May 13, 2022
By J. Scott Rupp
Perhaps you’ve noticed that suppressors have really taken off. Threaded barrels have become a popular option on semiauto pistols offered by major makers, and suppressor makers are aggressively pursuing market share—with names like Silencer Central, SilencerCo, Gemtech, AAC (Advanced Armament Corporation) and even Ruger and SIG Sauer pushing products into the pipeline.
So why don’t you have one? Probably the same reason I didn’t for a long time: The process seems daunting. There are fingerprints to get, paperwork to file, trusts to set up, and ATF to deal with.
Enter Silencer Central, a company that makes it super-easy to buy a suppressor. Originally known as South Dakota Silencers and then Dakota Silencers, the firm got its start in 2005. Founder Brandon Maddox researched the information found on the internet regarding suppressors, and he said originally everything he read was wrong.
That’s when he decided to figure out the mechanics behind the paperwork. Today Silencer Central is unique in that the company can handle almost all this paperwork digitally.
The company is licensed to do this in 42 states, and when your paperwork is approved, the suppressor ships right to your door.
“Our whole goal is to make it easy,” Maddox said. And easy it is.
I recently went through the process to obtain my first suppressor: Silencer Central’s Banish 22. While I chose that particular model, Silencer Central sells a wide variety of suppressor makes and models on its website.
When I made my order I was quickly contacted by the customer service department, who walked me through the entire process over the phone—letting me know when and how all the necessary pieces of paperwork would be transmitted.
The buyer’s heavy lifting involves only two aspects: photo and fingerprint. You’ll need to provide a “head shot” photograph on a clean, white background—no hat or glasses. Think passport here.
I have a photography studio set up for my magazine work, so it was a cinch for me, but you can do it against a white wall with your cellphone. Just be sure you’ve got decent light on your face.
If you’re unsure about your ability to accomplish this, go to any place in town that does passport photos. Then simply email the photo to Silencer Central in care of the address given on your instruction email.
You’ll receive a fingerprint kit in the mail (along with a free T-shirt!) from Silencer Central. The kit includes the form along with the inking pad and instructions. There’s also a link to an in-depth YouTube video on the process.
Doing detail tasks like this might seem daunting, but if I can do it, anyone can. Silencer Central wisely sends you several copies of the fingerprint form, so if you mess one up—as I did when I forgot to switch hands—you get additional tries.
If you don’t think you can pull this off, police departments and sheriff’s offices will take your fingerprints for a fee. Regardless of how you get it done, mail back the completed fingerprint form in the supplied envelope.
In short order you will receive your completed ATF application, requiring only that you sign it electronically. Having recently done two bank loans this way, I have no compunctions about electronic signatures. It’s the way business is conducted these days, and it really is a time and headache saver.
Then Silencer Central sends off your application to the ATF. I set up my application as a trust, which means my wife and anyone else I add to the trust can use the suppressor because, technically, the suppressor belongs to the trust—not me personally.
This is a common way to conduct suppressor purchases, and I opted for it due to the flexibility it allows not only for shooting and possession but also because it enables my wife to either keep or sell the suppressor when I die. Silencer Central will set up a trust for you for free, a big selling point.
The company also offers payment options. That’s no small consideration because in addition to the cost of your suppressor, you also have to pay a $200 federal tax stamp for each device.
I have to say here that Silencer Central’s customer service is outstanding. They were such a pleasure to deal with, answering any questions I had promptly and keeping me apprised of the status of my purchase and application. The whole thing was not only easy and painless but also gave me confidence in what I was getting into every step of the way.
Now, for all the simplicity and convenience of the Silencer Central process, that doesn’t mean the wheels of government are going to turn any faster once your application gets to ATF.
Yes, Silencer Central cuts out a lot of the preliminary time, but once it’s in ATF’s hands all you can do is wait. In my case, it was a little over 10 months. But Silencer Central periodically emailed me to let me know I was still in the queue, as it were.
And then one day I got an email that my application had been approved, and all I had to do was complete digital form 4473. Shortly after that, a Banish 22 suppressor arrived in the mail. I screwed it onto my Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory and went shooting. And it was all so totally worth it.