SilencerCo Osprey Suppressor Review
January 05, 2015
While centerfire handgun rounds are only rendered whisper-quiet by silencers in Hollywood movies, some sound suppressors are far more effective than others.
The suppressor industry is booming (figuratively), as the number of NFA-registered suppressors has doubled in the past 3 years. Suppression technology is also improving. "Silencers" are more versatile, effective, and portable than they were just a few years ago. One of the companies leading that innovation is Utah-based SilencerCo, LLC. Among SilencerCo's more inventive designs is the uniquely-shaped Osprey, available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.
Suppressors work by allowing propellant gases to dissipate in the confined space of the device and cool before escaping through the forward opening. The net effect is decreased sound signature, reduced muzzle blast and less recoil.
All things being equal, the larger the internal volume on a suppressor, the more effective it will be. Companies like SilencerCo could likely build suppressors that would be as quiet as they are in the movies, but they would be enormous. The problem concerning size is that we have to carry these things: a good suppressor strikes the right balance between portability and effectiveness. Handguns pose an additional challenge because even when they are one's primary firearm, they are rarely carried in the hands until needed: a suppressor that won't fit in a holster is pretty useless. Another problem unique to suppressing handguns is sight picture. A large suppressor is great until you actually want to shoot something — then you find out that the top quarter of the device blocks your view. Unless your handgun is equipped with tall sights, a red dot optic or a laser, you're basically point-shooting with most cans on the market.
The Osprey broke away from the traditional cylindrical design that's been around since Maxim invented the silencer, in favor of a profile that solves many of the aforementioned problems (though Maxim's design did contemplate the sight picture issue). The Osprey uses a modified rectangular shape, which resembles the slide of a handgun — and not only does it look cool, it has several useful benefits. Instead of being in the center of the suppressor, the bore is located at the top of the unit, which places the bulk of the volume below the muzzle. This accomplishes two major objectives: it obscures less of the shooter's vision and sight picture, and makes the suppressor-equipped pistol more likely fit into a holster. When using the Osprey with standard-height factory Glock sights, the top of the suppressor sits at the same height as the top of the sights: one can use a traditional sight picture without altering the firearm. The shape also means that it's far more likely to fit in a holster. The Osprey isn't going to fit in every holster on the market, but it is compatible with many designs that are open at the muzzle. Needless to say, it's not something you're going to want to carry inside the waistband or, worse, at the appendix. There's a final benefit to the Osprey's design, it has more internal volume than many competitor products and is, therefore, shorter.
To evaluate the 45 Osprey, we fitted it to a Gen 4 Glock 21 .45 ACP. In addition to designing and manufacturing suppressors, SilencerCo has recently launched a line of threaded handgun barrels and we were provided one for this test. The barrels are of excellent quality and use traditional rather than polygonal rifling so lead bullets are not of concern. The replacement barrel dropped into the G21 without issue and the point of impact with Fiocci 230-grain FMJ was actually slightly better acquainted to the sights than with the factory barrel — any accuracy differences between the barrels was indistinguishable. I was more concerned about reliability which was 100-percent after the very first round which took a little coaxing to chamber; this is to be expected with a brand new barrel on a brand new gun.
The barrel's .578 x 24 threads were cleanly executed and mated perfectly to the suppressor with zero slop. SilencerCo's barrels come black nitrided inside and out so they match the Glock both in appearance and durability. One of the reasons that many suppressor manufacturers have avoided non-cylindrical shapes is that they have to be timed to index north and south on the barrel. SilencerCo accomplishes this challenging task by retaining the threaded Neilson piston using a ratchet system. The pistons are interchangeable to match a variety of thread patterns (11 different pistons are available) so you don't have to use SilencerCo's barrels in order to mount an Osprey. The piston and a locking collar are threaded into the rear of the device and locked with a small swing arm once the suppressor is timed to the user's liking — the process is simple and effective and doesn't need to be repeated once it's set up.
