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Are you confused? Congratulate yourself!

Silencers…suppressors…decibels…trusts…tax stamps…vomit.

Sound familiar? I was once what I now believe to be a typical consumer making a first-time foray into silencer (aka “suppressor”) shopping.


I’m fairly bright; I survived engineering school, I convinced a beautiful woman to marry me, I manage to keep my bills paid and even got a couple of patents along the way. But not much in my life has made me feel as ignorant and out of touch as trying to buy a silencer.

Like many, I wanted a silencer for two basic reasons; 1) my rifle was very loud and 2) silencers are cool! I thought I could turn my AR15 into a pellet-gun-quiet weapon of…whatever. I don’t hunt and don’t plan on joining a militia, but if the need presented itself…

Ok. I just thought it would be cool.

As I was driving into town I passed a gun shop and noticed that they sold silencers. It said “SILENCERS” right over the phone number on the sign out front. I planned a u-turn for the next opportunity and called the phone number. When the lady answered I asked her,

“Do you have silencers?”

“We have suppressors.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Same thing.”

I kept driving.

I didn’t want to come across so ignorant on my next attempt so I read as much as I could on blogs, websites, forums and industry articles. At that time, there wasn’t nearly as much on the internet as there is now, but it was just as effective. I left that experience even more confused than when I started. I just didn’t know it yet.

This time, I walked into a gun shop and studiously examined the wares in the silencer/ suppressor display case. When the clerk asked me if he could help, I asked him, “Which of these do you recommend?” He responded with a baffling question, “It depends. What do you want to do with it?” I had obviously fooled him into thinking that I was familiar with the subject, so I responded, “Uh. Well, you know.”

This guy knew what he was doing. His stereotypical “always a Marine” cadence and self assuredness gave me confidence that I was talking to the right guy. He showed me every detail about each one. They were all black and tubular, I didn’t retain much else.

When he was finished, I tried to maintain the charade I came in with and asked, “So, what’s the difference between this one and that one.”

He looked at the labels and said, “About $500.”

I stared at him like a fourteen year old boy who just accidentally walked into a women’s locker room. I thought it was obvious. I wanted to make my gun quiet and look cool doing so. So I bought a little time and said, “Um hm.”

And this is when it got ugly. He asked me, “Do you have a trust?”

My cover was blown. From there, I learned that I could buy it, but I couldn’t have it and that privilege would cost an extra $200. Moreover, I learned that I should get a trust and that would cost another $600. And, if I did get a trust, then when I could finally have the silencer/suppressor, it wouldn’t be mine.

Are you following this?

Before it was over with I was sure of one thing; I didn’t have a clue about what I was looking for when I started and didn’t even know how clueless I was. I was ignorant of my ignorance. I now know that there is great value in having a knowledgeable expert walk you through this mess.

So, do yourself a favor. If you're looking to buy a silencer, shelve your Ph.D. and dismiss your pride. When you shop for a silencer, (and yes, the ATF calls them “SILENCERS”) ask questions and don’t be ashamed that you don’t know a decibel from a jezebel. Pick your shop wisely and resist the urge to get your advice from a blog (excepting this one, of course). Walk into that shop and proudly proclaim, “I want a silencer and I am CONFUSED.”

As they say, admitting it is the first step.

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