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Old October 22, 2017, 01:36 PM   #1
fredvon4
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Curiosity question about cans/mufflers/silencers

Over the all the years I have been alive, 62, I have been some what astounded by the COSTS of some items. And I know full well the relationship between supply and demand.

Funny/curious -- Is how I can buy a very high end desktop computer with a LOT of capability in the $300 to $700 range but a simple Smart phone with partial capability and limited service life can easily cost $700~$900

Just an example of something... in my example, the bill of materials, total parts count, and great life span of the Exponentially larger desk top vs the ubiquitous Smart phone..

Say an Apple I-8 or Samsung Galaxy S8 in these cases the total sales volumes ... now ranging in the millions of units per release... vs hundreds of thousands for the desk top

So back to the mufflers/suppressors/silencers

While setting up a Rem 700 R-5 308 and getting stuff at my LGS I saw several "CANS" in the display case for $680~$2300 most in 9mm, 308, 10mm.

I am retired Army
My weapons are all acquired over my life time. Though during Obama, I did set out to learn reloading and acquire a few Might be never to be had again items...like a AR-15 copy of my issued AR-16 A-3....never did think nor desire 3 rnd burst selector--- but did know I could get a legal version with the proper ATF hoop jump and cost... more to the point, I do not keep up with all the NFA stuff

So curiosity on suppressors got me to learn that for a few hundred and about a year wait I could put a muffler on a weapon...cool

BUT I am seriously head scratching about the COST of the item itself...

NONE are rocket science
None are any special unobtainable material
None require and massive hours on a CNC or forged/machined labor process
None have any moving parts

IMO Are you out of your mind paying $600 or up to 5 times more for an easy to manufacture passive part that has a total cost of under $50 in materiel, near zero in R&D, and obviously some (but unknown to me) cost in licensing with ATF

Where is the competition?
Perhaps I am naive and the XZY $600 308 suppressor unit in my LGS is $600 because the MFG has to pay $500 per unit to ATF to produce IT.... my common sense sez that is false

I guess I do not understand why ....given a legal way to have something that should generate a LOT of sales... there are so few producers and such outlandishly high costs.....IMO relative to the complexity of a functioning firearm with many moving parts assembled, warranted, for a lot less cost

What I really mean is..

Why can I not go into any gun store anywhere and NOT SEE 10 brands of this particular item for $89.99 to $999.99 just like a functioning fire arm

For what it is worth I supervised/ran a machine shop NOT new modern CNC that made much more complex items and with very few stations (7) we put out several hundreds of units per day

BTW I get it about diameter, length weight baffle design, advertised Db reduction and a lot on the marketing end

I do not get the extreme cost and marketing plan...

Opinion as a frugal guy who usually likes to get the best stuff
The 308 7 inch light weight smaller diameter anodized black suppressor at my LGS is $1700

For that amount I want full concierge service, a lawyer, forms filed for me and the damned thing hand delivered and installed

OK guys lots of hours crewing Army helicopters...off to the trunk to break out my Nomex flight suit...I accept the flames
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Old October 22, 2017, 07:32 PM   #2
444
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First of all, you can make your own suppressor after filing a form 1 and getting the stamp back. So, if it is as easy as you say (and I am not disputing this) make your own.

But one thing a lot of people don't seem to understand is that price often has very little to do with what it costs the manufacturer to produce. The price is set by the market. They cost what they do because people are willing to pay for it. If "they" priced a suppressor at $900 and nobody would buy one, they would lower the price until people started buying them.

It's a simple fact of business that you try to sell your product for as much as you can. That is why you are in business. If people buy your product for $900, why would you sell it for $500 ?

I think that another aspect of this is that people that buy NFA weapons are not typically the redneck. The people who buy NFA weapons have disposeable income. This is just a guess on my part, but I would be willing to bet that if a suppressor costs $400, most gun owners wouldn't buy one simply because of the $200 tax stamp. So why try to cater to that demographic ? The people that buy suppressors arn't AS concerned about the $200 stamp. And it isn't just all about the money: it is the mentality of people who buy stuff like suppressors. They enjoy their toys and don't have a problem spending money on toys.
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How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
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Last edited by 444; October 22, 2017 at 07:38 PM.
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Old October 22, 2017, 08:49 PM   #3
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I think that if the law changes, we will see serious competition in the silencer/suppressor market... Right now they're made in such low quantities that there is a lot of hand work and small batch manufacturing. When sales go up, then we'll see them made in larger numbers and quantities of scale will kick in to bring prices down.