Measuring sound suppression without sophisticated equipment is rather subjective, but this was the most effective centerfire handgun suppressor I've ever used. SilencerCo lists an average sound level of 131.3 dB using .45 ACP ammo and significantly less with 9mm and .40 S&W — if you compare that to the competition you'll see that it's very good. The over-pressure event of firing a handgun is one of the most challenging aspects of mastering the short gun for many shooters. A good suppressor virtually eliminates this event by dampening the rapid disruption of air and by moving it an additional 8 inches away from the shooter's face. The Osprey is easily hearing safe without ear protection and the fact that most .45 loads are subsonic makes ammo selection simple.
Watch this video to hear the difference between suppressed and unsuppressed with the SilcencerCo Osprey.
At just 11 ounces, the Osprey adds minimal weight to the handgun and adds it right where you want it to dampen muzzle rise. Shooting the G21 with the Osprey attached was about like shooting a full size .38 Special revolver with light target loads. Due to the reductions in over-pressure, noise, recoil and muzzle rise, I intend to use suppressors from now on when teaching new shooters — it virtually eliminates most of the factors that cause problems. Groups fired offhand with the suppressor attached were tighter than groups fired without, regardless of which barrel was used, probably due to the physiological advantages listed above. Mean velocities were higher with the suppressor than without (average of 771 fps vs. 757 fps).
Because of the $200 tax on suppressors and the administrative burden of purchasing one, I tend to use more common sense when buying suppressors than I do other products. One of my drivers is versatility: the more guns that I can use a given suppressor on, the more likely that I am to choose it. The beauty of the 45 Osprey is that it not only works on my .45s, it will work on smaller calibers as well with equal effectiveness to suppressers designed specifically for those cartridges. Usually, using a given suppressor for a smaller diameter cartridge results in deceased performance — not so with the Osprey. Though .40 and 9mm Ospreys are available, I will likely use the 45 for all three calibers including my 10mm Glock 20. A consumer with suppressors for a .22 rimfire, .30 caliber rifle, and .45 caliber handgun can cover an incredibly wide spectrum of firearms with minimal capital outlay.
SilencerCo centerfire suppressors are intended to be cleaned without disassembly which usually means flushing with or soaking the unit in solvent — an automotive parts washer is ideal but a plastic tub works fine. Because the internal components of modern suppressors don't touch the projectile, they last nearly indefinitely. You will wear out the host firearm before you wear out an Osprey and SilencerCo has a great reputation for standing behind their product if you have any problems. Like their other suppressors, the Osprey carries a lifetime warranty.
If you live in a jurisdiction where sound suppressors are legal to own, and you're looking for an effective and portable centerfire handgun suppressor — the Osprey is hard to beat. It is effective at its intended tasks of sound and flash reduction and doesn't require special sights so you don't need to modify the host firearm. I bought an inexpensive suppressor in the past and wish that I'd spent the extra money for a high-quality can — if you're going to jump through the hoops of legal ownership and pay the tax, you may as well do it right. Buying the Osprey is not a purchase that you're likely to regret.
SilencerCo 45 Osprey
MSRP: $849.95 (with one piston)
CALIBER: 9MM â€“ .45 ACP, .300 BLK Subsonic
WEIGHT: 11.1 oz.
DIMENSIONS: 1.3" W Ã— 1.75" H
AVG. SOUND LEVEL: 9mm â€“ 125.2 dB; 40 S&W â€“ 128.6 dB; .45 ACP â€“ 131.3 dB
FINISH: Hard Coat Anodizing Black Oxide
MATERIALS: Core/Caps: 7075 T6 Aluminum; Tube: 6061 T6 Aluminum
Piston/Mounting System: 17-4 Stainless Steel, Heat Treated
Mount: Threads (via interchangeable pistons)
MODEL: Glock 21
TWIST: 1:16 RH
THREAD: .578 X 28
FINISH: Black Nitride
MATERIAL: 416R Stainless