Suppressor Review: AAC Illusion 9mm

The AAC Illusion 9mm installed on my Beretta 92 FS

The AAC Illusion 9mm installed on my Beretta 92 FS

At first glance, you might think the guy drilling the bore in the AAC Illusion had a three Jaeger Bomb lunch before the afternoon shift.

That’s because the hole is not in the center of the tube. At first glance, it seems off, like a Dunkin Donuts French Cruller with the middle out of place. The suppressor body is round, like most other silencers on the market, but the suppressor itself is not concentric around the bore line. The idea is to have more of the silencer body below the bore line, which minimizes the amount of “stuff” above the bore line. Why? To reduce the problem of the suppressor body blocking a clear view of the sights.

The SilencerCo Osprey takes a similar approach using a more rectangular suppressor body. Most of the “box” is below the bore line with that too, again for the purpose of getting the body out of your sight picture. But while the Osprey is a squared design, the exterior of the Illusion is perfectly round.

It may look crooked, but that's for a good reason.

It may look crooked, but that’s for a good reason.

You might wonder, “How do you mount this so that the fatter part ends up below the bore line? That’s pretty simple. The illusion booster mount screws onto standard barrel threads as you would expect. When tightened down properly the can might end up in any orientation with the “thin” part on the top, side or even bottom. To re-orient the can so the thin section is at exactly the 12 o’clock position, just pull out the suppressor body, twist to the correct location, and let it snap back into place. The “timing” mechanism couldn’t be easier. It works somewhat like a three lug mount in that respect.

Mounting the Illusion on a Beretta 92FS, the body still blocked the iron sights, but far less than normal. That helped. Roughly speaking, the top of the sights were pretty darn close to the top of the suppressor body, so the sight picture was noticeably improved over that of most concentric can designs on this particular gun.

Shooting the Illusion

I shot the AAC Illusion with a Beretta 92FS. While the barrel on the Beretta 92 extends past the slide, the older 92 and M9 models don’t come pre-threaded. I bought a second factory barrel that was threaded from Tornado Technologies a year or two ago, but you can also have tour existing barrel threaded.

The Illusion is installed "upside down" here, but if installed correctly on this Beretta 92, the guide rod would just barely hit the suppressor body. Get the right booster piston to solve that.

The Illusion is installed “upside down” here, but if installed correctly on this Beretta 92, the guide rod would just barely hit the suppressor body. Get the right booster piston to solve that.

There is one issue with the Beretta 92 and AAC Illusion that you should know about if you’re buying one for that gun. When oriented properly, the Illusion body will block the recoil spring guide rod, interfering with the recoil operation. That’s an issue specific to the Beretta that you won’t find with most other pistols. The word is that AAC will be offering an extended mounting piston to avoid this problem. For my shooting, I just mounted the Illusion upside down so the guide rod had clearance. Bottom line: if you want to use this with a Beretta, check with AAC first to be sure you can get the right piston.

That issue aside, I had no function problems at all with my Beretta 92FS and the AAC Illusion. I shot loads of sub and supersonic 9mm ammo through the pair and experienced no failures to feed or eject.

First, I shot the Illusion 9mm “dry.” Right off the bat, I noticed that the Illusion is a very quiet sounding suppressor. That’s a subjective observation as sound pressure levels as measured by decibel meters might not correlate to what you ear and brain perceive. A silencer with a “louder” decibel rating might seem “quieter” to your ear as a result of tonal differences. The factory rates the Illusion with a 33dB sound reduction. The overall sound pressure level is 127dB, depending of course on your specific ammo and gun combination.

The Illusion was super happy with American Eagle's new 9mm Suppressor ammo.

The Illusion was super happy with American Eagle’s new 9mm Suppressor ammo.

The fun ammo for shooting this silencer dry included American Eagle’s new 124-grain 9mm Suppressor and Sig Sauer’s 147-grain V-Crown self-defense load.

The new American Eagle Suppressor line is not just subsonic, it uses a special powder blend that minimizes filth that accompanies silencer use. Better yet, I noticed that the American Eagle Suppressor Ammo gave me no “suppressor facial” when shooting from the Beretta. With its open-top slide design, you usually get a face full of grit every time you fire a suppressed 92 or M9 pistol, but not with American Eagle’s new load. To be sure, I alternated back and forth between the Suppressor 9mm and standard 9mm ammo, and sure enough, each trigger pull with the American Eagle ammo was facial-free, while every other type gave me a “pleasing” powder blast to the face. As a side note, I did measure the velocity of the Beretta 92FS / AAC Illusion / American Eagle 9mm Suppressor combo using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph and found the average to be 1,022.7 feet per second. That’s about 110 fps below the speed of sound for local atmospheric conditions that day.