I could make my own silencer that would work but I'd probably have to spend $1500 on equipment to make it. As much as I'd like to have that equipment, I don't know where I'd put it...

Tony
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Old October 23, 2017, 08:55 AM   #4
Bartholomew Roberts
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I'd guess there is no money in making budget suppressors. Nobody wants to pay a $200 tax on a $50 suppressor; but they'll pay a $200 tax on a $1200 suppressor made out of titanium with a quick detach mount and a half decibel advantage over the competition.

Also, I think some of the engineering problems (maximum suppression or eliminating zero-shift) are more complex than you give credit.
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Old October 23, 2017, 08:57 AM   #5
MarkCO
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Suppressors are way overpriced across the board. There have been a few sub $200 for rimfire, and they don't sell well. Perceptions are flawed in the space.

There are some guys here local that do the Form 1 and make their own. Typically, they have $100 to $200 in them and they are, performance wise, in the same bracket as the $1k+ suppressors. The technology is not secret or even that complicated. Many manufacturers try to overly complicate their designs hoping to set themselves apart in some manner, but it is mostly marketing. Most of the $1K+ suppressors have more expensive materials (Ti, Inconel) though.

I had a AR9 integrally suppressed barrel made by a local smith to my specs for less than I could buy just a suppressor. There are more and more shops out there doing custom, and one-off stuff at about the same price point as the mass produced ones, so that is more appealing to me personally.
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Old October 23, 2017, 09:54 AM   #6
444
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I have a couple of the .22LR suppressors that I see are currently selling for $235 ( http://www.tacticalinc.com/tac65-22l...ssor-p-38.html ) and they work fine. As good as anything else. I am completely satisfied with the product and wouldn't hesitate to buy another one.

A .22LR suppressor can be made out of inexpensive materials and there is no problem. I have a .22LR suppressor that is made out of aluminum and I have owned it for probably 15 years and put MANY thousands of rounds through it and it is just as good as the day I bought it (other than the dings in the external finish). IF you own machine tools or have access to a machine shop.......and know how to run machine tools, I am sure you could easily duplicate their design almost certainly for less than $250. Especially if you arn't counting the cost of the machines and labor costs. Which a commercial business CANT do: they have to pay for the building, equipment, materials, labor, marketing, R&D................. and still make enough profit to make the business worth their time and effort. They are not making these things for fun, they are trying to make a living at this. And I am fairly sure that currently, there simply isn't enough volume of sales to sell them for much less than they are already.

However, if I am buying a centerfire rifle suppressor, I think there is a lot more going on.......as others have pointed out. I don't want something made out of aluminum........I want much better materials to be used. Stuff the typical hobbiest/home gunsmith isn't going to probably use. Stuff that costs significantly more than aluminum and is harder to machine. There is a tremendous amount of blast and pressure in a centerfire rifle suppressor. I also want the quick detach features. I don't want a lot of zero shift and I want the zero shift to be repeatable and all that. Long story even longer: I pay a LOT more for a centerfire rifle suppressor and feel it is worth it.
__________________
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

Last edited by 444; October 23, 2017 at 10:21 AM.
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Old October 23, 2017, 10:17 AM   #7
9x19
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There is significant margin in most silencers.

One reason is the time it can take to get the cash flowing. In my area, since 41F changed things, the silencer market is very slow. A dealer may have their cash tied up in them for much longer than normal , compared with the other stock in their store.
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Old October 23, 2017, 01:51 PM   #8
Bartholomew Roberts
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My experience with Form 1 brake plug suppressors has been that for $60 in parts, the rimfire suppressors are longer and heavier; but just as quiet. The centerfire rifle DIY suppressors are longer, heavier, and noticeably less quiet, as well as not suited to a heavy firing schedule; but they are cheaper the tax in materials cost and not especially labor intensive.
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Old October 23, 2017, 02:04 PM   #9
Jim Watson
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The $200 transfer tax was intended to make Bad Guns and Stuff prohibitively expensive, since the antis of the era realized a total ban would not pass court tests of constitutionality.
That's an 80% tax on a $250 Thompson.
How much did a silencer cost in 1933? As much as $10? 2000% tax.

