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Education / Training What about a silencer for your airgun?

What about a silencer for your airgun?

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.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

45 thoughts on “What about a silencer for your airgun?”

  1. The discussion on the other forums has been permanently attached silencers (shrouded barrels) should fall under this since C02 Paintball guns are still airguns. Hard to say, I know that most are buying airguns with PERMANENTLY attached silencers.

  2. Shure we all want to hear that we can have silencers for our airguns, but no where in that ATF rule does it spcificly mention pellet guns. so i would play it safe and just pay your 200 bucks for the licence, shure beats the $250,000 fine and 10 years in jail for making one, and another 10 years and 250,000 fine for posessing it.

  3. the BATFE covers firearms, and any suppressor is(for some forgotten reason) considerd a firearm by itself AND SUBJECT TO THE FIREARM LAWS, even if not attached to anything! If you stick it on a potato, if you use it as a hat, paint your nails wit it, it is subject to confiscation and subjects you to imprisonment in the USA if not properly stamped and licenced! I think a backwards law that pertained to poachers in the Depression era is silly to keep, but that IS the way it is. please play it safe, and do it the legal way, or not at all.

  4. You are correct that the silencer is controlled by BATF&E, but it isn’t because it’s considered to be a firearm. If a device can be attached to a firearm and lower the report, that device is a silencer and must be registered. That’s why BATF&E gets concerned about airguns silencers. Some of them do work on firearms, too.


  5. How about if I take a lawn mower muffler and duct tape it to the end of my .22 then put a piece of duct tape over the end. Is this now a silencer? Works pretty well BTW.

  6. If it is permanently attached to an air gun (air gun meaning = air gun, CO2, pcp,etc.) and cannot be removed from said air gun it is legal.

    If you wish to check further into this please check the following site in the NFA section and others.

    The BSA Tech Star Ultra is a good example, as it has a permanently attached “can” rather than a shroud.

  7. thank you for letting me know that AIRGUN silencer is illegal in the state unless you get the approval from BATF IM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO BE A FELON

  8. Found this old thread here. What if an airgun silencer were composed of materials unsuitable for firearms or in other words what if you built it so that it would blow apart if/when placed on a firearm? Balsa wood frame, cardboard sides and baffles, etc.

  9. If people are willing to buy a $500 PCP with a shrouded barrel (that quiets, but doesnt fully work as a real supressor would) then why are so many people unwilling to just pay the $200 tax and buy a $150 legal supressor? Personally, I would rather spend $350 on a legal supressor that has a warranty and no way of landing me in jail. Making one out of balsa wood and cardboard is going to be fragile and break, plus it will still hold you up in jail for a few months (if not years) while the ATF tests to make sure that your wooden silencer really cant work on any real gun. Remember, it only has to work for one shot, and quiet the gun a very little bit for it to be illegal, even if that one shot blows the silencer to bits. For the guy who asked if a lawn mower muffler would be illegal… why wouldnt it be? It doesnt matter what the thing was originally designed for, if you fit it to a gun and use it as a silencer, then it becomes a silencer. Dont be stupid, just do ti the legal way.

  10. Everyone keeps saying capable of silencing one shot, etc. The hoops you have to jump through to own a silencer have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with public safety. It is a tax issue that dates back to the New Deal.

  11. this is crazy hey you with the balsa wood idea that has not been tried. I’ll tell you why they are illegal on airguns because the silencers for airguns are real working silencers the gamo whisper can be sold because of it’s small caliber .177 for airguns silencers to be legal I suggest all plastic construction no metal no baffles and only for pcp’s no co2, co2 needs a real silencer

  12. B.B.,

    Anyone every simply drilled some holes near the end of the barrel to more slowly release the compressed gas in the bore? For a 0.22 bore perhaps 4 holes 3/64?

    I know my semi-automatic shotgun has a couple of holes towards the end of the barrel to use some of energy to eject and reload. This would rob a bit of power, but to have a much quieter gun, perhaps a decent trade off…


  13. B.B.,

    Understand about the compensators, but there must not be enough holes, and the holes are not large enough. You obviously can drill enough holes towards the end of the barrel so that when the pellet actually leaves the barrel that the pressure inside the barrel has dropped to atmospheric pressure (so long as the velocity of the pellet is less than the sound barrier). The relative directions of the gas molecules is not randomly uniform inside the barrel, but the velocity distribution is skewed with the major component down the barrel. The faster the pellet, the more the distribution is skewed. For a rifle, since the bullet is traveling faster than the speed of sound, holes in the barrel wouldn’t do much. But if the top speed of the pellet were limited to about 900 fps, then there should be enough time between when the pellet passes the holes to when the pellet leaves the barrel to “dump” the gas pressure.

