understatement. I bet paid backorders would be in the millions of units before the law took effect.

  16. Restriction of commerce indeed! Between the cost of the can and the tax stamp most suppressors cost as much or more than the guns their attached to. It’s a couple of piece of machined metal that a CNC can reproduce like clock work. That they cost more than $100 is part of the outrage for me. I still plan to get one, but it sure hurts to pay too much for what it is then pay the government just for the privilege of possessing it.

    • Yes, agreed. If the items weren’t restricted, companies would have more of an impetus to streamline production to turn out more of them. And more companies would get in on the game since there’d be a bigger market for it. More companies selling things, more money being made, more taxable income. You could open up a suppressor “plant” pretty much anywhere a machine shop would fit.

      And the customers wouldn’t just be POTG either, you’d have law enforcement and other agencies lining up to purchase since the items are no longer restricted. Break out the agency AMEX, click, click and done. No need to get something printed up on agency letterhead and all that.

      There’s millions of dollars on the table here because of some stupid law. It’s not like I’m advocating legalizing the sale of cocaine here, I’m advocating the unrestricted sale of a safety device.

      I’m not the only one with “in-hand” syndrome either. A lot of people I shoot with have the funds to purchase one, but really don’t fancy the waiting period. It should be no worse than buying an sling or any other firearms accessory. Pay your money, and maybe a week later on the outside, your friendly UPS guy is dropping off a box at your location from the nice people at XYZ Suppressor Manufacturing Concern.

  17. I’ve a great idea that I might as well put out there to you guys who mention range noise.
    Build a suppressor that is NOT attached to the rifle. It could be used with all rifles, easier and cheaper to make. Just a box with a 1.25″ hole at each end and some baffling. It would be 4X bigger than a regular suppressor and so very effective. Maybe 12x12x 8″ tall with the holes near the top.

  18. One of the few positive sides to firearms ownership in the UK is the easy availability of suppressors.
    OK, so presently they are still recorded one one’s Firearms Licence (spit) but even that might soon end.
    TBH I can’t imagine going bunny bashing without one, as the noise of even a subsonic round, or air leaving the barrel of an air rifle would spook them & hugely reduce the number killed.
    A 220 Swift through a suppressor is still LOUD but it certainly reduces the noise nuisance.

    • My god! That let you all have .220 Swifts over there? Europe isn’t safe with all those 4200 fps bullets running around.

      • They let us have .50 cal Barrett’s too, unlike CA.

        Apart from those few pluses, firearms ownership over here is bloody restrictive, yet magically of course, criminals don’t seem to worry……

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