United States Civilian Ownership of Sound Suppressor by William
The Future of Silenced Weapons
Destructive interference & frequency shift silencers
Two speculative gun suppressing technologies are the destructive interference & frequency shift relied upon the very nature of sound, sound is a wave and those two technologies exploit two separate phenomenon. Destructive interference accrues when two or more waves with different phase shift are interact with each other and cancelling each other. Frequency shift method base on altering the sound frequency higher above human ear threshold. Theoretically silencers can be cleverly designed to achieve one or both of those outcomes and some claims (namely the Russian) to integrate those technologies to their armament but most experts remain skeptic.
Regulated Gas Valve
Keeping the bullet velocity subsonic when its supersonic crack could be hearable by the target AND having it travel most of the trajectory at supersonic is tricky as the shooter need to be able to tackle the target in different ranges under different wind conditions. An electronically control gas valve placed in half way the barrel length will vent out a portion of the propelling gases in order to precisely control the supersonic muzzle velocity to ensure the shift between super-to-sub in the require distance from the gun and from its target.
Light gas gun (LGG)
Light gas gun (LGG) and one of its variants, combustion light gas gun (CLGG), is an arrangement similar to regular chemically propel projectile that utilize the low molecular mass of light gases like hydrogen & helium as medium or leverage to accelerate projectiles to velocities higher than smokeless gunpowder can generate. Since the maximum velocity a projectile can archive is the sound speed, the propelling gas using hydrogen or helium as propelling gases can provide higher muzzle velocities. The LGG structure is a long tube fill with the light gas, a piston at one end is launch by regular gunpowder behind it to push the light gas through a narrowing nuzzle in the outer end. Behind this muzzle is a rupture disk, designed to rapture at a precise pressure and launch the projectile behind the disk at a hypersonic speed.There are many engineering problems preventing the militarizing of this technology, one of them is the need to constantly refill the long tube in light gas after each shot made. A modify silencer could be developed to recycle the light gas, allowing the bullet to leave the barrel quietly and reducing the size of gas tank needed for multiple shots.
Without chemical propellant needed, the railgun can fire slugs without generated muzzle blast and the ability to adjust the power output gives the gun an “dial-a-velocity” capabilities. However, the friction between the projectile's sabot and the twin rails creates a plasma flume ejected out of the muzzle. Like in the case of conventional gun's muzzle flash, some silencer type device will be needed to prevent detection.
Similar with the railgun, the Gauss Gun use no chemical propellant and thus, does not produce any noisy blast, and it too, can well tune its projectiles velocities to suppress supersonic crack. Gauss Gun edge over railgun is the lack of plasma flume; the projectile is accelerating by and within the coils without contact them.
There was a lot of thing I didn't fancy about the Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, its depiction of future tech was certainly not one of them. One of the weapons at Elysium armory was the Chemrail, a hybrid carbine size gun combining the traditional chemical propellant with the assistant of rails to further accelerate the bullet.
A real version of such gun with EM accelerator mount at the end of the barrel could use its rails/ coils to accelerate subsonic bullet to the required supersonic velocity to control the supersonic crack at bay while the muzzle blast is dissipate between the rails/coils in a controlled volume like in a suppressor.
Silenced firearms and poplar media
No one ever blame Hollywood and other makers of poplar media for getting firearms technology and terminology right and the portraying of silenced firearms as seen in movies, TV & video games is no exception. If you believe those sources as reliable, the minute a silencer is screwed on top of the pistol, the gun blast's roaring thunder is reduced to shallow, almost cute, whistle. So much so, that in the firearms community, that all-too-familiar sound is jokily referring to that as "Mouse fart". In real life, no silencer can deliver such a promise, the sound reduction however good it may be will never eliminate to firing sound. The source of this misleading "Mouse fart" is unclear, most likely some movie's prop or audio specialists add it somewhere in some movie at the past which been copied ever since but how was this original sinner we may never know.
Silenced Firearms and Science Fiction
Science Fiction generally suffers from the same tropes and misconceptions other genres had and the silence firearms is no exception. The all my-silencer-make-all-noise-go-away trope is common, just ask any PC or console warrior and he will tell you that with little silencer you can take down one sentry without his comrade one meter away even notice… yeah, in video games apparently the silencers can mute the sound of your saline foe crumbling to the ground. Two specific aspects of silence guns relative to SF is the presence (or lack of them) in space, after all space is huge and it have plenty of room to movies, novels, TV series etc. to go around.
