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Charlie Harley, #14153

OT: Legal difference between flash and noise suppressors?

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I know that functionally one is designed to reduce the visibility of burning particles outside the muzzle and one is designed to reduce the noise signature.

 

But I've seen and used a number of noise suppressors that also nearly eliminate flash, and it seems that a robust flash suppressor might also mitigate some sound intensity.

 

Given that one requires extensive paperwork and registration, and the other is a simple screw-on device that can be bought anywhere, I was wondering what the legal distinction would be.

 

If someone is building a custom flash suppressor, at what point does it become a noise suppressor and require registration? I searched the ATF web site to no avail.

 

This feels sorta like an Alpo question, but it's truly been on my mind lately.

 

I appreciate any insights the Saloon (ACS) might offer.

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Just in simple terms I would think a "flash hider" that is enclosed could be deemed a "sound suppressor" and therefore fall under NFA regs.

BUT, there is always a "but", there are "compensators" or "muzzle brakes" that are somewhat enclosed that force the sound and flash forward.

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Most recoil/flash supressors I have used made more noise than a plain barrel.

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I was looking into a muzzle brake for my AR. I found out that it does cause a louder report than a stock barrel. And a muzzle brake pushes the gas backwards at an angle towards the shooter. Which can be a problem not only for the shooter but the people next to them. Recoil is pushing the gun back towards the shooter. The brake channels the gas in the same direction to dampen the felt recoil.

 

I didn't answer the original OP but it would be interesting to understand. A suppressor is like a muffler, it absorbs the sound within the enclosed device. One could assume that some amount of flash is coming out the end of the barrel.

 

Ike, who is winging it here. Not an expert and I didn't stay at the Holiday Inn.

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Here is the legal definition

 

Gun Control Act Definitions

 

Silencer

 

18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(24)

 

The term “Firearm Silencer” or “Firearm Muffler” means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

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I would say that if your flash hider looks like any of these in the link below you should be okay if you are making your own. This is about the most comprehensive list that I have ever seen.

I have tried a few different ones and the best one that I found for flash, noise direction and a partial muzzle brake was the YHM Phantom.

 

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/06/jeremy-s/ar-15-flash-hider-shootout/

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Here is the legal definition

 

Gun Control Act Definitions

 

Silencer

 

18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(24)

 

The term “Firearm Silencer” or “Firearm Muffler” means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for the use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

And what does that mean?

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And what does that mean?

"any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm" That's the important part.

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In my limited experience, flash suppressors don't work, noise suppressors do. Years ago I ran into a doctor at the range that had two suppressed .22's, and they WORKED! Sounded like a real anemic BB gun. Mostly you heard the action cycle and the bullet smack downrange. I opined that you could surely assassinate a lot of alley cats with that, he replied with a kinda evil wink. ;)

 

JHC

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I was reading an article on Ar15's in 5.56 testing around 20 flash suppressors. They did it in an indoor range with controlled lighting and a high speed camera.

There were 3 that had almost no flash. Some looked worse than a barrel without one.

 

Ike

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Flash suppressors work by cooling the powder gasses by contact with cool metal. The suppressor must have sufficient mass and coverage to cool the gasses below the point of being SO hot that they appear to burn in the air. Sound suppressors use internal spaces designed to no only cool the gas but also slow its exhaust speed below that of the speed of sound. With supersonic bullet speed you still hear that crack of the bullet breaking the sound barrier if you are in line with or front of the muzzle. Suppressed firearms firing bullets below the speed of sound are VERY quiet.

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