Selecting the Right Suppressor

If you’re in the market for a new suppressor, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. But what criteria should you consider most when shopping for a new suppressor? Well, I’m glad you asked! Easy day.

Many people who are looking for a suppressor only seem to think of one thing – sound suppression. It’s all about being Hollywood movie QUIET.

BUT, if you’re shooting 5.56, you’re never going to get your gun “silent”. You can at best make it hearing safe. Keep in mind though – many cans that do one thing very well tend to fall short in other important categories.

Think of it as a sliding scale. With everything you get, you’re also giving up something. Because of this, it’s important to know exactly what you want to get out of a suppressor before you buy.

9 Criteria for Selecting a Suppressor

There are 9 criteria on which I like to evaluate a good can, and they are as follows (in no particular order): size, weight, price, sound suppression, longevity, accuracy shift, quick detach, flash reduction, and back pressure reduction.

Different shooters often care more about some criteria than others because contexts are different. A sniper may care more about accuracy, flash reduction, and quick detach features. An assaulter likely will give greater emphasis to size, weight, and back pressure reduction. Different still, a machine gunner will care the most about longevity and back pressure reduction. James Bond of course is going sound suppression above all (and just so we’re clear, Sean Connery is the real James Bond for all time).

I’ve shot a lot of cans over the years, and SureFire’s SOCOM series does a fantastic job at balancing well all of my 9 criteria. It is for that reason that the US Special Operations adopted these SureFire cans, giving it the name SOCOM (after Special Operations Command).

Let’s take a deeper look into the SOCOM specs.

SOCOM556-RC2 Suppressor

When looking at size, I want to consider length and diameter. The RC2 comes in at 6.3″ total and adds 3.8″ to the overall gun length when attached to a muzzle device. The diameter is 1.5″ and it tips the scales at 17 oz.

When considering what you’ll pay, SureFire carries a pretty high price tag at just over $1,000 (and another $200 for a stamp). Yes, you can get a can that costs half of what SureFire charges. If you do, just know that the sliding scale mentioned earlier will be more heavily impacted by a cheaper suppressor.

Sound suppression for the RC2 is fairly decent at 133 dB. The human ear can handle 140 dB for less than a second – anything louder or longer and you’ll be dealing with some permanent ear damage. If you’re rapid-firing at 133 dB, it could be damaging to an unprotected ear.

The RC2 comes with SureFire’s patented fast-attach system that makes attaching/removing the suppressor quick and painless.

Accuracy shift is important to consider as you’ll generally see a change in accuracy when shooting with/without a can. Because of this, I often have two different zeroes – one for can on and one for can off. You can also see shifts from the threads on the can not lining up quite the same a second time. This criterion isn’t too problematic if you have a gun with a dedicated can that you rarely remove. With that being said, I didn’t see any accuracy shifts when shooting the RC2.

When thinking about longevity, I want to know how hot I can get the can and for how long before it starts to cause damage. The RC2 is built-to-last and can take a serious beating (aka I can put plenty of rounds through it without worry). This suppressor will last a very long time.

When you shoot a can, different gasses can bound up and come back at you. This heat and pressure can burn your eyes and makes for an overall unpleasant experience. Back pressure can also dirty up your rifle, which leads to poorer shooting and diminishing reliability. The RC2 handles back pressure masterfully and allows for a much less distracting trigger pull.

For a warfighter, flash reduction is extremely important. In a low-light context, all enemy guns will be pointing straight where you shoot from. This is precisely why I care so much that the RC2 does a superb job reducing flash – and it does. Having a less noticeable light signature is always more important to me than sound suppression.

SureFire SOCOM300-SPS Suppressor

For those of you who are prioritizing sound suppression over other criteria, look no further. The 300-SPS is one of the quietest SureFire suppressors ever made and is optimized for .300 BLK/Whisper (7.62 x 35) subsonic and supersonic ammo. When shooting blackout, the action of the bolt moving into the buffer tube is the loudest thing you’ll hear. You can still put 5.56 mm and .300 WM rounds through it as well, but don’t expect the same level of noise reduction. With subsonic BLK, this can gets you down to 124 dB, which is a 9 dB reduction from the RC2.

The 300-SPS comes in at 7.9″ overall while adding 5.4″ to the total length of a rifle when on a muzzle device. On the scale, this can weighs 20 oz. – 3 oz. heavier when compared with the RC2.

Similarly as the RC2, the 300-SPS ranks high for longevity with its high temp alloy and stainless steel construction. A DLC and Cerakote™ finish help stretch that longevity even further by providing corrosion protection.

Accuracy shifts are nominal to non-existent. Attaching/detaching the can is as fast and easy as ever with the same patented fast-attach system as the RC2.

Back pressure reduction and flash reduction are both excellent with the 300-SPS. Even first-round flash is well attenuated.

You can expect a similar price-range as the RC2 right around the 1K mark, with the 300 being $100 cheaper.

Settling on a Muzzle Device

Just as flash reduction is more important to me than sound suppression, I would rather run a flash hider than a brake or compensator. Muzzle brakes and comps are ideal for keeping your muzzle from jumping up, but if you’re shooting a normal AR-15 and are familiar with how to manage recoil, then the rifle really shouldn’t be moving much. Comps and brakes are great for competitive shooting, but their drawback is that they throw gas and concussion everywhere. If you’re shooting at a range, expect everyone to hate you. Additionally, the flash can rob your night vision and give away your location.

As I mentioned before, throwing out a light signature is a signal to bad guys to point their barrels your way. I can assure you, you do not want this.

With these points in mind, the SureFire Warcomp flash hider is my favorite all-around muzzle device. The Warcomp gives me the best of both worlds – 98% flash reduction while also eliminating muzzle rise.

When considering these factors, you can make a much more informed decision when it comes time to check out and send some quiet rounds down range. Check out our YouTube video below to see my full review, as well as some low-light footage that shows just how much flash reduction these cans really give you.


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