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In the Field with a Suppressor
Gerhard Schroeder
October 2017

It began about two years ago. That’s when I learned, thanks to Roger, that Arizona Game and Fish had changed the rules, making it legal to hunt with a suppressor. At first came procrastination and agonizing over the money such a Can demanded. Then reason prevailed, as in ‘my ears deserve one’.

In May 2016 I initiated the administrative process and paid for a SigSauer. Except, the permit did not arrive by deer season. Or December elk season last year. Right before Christmas I did get the call that I could pick up that simple beauty (ok, the Sig Can did hit the occasional branch when falling out of the ugly tree). Finally with suppressor in hand I had months to sort things out prior to the 2017 big game season. I did.

Two rifles came from the factory with 5/8-24 threads. Several others my friend Ron enhanced so they could also accept the SigSauer Can. All of them shot the same or better with it attached, from the bench or offhand. With all of them the fun-factor went way up with that suppressor out front. Shooting simply became more enjoyable, and I had that Titanium device with me every time I visited the desert.

But, but, there was a significant concern. I did not like how rifles thus enhanced resided on my shoulder, a place where they would spent 99.9% of hunting time. The only exception was the Ruger American (300BLK) with its 16.1” barrel.

Testing with several rifles was part of the plan when I initially held back my meat gun from being threaded. Then I knew! The barrel on my Tikka T3 in .308 Win, my

meat gun, had to be shortened and then threaded. I settled on 16 5/8 inches, and Ron again did that job perfectly. From that moment on I have shot that 308 only with suppressor installed. It digested its facelift just fine. Accuracy appeared unchanged, at under an inch.

Meaning I did not waste much ammo pursuing multiple small groups. Rather, I settled on the Sierra 150 grain SPBT, TAC as fuel and Federal 215 ignitors. TAC gave me slightly higher velocities than RL15. This is also a switch away from the Nosler 150 grain E-Tip which had been my killer when the T3’s barrel was 6 inches longer.

Our 2017 tag states ‘whitetail only’. And I don’t quite trust those lead-free projectiles on smallish animal bodies, even though the Noslers so far have four deer on their conscience, three of those mulies. Anyway, those ETips clocked 2820 fps from the original barrel. The Sierras now do 2750 fps.

Fun was the verification for point of impact at 300 and 400 yards, not that I’m hoping for having to settle on such a long shot. But the short Tikka printed three shots into 2 inches at 300. Equally positive, at 9x on its Sightron 3-9x42 scope, the point of impact coincides with the first MilDot.

For the 400 yard distance I played online with a ballistic calculator. Enter stuff like muzzle velocity, bullet BC, scope height, etc, and the answer was a drop of 32 inches at 400 yds. So I modified my paper target frame by attaching a 1x2 with an additional cardboard aiming point 32 inches above the center 2” circle of an all-white target. The first shot landed right by it. Praise that ballistic calculator! (And a Zeiss scope on another rifle which was pressed into ‘spotting scope’ service for this test).

The next two shots opened things up to just over 5 inches. I will need a very good rest and no other option before unleashing a Sierra on a whitetail that far away. Impacts were just above the second MilDot.

Since I had some Hornady 150 grain SPBTs on hand, I tried them as well. Looks like ballistic coefficient matters at longer distances, as these dropped just a bit more than the Sierras. Another positive is that a (varmint/offseason) load using 110 grain V-Max projectiles shot well also. Powered by AA 2460, they exit right at 3000 fps.

OK, so much for bench data. How does she feel in my hands? In a word: different. Heavier than the original, but not like a varmint version, or an old-school rugged 98K or 1903 sporter. No, she feels like a rifle with weight at the end of its barrel.

On a brief summer camping trip to the ‘rim’, my meat gun got to tag along. We took evening walks together, but no targets of opportunity appeared. As a substitute, at basically very last light, I flipped up a sizeable rock in an opening and stepped off a hundred paces the first evening, and ten more the second. The .308 belches out enough flame that some still emerged from the suppressor, which was clearly visible through the scope. So were the sparks when the 110 grain V-Max hit. And I’d say the impact noise was louder than the gun. The shorter barrel and suppressor combo did well in offhand mode.

Also, I prefer to carry my hunting long guns ‘barrel down’ on the left shoulder. That places the (for me left) support hand onto the forward portion of the stock and thus allows a very fast and/or smooth transition to the offhand shooting position. Anyway, in that ‘barrel down’ carry the end of the suppressor is still comfortably above the ground. But I am more mindful of that clearance being less now than when the rig was a stock T3.

On a trip into prairie land it became clear that this rifle and Can combo comes fast to my shoulder and then tracks well on moving game. This proved fatal to a few running jacks. Two with my first shot, the others with follow up fire. Add to it an offhand kill on a fat rat from about ninety steps, and I came away from that trip with the following:

No need to change anything else. I felt I was ready for hunting whatever this meat gun was intended for. One note of caution however: In situations where the entire magazine is emptied, for whatever reason, do not just slip that rifle and Can back into its gun case. The suppressor gets very hot very fast, and I don’t know what the flash point of a soft gun case may be.

Back in the desert I did a bit more testing. This time the target was my 12” steel plate workhorse. Set out at about 75 yards, I shot at it against the timer, and then repeated and compared that against a T3 in .243 Win. with original 22.6” barrel. For me, the .308 was about .2 seconds faster on average. That was the case for single shots, and also for a string of 3 shots. Meaning, I did not lose agility with the suppressor on that shorter barrel.

On a different, more windy day there was one more test, an 8-inch plate at about 150 steps. With the canned .308 I needed six shots to get five hits. The as-is .243 only accounted for 4 hits in ten shots. Yes, that Can out front acts as some sort of stabilizer.

Of course practicing is never bad and mostly fun. Therefore one more favorite activity awaited – the rolling tire. As usual, I released the tire with a .22 rifle, then switched to, in this case the suppressed T3 .308 hanging off my left shoulder, and shot until she was completely empty – 6 shots. The tire was still rolling then. The cardboard inside that tire showed 4 holes. That’s pretty good, after not having done this tire thing for about a year.

The next try yielded only three hits. But, unlike with previous guns, I had predicted those three. That is, with the extra weight of that Can at the end of the barrel, the muzzle is more steady and I could see when I had triggered one shot too late, and the other two were released high.

Next run yielded four (called) hits again. By then I must have practiced enough because the final two runs were both 6 of 6. Smiles. When that Tikka had its original barrel I had never done 6 of 6 with it.

By the way, as one of the pictures shows, when practicing with the suppressor I do use ear plugs. Latest studies indicate that although drastically reduced, resulting noise with any suppressor is still in the hearing-damaging range for most centerfire calibers.

Next up will be deer hunting, and I won’t wear plugs then – stay tuned.

Two T3s: .308 on top, .243 below

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