To suppress or not to suppress.
The HPR – SilencerCo Advantage
By Rex Kepner
In early March, GPS Defense Sniper School exposed a small group to various weapons and tactics in the foothills of Peoria, Ariz. In the midst of cactus, rattlesnakes, sun, sleet, thunderstorms, and hail, some of our country’s best ex-Marines tested our skills and expanded our arsenal horizons. Hosting the event were HPR® Ammo, SilencerCo, Taurus handguns and Rock River carbines.
HPR’s EMCON Ammo and Taurus Pistols
First on range were the Taurus 9mm and 45 caliber handguns. All the ammo was from HPR Ammo (High Precision long-Range). This included 45 ACP 230-grain TMJ (Total Metal Jacket) and 9mm EMCOM 147-grain TMJ. EMCON stands for Emissions Control, the way of not announcing your presence and identity to the world, along with the reduction of airborne environmental pollution. EMCON Suppressor-Specific Ammunition was developed in cooperation with SilencerCo.
The range drills included suppressed and unsuppressed engagements, still shots, along with walk and run shooting drills. There were many conclusions and lessons learned from these drills. HPR Ammo worked flawlessly, with no misfires or cycling problems after multiple rounds of magazines by each of many participants over a two-day period of repeated shooting.
Suppressors (AKA silencers or cans) present certain advantages and have a legitimate tactical purpose. Use of SilencerCo Suppressors eliminates the need for ear protection and significantly reduces recoil. Reduction of recoil improves accuracy and the ability to stay on target with smaller groupings when rapid or repeated firing occurs.
In the EMCON ammo line, the 9mm 147 grain TMJ is the first load released. HPR plans to rollout EMCON in 40 S&W, 45 ACP and .300 AAC Blackout later this year. The EMCON 9mm 147 grain TMJ has a muzzle velocity of 905 fps.
Suppressed Rock River LAR-8
Next, with both patience and professionalism, the instructors at the GPS Defense Sniper School introduced us to long-range sniper shooting. I dropped to the concrete, heart rate rising, and grasped a Rock River RRA LAR-8 Operator. This 308 Win caliber, AR-platform rifle uses a 1:10 twist, 20-inch barrel and a two-stage trigger. (I could have grabbed the LAR-8 Predator HP, which is the same basic rifle except uses a Heavy Barrel.)
Carefully loading the HPR 308 Win 150-grain Barnes Tipped TSX, I began to question my abilities. Can I really shoot that 9” x 14” target at 275 yards, 350 yards, 500 yards, and up to 750 yards? I again looked at the Rock River, with its cleanly and securely attached SilencerCo Suppressor, secretly adopting both of them as my companion.
Then I asked myself, “Will this HPR 30-caliber ammo be consistent enough? Or will failure to hit those long-range targets be the fault of the marksman? My adrenalin escalated as I took the prone position, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to determine if the RRA LAR-8, HPR 308 Win, SilencerCo Suppressor, and I had truly become one system. Or was it just a mirage in the Arizona desert?
I was overwhelmed and amazed with excitement to learn the rifle, suppressor, ammo and shooter had in fact bonded into one. Working seamlessly together, ultimate glory was achieved.
HPR Ammo again worked flawlessly, causing no misfires, jams, or problems of any kind.
HPR Ammo must certainly maintain consistency, velocity, and accuracy for a first-time long-range shooter to hit a 9-inch x 14-inch target 75 percent of the time at 500, 650, and 750 yards. In fact, the first shot at 750 yards was dead-on! With this combination, a semi-skilled marksman was consistently nailing long-range targets.
The SilencerCo addition of the Saker Suppressor to the Rock River had absolutely no apparent disadvantages. On the other hand, one could arguably conclude suppressing the sound and reducing recoil was an advantage. While my adjacent comrades were sending out ridiculous percussions to announce “Shots were fired,” I was quietly but nervously outperforming their non-suppressed attempts at these targets. Maybe, just maybe, they were “anticipating” the recoil and getting a sore shoulder?
In short, my comrade’s vastly greater experience in firearms fell short in percent of target strikes using Rock River 308 rifles without suppression in comparison to my new friend, the Rock River LAR-8 with SilencerCo Saker Suppressor. All of us were using HPR .308 150gr Barnes Tipped TSX Ammo. Did the SilencerCo suppressor improve accuracy? This informal testing and experience suggests the addition of this particular suppressor did not decrease the accuracy of long-range shots or cause inconsistencies in velocity.
While day one was full of sunshine and sunscreen applications, day two was much different, both physically and mentally. First up, was Close-Quarter Combat training in the Shoot House. The same Taurus handguns were used, 9mm and 45 calibers, both suppressed and non-unsuppressed. The same benefits were observed for suppressed applications: no ear protection required, reduced recoil, improved accuracy in rapid firing, and no misfires or problems caused by the Taurus, HPR Ammo, or SilencerCo Suppressor.
