By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
October 6, 2009
Speaking of silencers/sound suppressors, SureFire, LLC is manufacturing and marketing some interesting rifle/carbine and machine gun “cans” (muzzle cans) that we plan on T&E’ing as soon as possible. SureFire suppressors are designed and developed specifically for U.S. military Special Operations and Special Forces (SF) use. SpecOps and SF missions (Reconnaissance, Direct Action, Snatch n’ Grabs, enemy targeting (via laser), sabotage, etc.) are by definition highly dangerous, secretive, and sensitive, so silence is often golden–on multiple levels. This includes weapons. Silencers/Sound Suppressors accomplish seveal things at once:
1) They enhance a SpecOps or SF’s team’s ability to communicate with each other during a firefight, which is a big plus.
2) They suppress muzzle flash and aid night vision during a night fight, even when the operator’s wearing NODS (Night Observation Devices) or utilizing a night scope.
Of course, you don’t need a silencer for flash suppression. Flash hiders / flash suppressors will do the job just fine. Fortunately, SureFire makes some that will still allow you to quick-attach a can (silencer/sound suppressor) as necessary.
But let’s get back to sound suppressors. The primary negatives in using a sound suppressor are increased weapon length and weight, increased blowback of gas and particulate matter into the shooters face (particularly when shooting a DGI weapon), and the potential for point-of-impact shift. That’s why, if you’re going to use a suppressor with a direct gas AR, you should switch out the standard cocking/charging handle with a Precision Reflex, Inc. (PRI) M84 Gas Buster Charging Handle-Military Big Latch.
When I recently spoke with a U.S. military SOF operator contact of mine, he had very high praise for the SureFire FA556-212 5.56mm NATO suppressor a.k.a. “212”, specifically. Here’s what he wrote me on July 27, 2009:
“4-5 years ago certain units in SOF started looking for a suppressor to replace the outdated SOPMOD Block I can from KAC. Among the last downselects were the SureFire FA556-212 and an AAC model (I forgot the model but may be able to get that to you later). The Army SOF units went with the SureFire FA556-212 & the SEAL SOF unit went with the AAC. Both cans had similar test results for repeatability, zero-shift, safety, reliability, sound suppression, & most important, flash suppression. The biggest differences are in length, weight, & muzzle adapter. I heard the SEALs liked the AAC because it tested better in a few key areas that interest them, for example reliability, especially in conjuction with salt water. The Army SOF unit chose the Surefire due to it’s very short length & light weight, as well as a very effective muzzle adapter. The 212 birdcage muzzle adapter has suprising flash suppression and decent muzzle climb compensation. I like the Surefire can because our guys keep it on their gun on a constant basis. This is something we didn’t do with the KAC suppressor because it was so long & heavy. Some guys would opt to not use their suppressor, and then when we got into a firefight the enemy would shoot at their muzzle blast. And those guys are sitting right next to me… not cool! Because the Surefire is so short & light, many guys keep it on their guns full time (especially at night). This is what I like about that can. At night it only takes one guy to draw fire onto all of us by shooting without his can on.”
The FA556-212 is 6 inches long, weighs 16 ounces, and has a diameter of 1.5 inches. It’s essentially a renamed FA556K that’s been slightly updated and upgraded. The 212 was optimized around a 10.5″-barreled HK416. “That suppressor works on any 5.56, it’s just simply that’s [HK416] the platform we developed it around, and that platform doesn’t work well with just any suppressor,” says Barry Dueck, Director of SureFire’s suppressor division.
SureFire also designed the FH556-212A Flash Hider/Adaptor—to which the FA556-212 suppressor attaches–around the HK416 platform. The FH556-212A is a closed-end, closed-bottom flash hider, but the 212 can will also work well with the FH556-215A open-prong flash hider.
For a 10.5″ AR SBR (Short-Barreled Rifle), Dueck would go with either the FA556-21-212 or the new SureFire “Mini” model, which is a little bit shorter (length: 5.2″) and lighter (weight: 14 oz.) than the 212, with very similar performance. The point of the Mini was to provide similar sound-reduction and flash suppression compared to the 212 for less weight and length cost. According to Dueck, he Mini is designed to be as short as possible while still killing the flash on a 10.5″ barreled weapon. The 212 runs in the mid-to-high 130s (decibals) on the 14.5″-barreled M4/M4A1 carbine. It usually runs at 134-136 db on a M4, on average. Add a couple of db’s for the Mini.
SureFire designed and developed their Micro suppressor for a military unit running ARs with 16″ barrels wanted a super-short, superlight suppressor. The Micro has an overal length of 4.2 inches, weighs 12 ounces, and is 1.5″ in diameter and still takes the weapon down to the low 140s with regard to decibal level.
Mr. Dueck told us the following during a phone interview a few months ago:
“What’s important to communicate is true minimal impact shift, true repeatability, you take it off the weapon, shoot your weapon, use your weapon, have your barrel smokin’ hot, ya’ know, take a suppressor out of your pouch, it’ll still fit on, it’ll still lock on. Your zero, if you do have a slight change, let’s say you have 3/4 MOA (Minute of Angle) worth of impact shift, it’s gonna’ be exactly the same place it was the last time you had your suppressor on. If you had no impact shift the last time, it’s gonna’ be no impact shift this next time you put it on and 100 times later. The other ability is every [SureFire] suppressor you buy is gonna’ be the same. I did a demo recently. I brought out a Micro, a Mini, a 212, a 556MG [FA556MG], an older 556K, a couple of 556Ks, 556MGs had been down range in Iraq for a awhile and just had the piss beaten out of ’em, and put ’em all on paper in front of people, and every suppressor mounted on the same rifle shot in the same place, regardless of the fact that the MGs weigh 21 ounces and the Micros weigh 12 ounces.”
According to Dueck, average point-of-impact shift of SureFire Suppressors is less than 1 MOA. “You could have ten M4s, and you could have…four of ’em would have no impact shift, two of ’em would have a quarter minute shift, two of ’em would have a half minute, and one of ’em would have a minute, but generally you put the adapter on…where I’m gettin’ shift from is crooked bores during the manufacturing process. Somebody puts threads on that aren’t [properly] aligned with the barrel. It doesn’t take a lot to be off to get shift. But, I mean generally speaking, you put our suppressor on a good upper, it shoots. It does exactly what we say it does, and what I’ve seen is, ya’ know, when I look at the competition…everybody’ll make the same claims I’m making, but you can’t go to the range and prove it,” Dueck said.
DefenseReview is going to do its best to get to the range with Dueck ASAP. Hey, maybe we’ll stick SureFire’s 5.56 cans on the FERFRANS SOAR select-fire/full-auto SBRs and put the rubber to the road, so to speak.
Company Contact Info:
Barry Dueck, Director
SureFire, LLC Suppressor Division
18300 Mount Baldy Circle
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Toll Free: 800-828-8809
Outside the US: 714-545-9444
Mil/LE Email: [email protected]
Surefire Micro and Mini Suppressors (The Firearm Blog)