    In order to reduce the report, you’d also need to vary the size of the holes and the spacing so as not to create a harmonic vibration in the air.

    It seems that you’d need to drill the pattern horizontally and vertically (4 holes at each given distance down the barrel) so as not to move the barrel. I didn’t think about how much force the escaping gas could create.


  14. B.B.,

    Sorry to beat this to death. I’m a science nut and just curious. I have no intention of “making” anything.

    It just seemed that if the barrel itself were modified, then the “silencer” wouldn’t be an attachment and removable. Of course I could use such a barrel to “make” a silencer for a 22 by sawing off the barrel, drilling it out a bit and threading it. But then I break the law by “making” a silencer. I could do so with a round stock anyway with all the equipment necessary to modify the factory barrel.

    Obviously a shroud seems the way to go to make something more cheaply.


  15. B.B.,

    I don’t have any machine tools with which to do such experimentation. I’m a theorist, not an experimentalist. 😉

    The other thought that occurred to me was that I wonder if such a modification would improve accuracy. If you stripped off the gas pressure while the pellet was still in the barrel, then the muzzle blast wouldn’t push against the pellet as it exited the barrel. A slight nudge in any direction would cause the pellet to precess, which would cause impression.


  16. B.B.,

    The other thing that occurred to me about this is the shooting precision. If the bore pressure were stripped away before the pellet left the barrel, then the “pop” of air wouldn’t blow against the back of the pellet. Such a “push” would almost certainly be off center, causing the pellet to precess.


  17. Sorry for the double post, thought it got lost….

    The compensator seemed to me to be just a weight at the end of a lever (barrel). By adding extra weight you balance the gun, and you make it harder to lift the barrel when you fire because of the extra weight at the tip of the barrel.


  18. I am thinking about buying the c11 tactical (which has a silencer/compensator built on to hide the extended barrel) does anybody know if this would be considered a silencer/ would there be any legal issues if a cop saw me shooting it?

  19. Anonymous thinking about a c11,

    No you won’t have any legal issues. What looks like a silencer on the c11 tactical is just a barrel extender. It’s for looks only, it’s a hollow tube. This gun isn’t that noisy so it really doesn’t need a silencer. Buy it if you like it.


  20. That silencer is fake and does not come under the law. And the police are not capable of rendering decisions on silencers (nor are they permitted to do so). That’s a federal jurisdiction, so they default to ATF.

    Your issue is the legality of shooting a BB gun.


  21. OK, now I’m confused.

    I recently purchased a Gamo Whisper. Let’s face it, that thing they built into the end of the barrel is a silencer. Call it what you will, we all know what it’s for, and Gamo shamelessly advertises the fact that it cuts the sound of the report by 52%

    On one hand, talk to any dealer and they claim the device is perfectly legal. I mean, anybody (over 18) could conceivably walk into any store that sells them and buy it w/o any questions or hassle. For that matter, if there were a legal issue, how would anyone be able to import them into this country from Spain?

    On the other hand this article and others are telling us that we could potentially go to jail and face a mind numbing fine if we don’t jump through all the hoops to satisfy the ATF to own a legal silencer. The consensus I see is “probably safe” if the silencer is permanently attached. “Probably safe” is not good enough! On that note, I’m sorry, but the OPINION of a Class III DEALER doesn’t cut it! He is not the one enforcing the law, nor is he going to be the one to bail me out of jail if the ATF decides to take issue with this gun!

    So which is it? Can I take this thing out and go shooting, or did I just buy an expensive wall hanger? Am I going to have to pay the $200 fine for a misinformed purchase before I can feel safe taking it out in the field?

    Somebody please enlighten me!

    I suppose until I can get a clear answer on this, I’ll just have to play stupid and call it a muzzle brake.

  22. Enlightenment,

    Call it a silencer, because for a breakbarrel spring air rifle, that’s what it is. But it won’t work on a firearm because it cannot be removed from the Whisper without damaging it and it is plastic inside and cannot withstand the heat of the combustion gases of a firearm cartridge. It is perfectly legal.

