Booth after booth here at IWA has companies showing off their latest modular silencers. Skytesport had this model on display, one of their newer designs that has been adapted for everything from .22LR rimfire cartridges to .300 Win Mag. And while the concept is brilliant, there’s no way in hell that we’ll see them in the United States anytime soon . . .
The idea behind the modular silencer is pretty easy to grasp: it allows the end user to decide how much can they want for that day. If you’re shooting off a bench and want something super quiet, slide a couple more baffles in the suppressor and you’re good to go. If you value weight savings more that day, remove a couple of baffles and head out into the woods. And while the cans are durable (they last about as long as the barrel) and cheap ($400 for the model shown), there are two very good reasons why they won’t work in the US.
First, the design has a fundamental flaw. While I was looking at the silencers, I heard Kevin Brittingham’s voice in the back of my head chanting, “pressure and heat” over and over again. Pressure and heat are the two things that will kill a silencer, and these cans aren’t designed to take much of either. They’re intended for slow fire from a bolt action rifle, giving the suppressor time to cool down and de-pressurize after each round. Start double-tapping with one of these babies and they’ll make like a banana after a few rounds.
Then there’s the regulatory issue. The ATF has a long and colorful history of proclaiming that common household items like washers and steel wool are “silencer parts” and owning those items in conjunction with a silencer is illegal. Their position is that only a licensed manufacturer should be allowed to have spare silencer parts, even if you legally own the silencer in question. So imagine the hissy fit that the ATF would throw if people started selling silencers along with spare baffles.
Still, despite the technical and legal issues, I really want one. Because I’m a guy that likes to customize his guns, and the modularity allows the shooter to control things on a nicely granular level that I’d love to tinker with. Oh well. Maybe one day….