Suppressors and predator hunting, in my honest opinion is two things that go together about as perfectly as any combination in existence. Please forgive me if you are bothered by the fact that I refuse to refer to them as “silencers” but that’s a topic for another day and time. Nonetheless, let’s get started on this one, because I know every year I get asked by 50 people why I use one and if it helps…and to answer that: Because after enduring the wait time from the ATF for my first one, I’d use it even if it didn’t help whatsoever just because…but it makes a night and day difference in my shooting enjoyment and my coyote hunting enjoyment.
Everything you’ve ever seen about suppressors on movies, please forget every bit of it, and I’ll try my best to make unreal expectations from what the movies show into realistic expectations if you wanted to get one. There are two ways to obtain a NFA (National Firearms Act) item, which suppressors do fall under. You can apply for one via an individual or a trust; if you want more information on the process feel free to e-mail me at the e-mail address below (I will get you in touch with an extremely knowledgeable attorney by the name of Marc Halata who handles all of my firearms/NFA items), but for now I am going to focus more on the predator hunting benefits. I will not be caught in the field without a suppressor on any gun that I shoot…period. Last year, I had a Remington 700 26” barrel 22-250 that I had threaded and put a 7” suppressor on. Was it the ideal platform to put one on? Not by a long shot (pun intended). However, pre-suppressor, that gun was honestly the most obnoxious gun to shoot. It was extremely loud and coupled with my hand loads; it was throwing a 4’ fireball out of the end of the barrel every time I squeezed off a round. It was loud enough that when we would go shoot, my friends would get off of the firing line and behind me due to the percussion and noise; it just wasn’t really fun to be around or shoot.
One trip to a friend of mine, Isaac Franks—who owns Southern Indiana Precision and builds some of the best guns I’ve seen—and a little work from him on his lathe, my barrel was threaded and ready to get my suppressor on. That gun went from an obnoxious gun to shoot; to one of the tamest and quiet guns I’ve honestly ever had the pleasure of suppressing. I’d say the gun sounded like your standard .17 HMR after the suppressor was on. The difference was absolutely unbelievable and even more noticeable I think to the people around me.
So, one night while out hunting coyotes under my predator hunting lights, I walked out into the middle of a field to collect a coyote that my partner and I had just recently shot, although we weren’t entirely sure of its exact location. As we were looking for our downed dog, I scanned the field around us with my scan light and caught another set of eyes coming right to us from several hundred yards away. At about 350 yards, I tried to free hand shoot the coyote with my .308 bolt action rifle, which I’m not going to lie, is incredibly heavy…and I missed. What happened next is what blew my mind! As that shot missed its mark that coyote actually looked all around it and took off running…right at me! The dog was zig zagging trying to get away from whatever it was that just shot at it, but it had zero idea where it came from or even the general direction. It was short lived as my partner which was 100 yards to my right and had his gun mounted coyote light beaming down on it the whole time, was lying prone in the field and dropped dog #3 for the night like a bad habit.
What transpired that night changed what I thought about using a suppressor when predator hunting. My partner explained it to me as he watched what happened with his predator light on Dog #3 and it really was interesting. He said there was zero muzzle flash, no 4’ fireball and he said that the gun shot sounded like it was ¼ mile ahead of us. Maybe that was why that coyote ran towards me instead of away from me, but that’s not a question I can really pose to him at this point. Reactions like this actually became common for the rest of the season. Calling in 2 or 3 dogs and shooting one, only to have them run towards me or in the exact opposite direction I would anticipate them to run every time. Why? I honestly don’t know, but I generally attributed it to what the suppressor does to the supersonic crack and essentially “throwing” the sound a couple hundred yards downrange of my location. It also doubles as a great tool to hear that very loud and indistinguishable “THUMP” sound when your round makes contact with its target.
Aside from the coyote hunting aspect, the benefit of making your firearm hearing safe and not having to use earplugs every time you go to the range is a huge plus. It’s a fantastic tool for children to get out with mom and dad and learn firearms handling and safety. I’ve got a .22 rim fire suppressor for a little bitty .22 that my daughter, when old enough, will go out with dad and shoot. It’s just the extra benefit of recoil reduction, noise reduction and it makes shooting that much more enjoyable.
Questions, comments, etc….please e-mail me at PredatorTacticsJosh@gmail.com