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View Full Version : Silencers in Europe : a review

May 11th, 2008, 07:10 PM
I was visiting a long time friend who recently moved far away to France, where he gave me a demonstration of a couple of .22LR sound moderators (suppressors, silencers, cans).

Here is a report of my findings:

Silencers are perfectly legal to own in France without any law trying to regulate their purchase, possession or design.
(Ich had never fired or used a silencer before and don't intend to, since they are illegal in my home country.)

According to my friend, the French government even encourages shooters to use them to reduce firearm noise pollution :cool:

No 200$ BATFE stamp, no fingerprints taken, no LEO involved, no Form 4 purchase through a Class3 dealer, no dodgy 'legal trust constructions' to own them -- it seems some governments actually still trust their civilians to own them. ;)
This is not unique in Europe since other countries such as Finland, Norway & Sweden and the UK (for firearms up to .25 ) also allow the purchase of suppressors.
(Firearm ownership is not so liberal in Europe as in the USA and generally requires a permit to purchase a firearm though)

Suppressors are generally available in gunshops, and range from 25 euros for a basic .22LR to about 400-ish euros for a high calibre, top of the line design.
( 40$ to 600$; but with the plummeting US economy and dollar exchange rate, don't quote me on that in a year :D )

Anyway, I personally experienced the firing of a couple of silencers. The host weapon was a Ruger MkII pistol, firing CCI 40 grain standard velocity rounds.
( because the barrel length of a pistol is generally too short for a .22LR to reach supersonic velocity, this does not create a supersonic crack, and so the more expensive subsonic ammo is not required.)

First to test was the Still No2 silencer.
This is a very light weight, short silencer, designed to be compact (12cm long) and cheap and reduce sound levels to a 'hearing safe' level.
First round pop was not too bad, since the internal volume and oxygen is limited.
Certainly not the best I witnessed that day, but for 25 euros it's certainly the most economical way to shoot without hearing protection.

Next was the SAK silencieux from Finland.
It was about 3cm longer than the Still, but a lot bulkier. It actually had such a big diameter that it blocked the sights of the MkII.
My friend showed me the internal design of this silencer. It is designed from a mono block of aluminum, with 6 round staggered baffle chambers.
It seems like a very simple design, depending on larger internal volume rather than complicated internals design, which makes it certainly replicatable for people who own a drill press and round stock aluminium. (and can't buy them legally)

It is very easily disassembled and cleaned.

My friend told me this particular design works even better if one puts mesh wire (course steel wool) in the baffle chambers, and smear some Ultrasonic gel in it to optimize thermal conductivity to cool down the gasses. (which he demonstrated to me)

The ultrasonic gel is used instead of water. This is referred to as a 'wet' silencer and the substance is used to cool down the gasses even more. You could easily replace this with lithium grease, wire gell or just plain water. Ultrasonic gel has the benefit that it's water based (doesn't create smoke when heated like grease), but still is a solid gel, so it remains in place longer than liquid tap water.

We fired it a couple of times, and I was very impressed with the results we got.

The shot did not sound like a firearm discharge at all, rather like a CO2pellet gun.

They are sold for about 50 euros and are available in various colours and 1/2x20 or 1/2x28 tpi threads at most French gunshops.

Very much liked the sound reduction, especially the home improved version, I can see a lot of rogue applications for it ;).
It was a bit bulky so you are not able to use sights anymore which a minus to me.

After that, my friend showed me a home made design, which he fabricated himself on his father's metal lathe.

The design consists of 4 main parts:
-a threaded steel tube, very slim but longer than 2 previous silencers with a removable screw-on lid (about 19 cm).
-6 aluminum K-Baffles (so called, because their design resembles a K from the side)
-an aluminum spacer tube, OD fitted nicely into the ID of the steel outer tube. This is to provide a gas expansion chamber, so the final pressure of the gasses through the baffles is reduced considerably.
-a coil spring to press the baffle elements and expansion chamber snugly into the tube.

The noise report was the same as the improved version of the SAK I'd say, quiet, very thin design, but the DIY design requires a workshop with a metal lathe...

Finally we tested the Ase Utra 22. (Utra not Ultra)
This is a Finnish silencer which is regarded by many as 'the ultimate in noise reduction for a .22LR' that is commercially available to civilians.

It is relatively heavy, due to it's all steel design and about 17 cm long. The metal's finish is very nice.
The sights of the MkII were perfectly usable with this silencer.
Price in France is reasonably high, around 130 euros, but my friend said it would be much cheaper to buy them in the UK (70) or straight from Finland (80euro).

After firing the MkII with it, all I can say is 'Waaw...'

