Last week, I had the opportunity to join a group of writers to get check out new products from Silencerco (and others) in Utah. Having been grounded since an accident in April, it was nice to be able to get back on the road and in the field. It was also a stark reminder that shooting skills are definitely something you can lose if they’re not regularly exercised.
It was also good to get a closeup look at one of the companies that’s been on the cutting edge of suppressor technology for a long time. Seeing their manufacturing facilities first-hand helped me understand why they truly believe their products to be among the best in their category.
Silencerco uses combinations of high-tech machinery and skilled workers to make certain each of their products is exactly as promised. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
It was explained to me during my conversations with their leadership that they’re seriously focused on three elements: People. Passion. Precision. And that focus is obvious in the attitudes from the board room to the fabrication shops. Their employees enjoy their workplace, and it’s no exaggeration to equate a happy workforce with solid products.
In conversations with the writers, president Jonathon Shults told the Silencerco story, from its founding “in my garage with Josh Waldron” to the present day. And in sharing the story, he had no problem acknowledging the company, like others, had hit its share of bumps along the way. Today, however, he says the company- and the silencer industry - seems to be “on the way back” as consumers have gotten off the sidelines on purchasing decisions.
A lot of that reluctance, he acknowledged, was attributable to an overly-optimistic impression the the government was going to - finally- acknowledge silencers as safety devices they are, and remove them from the restricted category.
From there, we moved to the reason for the trip to Utah: the opportunity to actually spend some time on targets with new products.
And the suppressors weren’t the only new products we had the opportunity to give a try. And we shot everything from .17HMRs up to big-bore .338 Lapuas rifles, pistols, and pump and semi-automatic shotguns -without the normal heavy hearing protection. All possible because of the significant noise reduction capabilities of Silencerco products.
Winchester supplied a quantity of their new 350 Legend ammunition- and we ran lots of rounds through one of Ruger’s new Hawkeye rifles equipped. It was certainly more fun with one of Silencerco’s cans instead of bulky hearing protection (although most of us do wear lighter in the ear protection regardless). It’s a very legitimate candidate for a hunting rifle, and it’s very likely we’ll be seeing that caliber in a variety of modern sporting rifles.
In fact, the story of the 350 Legend is intertwined more closely to the modern sporting rifle than you might imagine. It’s a story worth repeating.
Some states, including Ohio and Illinois, require straight-walled hunting cartridges.
Winchester staffers started wondering about how to meet that requirement and potentially incorporate more modern rifles. I’m drastically oversimplifying the story, but the net/net is the .350 legend is essentially a cut-off 5.56 case with the largest caliber bullet possible at the front. It’s within the specifications for the .357 Magnum cartridge, so it meets the requirements for hunting. And since it’s essentially a modern sporting rifle cartridge, it’s pretty likely there will soon be a variety of uppers on the market. In the meantime, I was told there are around a dozen rifle companies already offering 350 Legend caliber bolt guns.
Yamil Sued putting rounds through a Ruger Hawkeye Hunter in Winchester's new 350 Legend caliber. At distances out to 250 yards, it's definitely a hunting option. We pushed the rifle out beyond 400 yards, but wouldn't recommend it for game at that range. Whatever the range, a suppressor makes the experience far more pleasant -and less injurious to your hearing.
The 350 Legend is one of those ideas that will have many wondering if it’s a solution in search of a problem. It’s definitely not. It offers more energy than the ubiquitous 30-30, the 300 Blackout or .223 Remington, less recoil than a 450 Bushmaster, and 20% more penetration than a .243 Winchester cartridge, with 20% more penetration. It’s a very legitimate hunting round. My most likely application would be hog hunting, but deer inside that 250-yard range would likely be anchored by well-placed shots.
My most eye-opening experience was hanging a Silencerco Salvo 12 suppressor on a Benelli semi-automatic shotgun. Since I’m essentially pointing a shotgun, not aiming, I found the additional length of the suppressor to actually be helpful in breaking my bad habit of aiming when I’m shotgunning. It would certainly make shotgun competitions more pleasant for spectators and participants.
The biggest new “reveal” in the trip (that I can talk about) was the Non-NFA version of Silencerco’s Maxim 9 integrally suppressed 9mm pistol. Because we were using suppressors at all the other shooting positions, we ran the new unsuppressed version with a Omega 9K suppressor, but it’s really a 9mm pistol with a threaded barrel, unlike the Maxim 9 it now complements.
Silencerco officially unveiled their new Non-NFA Maxim 9mm pistol during our visit. Although we fired the pistol suppressor, it will be sold as a non-NFA pistol with a pre-threaded barrel. As you can see from the photo, the pistol's barrel and red dot sight do not move during firing. That fixed barrel also eliminates the piston need on a suppressor as well. All photos by Jim Shepherd/OWDN.
Their initial version of the Maxim 9 was the first holster-ready, integrally suppressed 9mm pistol in today’s marketplace. The new and still unnamed Maxim will offer the same ease of maintenance, simplicity when field stripping and out-of-the-box accuracy (it is a very accurate pistol) as the integral Maxim 9, but is minus the tax stamp and paperwork burden of the NFA.
There are still more items in the Silencerco pipeline, but they’re not yet ready to announce them.
But we’ll keep you posted.
— Jim Shepherd