In the afternoon, GPS broke out the carbines for combat training despite the nasty weather. While the instructors at the GPS Defense Sniper School were awesome, I have yet to figure out how they coaxed the clouds to dump heavy rain, lightning, and even hail on us during our carbine drills. Nonetheless, not one man was willing to cower in the truck or walk back for covered shelter, lest somehow he would lose his manhood.
I grabbed a Rock River, RRA LAR-15 Elite Comp. This AR-platform rifle uses a 1:9 twist, 16-inch barrel chambered in 5.56mm NATO. I loaded it with HPR 223 Rem 75-grain Boat Tail Hollowpoint Match ammo and went through a few drills. When it became time to tackle the “movement to target” combat drill, there was a choice, to suppress or not suppress. Seriously, this was a timed drill, running and shooting at eight discreet varied distant targets in the brush and high-up hills, over 400 yards of running. Missing a target was not an option, as the penalty was too severe to permit victory.
Move to Target Choices
My choice essentially became a main theme of this article, “to suppress or not suppress.” Do I grab the Rock River LAR without a suppressor, and then put on ear protection or wrap my arms around the same Rock River with a SilencerCo Suppressor. Both will unload the ever convincingly accurate and reliable HPR Ammo.
OK, let me put it this way, I am forever competitive and most certainly will receive multiple bone fractures in my older years as a result. But this was serious business! The decision of weapon was meaningful and important. The previous day suppressed range drills rang in my ear, or should I say quietly echoed in my brain, “pick the suppressed carbine fool, all other things being equal, suppress, suppress!” But, I thought privately, “it will be slightly heavier with the suppressor, but only slightly.” To suppress or not suppress, that is the question?
Of course, I chose the Rock River with the SilencerCo Suppressor. Without head gear, all sounds are common and natural, especially while running over rocks, gravel, brush, and mud. There is no concern of the head gear slipping around or falling off my head. I can put down my fancy head gear with amplification capabilities.
The suppressed carbine would have less recoil. Less recoil would exist not only in the single fired shot, but especially in repeated rounds if necessary. We had 30 total rounds for eight targets, so multiple shots were permitted. At the range the day before, rapid firing accuracy improved when the suppressor was used, both with handguns and carbines.
While the suppressor from SilencerCo mounted on the Rock River LAR-15 added a little weight to the rifle, the advantages of rapid-firing shooting accuracy and natural hearing prevailed my thinking. The end result? With the suppressed Rock River, I won this event on this particular stormy afternoon! So at least on this once occasion, the correct answer was “to suppress.”
Made in US HPR Ammo
HPR Ammo is made in Payson, Ariz. It is positioned in the market as a high-quality and innovative brand. Their EMCON (Emissions Control) ammunition is designed specifically for use in suppressed applications. HPR HyperClean technology uses clean burning powders and primers to extend the life between rifle and suppressor cleanings and reduces corrosion while maintaining accuracy. HPR ammo functioned well with no misfires or other problems among anyone in the group over this two-day non-stop shooting excursion.
HPR strives to include all American components to their cartridges. Other countries may be able to produce products cheaper at the expense of quality and the outsourcing of jobs, but HPR believes in American quality and American jobs. HPR is the first manufacturing facility to locate in Payson in more than a decade. They are growing quickly and becoming the pride of their community. Each round is individually hand inspected before it is ready for shipment.
SilencerCo and HPR have paired up to make some suppressor specific ammo. The SilencerCo Suppressors, when added to the handgun and carbines, along with the Saker Suppressor from SilencerCo for the 308 Rock River and Remington 700 rifles, operated and performed flawlessly. They significantly reduced percussion and sound of the firearm.
Suppressors do not “silence” the weapon, of course, but the reduced noise and percussion allow one to forego ear protection. Many have suffered hearing loss as a result of being around fired weapons that were not suppressed when failing to secure appropriate ear protection. In addition, the reduced recoil improves accuracy in rapid-fire situations and arguably improves accuracy for some on a single fired shot as less blast and recoil is “anticipated.”
Suppressors trap and delay the release of gases and gun cleaning may occur more often. However, HPR and SilencerCo are working together to produce some of the cleanest burning ammo for suppressor-specific use. There is also some minimal weight added to the end of your firearm. You may or may not find that added weight desirable. In my experience, it was insignificant. A suppressor adds length to your firearm, something you may not prefer. Again, this factor was insignificant for shooting purposes.
Times change, as do products and manufacturers, so you may wish to test your experience with HPR ammo, SilencerCo suppressors, Taurus handguns and Rock River rifles.
Rex Kepner has served as an Indiana Circuit Court Judge for the past 17 years. He regularly qualifies on the same handgun course of fire used by in-service Indiana police officers. Judge Kepner is an avid sport shooter and hunter. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.