This nifty device literally converts a .22LR into a weapon that does not sound like anything I've heard before. It's more silent than a CO2pellet gun, more silent than a paintball gun.
I'm pretty certain you could fire this all day long in an apartment building, without people even suspecting you of discharging a gun. This thing was quiet !
( not Hollywood silencer quiet, but still, much better than all previous silencers we tested that day). There was no other sound than the action working the gun and the bullet impacting the wooden target.

What I was able to find from research on the internet, the Ase Utra is indeed one of the quietest silencer currently available, beating most of the hyper-expensive US designs in performance (Gemtech, AAC, SRT, ...) so 80 to 130 euros could be easily justified for the extra performance.

Anyway, those were my findings that day from firing a limited amount of silencers.

Since I didn't have any scientific measuring equipment available other than my own ears, I understand that all noise reports are subjective. However, they are accurately reported in relation to eachother. (loudest - Still - SAK - SAK Improved & DIY KBaffle - Ase - quietest)

I was wondering if other members have friends themselves who have experience with commercially available European silencers, and what their findings are.
What is available, how does it perform, how is the design, what does it cost...

PS; Note that I would never want to encourage anyone to illegally import silencers into their home country when possession of silencers is prohibited.
( even though we are one happy continent, and people and goods are free to travel much of the Euro zone, without being subjected to border controls :rolleyes:)

Jacks Complete
May 13th, 2008, 07:04 PM
and the UK (for firearms up to .25 ) also allow the purchase of suppressors.Wrong. Under UK law anything that fires a projectile with more than 1J of energy is a firearm, whether air, gas, electric or powder, if it has a barrel. It is simply that there is an exemption in the law for some air powered guns, and on those guns you can put a silencer. If you are caught with a silencer on your (legally owned) .22 you will lose both, as well as your license, and likely your freedom too, as you will have committed several firearms offences.

Other than that, a great post! If you post up some plans, that would be even greater. ;-)

May 13th, 2008, 07:26 PM
But as long as one CLAIMS that the suppressor will be used on an air rifle, the vendor can sell any -up to .25" diameter- suppressor you desire, without you having to present any form of identification or permit/license, right ?

So instead of 'being legal on a .22 firearm', I should have said: ' you are able to purchase a commercial .22 silencer when it is claimed to go on an air rifle, without a permit/ID' ?

4.5 mm and 5.5 mm air rifle rounds are conveniently roughly the same in diameter as .17 HMR and .22 LR -- and most of the suppressors available in the UK such as the SAK and Ase Utra, which have metal baffles, were intended to be utilized with firearm calibers (and the extra pressure).

I'll will post a couple of plans, schematics and pictures of the suppressor designs that I mentioned within the next couple of days.

Here is a YouTube movie I was able to find on the Ase Utra 22:
( mind that the testing conditions are inside a room, which would be significantly louder than in an outside environment; the dropping of the empty shells could be a dB reference)

And a movie of the SAK Silencer, on a bolt action .22 LR rifle ( a rifle is, by design, quieter than a pistol )

May 13th, 2008, 09:38 PM
Fantastic post. You consciously reviewed products and gave a fair representation of the law. I was actually interested in what you had to say! :)

Jacks Complete
May 14th, 2008, 04:34 PM

You are correct. Buy a nice looking solid silencer for your air rifle. Just be careful of gunshot residue (specifically the smell!) after you've used it, and obviously take it off your firearm when not needed. Oh, and make sure your silencer threads match!

Personally, I'd buy a second-hand one, as that way you can say what you like. ;-)

May 14th, 2008, 04:55 PM
An economic suppressor with good attenuation for .22 rimfire pistols and rifles.
Silencer with one-piece aluminium baffle unit. Recommended for Air Rifle, .22 Rimfire, .22 Rimfire Magnum and .17 Hornady. Size 144mm x 35mm, Weight
220grams (varies according to source). Standard thread 1/2-20 UNF (available also 1/2-28 UNEF). Can be disassembled for cleaning.

Manufacturer's site:
( 37 euros in Finland !)

I have attached the internal design of the SAK Silencer (mark one and two), they can also be found on the FTP.

The alternating offset baffle chamber alignment causes turbulence in the gas flow, so more gas is trapped and cooled in each baffle chamber.

It should be possible for somebody with a drill press, couple of standard drills, one large diameter drill (around 18mm) & some round aluminum bar stock to replicate.

Other than the bullet path hole, which has to be 8 mm drilled straight down the bar stock in line with the barrel, the other dimensions are not critical (e.g. the baffle holes can be 20mm or 17mm without causing failure, your silencer can be 200mm long, etc ).

The last 2 pictures are designs of aluminium monostacks which I shamelesly copied from another board dedicated to silencer design, and which should be feasable to construct without a lathe...

If you are able to aquire one without too much effort, I don't see the the point in constructing your own when a commercial unit can be bought for as little as 37 euros.

