Arming Pickens County Citizens
Not too many months back, I ordered a few suppressors from Innovative Arms. I liked what I had heard about the company and their cans and wanted to spend some time trying them out to get a feel of what the South Carolina-based company was producing. I’m not going to be telling you about decibel meter readings. There are plenty of places that you can look that up, instead I want to talk about the shooting experience.
One of the suppressors I ordered was the 5.56mm Grunt. My first impression was that it’s really shorter than I expected, but was a hefty can. I knew up front that it claimed to support barrels down to 10″ at full auto rates of fire. The can really feels pretty monolithic – there’s no quick disconnect, it’s a direct thread suppressor. There’s even 3/4″ wrench flats for tightening the suppressor on (Remember this fact, it will be important later). There are no end caps, and you get the impression that the Grunt is exactly like it’s namesake – something that is ready to take a ton of abuse and still come out on top.
So, on a recent cloudy day, I invited some friends out to use the can. I chose a 10.5″ full auto 5.56mm rifle, and we brought plenty of ammunition along. The folks from Dynamic Defense graciously allowed us to use their range, and Guardian Holsters showed up to shoot and record the event.
So first, let me say that I choose the worst possible platform for suppressor testing. The 5.56mm round is notorious for being difficult to suppress. To top that off, I chose a 10.5″ barrel length. That short of a barrel makes the unsuppressed sound more of a blast, and the noise is generally considered abusive by anyone in adjacent shooting lanes. Ohh, and we chose to do a lot of our shooting in full auto, which is doubly abusive.
The result was astonishing. Having never paired the suppressor with a barrel this short, we approached with caution, employing hearing protection just in case. But the sound pressure wasn’t loud, and had a deeper tone that I would have expected. Tone is an important factor in suppressors, and one that often not talked about enough. Instead we focus on the easily meterable sound pressure level. Tone however is very perceptible to the ear, and can be the difference between fingernails on a chalkboard or sandpaper on wood. It’s not silent by any means, after all we’re shooting supersonic ammunition, so you can’t get rid of sonic crack, but that said it was pleasurable shooting suppressed.
Naturally we went from one or two rounds at a time to shooting full auto. And that’s where user error crept in. You see, I attached the suppressor hand tight before we started shooting. After hundreds of rounds of full auto, hand tight didn’t cut it. You remember those wrench flats – well, I should have used them given the level of abuse I was applying to the suppressor. So apparently it wiggled lose (though it was no longer skin-safe to touch and verify either way) and I ended up with two baffles and the ‘end cap’ being struck. Completely my fault. I should have initially tightened the can with a wrench, and it likely wouldn’t have come loose.
This didn’t seem to materially affect performance, but it’s also one of my demo cans, and so I didn’t want to ‘show off’ a war wound on a suppressor. I emailed the folks at Innovative Arms admitting my mistake and asking about the cost to fix the can. Philip Woodell called me up the same day. We talked for a while, and he told me to send the suppressor back and he’d get it back to me in a week. I asked him how much, and he said he would cover it, that the first time was on him. I was blown away, because this was definitely a user-induced problem, not a defect.
Needless to say, I am very impressed with not just the suppressor and it’s performance, but with the company standing behind their product and customers, even when it’s the customers’ fault.
If you’re interested in seeing a bit of the video from the event, look at the Guardian Holsters video video