“The Maxim Silencer was developed to meet my personal desire to enjoy target practice without creating a disturbance. I have always loved to shoot, but I never thoroughly enjoyed it when I knew that the noise was annoying other people. It occurred to me one day that there was no need for the noise. Why not do away with it and shoot quietly.”
In 1909, Hiram Percy Maxim patented the world’s first firearm suppressor, which he called the Maxim Silencer. His purpose: to reduce noise pollution.
Contrary to Maxim’s claims, no tool will ever be able to make a gunshot silent. Nonetheless, suppressors are the only tools that are capable of reducing the noise of a gunshot at the source.
When a gun is fired, a controlled explosion of gunpowder propels the bullet through the barrel. Once the bullet exits the barrel, these hot gases are rapidly released into the atmosphere. The result is the muzzle blast, one of several primary noise sources associated with a gunshot.
Suppressors work by trapping and disrupting these gases, allowing them to slowly dissipate. It is the exact same science behind automobile mufflers, which should come as no surprise considering the muffler was another of Maxim’s early inventions.
As urban developments advance into rural areas, preexisting shooting ranges and hunting properties across the country are being threatened by noise complaints. State and local noise ordinances are also a tremendous hindrance to the development of new shooting facilities.
Ranges can reduce noise pollution by encouraging patrons to use suppressors in the 42 states where they are legal to own. Hunters in 40 states can do their part to moderate their sound footprint by suppressing their host firearm. The remaining states should enact pro-suppressor reforms to give hunters and recreational shooters the opportunity to become better neighbors and better stewards of the environment by giving them the right to use suppressors.