Twenty years ago if you wanted to mount a noise-moderating suppressor on your hunting rifle, it meant a trip to a machine shop and a long explanation. Now, manufacturers from Ruger to Marlin are cranking out standard offerings aimed at sportsmen and target shooters alike that are set up from the factory to accept your favorite screw-on “can” of choice.
Problems of yesteryear
In the 1930s silencers, and any other device meant to muffle the sound of a firearm were lumped in under the National Firearms Act (NFA) as Title II weapons, along with short-barreled rifles and shotguns, machine guns, and other devices. While it was not mentioned in the testimony in front of Congress at the time why these instruments were deemed to be in need of special regulation, the fact is they did not escape the increased regulation and today have to be transferred after a lengthy process through a Class III dealer. However, they continue to be used overseas on a normal basis—even in relatively anti-gun countries like the United Kingdom and France.
According to the American Suppressor Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, these devices offer recoil and muzzle flash reduction, increased accuracy, and, of course, a solution to hearing loss associated with firearms use.
The $200 tax stamp placed on the devices in 1934 (which would run over $3,400 today, if adjusted for inflation), placed suppressors out of the reach of most of the American public. This made the devices exotic and led to their use almost only by Hollywood. With such a limited market for these guns, rifle makers rarely threaded their barrel muzzles from the factory, leaving such a procedure to the realm of aftermarket gunsmiths and custom companies to perform should a hunter so desire.
That has since changed.
Solutions of today
In just the past four years, suppressor ownership across the country has doubled from 285,000 registered cans in 2011 to more than 571,000 today. No less than 39 states allow ownership of NFA-registered suppressors, and most of these further allow their use in hunting, with this club increasing every year. In 2014 alone, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama all expanded this right to their sportsmen, while Florida is considering doing the same.
This dramatic increase in numbers has led rifle makers to make sure that this growing demographic has something that comes direct from the factory that will accept a screw-on suppressor. As a bonus, a threaded muzzle allows a rifle to accept not only sound suppressors but also aftermarket compensators, brakes, and flash suppressors.
“Over the past few years, the availability of factory-threaded firearms has skyrocketed,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, told OutdoorHub. “This is primarily due to the increase in popularity of suppressors. Until recently, there was not a large enough market for manufacturers to justify the development of suppressor ready guns.”
However, Williams contends the explosion in the number of suppressors owned nationwide has sparked a trend in the firearms industry to give the people what they want.
“As a reaction to the heightened demand, traditional firearms manufacturers are delivering new products to market that suppressor owners can use at the range or in the field. It has been a truly exciting trend to be a part of,” said Williams.
While you expect guns like Remington’s R-15 VTR Predator, which comes standard with an AAC Brakeout Flash Hider, to accept a ratchet mount suppressor, they also offer at least one version of their Model 700 bolt-action rifle that comes with a threaded muzzle. To this, Big Green adds a variant of their Model 597 .22 LR autoloader for those who would go after smaller game or the occasional tin can while enjoying a little quiet time.
Ruger is apparently taking expanded suppressor sales to heart as threaded muzzles in either 1/2-inch 1/28 TPI or 5/8-inch 1/24 TPI are standard across all 10 offerings of their new American Rifle Predator and American Ranch series rifles. When you consider that these include calibers as diverse as 300 BLK, .243 Winchester, and 6.5mm Creedmoor, you get the impression that they are very serious indeed. When you include their existing Scout series rifles and American Rimfire guns, Ruger has more than 20 rifles in their lineup that are suppressor-ready.
Even grand old manufacturers like Browning have jumped on the suppressor-ready rifle market with guns like their X-Bolt Hog Stalker, a .308 Winchester caliber carbon-fiber-outfitted beauty that comes standard with a threaded muzzle.
In short, with some 32 states now that allow hunting with suppressed firearms, this trend is likely to continue.
Images by Chris Eger