The folks at American Eagle have been quietly releasing a family of suppressor friendly ammunition. So far, I’ve tried it in 300 Blackout, 45 ACP, and .22 LR. Now, the company is shipping 124-grain 9mm ammo in the Suppressor brand family. I got my hands on a stash and brought it to the range with my trusty Beretta 92 with a threaded barrel and, for good measure, a Sig Sauer P226 Single Action Only. Thanks to our friends at Silencer Shop, I also packed three different 9mm suppressors: AAC’s Illusion 9mm, Gemtech’s GM-9, and Surefire’s Ryder 9Ti. Just for fun, and to compare the 9mm cans against an oversized one, I also brought my SilencerCo Octane 45.
No More Tactical Facials?
When someone labels ammo “Suppressor” on the box, it’s safe to assume that it will be subsonic. Sure, you can shoot supersonic ammunition through a suppressor too, and it makes a big impact in reducing the overall blast noise level, but you still have the sound of the miniature sonic boom traveling down range. As we’ll get to in a minute, the Suppressor 9mm load is subsonic, but that’s not the big thing.
To explain what is the big feature, let me provide a quick bit of background. The Beretta 92 / M9 is a great gun to suppress. The recoil action moves the barrel straight back rather than back and then tilting the barrel up. When you have a suppressor on a gun with a tilting barrel recoil design, the recoil forces not only have to pull the suppressor backward, but there has to be enough “oomph” to lift the muzzle, with the added weight of the suppressor, upward. Fortunately, silencer companies have largely solved reliability issues for this issue with the use of spring booster mechanisms, so this is not a big a deal as it used to be.
Back to the Beretta. It’s super reliable when shooting suppressed, but the open slide design has a little bit of a drawback. With most ammunition, you’ll get anywhere from a small to large face full of burnt powder grit every time you pull the trigger. It’s one of the joys of suppressed pistol shooting. Add some liquid to your can and you get an extra special bonus – a wet face full of grit.
During my first outing with American Eagle’s Suppressor 9mm ammo, I shot it – a lot – from the Beretta 92FS. I was testing four difference pistol silencers, hence the abnormally high shooting volume. A couple of magazines in I noticed something. I was not getting a Silencer Facial – at all. Thinking I must be imagining things, I loaded the next mag with some standard 9mm practice ammo – and the powder blast to the face returned.
I know the American Eagle folks have done stuff to the powder blend in the Suppressor line to reduce fouling and muzzle blast, but apparently the good side effect is less residue coming back at you too. Very nice, unless you want to lose those unattractive blackheads.
It’s not like this ammo is made for bullseye competitions, but I wanted to see what it would do regardless. On my first outing with it, I shot four consecutive five-shot groups from a range of 25 yards. I used a Sig Sauer P226 Single Action Only. In the past, this particular gun has proven to be exceptionally accurate, so I figured it would provide a good platform from which to get an indication of the ammo’s consistency. I did add a Bushnell 3500 Handgun Scope with a UM Tactical Mount so I could remove the “iron sights and old eyes” variable from the equation. I also created a solid rest with a Blackhawk! Titan III rest anchored by a 25-pound bag of lead shot.
With this setup, I measured the following five-shot groups:
That averages out to just 2.43 inches.
One of the main purposes of this ammo line is to be as suppressor friendly as possible, so it’s subsonic. Where I shoot, an average temperature might be around 75 degrees, and I’m just a few feet above sea level, so the speed of sound is approximately 1,133 feet per second. To see how the American Eagle Suppressor ammo compared to that number, I shot a bunch of it through a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet down range.
I used a variety of suppressed and unsuppressed configurations and got the following results.
For two of the gun configurations, I ran extended strings to get decent figures for extreme spread and standard deviation.
The Beretta 92FS, Unsuppressed velocity numbers had an extreme spread between highest and lowest velocity of 67 feet per second with standard deviation of 21.13. The Beretta with the Surefire Ryder attached resulted in a spread of 82 feet per second and standard deviation of 23.49.
It’s not hard to find ammo, even 9mm ammo, that will run subsonic. If the 124-grain options are too close to the sound barrier, then just move to 147-grain 9mm ammo. Most of that runs comfortably in subsonic ranges. But the velocity is just part of the deal. The winner for me, and something I didn’t expect when I decided to field test this ammo, was the complete lack of suppressor facials. While I didn’t have practical way to test for reduced fouling over time against other ammunition, I have to think that the lack of crud blowing backward is going to keep my suppressed pistol cleaner a lot longer. Usually, crud is encouraged by the silencer to take up residence in the action quicker than the Donald can insult Jeb. The chamber area and top section of magazines get thoroughly coated with powder residue after just a couple of magazines.
If there’s ammo that keeps my gun cleaner and my face unmolested, I’m all for it.