Put $200 in 1934 dollars in a COLA inflation calculator and get $3753 in 2017 dollars. How many suppressors could you sell if they had indexed the tax?
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Old October 23, 2017, 02:27 PM   #10
fredvon4
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As I ponder this issue a lot ---from several of the opinions here.. I had totally forgot about product liability a problem I am keenly familiar with from my working life...so there is one inflation driver

The above thoughts on the cost of the NAF license s product cost----is another driver of cost...$200 bucks for a $89 muffler is bound to slow sales

I guess my initial though was the product seems to be a no brainier desire and useful item...that is generally easy to produce to good effect...

There will always be "mine is the best " because of the tech or materials---- but in the end there rationally should be a larger supply of these...especially from the direct weapon MFG competing against the boutique versions... maybe I am naive but I am not seeing much more than the few boutique offerings....

In contrast, many of the major weapon MFG have some version of a very good trigger...and then the boutique guys with a better mouse trap... some relatively expensive, but most, NOT outrageously priced and some times the trigger from the MFG is very damned good as delivered...not needing the better mouse trap

My knee jerk rant is entirely on the extreme prices of some of these cans.... relative to the parts count, materiel, tech, and effectivenss

So yes it a complicated evaluation with a lot of different market variables....some few I had not initially pondered

BTW watching U-tube videos on construction, tech, and effectiveness is very illuminating
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Old October 23, 2017, 02:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
BUT I am seriously head scratching about the COST of the item itself...

NONE are rocket science
None are any special unobtainable material
I'll echo Bart's sentiment: some suppressors are made of unusual materials and there are aspects of baffle design that are more complex than some washers in a pipe. There is a bunch of machining detail in dual clipped cones that a lot of form 1 builders couldn't do. I've read enough about building and designing suppressors that I can admire any hobbyist who makes one that works well.

I think the tax stamp also distorts the market by screening out people like me, people who might try a suppressor on a 22lr for $50. I am also taken aback by the price on many suppressors, but it helps to remember that the stamp and the delay make them difficult to replace, so the may be built to otherwsie unnecessary levels durability.
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Old October 23, 2017, 04:43 PM   #12
Jim Watson
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I believe the market is fairly inelastic on price.
I bet sales would increase a lot if the feds left the $200 tax in place but cut out the months of bureaucratic paperwhipping. Same NICS as a pistol, pay for your stamp, and out the door in not over a week.
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Old October 24, 2017, 12:20 AM   #13
flyboy015
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To the OP, I say:

You sir...might not be looking hard enough!

http://www.recoilweb.com/four-silenc...ks-109410.html

That .30 cal suppressor, fitted with an additional 5.56 end cap is calling my name...

I do think we are about to witness an even greater sense of competition in the market, with lower prices. Funny how if you look up reviews on those models in the link above, testers and reviewers typically say things along the lines of "does the same thing as a can costing twice as much", etc.

I tend to be one of those dudes who would love to spend $3000 on an AR build, but doesn't nearly have the means to do so.
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Old October 24, 2017, 07:06 AM   #14
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I'll admit it's hard to justify a $200 stamp on a gamble that you can make something that works as well as the piece made by a company whose R&D costs thousands of dollars in time and material for failures.
I have a pair of Form 1 22lr cans that are "adequate" for my purposes. For the most part, my design is entirely my own although I've seen others that look similar. Mine are made using common materials that cost less than $50 when purchased.
Would I try this on a center fire? Only in a dire emergency due to questionable strength of the finished product.
I respect the time and effort invested by the name brand suppressor makers as every one should. They use specific materials and design parameters ensuring safe products. I'm not saying there isn't a high level of profit in some of the cans but the effective ones take a lot of thought and simple trial and error.
I was told by a local dealer "NFA items are expensive simply because they CAN BE. If you can't or don't want to spend the big bucks, don't bother looking". I walked out on the rest of his spiel. I believe there is some of this attitude at all levels of the NFA market but it's not significantly different in the vintage/classic car market or most other "hard to get" market. "We've got it, you want it-pay or walk".
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Old October 24, 2017, 09:27 AM   #15
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Lots of cheap (~$100) suppressors in other countries. Countries without the NFA restrictions and taxation.

