FRY THE BRAIN CHAPTER 6: SUPPRESSORS
In this chapter I will diverge from the prevailing sentiment expressed by the author, where he lauds the near infallibility of the suppressor. While a suppressor is an incredibly useful tool, it is important that you recognize the limitations of your equipment. Suppressors were originally designated as "silencers" by the inventor, but have come to be generally referred to as "suppressors" because it is a far more accurate moniker. Suppressors do not silence the report of a gunshot, as the author implies, they merely suppress it. It does not decrease the volume of the report to a level comparable to "the closing of a car door"; in fact, a suppressed gunshot (sometimes even with subsonic ammunition) is easily heard from a significant distance away and can damage your hearing if fired often without earplugs. It does however change the sound of the report into a different sound which is less readily identified as a gunshot. Additionally, the report of a gunshot is only one part of the act of firing a gun that makes noise. You can break it down into 4 parts.
1) The gas escaping the barrel
A suppressor contains the resultant gas from deflagrated gunpowder that propels the bullet out of the barrel. This results in a significantly decreased report volume, as well as mostly eliminates muzzle blast (debris like dust, leaves, or powdery snow blown into the air from the gas leaving the barrel, potentially giving away your position) and muzzle flash (the still-burning powder leaving the muzzle, which makes a bright flash, potentially giving away your position)
2) The action cycling
In a semi-auto rifle or pistol, some of the gas from the burning powder is bled from a port in a rifling groove of the barrel back to the bolt, which throws the bolt and bolt carrier (or slide in a pistol, in a slightly different manner, not using a gas tube) back, which ejects the spent casing. The buffer spring compresses then expands, stripping a round off the magazine and loading it into the chamber. This happens in the blink of an eye, and it makes quite a bit of noise. When you add a suppressor into the equation, you increase the amount of time the gas pushes on the bolt by raising the pressure in the gas tube and keeping it higher for longer, which increases the sound of the action cycling. So although it is counterintuitive, a suppressor actually makes the cycling of the action louder. You can compensate for this by using a bolt action rifle (with which you manually cycle the action, and is practically silent), so long as you take rate of fire into consideration when planning for your mission. Additionally, since the cycling of the action is affected, it is sometimes necessary to adjust your gas system, buffer, buffer spring, and/or bcg to get your rifle to cycle correctly and reliably.
3) The supersonic crack of the bullet
If you are using supersonic ammunition (which is the vast majority of ammo) then the bullet leaves the muzzle faster than the speed of sound, and it makes a sonic boom during its entire flight until it either slows enough to be subsonic or strikes the target. This is quite loud, and a suppressor does not affect the sonic boom made by the bullet. You can compensate for this by using subsonic ammunition, but by doing so you lose a great deal of range, power, and penetration. This is not to say it's a problem induced by suppressors, because it isn't, it's just a property of supersonic ammunition, and an eventuality you need to plan for. You will still be harder to detect using a suppressor, even with supersonic ammo.
4) The impact of the bullet
When the bullet strikes either your target or another solid object, it makes a tremendous smack, and is easily heard, especially if you hit metal or rocks. Again, this happens regardless whether or not you use a suppressor, it's just another variable to take into consideration.
So now that we have gone through what makes the sounds in a gunshot, let's go through the pros and cons.
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