As the entry team arrived at their final assault point, staging for the rescue of hostages held by armed and barricaded suspects inside the bank, team snipers deployed across the street with AWC Systems Thundertrap suppressors mounted on their .308 scoped rifles. With a police helicopter overhead providing covering noise, one bad guy, who had foolishly established a habit of checking for police presence through the front windows of the bank, is dropped with a head shot, which cues the assault team to make their explosive breach and subsequent hostage rescue. The only sound of the deadly accurate sniper shot was that of breaking glass.
According to Sgt. Peter Wechsler of Phoenix P.D. S.W.A.T., this is exactly the type of scenario for which Phoenix prepares its snipers by equipping them with the AWC suppressors. All that is heard downrange is the sonic crack of the bullet. This ability to increase stealth capability is just one of the reasons teams deploy with suppressors.
According to AWC, this noise and flash suppression is accomplished by increasing the volume for gas expansion, reducing the gas temperature and delaying the gas exit from the muzzle. The question is whether there is a need for this technology and whether these devices are a worthwhile investment for a tactical team.
A Multiple-Use Tool
Whether the mission is serving narcotics search warrants, violent felony warrant enforcement or hostage rescue, a subject’s canines can be a problem for entry teams either by betraying their position or attacking the assault team. This is no small problem, considering that large segments of our criminal population breed or possess aggressive dogs. Teams have tried pepper spray, bean-bag rounds, fire extinguishers and even Tasers on attacking canines. Many of these less-lethal attempts fail when the dog has been trained to be aggressive and is committed to the attack. Suppressors, whether affixed to pistols, sub-guns or carbines can remove a barking canine effectively, prior to entry or during entry if necessary, without betraying the team’s position. The canine threat was cited by several teams as one of the considerations in purchasing suppressors.
Larry Montano, retired commander of the Roswell, NM P.D. S.W.A.T. team believed that outfitting his team’s MP-5s with the Agenda Six suppressor would improve his “command and control” of the team. Certainly this is a consideration when officers are involved inside a structure.
Deputy Charles Antoniak of the Teller County, CO Sheriff’s Office stated that his team purchased the Raider suppressors for their short-barreled DPMS 5.56 carbines on a grant. So effective were the Raiders in reducing the sound that when Deputy Antoniak’s team was competing in the 2007 U.S. National S.W.A.T. Championship in Castle Rock, CO they were able to communicate while running live-fire events even while wearing gas masks.
Methamphetamine and meth labs pose a chronic problem to law enforcement. Tactical teams must take into account the explosive nature of volatile solvents used in these labs when they plan and execute search warrants. The reduction of muzzle flash was a primary reason that the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation acquired Agenda Six suppressors for their entry team’s MP-5s. This has been the reason for several other teams to acquire suppressor technology as well.
Suppressors & Mustangs They Ride
There are a number of top quality manufacturers who produce premium suppressor products. Some brands include SureFire (yes the flashlight big-wig), AWC, Advanced Armament, Sound Technology’s, CCF among others. Different models of suppressors are suitable for .22 pistols up to .50 caliber sniper rifles and everything else in between. For this article, I’ve AWC’s current line of products.
First, is their Abraxas. A unit for the Glock pistol is lightweight (3.3 oz.) and small in profile (0.98 inches in diameter and 5.7 inches in length): The small diameter of this suppressor allowed full use of the factory sights. With the replacement threaded barrel, the Abraxas was simple to install on the pistol. The design requires that the suppressor be injected with grease to act as a cooling agent. Although I did not have sub-sonic 9mm on hand to test, the suppressor was able to muffle the noise and blast with the factory training ammunition used for testing. Bullet impact was not affected by the use of the suppressor.
The Agenda Six is designed for use on sub-guns. AWC offers an attachment for the MP-5 that affixes a coupling to the three lugs on the front of the barrel. The suppressor is then threaded onto the coupling. The Agenda Six dimensions for the 9mm model are: 8.5 inches in length; 2 inches in diameter, at a weight of 16 ounces.
The Raider for use with the Colt M4 is a compact unit as well. Weighing in at 24 ounces, the Raider is 6.7 inches in length but only 1.5 inches in diameter. The Raider, like most of the AWC line, is simple to install. After the standard flash hider is removed the Raider is threaded onto the barrel.
Although not tested, AWC manufactures the Thundertrap, which can be installed on existing sniper systems (they manufacture custom sniper systems as well). At 8.5 inches in length and 1.6 inches in diameter the suppressor weighs in at 26 ounces. Considering that this can is designed and effective at reducing the noise and flash of a .308 or larger rifles, the small size is surprising.
Quiet Is Always Good
A basic tenet of tactical operations is maintaining noise discipline. This can be substantially enhanced with the use of suppressors. Suppressors, whether attached to a pistol for canine removal, sub-guns or carbines for entry teams or affixed to bolt-action sniper rifles, offer an edge to tactical teams. AWC suppressors lower the sound and flash of your guns, which raises operator safety—a sound win by a sound loss.