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Question: Why did snipers not use suppressors? Or, did they?

4818 Views 59 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  fromadistance
Just got a M40 clone, bunch more questions soon to come . .

Last night I was watching "Sniper" with Tom Berringer and was wondering why I never see suppressors on these movie rifles.
In real life, did snipers use suppressors?
If not, then why?
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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Digressing somewhat, but here's the iconic suppressed shotgun in the 2007 movie, No Country for Old Men. (This movie prop is on display at the NRA museum, at least it was a few years ago).
"In the movie, the Chigurh character is persistent, emotionless and resistant to pain and injury beyond normal human limits—he's essentially a man-shaped hole in the fabric of reality. So it's well that the man who isn't really a man is carrying a gun that isn't really a gun. That's right...that Remington 11-87 isn't possible. First, it's an anachronism: Although the movie is set in 1980, the Remington 11-87 wasn't introduced until 1987. Additionally, although suppressors for shotguns have been commercially available for about two years, there weren't any when the movie was made, let alone when the movie was set. The Coen brothers had the prop gun Bardem used fitted with the "silencer" seen on the screen. It doesn't work, naturally; the "silencer" obscures the gun's barrel, so this prop could not ever actually be fired."
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...just a random Hollywood creation that I recall. (I also recall the movie was rather disturbing too).
Digress, Digress, please.
I have that movie.
Thanks for the info.
 

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The early Maxim suppressors were not that heavy and a 1910 '06/30 cal suppressor rivals the best of todays suppressors in sound reduction, the 22 suppressors are in some cases better. The tech used at the time has been "borrowed" by modern manufacturers. Fluid dynamics are fluid dynamics and that is what air under pressure works like.
 

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Just got a M40 clone, bunch more questions soon to come . .

Last night I was watching "Sniper" with Tom Berringer and was wondering why I never see suppressors on these movie rifles.
In real life, did snipers use suppressors?
If not, then why?
The very first silencers used on US military sniper rifles were Maxim silencers used on the Warner Swazey scoped M1903's (as seen in @Cowtownscout's awesome photos). This started around 1908 and continued through the 1910's with another model M1903 Warner Swazey and the M1903A5 sniper rifles. I have an original USMC M1903A5 in my collection, it was made in 1919 and still has carbon residue around the front sight. The Maxim silencer fit over the muzzle, so carbon accumulated on this exposed area inside the silencer. Here's a photo of my original USMC M1903A5:



Here's the carbon buildup around the front sight and muzzle:




As stated in previous posts there were quite a few silencers used in the Vietnam War. However, not many people know that some versions of the M40 and Remington 40X had barrels modified to use Sionics silencers. Here's a Vietnam War used M40 (6257xxx serial number range) in a friend's collection. It was used by the Army and the barrel is contoured for a Sionics silencer (the can in the photos is a prop, it's not a real silencer):

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Here's an original USMC Remington 40X that was tested by the Corps as a possible candidate for the post war M40 upgrade program. This one is in my collection, I wish I had a silencer for it. The top rifle is an M40, bottom rifle is the 40X test rifle:



Here's some photos I took when I was on my 2nd deployment in 2010, this is aboard the USS Peleliu when we were in the Gulf of Aden. The M40A5's have silencers, the A3's do not. It's interesting to note that at this point in time the M40A3's and A5's were issued side by side, the A5's haven't fully replaced the A3's yet. This is also the case with the DMR and M39 EMR, so here's proof of both of those M14's being used together!

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My sniper platoon had 4 XM3's when we were in Fallujah, Iraq in 2008, this is one that was issued to my friend. He took this photo right after painting the rifle, this was at Camp Baharia:

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I actually ended up buying this rifle from the CMP a few years back and I need a SureFire FA762SS to go with it!

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MARSOC is currently using silencers on their M110K1 rifles. This is my clone build, the only civilian part is the lower receiver. The upper, scope and even the silencer are all USMC MARSOC used and were acquired directly from Knight’s Armament (long story). I'm pretty lucky to have these parts, especially a military used silencer!

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And then some other sniper rifles. Mk13 Mod 7's, SOCOM variant on top, USMC variant on bottom:

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Remington PSR prototype:

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Remington CSR:

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Some CAG used SR16 uppers with NT4 silencers:

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Secret Service used SR16 uppers with NT4 silencers. URX3.1 version on top, the old URX2 version on the bottom:

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As you can see from my posts, silencers have been used on US military rifles for over a century and now they're putting them on everything.
 

