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Carbon Locking and Suppressor Hardware Upkeep

muzzle feature

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to go over carbon locking and suppressor hardware upkeep. The main focus of this blog post is going to be on keeping suppressors and their mounting hardware clean and in optimal shape. We will also cover some of the popular suppressor mounting options and how they relate to carbon lock and overall maintenance. Our goal with this blog post is to go over the many factors and variables one should consider when it comes to maintaining one’s suppressor and associated equipment. Without further ado, let’s talk about suppressor upkeep and carbon locking.


Reminder – Suppressors Get Hot

Suppressors can become quite hot very quickly when they are used. For example, a suppressor can raise roughly 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit per shot when shooting 5.56x45mm NATO. After a magazine of 30 rounds, this means that a suppressor can be as hot as 210 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, other factors apply such as the particular loading being fired, suppressor and hardware being used, hot firearm, and environmental conditions. Nonetheless, suppressors get hot. One should allow suppressors to cool a bit before attempting to touch them in order to avoid the possibility of sustaining burns. There are a variety of products similar to welding gloves and oven mitts which also allow for one to handle a hot suppressor without risking burns. At the end of the day, one should keep the fact that suppressors get extremely hot in mind when handling them.

Fouled Surefire Muzzle Brake
Fouled Surefire Muzzle Brake

Carbon Lock and Ways to Address It

If one shoots their suppressor excessively without cleaning or at least removing the suppressor from the firearm after shooting, the probability of experiencing carbon lock increases. By removing a suppressor shortly after shooting, one will be able to break up carbon deposits before they solidify. Some shooters will apply some form of lubrication or anti-seize compound where necessary to aid in removal.

If potential carbon lock is not addressed, one may experience difficulty in removing the suppressor from their firearm. In certain cases, one can remove a stuck suppressor with a bit of elbow grease. Applying some lubrication or penetrating oil at the base of the suppressor may also aid in loosening up a carbon locked suppressor. In other cases, a bit more effort may be required. If a suppressor is particularly stubborn, one may be able to tap the end of the suppressor with a rubber mallet. The impact may loosen up the carbon buildup and allow the suppressor to be threaded off the muzzle.

In more extreme cases, some tools such as strap wrenches may be used to remove stuck suppressors. When employing a strap wrench, one should be cautious and mindful of the material of their suppressor. Strap wrenches are capable of imparting a significant amount of torque and can potentially cause unintended damage to suppressors and mounts depending on how they are mounted and what they are made from. Some suppressor hardware, such as pistons from HUXWRX, feature wrench flats which can be used to install or remove the suppressor from a firearm.

Carbon locking is an annoying and common phenomenon which can happen to suppressed shooters. While it is common, it is avoidable and preventable with the right knowledge. A bit of preventative maintenance and knowledge goes a long way as far as preventing seizing.


Suppressor Mounting Methods and Carbon Lock Potential

There are many ways that suppressors are mounted to firearms these days. These are some of the most popular methods:


Direct Thread

Direct thread suppressors are commonly used by a variety of shooters. Depending on what the suppressor is mounted on, a piston/booster assembly may also be utilized. These pistons are typically used with handguns as they aid in cycling the slide of a semi-automatic pistol. Pistons and booster assemblies are not needed on firearms with fixed barrels, such as rifles and some handguns.

The mounting hardware used by direct thread suppressors can become fouled up and experience carbon buildup. When a piston is utilized, one will need to keep an eye on the piston assembly in addition to the threading on the barrel and mount. The spring of the piston is particularly important as it can become gritty and function can be impeded.


Quick Attach Muzzle Devices

Quick attach muzzle devices are some of the most common means to attach suppressors to rifles. These muzzle devices commonly come in the form of flash hiders, compensators, and muzzle brakes. These devices are popular as they allow for an expedient means to attach a suppressor and also yield the benefit of being a standalone muzzle device. Many of these devices are made by the same companies that produce suppressors, such as Surefire, HUXWRX, SilencerCo, and Dead Air.

Depending on the muzzle device and type of suppressor, these quick attach muzzle devices can become quite dirty and fouled up. This is particularly true with traditional style suppressors and muzzle brakes. The ports on muzzle brakes direct gasses and unburnt powder out and to the sides of the muzzle, a feature which leads to the fouling of the inside of a suppressor. This fouling can buildup on the mounting hardware of the suppressor and muzzle device, leading to potential carbon lock.


Tri Lug Mounts

Also referred to as “3 lug” mounts, tri lug mounts feature three distinct lugs which are used to mount and retain suppressors and other accessories. While these types of mounts facilitate quick donning and doffing of a suppressor, they differ from the quick attach muzzle devices in the previous section. This is mainly due to the fact that these lugs are generally built onto the actual barrel of the firearm.

After excessive shooting, the tri lug mount can become caked in carbon. Furthermore, the adapter on the suppressor itself can become filled with carbon and debris, particularly in the grooves where the lugs interface with the adapter. If this area becomes too fouled up and dirty, it may take much more effort to attach or remove the suppressor. Most tri lug mounts include some form of spring which is compressed when the suppressor is pushed on to the muzzle and twisted into place. This spring can also become excessively fouled and feature hindered function if it gets too dirty. It is also a good practice to keep an eye on this spring and replace it if the tension of the unit becomes noticeably diminished after a long service life. Carbon locking is also a possibility if one were to continue to excessively shoot a firearm with a tri lug mounted suppressor without service.

Fouled Surefire Muzzle Brake
Fouled Surefire Muzzle Brake

Preventative Maintenance and Upkeep

One can easily engage in a bit of preventative maintenance if they want to stay ahead of the curve and keep their suppressed experience as optimal as possible.

Carbon and fouling are easier to conquer when it is still hot and fresh. One will need to take care when wrangling a hot suppressor to ensure they are not burned in the removal process. If you remove the suppressor from the mount or muzzle, you can break up deposited carbon before it cools off and solidifies. Like cleaning firearms in general, it is easier to clean carbon on suppressors and suppressor accessories when the fouling and carbon is fresh.

If one were to adopt a regular cleaning schedule, one can prevent excessive carbon buildup before it begins. Simply put, you carbon locking and excessive fouling won’t be an issue if it is prevented and addressed preemptively. One can adopt a schedule that is realistic for their volume of shooting and complies with the suppressor manufacturer’s recommended cleaning interval.

As mentioned above, some shooters will utilize things such as anti-seize compound and lubrication to aid in ensuring components do not get stuck together. One should take care when it comes to lubrication however, as too much of it in certain areas can attract grit and fouling. Simply put, lubrication, when used sparingly, will help stave off binding. Anti-seize compounds will also help to ensure that binding does not occur.

Simply there are many ways one can keep their suppressor experience smooth and optimal.



At the end of the day, it is important to take care of your suppressors and their mounting hardware. By doing so, you can effectively increase the service life of your equipment and ensure smooth and efficient function. Carbon locking can put a damper on a pleasant range day, make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Regardless of whether you are a suppressed shooter or not, we here at True Shot Ammo have you covered when it comes to getting stocked up for the range. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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One Response

  1. Very informative article. With regards to cleaning a suppressor, is it okay to submerge it in an ultrasonic cleaner for (?what amount of time and temperature?)? I have two titanium and one titanium/aluminum Banish suppressor.

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