Are Silencers Legal?

Black Rifle with suppressor On Sofa to illustrate are silencers legal

Even with hearing protection an hour at the gun range can take its toll on your ears, and over time it can be detrimental. With silencers–otherwise known as suppressors–the shooting experience becomes that much more enjoyable. Noise is minimized to a mere whisper and recoil is tamed to a gentle nudge without sacrificing accuracy. But are silencers legal?

By significantly reducing noise levels and mitigating recoil, suppressors elevate your shooting game to a whole new level of comfort and precision. Whether it’s for hunting, sport shooting, or personal defense, suppressors aren’t just an accessory; they’re an indispensable asset that redefines the way you approach and enjoy shooting.

As such, suppressors are legal to own in 42 states, including Washington and Oregon. However, the specific regulations, requirements, and processes for acquiring them can vary widely from state to state. It’s crucial to check the laws in your particular state regarding the ownership, purchase, and use of suppressors, as they can differ significantly.

Are silencers legal in the state of Washington?

They are subject to federal regulations under the National Firearms Act (NFA). To legally possess a suppressor, individuals must undergo a thorough background check, pay a tax, and adhere to other regulations outlined in the NFA. It’s crucial to check the most current laws and regulations as they might have changed since then.

The Washington State legislature passed HB 1240 earlier this year, and while it does make mention of suppressors, you can still buy and own suppressors in the state. The bill attacks so-called “assault weapons” that are made to accept suppressors, essentially a firearm with a threaded barrel. Please contact Sporting Systems if you have any questions or concerns about the bill and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you–we also have a wide variety of silencers available for purchase.

Silencer vs. Suppressor

While it may look cool in the movies, the secret agent attaches a silencer to his firearm before quietly taking out the bad guy, the term “silencer” for guns can be misleading. Silencers don’t make firearms completely silent. Instead, they’re more accurately called “suppressors.” Suppressors reduce the noise generated by a gunshot by slowing down the release of high-pressure gas when a bullet is fired.

This reduces the intensity of the sound, making it less loud but not completely silent. The noise is typically reduced to a level that is less damaging to hearing and less disruptive, but it’s still audible. They also minimize recoil and muzzle flash, making shooting more comfortable and improving accuracy. They offer a blend of practical advantages and an undeniable appeal for those passionate about firearms.

Different kinds of suppressors

Suppressors vary in materials, construction, length, and weight, influencing factors like sound reduction, durability, and handling characteristics. When choosing a suppressor, it’s essential to consider factors such as intended firearm use, compatibility, noise reduction capabilities, and more.

There are rimfire, pistol, rifle, and shotgun suppressors all specially designed for those specific firearms, although they do make rifles in typical pistol calibers that can host what has been described as a pistol suppressor. Rimfire suppressors handle the lower energy levels of rimfire rounds and rifle suppressors come in various sizes and configurations for different calibers and models.

Pistol suppressors are made to thread onto the barrel of a handgun to reduce noise and recoil but also add a sleek appearance to the firearm. There are even suppressors for shotguns. They might be a bit heftier than other suppressors but are ideal for skeet shooting, hunting, or getting into tactical shotgunning. They make everything so much smoother, quieter, and more comfortable.

How do I buy a silencer?

In Washington State, purchasing a suppressor follows the guidelines outlined in the federal National Firearms Act (NFA) as well as state regulations. A few guidelines include being at least 21 years old and legally allowed to possess firearms under both federal and state law.

You’ll need to fill out a United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Form 4 (Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm), also used for acquiring through a trust. Sporting Systems can help with all of the paperwork required. There are fees to pay and a sometimes long waiting period while waiting for approval.

Once approved, you can then take possession of the suppressor. Remember, these steps are subject to change based on federal and state laws, so it’s crucial to stay updated with current regulations and seek guidance from a qualified firearms dealer or legal professional to ensure compliance with all requirements.

With all of these steps and other regulations, it can seem overwhelming to try to buy a suppressor, an accessory that is designed to make your shooting experience safer and more enjoyable. But Sporting Systems can take some of the stress out of the process for you.

From helping you buy suppressors hassle-free to providing our very own gun trust and an FBI-certified fingerprint scanner, we’ve got you covered. We have a solid track record of partnering with law enforcement, so when you shop with us, you’re getting top-notch, legitimate, and legal information when purchasing a firearm. We’re all about educating, building a welcoming community, and being the friendly face you can rely on in the firearms world.


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