Silencers are rapidly becoming common place, and I see that as a good thing. There are a lot of benefits in using a silencer, but the main one is noise pollution. Responsible gun owners try to tread lightly and leave a small footprint to be good neighbors, so to speak. Equipping your firearm with a silencer drastically reduces your noise signature, in most cases, enough to shoot safely without hearing protection.
Advanced Armament Corp. is an industry leader in many aspects of the shooting sports and silencers are a large part of that. I had the chance to review their new SR-7 silencer and you can read about that by following this link. AAC introduced a very innovative silencer at the 2015 SHOT show, the Illusion, and I submitted my request right away for a test sample.
First let’s talk a bit about, what I consider, the largest problem with handgun silencers. By nature a silencer is a tube, or can to be most effective, and while that helps with function it also will hinder your sight picture. Since about half of the “can” will be above the bore it will obstruct your sight picture. To combat that many people install silencer sights. Silencer sights are much taller than factory sights and allow you to once again get a correct sight picture. The issue with silencer sights, is since they are so tall they throw off your point of aim and point of impact some. Also, since a silencer can be transferred to other firearms of equal or lesser caliber, all the handguns you would want to run your silencer on would need to be equipped with such sights, adding expense and affecting your sight picture on each of those handguns.
AAC has come up with a much better way to keep your silencer and not have to go to silencer sights. The hole in the Illusion9 is offset so that much of the silencer is below the bore, keeping your factory sight picture clean and clear. This does cause more of the can to be below the bore but, as you can see in the video portion of the review, it does not hang down enough to impact a weapon mounted light much at all. The Illusion9 can be run with what AAC calls an artificial environment and that adds to the suppression. The artificial environment is basically adding five cc of water to the silencer. The draw back to that is it halves the recommended cleaning intervals. Using the can dry, AC recommends cleaning the silencer about every 1000 rounds, and running it wet it should be cleaned about every 500 rounds. You can run lead bullets through the Illusion9 as well but you would also need to clean the can much more often, as you also would if you were to run this silencer on a lesser caliber such as the .22 Long Rifle. Since the silencer is designed for 9mm Luger you can use it on lesser handgun calibers such as the .380 Automatic. The round must be the same or less in bullet diameter and pressure to avoid destroying the silencer and hurting yourself.
Fortunately the AAC Illusion9 is very easy to disassemble. With the supplied tool, as you see here left of the silencer, you align the tabs of the tool into the rear plate of the silencer and unscrew it.
The rear cap is removed and the piston and spring come straight out.
Here is the piston, and it must be cleaned on a regular base.
This is the front of the silencer and you will notice the very end cap has an area to grip it. Also notice the offset of the bore, the most prominent and innovative aspect of the Illusion9. The end cap screws off and the baffles will slide out. AAC recommends using a 5/8″ wooden dowel rod to push the baffles out the front if they are sticking due to carbon build up.
Here are all of the innards laid out and ready to be cleaned. The only thing I could find about the silencer that I did not love was the instruction manual was a little vague in a couple of parts about disassemble. Once you get the two end caps off, disassemble is pretty self explanatory so maybe I am being a bit nit picky on that.
Here you see some teeth machined into the body of the silencer. This is another very important aspect of the Illusion9. Since not all threaded barrels are exactly identical when you thread this silencer onto your choice of hosts it may not be lined up correctly with the offset bore being at the 12 o’clock position. Be sure your host pistol is unloaded and safe, you simply thread the can all the way snug, then pulling out of the silencer against spring tension and rotating it to the correct orientation. AAC calls this the A.S.A.P.™ (Assured Semi Automatic Performance). You can reference the offset bore and the AAC logo on the right side of the silencer. Once again, this is in the video review.
Notice the attachment threads which are 1/2″x 28 threads per inch. Snugging the silencer hand tight is plenty enough to keep it in place.
The AAC logo, indicating the details of the can and correct alignment.
Using my sound meter, with subsonic and supersonic ammunition I believe AAC is honest in their claims of just better than thirty decibels noise suppression. Using two different hosts, the CZ P09, reviewed here, and a Glock 17 with a Lone Wolf threaded barrel, reviewed here, neither reliability nor accuracy suffered though it does throw off the balance a bit. It does seem to help some with muzzle flip, adding weight to the end of the the pistol. Keeping all that in mind, a silencer is an excellent tool when breaking in new shooters who may be a bit intimated with muzzle blast, oh and they are way cool. With so many benefits of the Illusion9, and silencers in general, it is a real shame they are so heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act. It is my opinion that if you can legally purchase a firearm by walking into a gun store and filling out the 4473 and passing the NCIS check, it should be the exact same when purchasing a silencer, or short barreled rifle for that matter. After running better than 600 rounds of subsonic and supersonic ammunition through the Illusion9 there is no indication of deterioration of the baffles or blast chamber. I have shot several different handgun silencers and they were similar enough to one another for me to not favor one over the other. But with the innovations of the Illusion9 silencer it brings suppressing auto-loaders to a whole different level. In my opinion Advanced Armament Corp has a winner on their hands with this silencer and I am hoping for one in .45 caliber very soon.
½-28 threads per inch, and M13.5 x 1 LH threads.
CALIBER – 9mm
WEIGHT – 10.4 oz
LENGTH – 7.88”
DIAMETER – 1.25”
MATERIALS – 17-4PH, 7075-T6, 6061-T6 FINISH – T3 Hard-coat Anodize, Nitride
ATTACHMENT – ASAP™ Piston System
REDUCTION – 33dB* SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL – 127dB* (Dry)