History of Silencers

By johntitsworth

Silencers were invented by Hiram Percy Maxim.  His father invented the first working modern machine gun.  H.P. Maxim received his first patent in late March 1909.

H.P. Maxim. Inventor of the Silencer











In 1934, congress passed the National Firearms Act which included silencers.  This added a prohibitively expensive $200 transfer tax and registration scheme to an item that typically sold for less than $5.  The Maxim Silent Firearm Company was effectively out of business.  Silencers manufactured for the US Government were naturally excluded from this tax and registration system, so after the NFA was passed, government agencies were the main buyers of silencer products.

$200 NFA Transfer Tax Stamp Series of 1934










During World War II the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) had thousands of silencers made.  These included a Hi-Standard 22LR pistol with integral suppressor and some M3 Grease Gun suppressors.


WW2 Era Hi Standard with integral Silencer







M3 Grease Gun with Silencer







During Vietnam the SIONICS company manufactured silencers and machine guns.  These were adopted and used by some branches of the military in that conflict.  More commercial manufacturers started making silencers in the late 60’s and early 70’s as the price of the silencers then started to exceed the $200 tax.

Sionics Silencer Equipped M16's from the Vietnam Era




Vietnam Era M14's with Silencers












Today silencers are made buy dozens of manufacturers and are becoming a common item on firearms for many good reasons.   Hearing protection, lack of offensive gunshot noise for your neighbors, firearms training, etc..

Modern Soldier with Silencer