The quiet riot debate hunting with a suppressor: is it worth the cost and effort?
Installing a suppressor on one's favored hunting or shooting tool is much en vogue today. But for most shooters, it's simply impractical.
Although the advantages in protecting one's hearing and aiding alertness in the field are undeniable, the cost of a good suppressor is prohibitive and the application process onerous and expensive. Plus, even the lightest, most svelte suppressors are bulky and will add nearly a pound to one's rifle.
Sticker shock alone turns most hunters away from owning a suppressor. When the product is a cylindrical piece of metal with threads in one end, a little hole in the other, and a bunch of baffles in-between, it just doesn't seem worth the $700 to $1,400 price typical of a good suppressor, especially with the $200 cost of a Federal NFA tax stamp atop it. Most hunters prefer to spend the money on another rifle, and when one considers that a Kimber, Sako, or other upper-crust rifle can be had for the cost of a can, one may hardly disagree.
Add to that the headache of filling out appropriate NFA forms, getting notary signatures, fingerprint cards, passport photos, and so forth, followed by six months to one year of waiting for approval. Brand-new foam ear plugs cost a quarter. Stick a set in the pocket of your camo trousers, take your lovely new Sako out of the cabinet, and enjoy a day in the woods or at the range.
Finally, while suppressor use during some types of hunting is practical, such as while riding the high rack of a pickup in Texas or Africa or while on stand over a whitetail food plot or during a driven hunt in Europe, adding one to the end of a mountain rifle is almost a travesty. Doing so adds weight and awkwardness--the last thing a hunter needs when scaling the Rocky Mountains for alpine mule deer or Germany's Alps for chamois.--Molnar Klaubert
IN FAVOR OF SUPPRESSORS
Unknown to most Americans, suppressors were not made a National Firearms Act (NFA) regulated item because they are the favored tool of assassins and spies. That's a notion that didn't exist until Hollywood created it. Among other reasons, purchasing a suppressor was originally made difficult and expensive in an effort to curb the poaching rampant during and after the Great Depression. Yep, officials were concerned that it was just too hard to catch out-of-work fathers attempting to feed their starving children.
One has only to venture outside the U.S. to realize that shooting and hunting with a suppressor not only is the civilized thing to do, but also is practical and accepted. It protects one's hearing and the hearing of those nearby. It makes it possible to stalk game without muffs or plugs installed, increasing the hunter's awareness and decreasing reaction time. It makes it easy to communicate while teaching new shooters about safety and shooting skills.
Arrive at a European range without a suppressor, and you're likely to be thought rather uncultured and positively impolite. You can walk into a hardware store in many countries, including those where firearms are heavily regulated, and for the price of an expensive dinner purchase a can to screw onto your rifle and walk right out.
Shooter perception in America has undergone an awakening. Currently, suppressor ownership is one of the fastest-growing trends among shooters and hunters. When the $200 cost of the required tax stamp was established, it was equivalent to the price of a new car. That cost hasn't changed, and inflation has brought it within reach of the average shooter. Obtaining suppressors via a trust has streamlined the purchase process.
So step down from your high horse and get yourself a suppressor. Big game won't thank you, but your ears will. --Joseph von Benedikt