I tested the Illusion side by side with the Gemtech GM-9 and Surefire Ryder 9-Ti. All were almost identical in size and sound reduction specs.

I tested the Illusion side by side with the Gemtech GM-9 and Surefire Ryder 9-Ti. All were almost identical in size and sound reduction specs.

The Sig Sauer Elite Performance 147-grain V-Crown load is a jacketed hollow point design. It’s not made for the purpose of being subsonic, but its 147-grain projectile weight guarantees that. I also clocked this load and measured an average velocity of 986.2 feet per second shooting from the Beretta 92FS with AAC Illusion mounted.

I shot both ammo types through the Illusion and a SilencerCo Octane 45 I had handy and the Illusion was significantly quieter, at least to my untrained ear. Of course, a larger part of the reason for that is the larger hole in the fiery end of the Octane.

For serious, but very quiet, fun, try adding a little wire pulling gel and shoot the Illusion wet.

For serious, but very quiet, fun, try adding a little wire pulling gel and shoot the Illusion wet.

Wanting to see how quiet things could get, I decided to do some “wet” shooting. I added a thimble-full of ClearGlide wire-pulling gel. This stuff is great for pistol suppressors. It’s water based, but the gelatinous nature allows it to stick inside of your suppressor until it’s forcibly evaporated through repeat fire. Just add about 5ccs into the blast chamber end, hold your fingers over both holes, and shake a few times. The gel will coat the baffles inside. The purpose of all this is to quiet the suppressed shot even more. The hot gas is cooled just a hair as some of the heat energy goes to evaporating the gel. Cooler gas out the fiery end means less noise. Be sure to check with your suppressor manufacturer before shooting wet and never add liquids to rifle suppressors.

Anyway, the wet approach made a huge difference with the Illusion. There was no detectable first round pop as you generally hear when shooting dry. Every shot was amazingly quiet. I loaded up the magazine and paid careful attention to how long the “wet” benefit lasted. To my ear, the noise level came back to normal after about 15 shots.

Disassembly and cleaning

The Illusion is simple to take apart for maintenance. The ability to remove the baffles offers up more flexibility in ammo as you can choose to shoot lead bullets. Of course, you’ll have to clean the lead residue periodically, but at least, you have the option.

Maintenance is easy as the baffles slide right out the fiery end. Note the notches to make sure they're aligned correctly.

Maintenance is easy as the baffles slide right out the fiery end. Note the notches to make sure they’re aligned correctly.

The Illusion opens at both ends. The muzzle side unscrews for cleaning the booster device and changing the mounting piston on you need a different thread pattern. An included tool allows you to remove the front cap, and that’s how you remove the baffle stack.

Remember, the Illusion is non-concentric, so that means the baffles have to be aligned in a certain way. AAC makes this idiot-proof as each baffle is notched, and will only attach to its neighbors in one orientation. Also, the entire baffle stack will only fit into the outer tube one way to make sure the baffle holes line up with the piston and front cap. When you install the baffle stack, just rotate it until it locks into place. Unless the baffles are correctly aligned, you won’t be able to fully reinstall the front cap. It’s a good system that’s very unlikely to get you into trouble.

The Specs

Caliber: 9mm
Weight: 10.4 oz
Length: 7.88”
Diameter: 1.25”
Finish: T3 Hard-coat Anodize, Nitride
Sound Reduction: – 33dB
Sound Pressure Level: – 127dB (Dry)
Threading options: 1/2-28 or 13.5x1LH

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I really liked the Illusion. The big deals to me were the tone and perception of “quiet” operation. On paper, it’s similar to many other models on the market regarding sound pressure level reduction. To the human ear, the performance was better than others with similar sound level ratings. I also like the offset design. While that didn’t help me with the Beretta, it would with most other threaded handguns.

Get more information, or buy one, at Silencer Shop.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Larry j Petty April 5, 2016, 6:58 pm

    how do i get one —/?

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