Most Suppressors get really hot really fast! They capture all that pressure, hot gas, burning powder, and sound waves. Even the sound waves inside the suppressor create heat. This becomes a problem at varying levels and to varying degrees based on application.
Obviously, the caliber, amount of powder in the cartridge, length of the barrel, rate of fire, and mass of suppressor all make a difference and so there is no hard and fast rule on any of this. Just be aware that on some level all of the following can be an issue.
- If you are slung up and have to transition to a handgun after firing a full magazine or more, the bare suppressor will likely burn your leg, clothing, or other gear that it may touch
- If you’re leaving the range after shooting and you need to remove your suppressor from your gun, it will likely burn your hands if enough time hasn’t elapsed for it to cool.
- If you just place a hot suppressor attached to a gun into a gun case it will likely burn or melt your case, truck, seat, carpet, etc.
- On a bolt action rifle, where the scope over bore height is relatively low, the suppressor after 3-5 shots will put off a mirage that will screw up (technical term) your sight picture and cause flyers due to the image shifting from the mirage.
- On an AR-style rifle, the scope sits higher but eventually, after enough shots, the suppressor will get hot enough to also create a mirage. If you’re shooting steel at 50 yards with a red dot it won’t matter but the mirage will really screw up precision applications, especially with magnified optics.
- If you’re using a thermal scope, after the suppressor heats up, it will glow in the thermal and affect the sensor.
So what can be done? The answer is relatively simple and there are dozens of companies that have answered the call to make high-temperature suppressor covers. These covers will handle substantial amounts of heat without melting or bursting into flames. Think 500 to 800 degrees F. They also make a big difference in reducing the amount of mirage coming up off of the suppressor into your sight picture.
Usually, with a suppressor cover installed you can screw your suppressor off without gloves or stow it without risking burning or melting something. It will also prevent burns on your body if you’re slung up and have incidental suppressor contact (I want credit for that term, “incidental suppressor contact”)
I personally zero my big game hunting rifles without suppressor covers because a worst-case scenario would be three shots in the field and I don’t want to carry the weight. Generally, three shots aren’t going to be too big of an issue for heat or mirage.
For varmint style hunting rifles, think high volume prairie dogs or ground squirrels, you definitely want to zero with your suppressor cover on as just the weight of the suppressor cover can shift the point of impact. You’ll want to use the same suppressor cover and suppressor in the field that you zeroed with.
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For matches, tactical training, long-range precision, or other plinking where moderate to high volumes of fire will take place, then zero with the suppressor cover on.
I personally currently use two brands of suppressor covers. I love the Armageddon Gear suppressor covers as they fit well and are very lightweight. I did a review of them here that you can check out.
You’d be surprised by how many suppressor covers weigh between 6 and 10 ounces which is all I want my entire suppressor to weigh! With a really heavy suppressor cover, you could be doubling the amount of weight on the very end of your barrel.
The other suppressor cover that has worked extremely well and is a good mix of lightweight and very high-temperature ability is the Silencer Central Devour suppressor cover. Silencer Central claims an actual dB reduction when using the Devour suppressor cover. “Devour reduces firearm noise by 20%” is what is claimed on the package.
I haven’t had the time to go to a lab and verify this claim, but I can tell you that it’s very effective at reducing mirage and shielding heat. It also features some sort of somewhat sticky coating on the inside that doesn’t slip. Silencer Central sells them for $69 on their site.
As a side note, very few people need a suppressor cover rated for full auto work. In the real world, unless you’re running a belt-fed for a living, you’re just wasting ammo and burning out barrels shooting full auto.
There are lots of companies making good suppressor covers. Do your homework and make sure that you’re not wrapping your suppressor in a brick that doesn’t stay put or that spontaneously ignites.