Face it. Suppressors are just cool. Nothing is better than being on the range and getting everyone’s attention because your rifle or pistol doesn’t make much noise. With the rise in popularity of suppressors, there has also been a rise in the number of suppressor manufacturers.
No longer just the purview of military and law enforcement operators, suppressors have become mainstream. It is now possible to purchase a suppressor for less than the NFA tax stamp’s cost required to purchase and own the suppressor. However, it is best to remember that you typically get exactly what you pay for, like anything else.
It is the proven military technology of the Surefire suppressors that impressed me most. The line of Surefire suppressors includes the SOCOM products. The SOCOM designation is not just an affectation put on by Surefire. These suppressors have earned this designation by being chosen by the US military for use by the US Special Operations Command forces (hence the SOCOM designator).
The SOCOM line of Surefire suppressors includes:
- SOCOM762 Min2 Suppressor
- SOCOM762 RC2 Suppressor
- SOCOM556 SB2 Suppressor
- SOCOM556 RC2 Suppressor
- SOCOM556 Mini2 Suppressor
- SOCOM300-SPS Suppressor
- SOCOM50 SPS Suppressor
- SOCOM762 M6 Suppressor
- SOCOM 556 M6 Suppressor
- SOCOM338 TI Suppressor
Surefire builds other suppressors that don’t carry the SOCOM designation. Surefire designed these suppressors for the civilian market where demands and conditions are less strenuous.
What I Look for in A Suppressor
Before we go any further with Surefire, it is important to understand what criteria I consider when looking at suppressors. Any evaluation of any suppressor requires a systematic approach. These are the criteria I use in my suppressor evaluations.
1. Sound suppression
Isn’t this the real reason we are buying a suppressor? The sound suppression ability must be a primary criterion in selecting a suppressor. If it ain’t quiet, it ain’t doing its job.
2. Accuracy Effects
Attaching anything to the front of your rifle always affects accuracy. In choosing a suppressor, I look for the least effect on accuracy. Accuracy effects can be a hard factor to judge or evaluate because of a lack of data.
3. Size and Weight
Adding weight to the end of the barrel affects the gun’s whole balance. It can also add to the stress imparted to the shooter who must carry and support the extra weight. Size can also factor, especially if the suppressor impairs the view down the sights or the rifle’s optics.
4. Mount Type
The type of mount is more of a personal choice than anything else. Threaded direct mount types offer simplicity. Quick detach mounts offer efficiency and ease of use. If you chose a quick detach mount, be sure that the mount has a reputation for staying secure. Wobbly mounts are dangerous.
Suppressors wear out. The baffles, even if properly and regularly maintained, will eventually need replacing. Maintenance and replacement of parts Is usually not an expensive process but can be frustrating. Some suppressor designs require the entire suppressor to go back to the factory for service.
The price of a suppressor must be a factor. Many of us don’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a suppressor. On the other hand, even spending several hundred dollars on a suppressor that doesn’t work or only lasts a few hundred rounds is not a good financial choice either. Finding the balance of factors and price is the key to managing a good compromise.
How Do the Surefire Suppressor Rank Against These Criteria?
There are far too many Surefire SOCOM suppressors to make an individual comparison on each model. Fortunately, other than the minor differences required to manage different rifle calibers, Surefire SOCOM suppressors are much the same in the features they offer.
As a group, the Surefire SOCOM suppressor ranks high on sound suppression capability. The US military standard for noise limits MIL-STD-1474D defines the minimum requirements that suppressors must meet for consideration by the military.
Surefire SOCOM suppressors carry a US Military approval for use by military personnel in combat zones. The noise reduction level depends on the weapon’s caliber, the rifle’s configuration, and the style and type of suppressor. In most cases, a Surefire suppressor will reduce the noise to approximately 130Bd.
Many factors can affect this decibel reading.
- The location and method of the sensors
- The length of the barrel of the firearm
- The type of ammunition used
- Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, wind, etc.
- The quality of the measuring instruments
Manufacturers who report decibel reductions optimize their testing to get the best results. Amateur reviewers often rely on sub-standard measuring equipment and inconsistent techniques. In almost every instance we found, no matter the test’s circumstances, Surefire scored at or near the top of the suppressors tested groups.
