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The guys at Advanced Armament Corp. produce devices that reduce the noise and light associated with firing a gun, and it’s a part that has been called many things over the years by different people. Suppressor? Can? Gun muffler? According to AAC there’s only one correct answer to the question of what to call their devices and that’s “silencer.” Why? Because Hiram Percy Maxim told them to.

Riding up to the range with John Hollister he gave me a little background on the terminology.

“In 1909 Hiram Percy Maxim patented the ‘firearms silencer’ – that’s what he named it. Today, if you fill out a Form 4 [paperwork submitted to the ATF to purchase a silencer] in the block where it asks you what it is you write in ‘silencer.’ In the 1980s there was a magazine article written that a writer called it a ‘suppressor’ and his reasoning was that it didn’t silence the shot, it just suppressed the sound to the point where it went below the OSHA hearing safe levels. It’s been in a couple movies that ‘no, it’s not a silencer it’s a suppressor.’

“I even had a gentleman yesterday tell me that there’s actually two levels of devices; there are silencers and there are suppressors, one made it completely silent and one just suppressed the shot. He said that it was illegal to own a silencer, but you could own a suppressor. So there’s a lot of disinformation out there. Our position is that if you invented the Band Aid, we’re gunna call it a Band Aid. We sell what Hiram Percy Maxim patented in 1909 and he called it a silencer.”

I then asked about some dingy looking tubes behind Kevin’s desk which were original Maxim silencers, and about Kevin’s obsession with Maxim. The man, not the magazine.

“He is, to the best of my knowledge, the foremost collector of original Maxim memorabilia and firearms and silencers. He has quite the collection. Whenever any of us sees a Maxim silencer, a tube, an ad, a firearm… we’re under orders to just buy it and he’ll take it.”

The Firearms Silencer, patent # 916,885, was issued March 30, 1909 by the U.S. Patent Office. The original patent can be seen by clicking on this link.

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  1. Great story, thanks.

    Hiram Percy Maxim is a fascinating character…along with his other accomplishments, he wrote three great books, including one about his experiences in the early years of the American automotive industry, and a memoir on his father, Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim machine gun. He was also one of the pioneers of amateur radio and founded the ARRL. He was also, I believe, the driver of the winning car in the first auto race held on a closed course in the United States.

  2. Suppressor. I deal in proven facts based in reality, not commentary. So, it is a suppressor. Until I deiced to ever buy one then I will use the incorrect name they desire because it fits their ideals of how to legitimize the reasoning for making something more evil. And the inventor will call it what ever he wants to call it since it makes it more marketable.

    So in my circles it is still a suppressor.

  3. Call it what you want, but I still can’t have one. My betters here in IL know that only evil can come from such a device.

    • Evil came from it regardless. Biological warfare radiation waves and music and elements all made thst hit evil. Thanks for killing my kid asshole wait till I kill your asses

      • Wait, what? Someone killed your kid with “Biological warfare radiation waves and music”?

        How is that a suppressor’s fault?

  4. why do we argue over such simple things I remember in my youth we called magazines clips now everyone gets their tit in a wringer over that terminology I really do not want to sound like Hillary Clinton but really what difference does it make

  5. Early cars were originally called “horseless carriages” or “automobiles”, but that doesn’t mean the word “car”, which came into use around 1896, is improper.

    At one point hammers on firearms were known as “cocks”, does that mean one or the other is incorrect?


  6. I’m on the fence on this one. Sure, the original name was “silencer,” sure the law calls them that, but the law calls things “assault weapons” and the same term was used in advertising back when (I’m told) and we generally hate that term.

    My criterion is: does it contribute to a misunderstanding of firearms that aids the fearmongers in stampeding the hoplophobic masses?

    If it does, the term should probably be depreciated.

  7. IMO, Silencer:suppressor::Kleenix:facial tissue. Mine does not silence, it merely attenuates the noise of the bullet discharge. I own a suppressor.

  8. The U.S. Code that classifies them for the tax stamp calls them both Silencer and Suppressor. The more the term, as pointed out, “Silencer” is used the more we perpetuate the incorrect facts that a “can” will make a shot silent and “havoc with guns will prevail”… If we want the publics support in getting these devices off the $200 tax stamp and make them more available to shooters we’d be better off calling them what they are “Suppressor”.

  9. Its a silencer. Its not something that makes something silent, as in no noise… not in this definition of the word. You put a silencer in your exhaust to make it quieter… It obviously doesnt make your exhaust silent.

    The general idea is that you can call it whatever you want. If you wanna call it a Fiddlespingerdoodle Flopper… Then do it. But for official business, its a silencer.

    As for the guy that said he used to call them clips now everyone gets butthurt about it… We got butthurt then too… Its not a clip, a clip is not a magazine. A clip … clips a few rounds together and usually is taken out… IE a Stripper Clip on a K98 Mauser. A magazine is a case that holds rounds separately from the firearm from which the firearm feeds from. I cringe at this often… I live in the south, so people are generally idiots.

    Yes terms change and evolve… Mostly because of idiocy and laziness though. So think about that point. “Hey baby” turned to “Hey Babe” turned to “A Bae” for example. Do you want to be part of that crowd that succumbs to normalization of ignorance/idiocy?

    Its ultimately up to you, but i choose to be on the side of the intelligent and call things what they are supposed to be called. Just, dont get mad when i/we call you out on it and explain why you are wrong…. Like you dumbasses are doing on here already…

    “It doesnt silence, so its a suppressor!” Its not from Hamburg… So i just call it a bread & meat stack. Might as well right?

  10. Reminds me of the old argument, engine vs motor. When you call an engine a motor, it seems normal to the general public. But to someone who actually knows the difference, they cringe.

  11. The “assault weapon” analogy is not perfect because semi-auto rifles never were assault weapons. I don’t call most AR-15s assault weapons because they are not assault weapons, not because I don’t want to scare the media. If a semi-auto AR-15 was an assault-weapon, I would call it one.

    Further, if you look up the definition of “suppress,” it means to put an end to, so it implies elimination of sound just as much as silencer does. It is not a more logical name, and it sounds much worse.

    • Silence has one meaning. Complete absence of noise.
      To Suppress has multiple meanings. One you have already provided insight. However, the word Suppress can also be defined to prevent the development, action, or expression of; restrain.
      To suppress is not typically used in terms of bringing an end to something but rather a restraining or prevention of something.

      I am happy with calling it a silencer. However, the conclusion that the words are essentially the same and provide the same exact meaning is asinine.

      The device does only suppress the sound. It does not provide complete absence of sound. Therefore, a “Silencer” as “Branded” by Maxim is still by definition a suppressor regardless of the name given.

      Ex: “Ace Bandage”… We still call it that even though it is actually an “elastic bandage” (says it right on the box). We call it this because the brand “Ace” was popular with that specific type of device. All “Silencers” are suppressors yet not all suppressors are “Silencers”. (All ovals are circles. Not all circles are ovals.) Just because it is being incorrectly classified does not change the fact that Maxim “Branded”/named his patent a “Silencer” which should be classified as a suppression device not a silencing device.

      That all being said. The appropriate conclution following logic and proper classification is…
      The “Silencer” is a suppression device (a suppressor).

    • “Assault weapons – just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms – are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons – anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.”
      -Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director and founder of the gun control group Violence Policy Center (VPC); “Assault Weapons: Analysis, New Research and Legislation”, March 1989

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