The weather had been rather apropos when I stopped by a local hotel to pick up Sam Major for an afternoon of shooting at my local gun club. You see, Major is the president of Black Rain Ordnance and we were facing a dark and drizzly day. It all started in the summer of 2012, when I was trading a few phone calls with Major while I was testing a Black Rain rifle. I was glad to finally meet him at the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) annual expo in Orlando, Florida, in November. During our visit, I learned that Black Rain had just purchased another company, HTG Silencers.
Based out of Neosho, Missouri, Black Rain is a relative newcomer to the firearms industry. Setting up shop in 2009, it quickly rose among the ranks of AR-platform builders. Business has been so successful over the past year that Major and his staff sought opportunities to expand their business, one of which included the recent acquisition of HTG. According to Major, the company will take HTG’s patented Epsilon Baffle technology and other assets in HTG’s Idaho facility and move production to the Black Rain facilities in Missouri. Moving forward, new suppressor products will be labeled under the Black Rain brand.
The original HTG suppressors provided shooters with industry-leading Epsilon Baffle Technology. The Epsilon baffles made HTG’s suppressors deliver outstanding performance, sound reduction and accuracy all with low heat gain. The internal machining of these removable baffles takes on the shape of the Greek letter epsilon. The end result of the design has garnered interest from shooting competitors, SWAT and military shooters alike, each of whom depend on the suppressors’ sound and flash-signature reduction to maintain mission-critical communication, protect hearing and improve accuracy. An additional benefit of the design is a reduction in excessive backpressure, or head gain, which maintains firearm, barrel and suppressor life.
The suppressors are offered with threaded end caps that are removable for easily cleaning the suppressor. These end caps eliminate the potential for distortion and misalignment than can be caused by welding, a distinct advantage and something you want when you’re investing in a silencer that will last as long as possible. The original HTG-designed rear end cap removed with the use of a specially designed wrench, but when Major took a hard look at it he realized that a suppressor of this design permanently attached to a short-barreled rifle could save the buyer an extra ATF tax stamp while retaining the ability to disassemble the unit for cleaning via the removable end cap on the muzzle end. All new Black Rain suppressors will feature removable muzzle-end end caps.
According to Major, Black Rain is going to start production with three stainless steel cans. The Aris .223 is rated for .17 HMR to .22-250, for both rifles and pistols. This was the most popular HTG suppressor for military applications, including full-auto use, so Black Rain will include this model in its earliest production runs. The Aris provides the maximum noise reduction in a 6-inch-long can and excellent flash and recoil suppression. Like all of the HTG suppressors, it is designed for heavy use and has a removable end cap for easy disassembly and cleaning. The Aris is a stainless steel can that weighs 21 ounces and retails for $597. Available in black salt-bath nitriding finish. Multiple thread types will be available, with 1/2-28 threads per inch being standard.
When we arrived at my local gun club, we got a break in the rain for a few minutes while we unloaded my truck and hung targets. We mounted an Aris on a Black Rain PG11 chambered in .223 Wylde, a chambering that represents the midpoint between the 5.56mm NATO and the .223 and that shoots both cartridges equally well. The lower was also attached to an upper receiver fitted with a 10-inch barrel.
With the suppressor in place, I loaded a magazine with Federal 77-grain Gold Medal Match and settled in on a 100-yard target. With this setup, I fired a half-dozen five-shot groups that measured less than 2 inches center-to-center. The smallest measured 1.59 inches. Readings with a decibel meter showed that shots averaged about 144 decibels.
I switched to a PG15 chambered in .308 and screwed on an M30-A suppressor, perhaps the most versatile suppressor offered by Black Rain. It is well balanced for handling 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges, and 300 Blackout to .300 Win Mag rounds, delivering exceptional sound and recoil reduction. This can weighs 28 ounces and retails for $748. Multiple color options are available. Loading a magazine with Federal 175-grain Gold Medal Match rounds, I settled in once again on the 100-yard bank of targets. Several groups were fired that ranged between 2 and 1.5 MOA, with the smallest five-shot group measuring 1.72 inches. Readings on the decibel meter showed shots were averaging 145 decibels.
The third silencer Black Rain will launch into early production is its .22 Universal Rimfire. This is one of the most durable rimfire suppressors on the market and comes in a package designed to handle all the rounds and abuse you can deliver. Full stainless steel construction means the Universal won’t rust or get damaged by cleaning solutions that other aluminum cans can’t handle. A take-apart rimfire suppressor is a real plus when shooting dirty .22 rimfire ammunition. The Universal comes with a disassembly tool and unique Epsilon baffles for easy removal. It comes in black salt-bath nitriding finish and has a price of $397.
After putting several rounds downrange, Major disassembled both the Aris and M30A silencers to display their baffle systems. I was fascinated with their design and found it interesting that the baffles are numbered and machined so they index with each other precisely. They’re simple to take apart, clean and reassemble. Major also commented on the possibility of building a limited run of Universal Rimfire suppressors in aluminum to offer a lower price point for early 2013. These cans disassemble for cleaning too. For more information, visit blackrainordnance.com or call 888-836-2620.