    Don’t confuse that toy-like thing with what some airgunners are making that really can silence firearms. They are being arrested and one of them did go to prison for 20 years.


  23. wait… the whisper is a silencer. it only needs to silence a .22 rimfire by ONE decible according to the batf to count as a silencer!! So, even if the plastic inside cannopt withstand combustion gasses, it will still silence that first shot by at least one decible. it bay be destroyed in the porcess… but if it redices the noise by Once decible according to the batf… then it is considered a firearm.

    so i fyou permanently attach a silencer to your airgun, it is nop longer a legal silencer, since the whisper is a legal pellet gun but not a ‘silencer’ anymore (because of the permanent attachment). eh?

  24. I recently purchased a gammo whisper and after reading all of these posts and other articles there is no doubt that you could be arrested for posession of a silencer. If you cut the end off of the whisper and stuck it on a .22 rimfire the report would be lowered by at least one decible. The bottom line is that if they want to bust you they will find a way.
    Don’t bother to buy a whisper anyway, the thing is a piece of crap.

  25. The law regarding silencers is very clear and very clearly slanted to put YOU in jail. There are no sound suppressors that are available to you without a federal tax stamp..period. Airguns or not, you need to protect yourself from the law (by not thinking you have found a legal loophole regarding these devices).
    It is just that simple. If you want to reduce the sound of your gun (air, powder, spring or whatever) you need to apply for a Federal Tax Stamp ($200). Follow the rules or start spending your nights with Bubba.

  26. Re: Silencers / Moderators

    Ditto the 5:20pm posting.

    Don't be mis-led by the legal silencers as used in the U.K. on many air guns.

    In the U.S., you MUST apply for and have a legal reason for any weapon silencer. Any weapon that discharges a projectile, not just firearms.

    Also, an application for a silencer requires a LEGAL reason to have one. Unless you have that reason, your application will be denied regardless.

    Shrouded, integral barrels that cannot be modified or removed to be used on other weapons are all that is allowed in the U.S.

    Check-out "silencers jail-time" on the web and read the long list of folks who are playing a 20 year game of rock-hockey in Federal prisons because they "only taped a coke can full of fiberglass" to their weapons.

    Brian in Idaho

  27. Brian in Idaho,

    If you want to liven up today's blog repost your comments there. These things are called barrel extenders, shrouds, LDC's (lead dust collectors), muzzle breaks, etc. One thing all the ones I've seen have in common is they are NOT threaded for attachment to a firearm.

    Another thing you'll hear is that the federal government doesn't consider a pelllet gun a fire arm and it's therefore not regulated like one, including the above named devices.

    Mr B.

  28. integrated moderators like the shrouded barrel of the remington npss nitro pisto .22 air rifle which i own, is legal. but if you must defy the man the best thing to do is to make several moderators and hide them in weatherproof containers which you bury/hide in your favorite shooting/hunting areas. they'll never be found in your home, but pray you don't run into a ranger in the woods. one could possibly make a shrouded barrel by taping a piece of that dense foam pipe insulation around the full length of the barrel. it may work, it just seems to me it might. take yer chances if you must. i'd rather had a loudish rifle than share a prison cell with 400lb. gay dude named alice for 20 years.

  29. Anonymous moderator,

    the blog you are responding to is over 5 years old. There are a core of volunteers, I being one of them, that monitor the old blogs as almost no one else does, and respond to comments that ask for help. In your case, the name of your cellmate would in all likelihood be "Too Tall" or "Shaft".

    By all means, read these older blogs as you'll gain significant information on all aspects of air guns. However, a new blog is published every weekday. You can find it by going here:


    You will also gain a lot more exposure to any comment or question you ask on the current days' blog.

    We look forward to you joining us.

    Fred PRoNJ

  30. Curious does anyone have a permit and how did the justify it? I have tinnitus a permanent ringing in the ears from shooting lots of rounds in the military and noise exposure. Even a co2 gun is too loud and wearing hearing protection makes my tinnitus worse.

    If you have some answers I'd love to hear them.


  31. We have a silencer. You don't have to justify it to anyone. You apply for it. If you don't have a reason for the ATF to decline it (e.g., criminal record), it's approved.


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