The Complete History of Silencers

Silencers have several important functions that make them useful for both personal and military use. First of all, as their name suggests, they act as moderators to reduce the amount of sound that occurs when a firearm is discharged. They don’t entirely eliminate all of the noise though. So some weapons experts prefer to call them suppressors instead. Next, they lesson the bright white muzzle flash that can easily be seen at night, which helps to reduce the visibility of any shots that are being fired. And, finally, they significantly decrease the amount of recoil that occurs so that a person’s accuracy in hitting their target is improved. But while these important attributes have made these tools extremely popular across the world, few people realize that the history of silencers only began about 100 years ago.

Hiram Percy Maxim

Most tales of the history of suppressors start out with a man named Hiram Percy Maxim because he was able to successfully commercialize his silencers to sell out on the market in 1909. Interestingly enough, this same technology turned out to be highly useful in the automotive industry at that time. So it wasn’t long before the highly skilled man was marketing his car muffler inventions too since they worked in a similar way to his silencers. His father, Hiram Stevens Maxim, was also a talented inventor who focused on weaponry. He was especially famous for the Maxim machine gun that he created.

President Theodore Roosevelt was said to be one of the biggest proponents of the silencers that Maxim made because he appreciated the way that they allowed him to hunt early in the morning without waking up his neighbors. Those who knew him said that he thoroughly enjoyed shooting varmints out on his property with them on a near daily basis.

History of Silencers and the Military

Although silencers existed during World War I, they were not used during this time because they didn’t fit most of the standard military issued firearms. This changed at the start of World War II because the Office of Strategic Services, which was the first Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), began to take notice of their usefulness for discrete operations. Their popularity further rose during the Vietnam conflict. This was partly because Navy soldiers began to carry a 9 mm Smith & Wesson M39 with them, which had a silencer built into it. They referred to it as the hushpuppy because it was commonly used to kill off guard dogs whenever they were out on missions. Soldiers in other branches of the military who didn’t have rifles or handguns with silencers issued to them started to make their own out of common things that they could find. Potatoes, pillows, plastic bottles, and old steel flashlights were especially popular substitutes in silencers history.

National Firearms Act of 1934

The National Firearms Act of 1934 that was instituted to help regulate weapons use in the United States added a hefty tax to the sales price of silencers that made them too expensive for the average consumer to buy. Now, they have become much more affordable than they ever were before in the history of silencers. But silencers are only legal in 42 states. Still, with new efficient manufacturing methods developing, they are currently being added onto many other types of firearms for military use, such as the Sig Sauer MCX and some specialized rifles that snipers carry.