The Impact of Suppressors on Recoil Reduction

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    Do Suppressors Reduce Recoil

    Suppressors or silencers are meant to reduce the sound signature of a firearm. The benefits of noise reduction are many including ear protection and a more pleasant shooting experience. Sound reduction is the number one reason for entry into the world of NFA items like suppressors. There are all sorts of common misconceptions out there about suppressors, including that they make your firearm completely silent, or that they slow bullet velocity. These two are patently false. There are some rumors and lore with more credibility than others, though…

    One of those is that suppressors can reduce the recoil of a firearm. Is that true? If so, how, and to what extent? The short answer is yes, suppressors do help in reducing recoil and that is what we will cover in this article, beginning with a detailed discussion of recoil – what it is and how it negatively impacts our shooting experience. Then we’ll talk about what suppressors do, and if they help to mitigate recoil.

    Understanding Recoil and its Negative Impacts

    Recoil is one of the side effects of shooting a gun. Companies invest a lot of time and effort into reducing the recoil of a firearm and extensive training goes into managing it properly. Some recoil is pleasant and is part of the overall experience of shooting a gun. Some guns can have recoil that is unpleasant at best, and brutal at worst. Let’s dig just a bit deeper into the phenomenon of recoil.

    Recoil is the “equal and opposite” reaction of the bullet being fired. As the bullet is pushed out of the barrel, a force equal to the weight and velocity of the bullet is exerted backward, onto the shooter. A heavier bullet will create more recoil than a lighter bullet traveling at the same speed. Unlike the bullet, though, this force is distributed through much larger points of contact like the grip and stock. There are many, many factors that play a role in recoil.

    As mentioned, the bullet’s weight and velocity will play a crucial role in the generation of recoil. The form factor of the gun will play another role. Rifles recoil less than pistols, all other things being equal, and this is a huge factor in the popularity of pistol-caliber carbines. Rifles recoil less (again, all other things being equal) because they provide several points of contact with the body, rather than being held at arm’s length by the hands. The weight of the firearm will also play a role. If the same cartridge is fired from a firearm weighing 10 pounds it will generate only 1/10th the recoil of the same cartridge fired from a firearm weighing 1 pound.

    Controlling recoil is a constant goal taught in shooting classes across the country. In most cases, recoil doesn’t hurt and isn’t harmful. It does, however, slow shot-to-shot follow-up. If shots are pushed too quickly without managing recoil, accuracy suffers. Being able to deliver rapid follow-ups is important to competitive shooters aiming to knock down a series of plates. It is important to hunters, who may need to have an opportunity at a second shot. Controlling recoil is also important to defensive shooters who may have to deliver more than one round to solve the situation, and for whom stray rounds represent an unacceptable risk of striking a bystander.

    Controlling recoil is incredibly important in another context: teaching new shooters. Recoil can be intimidating and neophytes often ask about a gun’s “kick.” Not only can recoil be intimidating, but it can completely turn a new shooter off to the sport. We’ve all seen those annoying videos where someone puts a hand cannon in the hand of some unsuspecting newbie…putting everyone around in danger and making a lifetime enemy of the shooting sports in the process. Suffice to say, less recoil is better for beginning shooters. They are better able to focus on the fundaments, giving them better results, and they aren’t battered by the firearm, letting them leave the range eager to come back.

    How Suppressors Impact Recoil Reduction

    Suppressors work by reducing muzzle blast. Sometimes called sound suppressors, the primary purpose is to reduce the noise generated by the firearm. Suppressors quieten the loud noise of a gunshot by trapping the gases that push the bullet down the bore and then exit the muzzle. These gases are responsible for “muzzle blast,” the loud boom generated by a gunshot. A suppressor slows the exit of these hot gasses by trapping them momentarily and letting them cool slightly before being expelled into the world.


    Though most suppressors aren’t “Hollywood quiet” they do make guns markedly quieter. Sound suppression reduces the muzzle blast, and the use of subsonic ammunition can eliminate the supersonic “crack” of the bullet, leading to excellent sound suppression. There are a ton of benefits to using a suppressed weapon, even for the recreational shooter. It is a form of hearing protection, it preserves your ability to communicate, and suppressed firearms are inherently approachable to beginners. But one question remains…do sound suppressors reduce recoil?