In the vacuum of space of course no one can hear you scream, or spraying bullets. No muzzle blast, no supersonic crack… noting. In fact on the surface of Luna, a missing bullet can pass less than an inch in front of your spacesuit face shield and you wouldn't know it! If the slug wouldn't hit something or someone there would be no indication, at least without some optical sensors or radar. The muzzle flash will also be avoided because without oxygen the unburned gunpowder residues leaving the muzzle have nothing to burn with. Conclusions – in outer space the dream of truly quiet guns will be true. A completely different scenario onboard spaceship or space stations, in the tight corridors and rooms of those packed metal tubes any boarding team or station cop ought to have suppressed weapon or suffer hearing loss.
The Pop-up Silencer from Judge Dredd (2012)
The Lawgiver is the standard and prime gun of the Judges of Mega-City 1 and it packed with all sort of goodies inside including: voice activated ammo type selector, self-destruction against unauthorized users and last but not least a build-in extractable-retractable silencer. The silencer is the only firing mode of the Lawgiver that is not only voice-activated, which may make sense, you don't call out loud and you don't want the Lawgiver robotic voice to replay the command to all foes to hear.
The Imperium of Man Stalker-pattern Bolter from the Warhammer 40k Universe
The Warhammer 40,000 universe is not the place you might expect to find suppressed firearms given the vast arsenal of over the top distractive weapons. One type of those legendary bolters is different; the Stalker-pattern Bolter is a variant of the common clay bolter with longer barrel, telescopic scope and massive suppressor. It is a sniper/ marksmanship rifle loaded with special Stalker bolter ammo. These bolt shells have a pressured gas canister instead of rocket engine and solidified mercury slug replaces the mass-reactive warhead for lethality at subsonic projectile speeds.
The M-11 Suppressor from the Mass Effect Universe
The case of the M-11 is a prime example of style over logic, since most small arms in the Mass Effect universe are using mass effect field. The mass effect field is basically an artificial gravity mass accelerator to propel sand grain sized projectile at relativistic speed, so there there is essentially no chemically produced muzzle blast or flash need to be suppressed. In addition any projectile travels at near light speed will centrally create some serious supersonic boom! So,we have a suppressor intended to suppress non-existing muzzle blast with ear shattering supersonic crack that it can't suppress… this does not compute
The Suppressed 9mm MAC-10 SMG from Escape from New York
The ODST M7S PDW from HALO 3: ODST
No sound suppressor weapons were seen in the HALO game universe until the 2009 HALO 3: ODST video game (the hushed M7 was in the book HALO: First Strike). The UNSC’s elite light spaceborne infantry units, the ODSTs, were armed with unique weaponry for their unique missions and skills. As the Rookie character in the game, you start off alone among the darkened streets of New Mombasa armed with two suppressed weapons: the M7S PDW and the M6C/SOCOM. First seen in HALO 2, the M7 is the standard UNSC PDW that fires an 5x23mm caseless round from an left side horizontally mounted magazine. In the hands of the ODST armory techs, the M7 was modified for low-profile operations; mounting an SS/M 49 series sound suppressor, a tactical light, and an SLS/V 5B smart-linked open reflex sight. During major engagements, ODSTs Marines used normal UNSC weaponry, however, for the original mission template at the beginning of HALO 3: ODST, the VBSS of an alien warship, the M7S PDW was ideal for close quarters warfare.
During gameplay, the M7S PDW sounds brilliant and has a nice hushed tone that is more in-line with real-world suppressed PDWs and SMGs. It does suffer from a reduced magazine size from the regular M7 and it is simply underpowered to deal with the threats presented in the game. Vast amounts of ammo are needed to take down anything more than a grunt, and this is coupled with the Rookie not being a SPARTAN. Since the 2009 game, the hushed M7 variant has not really been seen since, which the M7 was given an update from HALO 5: Guardians.
The Suppressed Colt Commando Carbine from Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Suppressors from the Crysis Universe
The Shadow Marshall M66-SD SMG from Killzone
The shadowy adventures of everyone’s favorite NSA Agent Sam Fisher are laced with the use of suppressed weaponry. The entire gameplay mechanics are centered around stealth and timing, and this makes Fisher’s choice of silencer weaponry key to his success. In the bulk of the games, Agent Fisher of the Third Echelon uses an FN Five-seveN 5.7mm suppressed pistol and suppressed FN F2000. Due to copyright issues, either weapon is called by the real-world names. They official the "5.7mm SC Pistol" and the "SC-20K MAWS".
The suppressed pistol sound effect is very close to the real-steel Five-seveN 5.7mm suppressed...Ubioft Tom Clancy games are known for their research. The FN2000 is not so lucky. It is pretty average suppressed sound in-game, while the real-world FN F2000 suppressed has a nice sound that should have made into the game. The nice touch to the SC-20K MAWS is the 30mm GL-1 grenade launcher loaded with less-than-lethal munitions, behaving more like the real-steel FN 303 18mm less-than-lethal.