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Vis a vis supersonic crack, the mach wave trails the bullet in a cone at roughly a 45 degree angle. (see the atached vdeo)
Note there TWO shock waves per bullet, leading and trailing ends of the projectiles. Since they are so close together, the human ear cannot detect the difference, unlike the " Boom-Boom" generated by supersonic military jet aircraft that I flew back in the 60's and 70s. . From the intended target's vantage point, the sound of a miss is generated from BEHIND him or her. As the video shows, reflected shock waves off of ground, buildings, trees, etc make the task of IDing a shooter by the sound of a bullet's crack a daunting task. BTW, the shock wave from a 50 BMG BULLET is so strong, I had to wear hearing protection from the sound of the BULLET while scoring targets at a 1,000 yard competetion. (It's rather like someone held a 1911 up to my ear and pulled the trigger! Seriously. Not kidding. I used that helpfull bit of info to save me and 5 other hunters in Alaska when two huge brown bears decided to have us for breakfast. The big boar (12 tall and 1,500 pounds) was running at us from 500 yards. I put a 650 grain tracer about 4 inches over his washtub sized skull at 186 yards. He grimmaced, closed his eyes, ducked his head, and bared his fangs. He turned tail adn was sill running when he cleared the horizon about 5 miles away.
 

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Just got a M40 clone, bunch more questions soon to come . .

Last night I was watching "Sniper" with Tom Berringer and was wondering why I never see suppressors on these movie rifles.
In real life, did snipers use suppressors?
If not, then why?
What ever you do, do not take Tom Berringer 'Sniper' movies as anything close to actual sniper work. Nope, nada. .. .. ..
 

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Random thoughts:
1) crack - bang - breaking the sound barrier precedes sound of the shot which is confusing as heck - crack bang. I remember back when targets on an Army rifle range were raised and lowered by people in deep trenches (as recent as the early '90's at some ranges) where you can safely hear what it was like to be down range
2) your brain - the mind cannot place a location of the 1st shot. that's why soldiers will duck and cover but then put their head on a swivel to try and place the 2nd shot they expect to hear. the 2nd shot give you direction and then your eyes can pinpoint location from the 3rd shot on with the flash. modern practice is to lay down suppressive fire in the direction of the sniper asap before getting digital on their location
3) flash vs sound - suppressors are just as much a flash suppressor as they are a sounds suppressor
4) load out - the situation dictates the load out. think forest vs field vs urban. being super stealthy is not always the goal as much as it is reaching out and touching someone. also, a suppressor adds a lot of barrel length which sucks in an urban environment. M24 vs M110 (AR10) - different length, 5 rounds vs 20 rounds - a lot to consider. also, snipers have always been part of a team and they have people protecting them from being either bum rushed or snuck up upon
5) Barrel length and accuracy - barrel length does not equate to accuracy. it IS proportional to velocity which is why the AR15 rifle is making a comeback due to its projectile velocity. Now one can argue that the farther iron sights are from each other helps accuracy but we are assuming that all systems discussed here have optics so the iron sight argument is out. there are a lot of precision shooters that choose an AR10 platform vs a bolt action for this reason along with more bullets. Sidebar - practice is so important as it relates to ultra fine motor skills. with my used / very old 30-30 lever action (top ejecting so scope is no bueno) with a Lyman peep sight, I can shoot circles around once-a-year hunters at 100 yards with their Leupold scopes and match ammo because I try to get to the range frequently and practice. on top of fine motor skills is breathing and repeatability. look at professional basketball players when they "shoot" from the free-throw line - fine motor skills, breathing and repeatability. Same stuff
6) Point of impact - suppressors change POI. not because of what it does to the gasses but more that you've added a mass at the end of the barrel so the barrel's harmonics have changed. I've added a PRS EC Tuner Brake (Eric Cortina is on YouTube - check him out) to my precision rifle and cannot wait to see the changes to my groupings but look at what other people have experience by changing a mass at the end of the barrel a 1/10th of a turn in the image attached below
7) A change to your system - mechanical resonant frequency is f=1/2π √(k/m) where "m" is mass and "k" is the spring constant of the system. change either or both and "f" changes which is the "harmonic" mentioned above. and lastly
8) Recoil - muzzle brakes vector gasses backwards to offset recoil as to keep "eyes on target" while a suppressor vectors gasses forward. each has a different impact to recoil so the user must balance the benefit / impact to their load out
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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Random thoughts:
1) crack - bang - breaking the sound barrier precedes sound of the shot which is confusing as heck - crack bang. I remember back when targets on an Army rifle range were raised and lowered by people in deep trenches (as recent as the early '90's at some ranges) where you can safely hear what it was like to be down range
2) your brain - the mind cannot place a location of the 1st shot. that's why soldiers will duck and cover but then put their head on a swivel to try and place the 2nd shot they expect to hear. the 2nd shot give you direction and then your eyes can pinpoint location from the 3rd shot on with the flash. modern practice is to lay down suppressive fire in the direction of the sniper asap before getting digital on their location
3) flash vs sound - suppressors are just as much a flash suppressor as they are a sounds suppressor
4) load out - the situation dictates the load out. think forest vs field vs urban. being super stealthy is not always the goal as much as it is reaching out and touching someone. also, a suppressor adds a lot of barrel length which sucks in an urban environment. M24 vs M110 (AR10) - different length, 5 rounds vs 20 rounds - a lot to consider. also, snipers have always been part of a team and they have people protecting them from being either bum rushed or snuck up upon
5) Barrel length and accuracy - barrel length does not equate to accuracy. it IS proportional to velocity which is why the AR15 rifle is making a comeback due to its projectile velocity. Now one can argue that the farther iron sights are from each other helps accuracy but we are assuming that all systems discussed here have optics so the iron sight argument is out. there are a lot of precision shooters that choose an AR10 platform vs a bolt action for this reason along with more bullets. Sidebar - practice is so important as it relates to ultra fine motor skills. with my used / very old 30-30 lever action (top ejecting so scope is no bueno) with a Lyman peep sight, I can shoot circles around once-a-year hunters at 100 yards with their Leupold scopes and match ammo because I try to get to the range frequently and practice. on top of fine motor skills is breathing and repeatability. look at professional basketball players when they "shoot" from the free-throw line - fine motor skills, breathing and repeatability. Same stuff
6) Point of impact - suppressors change POI. not because of what it does to the gasses but more that you've added a mass at the end of the barrel so the barrel's harmonics have changed. I've added a PRS EC Tuner Brake (Eric Cortina is on YouTube - check him out) to my precision rifle and cannot wait to see the changes to my groupings but look at what other people have experience by changing a mass at the end of the barrel a 1/10th of a turn in the image attached below
7) A change to your system - mechanical resonant frequency is f=1/2π √(k/m) where "m" is mass and "k" is the spring constant of the system. change either or both and "f" changes which is the "harmonic" mentioned above. and lastly
8) Recoil - muzzle brakes vector gasses backwards to offset recoil as to keep "eyes on target" while a suppressor vectors gasses forward. each has a different impact to recoil so the user must balance the benefit / impact to their load out
View attachment 469851 View attachment 469852
Had to laugh here . . ."Sidebar - practice is so important as it relates to ultra fine motor skills. with my used / very old 30-30 lever action (top ejecting so scope is no bueno) with a Lyman peep sight, I can shoot circles around once-a-year hunters at 100 yards with their Leupold scopes."
My younger brother used my Winchester 30-30 for years and took many Deer with it. Then he bought a Model 70 and Leupold scope, then his Deer kills declined . . . got way many more with my 30-30.
 

