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Silencer, Thy Name Is Misleading

Silencers are now a well-known accessory for firearms. What amazes me is how wrong most portrayals are. I swear, every time they stick a tube on the end of a barrel and I hear (or read about hearing) a “soft phut,” or a “whisper,” or any other description that implies a near silent shot, I have to stop myself from screaming in protest. (Actually, I don’t always refrain. You should try watching a movie with me.)

Now before I go any further, let me make one thing clear. It is possible to silence a gunshot, and a silencer/suppressor is part of the equation. But not all! Several other things must happen as well.

The gas emerging from the barrel is not what makes a gunshot loud. It is loud, but you know what’s a heck of a lot louder? A sonic boom. Most bullets break the sound barrier. Screwing a baffled tube on the barrel doesn’t do anything for the sonic boom.

In order to fire a silent shot, you must also have sub-sonic ammo. Special rounds that go slower than the speed of sound are available. Used properly, with a silencer and other correct components, these rounds can be fired in near silence.

When you do fire a truly silenced shot, it still does not make a “soft phut” or whatever. What you will hear (when using a semi-automatic) is the sound of the bolt cycling. The sound might be described as a click or maybe a clang.

So, mind your “phuts” and “clicks.” Think before you silence!

(And please don’t try to silence a revolver…)

6 Things To Know About Revolvers

There are many myths about revolvers and even more half-truths. Here are a few important details to keep in mind if you want to keep your descriptions and discussions of revolvers accurate and believable.

1. You can’t silence a revolver. With one rare exception, the sealed-cylinder, Russian Nagant m1895.

2. Revolvers do not use “clips” or “magazines” unless they are watching YouTube or reading the latest issue of Guns and Ammo. You reload a modern, double-action revolver in one of three ways:

With loose ammo. We all know how that works. Pop the cylinder, eject the spent shells, and start putting new ones in, one at a time, maybe two or three if you’re good.

Or you can reload using a speedloader.

And if your gun is cut for it, moon clips.

Don’t be fooled, if you know how, you can reload and shoot a revolver fast.

Don’t blink.

3. Revolvers can be chambered in more powerful cartridges then their semi-automatic brethren. Ain’t no automatics in .500 S&W Magnum, last time I checked. Give it time, of course. Revolvers can even be chambered for multiple rounds. Like the Taurus Raging Judge, which will fire .45 Long Colt, .454 Casull, or .410 shotgun shells.

4. Revolvers are not necessarily more simple than a semi-automatic. They have very intricate internal workings. However, a mechanically sound revolver is less likely to malfunction because of external factors such as sand, grit, water, etc…

5. A revolver is more accepting of variations in ammo. As long as it is the right kind of cartridge, a revolver will probably fire it. This is because the mechanisms run the same whether empty or loaded. In contrast, semi-autos rely on the recoil of the bullet to cycle.

6. Not all revolvers hold six shells. Most do, mind you. But not all. Five-shot revolvers are common. Small, concealable models often hold five rounds. Then there are the big guns, like the .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. The large X-Frame revolver holds five monster shells. Some, chambered for smaller diameter cartridges can hold more than six, up to ten in the case of the Ruger Single 10. An eight-shot .357 is a very nice and not uncommon pistol, so be careful, just because your hero counted six shots, doesn’t mean the gun is empty.