The Suppressors from Call of Duty Black Ops II/III, GHOSTS, and Advanced Warfare
In the COD games set in the near-future as well as the game set in more distant future, sound suppressor/silencers are extremely common in both the campaign as well as multiplayer. The multiplayer modes are were the silencers really shine. When added to nearly all types of weapon types (save for DEW in Black Ops: III), the suppressor prevents the player from appearing on the mini-map when the weapon is fired so that some asshole can’t knife you from behind. However, suppressors reduce range of the gun by 20%-30% and some claim that suppressors reduce damage output as well…despite it not being proven.
Another advantage of using one of your slots for the suppressor is reduced muzzle flash, which helps with some guns, like the M27 from Black Ops II. Some of the weapons available in COD have integrated suppressors, like the Honey Badger from Ghosts, and others operate better than others with the silencer attached, like the M27 assault rifle and the Remington 870 shoty from Black Ops: II. Some players will run around a map with silenced pistol like a 00 Agent as well, living out some Bond fantasy while hushpuppying you to dead. Super annoying.
The ODST M6C/SOCOM from HALO 3: ODST
The magnum 12mm pistol has been around the HALO universe since the first game and over the course of its life, it has been altered every single game. One of the most radical alternations was the sound suppressed variant seen in the HALO 3: ODST and the HALO Helljumper comic limited series. The UNSC’s elite light spaceborne infantry units, the ODSTs, were armed with unique weaponry for their unique missions and skills. As the Rookie character in the game, you start off alone among the darkened streets of New Mombasa armed with two new suppressed weapons: the M7S PDW and the M6C/SOCOM.
The M6C/ SOCOM is an specialized variant of the HALO 3 M6 Magnum and is one of the only specialized variants known to exist for the 12mm M6 Magnum pistol featured in an game. The SOCOM “C” variant is set apart from the regular issue M6 by the laser/light module mounted under the barrel along with integrated sound suppressor, and is topped off by the advanced VnSLS/V 6E smart-linked scope. In the game, this advanced scope system coupled with the suppressor, allows the Rookie to pick off grunts with headshots with expert marksmanship. Truly, one of the best moments in ODST is pulling off hushed headshots and watching the alien body drop. Another unique feature of the M6C/SOCOM is that it fires the rarer M228 semi-armor-piercing high-penetration (SAP-HE) 12.7x40mm ammunition. While the weapon is effective in "hushpuppy" tactic, it suffers when engaging Covenant in close quarters over the traditional M6 pistol. Much like the M7S, the M6C/SOCOM, it has only really appeared in the ODST game.
For many of us, our introduction to the mysterious H&K Mk 23 .45ACP SOCOM offensive handgun was the landmark 1997 Metal Gear Solid video game. With stealth being a key aspect of the MGS franchise, Solid Snake using an hushed pistol was a no-brainer...but why this relatively unknown (at the time) pistol? According to game, the events of MGS take place in 2005, and with the Mk 23 entering service, it was believed by some to be the next-gen US combat pistol. Also, given that the offensive pistol was developed with cutting edge technology and a rather cool futuristic look, it was a perfect fit for the game. The symbol of Snake with an Mk 23 SOCOM became iconic in the MSG franchise. The other reasons, has given in interview with MGS artist Yoji Shinkawa, that since the Mk 23 SOCOM (like the FAMAS) was more bulky in appearance, it would work will with the graphic limitations at the time. They also liked that it chambered the .45 ACP round. Yoji chose the prototype version of the H&K Mk 23 over the issued version because he liked that look more. For the most part, the Mk 23 suppressor in the 1997 game is fairly accurate. There is a puff of smoke and it goes thump-thump instead of the same normal film/video game snake "zip" sound.The Sound Suppressor from The Ghost Recon Universe
Next on FWS Armory – Rocket Guns
In the last couple of centuries, the terms “firearm” or “gun” uniformly describes a well-built pressure cooker with projectile as the pointy lid thrown by the explosive discharge of gunpowder. Few attempts made in the 20th century to undermine the slug throwers hegemony by a different paradigm – the self-propelled projectile or more simply called the rocket. The most well-known attempt was the MBA Gyrojet concept in the 1960’s, but it wasn't the first and it might not be the last. In the next installation of this continues series, we'll examine those odd ducks of firearm’s history, their advantages & disadvantages over regular sluggers and check their influence on Sci-Fi.