I am a firm believer in using correct terminology but I don’t really get all bent out of shape when someone continues to use an incorrect term. Water off a duck’s back is how I look at that. In the past year I have been getting right many strongly worded emails and facebook messages explaining to me how incorrect I am using the term “silencer” when referring to the muzzle device that suppresses a firearms muzzle report. So, let’s get into some silencer history and see what is what, and why.

Hiram Percy Maxim, son of  Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim Machine gun, invented the silencer in 1902 and patented it in 1909. This muzzle device was indeed invented and patented as a silencer. When you invent something, you get to name it and holding a patent only helps solidify this. For me that is enough proof to the correct term but the BATF also recognizes the device as a silencer, and this is evident when any of the various NFA forms are being filled out, either to manufacture or transfer it, it is always described as silencer.

We at rangehot.com have done quite a few silencer reviews and have a few more in the works, so please stay tuned.

I am not sure where the term “suppressor” originated but I expect that Hollyweird had something to do with it. Now before you scream at me, I am well aware a silencer does not always silence a firearm’s muzzle report and indeed does suppress it, nevertheless that does not justify trying to slip in a name change. I also get the term “suppressor” sounds more tactical but once again that fact is of no importance to me. Now I really don’t care what someone wants to call a silencer but my whole reason for this article is all the very strongly worded emails and messages telling me how wrong I am, and the words stupid and idiot sometimes show up in the messages. I get it, this is the internet and whenever you publish something online you have to be prepared for the facebook gunsmiths and social justice warriors who troll the internet waiting to pounce on some article to point out how wrong they are and in turn reassuring themselves on how smart they really are. That as well does not get to me either but in the interest of education and extending the olive branch, I decided to publish this short article with a few facts. Oh and no, I am not shaving my beard and I don’t care if you think it makes me look stupid, so please quit messaging me with that same email. You know who you are.

Everyone have a safe and Happy New Year and consider opening your home and adopt an animal that needs a warm place to bed down.


By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

3 thoughts on “Silencer or Suppressor, which term is correct?”
  1. I’m looking to invest in a silencer/suppressor but am having trouble finding anywhere that manufacturers or sells them. Any advice? Also the debate over silencer vs suppressor is one I’ve had with my mom numerous times. I subscribe to the theory that both are correct terminology due to the fact that they both describe the device as a noise dampener.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *