Book Review: Firearm Suppressor Patents, Vol. 1: United States Patents
By Philip H. Dater, MD

Firearm Suppressor Patents, Vol. 1: United States Patents
By N. R. Parker
ISBN 1-58160-460-2 (#FSP1)
Paladin Press
7077 Winchester Circle
Boulder, CO 80301-3505
(800) 392-2400
$45.00 + S&H

Every so often a book is published that demands a prominent place in a firearm historian’s library. N.R. Parker’s Firearm Suppressor Patents is such a book. Published by Paladin Press, this is volume one of three and covers United States patents. In 1973, Paladin published a three-volume set of patent compilations by Don Thomas. Long out of print, Thomas’s works are demanding around $600 per volume in the rare book market. This early monumental effort covered many of the US and European silencer patents up until the date of publication, but there has been nothing since then and a number of germane patents were missed. Thomas’s works are printouts of various patents in chronological order, and many have technically sub-optimal reproduction as one would expect from simple graphic files or faxes. Thomas was also hindered by a lack of the internet in those days, requiring many trips to the patent office.

Chasing down patents is not a simple task, and the no-charge printouts are of marginal quality. Not only does one have to examine the US Patent & Trademark database, but one must also examine the databases of a number of other countries, not all of whom have on-line search capabilities. I have known N.R. Parker for over 25 years, and the collection of patent information has been a lifelong interest of his. He has gradually been recognized as the world’s authority on silencer patents, and I would be confident in saying that he undoubtedly has the largest collection of silencer patent printouts outside of the world’s patent offices. Not only has he amassed this library, but he has read, studied, and understands what is being claimed.

There are a number of features of Firearm Suppressor Patents besides the beautiful graphics and presentation. With each patent presented, the author has included a short biography of the inventor as well as an analysis of the patent claims. From his vast experience in studying patents, the author is well qualified to make these analyses. In addition, he has printed interviews with several of the inventors who are still alive providing a unique insight into their personality and thought processes. The patent office offers the copies as graphics files scanned from the original documents. Unless one has gone through the tedium of cleaning up the artwork of scanned documents (especially older ones), it is hard to appreciate the effort that went into making the documents appear as though they are originals.

The designer or student of suppressors needs to have a number of reference works in his library. While the earlier silencer histories by J. David Truby are fascinating reading, Alan C. Paulson’s series on the history and design are a must. Parker’s work is even more important.

From the forward by Alan Paulson to an analysis by physicist Chris Luchini, PhD, Parker’s Firearm Suppressor Patents is absolutely essential to the student of the art. It will be hard to wait for the second and third volumes.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N9 (June 2005)
and was posted online on May 17, 2013


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