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Would love to have one for my 22 lr's. Maybe someday. Would help my young daughter not fear the noise (flinch). I'm ashamed to say she shoots a pistol better than me. Her eyesight is better. She's 12 and I'm 60. I can still shoot a rifle better but she has her own now and she's catching up. Will have to teach her to shoot the AR and M1A when she a little older. That blessing from God that a child can bring is a blessing. And one that reads the Bible and can shoot paper plates at 75 yards is God's gift to my wife and I. Maybe she will completely catch the Bug. She still loves the pellet pistol.
 

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Would love to have one for my 22 lr's. Maybe someday. Would help my young daughter not fear the noise (flinch). I'm ashamed to say she shoots a pistol better than me. Her eyesight is better. She's 12 and I'm 60. I can still shoot a rifle better but she has her own now and she's catching up. Will have to teach her to shoot the AR and M1A when she a little older. That blessing from God that a child can bring is a blessing. And one that reads the Bible and can shoot paper plates at 75 yards is God's gift to my wife and I. Maybe she will completely catch the Bug. She still loves the pellet pistol.
22 suppressors are fun. Especially with subs. The hammer falling make more noise than the cartridge.
 
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My most trusted friend & I held a test once. I stood downrange & had him fire my suppressed 308 boltgun past me. Numerous safety precautions had been taken for all the safety types out there. Heres what happened.

In a wooded area the sonic crack of the bullet passing me was extremely confusing. It sounded like the noise was coming from all directions since the terrain reflects the noise. He fired three times & all three I could easily hear but there was no way I could determine where it came from.

In a completely open field I could faintly hear the firing & again easily heard the sonic crack pass me but it'd still be dang hard to determine where the shot came from.
exactly. You hear a crack/snap and then, depending on the distance and other factors, you may hear a slight thump from the report. As Art said, if you are the intended target, and the person behind the gun does everything right, you won't hear a thing.
 

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As with everything military, if it met a certain threshold (more than X amount of dollars/ highly pilferable/ subject to the discretion of the Property Book Officer) you had to sign it out, making you liable if you lose it and reimburse the gubmit in cash for the loss. AAAAAND, anything checked out from the Armory, they usually won't let you turn it back in unless it it thoroughly cleaned and oiled...which is a HUGE pain in the behind as armorers are a bunch of DEE-words and love to make your life miserable because, "It's funny". And no...in a warzone, you usually check your weapons out once and MAAAYBE turn them back in before redeployment home if the military wants to keep them in the warzone. Otherwise, you fly with them on your way back home.
Funny story. Years ago I was returning to CONUS from a unit deployment. We were supposed to land at Norton AFB, but we were re-routed to Burbank-Ontario. As we touched down and reversed thrust, I noticed a whole bunch of emergency vehicles, especially police cars on either side of the taxiway. Turns out, 'we had guuns!'. The look on the faces of the folks when they cracked the hatch would have led one to believe we had violated international law or something. To their credit, the flight attendants (stewardesses back in the day) were able to deflate the situation in short order. I often wondered what the tower was told.
 
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