Gemtech's Integra and Lunar (with a Brief History of Sound Suppressors)

By Frank Iannamico

Hiram Percy Maxim is credited with the concept of the modern firearm silencer and formed his Maxim Silencer Company in 1908. The original intent of the sound suppressor was to engage in backyard shooting without disturbing the neighbors and to provide the shooter some relief from the discomfort of the firearm’s loud report.

This was desirable before the widespread use of hearing protection, such as ear plugs or earmuffs. Sales of Maxim’s “silencers” were unrestricted; they could be purchased right over the counter at the local hardware store, or by mail order. However, the innocence and original intent of the “silencer” was lost when a few criminals discovered them. Hollywood began to exaggerate the criminal use of “silencers” in the movies for dramatic effect. Many movie companies, apparently not interested accuracy, often depicted criminals using silencers on their revolvers. The term “sound suppressor” is technically more accurate, because they decrease the sound, not silence it. However, “silencer” was used by Maxim, Hollywood, and it is still used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

What killed the initial sound suppressor (silencer) industry was the National Firearms Act of June 26, 1934, which imposed a $200.00 federal transfer tax on suppressors and machine guns. Law enforcement agencies and the military were exempted from the tax.

Renewed interest in sound suppressors for military use occurred during World War II. Some of the better known allied weapons that were suppressed included the U.S. M3 “grease gun,” the British Sten and the Delisle carbine. The Germans also fielded a few suppressed weapons during the war. After the war had ended, suppressors and suppressor research was shelved and forgotten. (The military has recently begun adopting sound suppressors, but more to prevent soldier’s hearing loss than for “special” operations.)

During the 1960s, Mitch WerBell’s SIONICS company, which became the Military Armament Corporation, began making suppressors in Georgia for military applications including the M14 and M16 rifles. The Military Armament Corporation also offered suppressors for their MAC 10 and MAC 11 submachine guns. After going out of...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017


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