Heck ive seen disposable 22lr cans. Shoot 100rounds and throw it away.
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Old October 25, 2017, 03:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Also, I think some of the engineering problems (maximum suppression or eliminating zero-shift) are more complex than you give credit.
This is true! But... there would be a market for a serviceable suppressor that works fairly well if it was affordable. There would be tons of folks who would pay $200 for a "good enough" suppressor. A family member of mine makes integral suppressors for .22s. I work with him on occasion. I can echo the OPs sentiment that a lot of this really isn't rocket science. More machining work and toil can go into many cheap car parts than a .22lr or pistol suppressor that works reasonably well (and isn't integral!). Rifle cans are another discussion. Making a can for .22lr, and even a pistol, is fairly easy. Aluminum is a suitable material for that application. Easy to machine, light-weight, and durable enough.

Quote:
Nobody wants to pay a $200 tax on a $50 suppressor; but they'll pay a $200 tax on a $1200 suppressor made out of titanium with a quick detach mount and a half decibel advantage over the competition.
$200 tax AND at least a 6 month wait.

Quote:
I am also taken aback by the price on many suppressors, but it helps to remember that the stamp and the delay make them difficult to replace, so the may be built to otherwsie unnecessary levels durability.
This is spot on (I believe we've had this discussion before). If you could just go to the store and buy a suppressor that day, it wouldn't matter if it wasn't durable enough to withstand 10K+ rounds. Remove the tax stamp and the waiting period, and it would be no big deal at all if a cheap suppressor wore out in 4-5k rounds or even less (as long as the initial price was right). You would not lie in bed at night fearing a baffle strike. As it stands with current laws, suppressors are pretty much made to very exacting quality standards to last a very long time. Replacement is not easy.

Quote:
I bet sales would increase a lot if the feds left the $200 tax in place but cut out the months of bureaucratic paperwhipping. Same NICS as a pistol, pay for your stamp, and out the door in not over a week.
I bet you're right, other than I believe if demand increased significantly prices would come down. Especially since the wait period has been resolved and allows for cheaper materials/methods to be used.

Last edited by 5whiskey; October 25, 2017 at 03:14 PM.
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Old October 25, 2017, 08:28 PM   #17
Elkins45
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Let's say you are a one-man silencer company, and you are willing to work 260 days a year. Let's also say that if you don't clear $50K in a year you will change to a product that will generate that kind of income. You would have to bring in $192/day clear. Add taxes, shop rent, material, supplies, health insurance, machine amortization and let's say that amount doubles. That's probably way too low, but let's just say it for sake of argument.

And let's say that since you are a one man shop it takes you all day to turn all the baffles, turn and thread the tube, thread the mount, finish, test fire, etc. So you have to squeeze $400 in wholesale out of each and every silencer you make just to keep your doors open. If you charged less you simply couldn't make enough to stay in the business. You could earn more working for the water utility.

You simply can't sell enough silencers to operate as a volume business. The market isn't there.
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Old October 25, 2017, 09:07 PM   #18
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"And let's say that since you are a one man shop it takes you all day to turn all the baffles, turn and thread the tube, thread the mount, finish, test fire, etc. So you have to squeeze $400 in wholesale out of each and every silencer you make just to keep your doors open."

On the other hand, before the BATFE got all crabby, "solvent traps" were selling for $25-40 and the most basic baffle stacks can be made for under $25. If those folks selling the solvent traps were making lunch money, your "one man shop" scenario could easily produce 4 suppressors per day @ $100 each and hit that $192 figure with coffee money to spare.
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