I read a thread on a gun forum the other day. Someone with a lot of science knowledge, but no practical firearms experience, was arguing that a silencer was useless on a gun that fired a supersonic bullet. He was “enthusiastic” with his argument that you can’t do anything about the sonic boom of an object traveling faster than the speed of sound, or more 1,125 feet per second or so depending on environmental conditions. His premise was flawed, however, by his lack of understanding that the sound of a gunshot has three components. Those are the blast of the rapidly expanding gas exiting the muzzle, the sound of the action of the gun, and the sonic boom of the bullet when firing supersonic calibers. His argument completely missed the point of all the benefits of reducing the gas expansion noise. That’s what has the most impact to the shooter. He also missed the potential benefit of a suppressor masking the location of the shot in supersonic scenarios. While the sonic crack still happens, it’s difficult to figure out where it came from without the associated muzzle blast. That’s useful for law enforcement, military, and hunters.
With all that said, the bottom line is that suppressors for a supersonic round like .223 Remington a great idea. They’re loud! In fact, a 55-grain .223 Remington fired from a 16” barrel will come in at about 164 decibels, depending on muzzle device configuration and such. That’s way louder than the takeoff noise of a jumbo jet (150dB) and well above the threshold for permanent hearing damage. Adding a suppressor will knock that noise level down into the 130’s depending on make and model.
All this is a long way of saying that adding a silencer to an AR-15 is a great idea. With this in mind, I decided to test the GemTech G5-T 5.56mm suppressor. Thanks to our friends at SilencerShop, I was able to borrow one for a bit.