    There are two types of recoil: the “actual” recoil of the firearm and “perceived recoil” or “felt recoil.” The actual recoil of the firearm is measured by the bullet’s mass and velocity compared to the weight of the platform from which it’s fired. Theoretically, any .300 Win Mag should have the same recoil assuming it has the same bullet weight and velocity and is fired from a rifle of the same weight. But that’s not necessarily true. The design of the firearm can have a lot to do with felt recoil. A poorly designed gun – i.e., an old military rifle with a steel buttplate and non-ergonomic stock – will be perceived to recoil more than one with a very well-designed stock and a soft rubber butt pad.

    There are other factors that impact felt recoil, too. One of those is the noise the gun produces. A very loud gun is often perceived as “kicking” more than one that is quieter. And thus, suppressors come into play…do suppressors reduce recoil or just perceived recoil? The answer, fortunately, is both! Suppressors reduce perceived recoil by reducing muzzle blast. This also reduces some concussions felt by the shooter and makes shooting a more pleasant experience, but they also reduce actual recoil.  

    First, they add weight. The Rugged Suppressors Razor 5.56 adds just over 13 ounces at the muzzle end of your firearm. While a 5.56 rifle is already light-recoiling, these definitely reduce muzzle rise over a bare muzzle or a simple flash hider, helping you stay on target. The extra weight of a suppressor also has an outsized effect on handguns, as well. The Rugged Suppressors Obsidian .45, for instance, adds 10.7 or 13.8 ounces (depending on which Adapt Modular Technology configuration you choose) of weight on a handgun’s muzzle. When the entire handgun might weigh just twice this weight, this dramatically reduces muzzle rise by soaking up.  

    Because suppressors slow the escape of gasses from the muzzle, they also reduce recoil impulse in this way. Rather than all the gases leaving unhindered, as they would from a bare muzzle, they are slowed by the baffle stack inside the suppressor. This results in recoil reduction, along with improved bullet velocity and a reduced sound signature. What’s not to love about suppressors?

    Benefits of Using Suppressors

    There are all sorts of benefits to using a suppressor. First, there is added hearing protection. Your hearing is a precious piece of self-preservation equipment and you should make every effort to protect it. Suppressors make it easier to take shots at game without spooking everything in a 10-mile radius, and suppressed rifles produce far less noise pollution than unsuppressed rifles. But obviously, we’re here to talk about recoil reduction so let’s focus on those benefits.

    Infographic showing the benefits of using a suppressor.

    Suppressors can provide better accuracy. They do so by reducing perceived recoil. Even the toughest among us can have a hard time making that shot from that ultralight .338, from a weird position, without thinking about the recoil it’s going to generate. A suppressor can make that a much more pleasant experience, and increase the likelihood of a successful first-round hit. Suppressors can also give you the opportunity for a follow-up shot because your muzzle will stay flatter.

    Rugged Suppressors offers a suppressor for virtually every need. The SurgeX is a dedicated .30-cal suppressor that offers best-in-class suppression in two configurations: a short 11.7-ounce configuration and a long, 16.2-ounce configuration. This is the ideal suppressor for reducing both sound and recoil on a .30-caliber rifle! The Obsidian .45 and Obsidian 9 pistol suppressors (in .45 and 9mm, respectively) offer the best pistol suppressors on the market, with top-of-the-line sound suppression and a hefty reduction in recoil. Not that you need much reduction with rimfire calibers, but our Oculus and Mustang .22 suppressors are every bit as rugged as our centerfire rifle and pistol cans. The stainless steel Oculus is a little heavier than the Mustang, and if reducing muzzle flip is your thing, it’s the can for you.

    Superior Shooting With Rugged Suppressors

    Suppressors reduce recoil by increasing the forward weight of the gun. This effect is most evident on smaller-caliber guns, like the Rugged Suppressors Razor 5.56 on an AR platform, but is true even in larger calibers and is certainly true in handguns. Suppressors also reduce recoil by slowing escaping gases. Suppressors also do an enviable job at reducing perceived recoil by cutting back on muzzle blast and reducing the concussive force of the shot. All of this adds up to more confidence, better accuracy, and faster follow-up shots.If you don’t own a suppressor yet, what are you waiting for? There are so many benefits of suppressors it’s hard to list them all – from sound reduction to increased muzzle velocity to reduced recoil. If you’re looking for your first, or next, suppressor, check out Rugged Suppressors. We are proudly American, are very active in advocating for suppressor ownership, and we stand behind our products with a no-BS, Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. And our suppressors are, without a doubt, some of the best on the market.

    Check out our selection of Rifle Suppressors and Pistol Suppressors. Learn about what makes us different here: Why Rugged Suppressors.

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