Archived Story

A sound idea

Published 6:38pm Friday, May 16, 2014


That’s something you hear a lot around Alabama hunting camps.

I personally have a number of close hunting buddies who suffer from hearing loss related directly from shooting guns.

So I applaud the State of Alabama’s recent move to make it legal to hunt with sound-suppressed weapons beginning in the 2014 season, just like it is in Georgia and Mississippi and about half the U.S. states.

I’ve never understood why it was against the law to make shooting safer by making it quieter.

When I heard that there was a good chance that the state would allow hunting with “silencers” this year, I went through the process of buying one.

It’s not easy.

I had to fill out a lot of paper work, have two passport photos taken, go down to the Alexander City Police Department and get fingerprinted, ask Sheriff Jimmy Abbett to sign the form OKing me to purchase a suppressor and send all that information plus $200 to the Bureau of Alcohol Firearms Tobacco and Explosives to get a permit. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now I’m in the waiting period, which Woody Baird at Sure Shot says will probably take about eight months or so, maybe longer, since there will certainly be a bunch of new people applying for suppressor permits. Woody said almost all the suppressors at Sure Shot have been reserved since the state’s decision this month. He can’t legally sell me a suppressor until I have a permit.

So even though I started this process before the Alabama Department of Conservation voted to repeal the ban on hunting with silencers – thereby beating the rush to buy silencers by the hunting public – there’s a good chance that I still won’t have my silencer before the end of the upcoming hunting season.

The suppressor I’ve reserved is a Raith, made by Yankee Hill Machine, and it’s made to screw into the end of a barrel on a .22 – which is definitely the quietest shooting hunting gun I own.

So why do I want to make a .22 even quieter? Simple. I can take a .22 and a .308 rifle in the woods and I can shoot squirrels and rabbits without giving a head’s up to any deer that happens to be heading toward my stand.

I’ve thought about buying a silencer for my deer rifle. It makes a much bigger bang but I realized that most years I only harvest two to three deer, using two to three shots, and including the practice shots to make sure my scope is still zeroed in, I usually shoot less than six or seven times a year. So I’m not sure it’s worth it. On the other hand, I wear hearing protection every time I go hunting, which involves infinitely more time and effort than my six .308 trigger pulls each year. A silenced deer rifle would make it much, much safer to go without hearing protection … so I may get in the permit line again.

I can’t understand why every gun isn’t built so that it is as quiet and as safe as possible, but there will be some who cry that silenced weapons are a bad thing.

I’m using the terms “silenced” and “suppressed” interchangeably, but you need to know that “silenced” is a misnomer. What a “silencer” does is eliminates most of the sound of the gunpowder exploding. It doesn’t affect the sound made by the moving parts of the gun, the sonic boom of the bullet splitting the air or the sound of a bullet hitting whatever you’re shooting at. So shooting is never silent. But shooting with a suppressor is safer. And I’m 100 percent in favor of that.

Why isn’t everybody?


Boone is publisher of The Outlook.