Accuracy and Surefire SOCOM Suppressors
Anytime you add something to the end of your rifle’s barrel, deviations in accuracy can occur. These deviations are caused by several things.
- Barrel Harmonics – Barrels vibrate when a bullet travels down the bore. This vibration affects the bullet as it leaves the barrel. Adding a suppressor (or anything else) to the barrel changes these harmonics and vibrations.
- Suppressor Alignment – I am always concerned with suppressor alignment, especially on quick detach models. Having suffered a baffle strike is not a pleasant experience at best. A bullet traveling through a misaligned suppressor can experience unbalanced forces that can affect bullet flight.
With the understanding that almost any suppressor will affect your rifle’s impact point, Surefire suppressors generally impart only minimal effects. The quality of the manufacturing and the tight tolerances that result keep the effects of Surefire suppressors almost impossible to detect.
Size and Weight – External Factors
Until you start carrying a rifle every day for hours on end, you don’t appreciate how much difference a few ounces can make. Weight and size not only count when carrying a suppressed firearm, but also the additional weight can be difficult to support during firing.
Some suppressors are so large that they obscure the fixed sights or interfere with the sight picture of many optics systems when attached to the rifle. The SOCOM line of Surefire suppressors keeps the weight low and the diameter small enough not to interfere in any case. You can be sure that a Surefire SOCOM suppressor won’t cause blind spots or impair your rifle’s maneuverability.
Getting the Suppressor on and Off
SOCOM Surefire suppressors use the Surefire proprietary quick detach mounting system. This quick detach system integrates a flash hider with the mounting system for the suppressor. A flash hider integrated with the mount gives you the advantage of having a flash hider ready should you want to fire your rifle without the suppressor.
Direct mount threaded suppressor leaves your muzzle bare if you must remove it in the field and don’t have a flash hider to thread back onto the barrel. The Surefire system offers quick and secure mounting and the backup of a mounted flash hider.
The Surefire SOCOM mounting system requires only a few steps.
- Locate the index point on the suppressor mount and the corresponding index in the SOCOM suppressor
- Open the lock ring completely
- Line up the index slot and tab
- Slide the suppressor onto the mount and fit it tightly together
- Twist the lock ring until it locks into the closed and locked position
How Long will a Surefire Suppressor Last?
In real life operations, many users of Surefire SOCOM suppressors have put tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition through their suppressor with nothing more than routine maintenance. Even law enforcement and military users report that Surefire SOCOM suppressors are tough and durable.
The truth is, your Surefire Suppressor will probably outlive the barrel on your rifle if you shoot this much. The typical AR barrel life is between 15 and 20 thousand rounds. If a Surefire suppressor can last 100,000 rounds, you may change many more barrels than suppressors.
The key to keeping your Surefire Suppressor in top operating condition is maintenance. Carbon is the killer of any suppressor. Fortunately, Surefire has engineered the SOCOM suppressors with easy to disassemble and clean components.
Each SOCOM suppressor comes with a cleaning brush and complete instructions on the best cleaning methods to maintain the suppressor. Unless you are shooting thousands of rounds over short periods, your Surefire SOCOM should require only the maintenance outlined in the user manual.
Paying the Price for Quality
Surefire SOCOM suppressors excel in almost every category that I consider in choosing a suppressor, with one exception – the price. Surefire suppressors are at the upper end of the price ranges for suppressors. This upper price range should come as no surprise.
Quality and reliability are not cheap. Surefire suppressors are built of the best materials and to the tightest tolerance. These manufacturing traits ensure that Surefire suppressors perform as advertised. If you want the reliability and the performance that got Surefire its reputation with the US Military Special Operations forces, you must expect to pay the corresponding price.
Making the Choice
There are certainly cheaper suppressors available. Many of these may rank higher in some areas of consideration than Surefire suppressors. Overall, none of them offer the package of performance, reliability, and reputation offered by Surefire SOCOM suppressors.
For the average civilian casual shooter, a Surefire SOCOM suppressor may be overkill. Other, cheaper suppressors may serve you just as well with less expense. However, if you are law enforcement or are looking for combat quality equipment for your rifle, the Surefire SOCOM suppressors are your best bet.
I hope that this article gives you a better understanding of the Surefire SOCOM suppressors. Finding the right suppressor to fit your needs and budget can be challenging. Do your due diligence, and in the meantime, be safe and shoot straight.