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Owning and using a suppressor helps prevent hearing loss. Hearing loss is a legitimate health concern that all firearms owners should be concerned about. Firearms are loud. The average firearm without a suppressor is between 140-165 dB and creates what is called an impulse noise (impulse noise = noise that lasts for less than one second). OSHA’s limit for impact/impulse noise is 140 dB. Impulse noises below 140 dB are considered hearing safe. Every time you fire a gun (including a .22 LR) without hearing protection or a suppressor, you permanently lose hearing and it never returns. Surgery and hearing aids cannot restore the hearing you lose; it’s gone forever. Suppressors do not make your gun silent! However, they can make the impulse noise less than 140 dB.
According to OSHA, “The effects of noise-induced hearing loss can be profound, limiting your ability to hear high-frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairing your ability to communicate.”
I would add that hearing loss affects your situational awareness.
A suppressor might be better at preventing hearing loss than earplugs and earmuffs because a suppressor actually suppresses the sound before it can cause damage. While earplugs, earmuffs, and other devices that block the ear canal can certainly help reduce hearing damage, studies are showing that the bones in our skull actually transmit sound to our ears. Earplugs and earmuffs don’t stop the vibrations and harmful noises transferred by our bones and are likely not as effective at preventing hearing loss as a good suppressor. At the range, it’s a good idea to use a suppressor and wear hearing protection.
By using a suppressor and protecting your ears, you may be decreasing your chances of developing dementia!
Research done by John Hopkins found that “…mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.”
The researchers found that hearing loss may contribute to faster rates of atrophy in the brain as well as make your brain work harder.
A suppressor might save you thousands of dollars. The average price for one hearing aid is $1,675. Usually, you need two. They don’t last forever so assume multiple pairs. Add in some doctor’s visits and you almost can’t afford not to buy a suppressor!
A suppressor reduces or eliminates muzzle blast. Traditionally, we associate flinching with recoil, and while recoil can contribute to flinching, many shooters are finding that when using a suppressor on a caliber with no recoil they don’t suffer from the concussion, noise, and blast. As a result, they don’t close their eyes, flinch, or jerk the trigger.
A suppressor eliminates or reduces recoil or kick. Nobody that’s telling the truth enjoys getting punched in the shoulder, and that’s essentially what happens when you shoot a lightweight centerfire magnum rifle. Suppressors are very effective at slowing the recoil down or eliminating it altogether. I personally observed a small (70lb) 12-year-old boy shoot a 5.5 pound 6.5 PRC with a suppressor. After shooting he got up smiling and said, “That didn’t kick at all!”
Suppressors prevent snow, dust, dirt, or other debris from blowing up when you shoot prone. If you’ve shot much with muzzle brakes, you know this is a real thing.
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Suppressors reduce muzzle rise and make it possible to stay on target through your shot. This allows you to make your own wind calls and corrections.
Suppressors do an excellent job of reducing or eliminating muzzle flash. Obviously, this would be important to those in the military, law enforcement, or self-defense/home defense situations. You don’t want 2-foot flames from your muzzle broadcasting your position. Additionally, less muzzle flash is better if you’re using night vision.
Many rifles shoot better groups with a suppressor. Almost every rifle I own shoots better with than without a suppressor. Some of this is due to the shooter shooting better, but there’s also a mechanical aspect of hanging a weight on the end of your barrel that tends to stabilize harmonics and give better groups.
Noise pollution is a real thing and as the planet gets more populated, being able to reduce your sound signature so that it doesn’t bother neighbors, pets, or animals is a real benefit.
Communication is easier with a suppressor. You don’t have to deal with other people not hearing you because of hearing protection.
Situational awareness is benefited by being able to shoot and not have your ears ringing and by not needing to wear hearing protection.
Shooting courses/classes are safer because of better communication.
With some practice, good shooters can make faster follow-up shots with a suppressor than without.
It’s cool to own a suppressor! Let’s face it, that’s a legitimate reason to own one. The military is getting them. Spec Ops groups have been using them for years. We all need some cool factor so that younger shooters will become interested in shooting and carry on the tradition.
Hunting with a suppressor gives you all the above benefits plus some hunting-specific ones. Specifically, you’re less likely to spook animals if you miss or make a poor shot that requires a follow-up. While centerfire rifles shooting supersonic bullets are still really loud, suppressors make it difficult for animals to determine where the shot came from due to the elimination of the muzzle blast. I’ve had coyotes that I missed run directly towards me because they weren’t sure where the bullet came from. Horses, mules, hunting partners, dogs, pack goats, and llamas are all going to appreciate not having you blow their ears out as well. In fact, they might not run off and leave you if you’re using a suppressor! You’ll also cause less stress to the animals that you’re not harvesting by hunting with a suppressor.
It’s really rude, impolite, and inconsiderate not to have a suppressor!
What did we miss? What other reasons are there for owning a suppressor? Tell us in the comments.