By B.B. Pelletier
Airguns are quiet, which is one major reason shooters flock to them. But some of them, particularly the precharged pneumatics (PCP) and CO2 guns, DO make noise. By adding a silencer, you can muffle even this sound and have a VERY QUIET gun!
What is a silencer and who cares?
A silencer is a device that attaches to a firearm and reduces the level of the report by at least one decibel for at least one shot. That’s a paraphrase of the legal definition. Who cares about that definition is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF&E). They are a division of the Department of Justice, and they’re chartered to control the production, distribution and ownership of silencers. To own a silencer in the United States, you need a tax stamp issued by the BATF&E.
What about a MODERATOR?
You can call it a moderator, a suppressor or anything else you can think of; if it does what the legal definition says, it’s a silencer and subject to the law. If your airgun came to you with a silencer already on it and you now own it, YOU are responsible for complying with the law. Whoever sold it to you may also have some responsibility, but as the owner, it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
What if the silencer is attached with epoxy so it can’t be removed?
If it can’t be removed with a hacksaw, a carborundum cutoff wheel or a cutting torch you might be safe. Otherwise, you are responsible.
Silencers ARE legal – if you go through the proper steps to obtain them
I’ve read many times where people say silencers are not legal in America. Well, they are, but there are certain legal steps to be taken before obtaining one. You apply through a Class III firearm dealer and your local chief of police to the National Firearms Act (NFA) Branch of the BATF&E. A fee of $200 is paid for the tax stamp that will be issued if you are granted permission. Then that silencer, by serial number, is licensed to you for life.
So, there is NO WAY to quiet a PCP airgun?
Yes, there is. Several years ago, AirForce Airguns designed the Talon SS. The frame of the SS sticks out past the muzzle of the barrel and forms a chamber to enclose the muzzle. A special end cap closes this chamber and strips off a lot of the muzzle blast from that rifle. As a result, the Talon SS is a great deal quieter than a PCP of similar power and barrel length.
This design is now widely called the shrouded barrel, and other airgun manufacturers have begun to offer some rifles that also have it. The Logun S-16 FAC is one such rifle. So look for guns that include a shrouded barrel to find quieter air rifles.
What about silencing a spring rifle?
It has been done. The TX 200 MkIII by Air Arms has a shrouded barrel, as does the TX 200 HC. But spring guns are already so quiet that silencing them is not as dramatic as silencing a powerful PCP.
Airguns are pretty quiet already, and by getting a rifle with a shrouded barrel, you can go that extra step. Of course, the legal silencer will always be an option, too.