Chris Werb
May 14th, 2008, 07:41 PM
Good article. The situation with silencers/moderators in the UK was slightly misleading however. There is no limitation as to calibre - as well as being virtually obligatory on sporting/vermin control rimfires they're increasingly common on fox/deer rifles - including those of over .25 calibre and on shotguns. Legally they fall into a number of categories:

1) For use on 'off ticket' (i.e. sub 12ft/lb air rifle or 6ft/lb air pistol) are completely free to purchase. Ironically they may be the exact same item as a rimfire silencer.

2) For use on Section 2 (ie barrel at least 24" and fixed magazine not exceeding 2+1 capacity) shotgun - completely free to purchase although most RFDs (dealers) would expect to see a shotgun certificate. If the silencer is integral to the shotgun it doesn't affect its legislative status.

3) For use on Section 1 firearms (air rifles over 12 ft/lb, rifles, non-repeater shotguns with barrels under 24", over 2+1 repeater shotguns with barrels over 24" and a few other weapons I won't bore you with) you need to have the silencer entered on your Firearms Certificate. If the silencer is integral this does not apply - you can buy an integrally silenced rifle with an ordinary .22 rifle FAC slot but few such rifles are made as they're very expensive and a pain to keep clean.

I personally have silencers authorised for all my seven section one firearms (two .22 FAC air rifles, two .22LRs, a .17HMR, a .222Rem and a .22 pump action shotgun) and possess two SAKs and a DM80.



Jacks Complete
May 17th, 2008, 11:48 AM
Chris, yes, all you say there is correct. It's all down to semantics and the attitude of the cock^H^Hp you bump in to, or who bumps in to you. If you know what to say, you are likely to be fine. If you say the wrong thing, bingo, they get a free conviction by your own words.

If the permissions weren't messed up, I'd delete a few of those firearms from your post. It's not bright to put such easily trackable info in your posts on here. And if you think the police won't use heresay evidence from a website against you, then you have far too much faith in them. Because trust me, they will.

Chris Werb
May 20th, 2008, 06:29 AM
Point taken Jacks. I'll go back and delete the firearms. I personally don't have a problem posting under my real name because I'll never (here or anywhere else) advocate anyone doing anything illegal (hence my non appearance on the Glock reactivation and Brocock conversion threads).

May 26th, 2008, 12:39 PM
I envy you Europeans who have reasonable access to these devices. No
such luck in the U.S.. It's a heavy duty felony to get caught with an
unregistered silencer here - same as fully automatic weapons. Good for about
15 years in federal prison, IIRC.

May 26th, 2008, 04:42 PM
Here in Norway, you can get silencers for .22 rifles without filling out applications. And I do think that this applies to .22 handguns as well. If you are to buy silencers for higher calibers, you may have to file an application. However, most policeoffices approve them, as violence including silencers have not been a problem here. Yet.

June 3rd, 2008, 11:51 PM
In the land of OZ silencers are illegal to buy/import, own etc... But we are allowed to buy firearms with threaded barrels and also can buy 'flash' suppressors. I've shot a H&K 9mm Match, with the barrel swapped for a USP Tactical barrel, with a flash suppressor.

Although the flash supressors are nothing like a silencer, or meant to be, they slightly flatten the sound of the shot and do reduce muzzle flash considerably. I even found it to increase accuracy slightly, particularly with double taps (although this could be due to the extra muzzle weight that reduces the kick back).

June 15th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Sound suppressors with baffles are nice, for sub-sonic ammo, but super sonic ammo is a whole different story. In fact, super sonic sound suppressors are extremely simple as far as the internal design goes.

One day I was curious on how the military does it with high power rifles and I came across the attached patent. Instead of baffles and chambers, there is 1 chamber with various angles on fore and aft surfaces. The distance between the two is tunable so that the sonic crack sound waves cancel each other out. A second chamber with baffles can be added to slow the out rush of the gasses.

Sick Boy
June 29th, 2008, 01:22 PM
Just a small correction: Here in Sweden, you need a license for silencers. Previously, they were quite hard to get, but a few years back they eased up on the restrictions a bit. These days you can get a silencer for your class 1 and class 2 hunting rifles (class 1 being stuff like .308, .30-06 etc, class 2 being .223 etc). Getting a silencer for a .22 is still hard. Also, the ones you can get can't dampen the sound to less than 115 or 125 decibels. Basically, the silencers are only there to make sure you won't go deaf, not to mask the gunshot completely.

July 1st, 2008, 09:32 PM
Here's some improvised suppressor plans from my "library".

October 20th, 2008, 08:58 AM
Everyone in EU, it is time to get your silencer right now. The few only places silencers are still available unsuspected as buying a jug of milk is finland. But there will be licensing/permban for silencers in 2009. You can order silencers from there 100% freely and safely everywhere in EU, there are no customs between ETA countries.

If you don't manage to get one, don't forget the plastic bottles working surprisingly well as silencers :)