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Good Calibers to Suppress

Calibers for Suppressor Blog Feature 1

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy want to go over some good calibers to suppress. This blog post covers both pistol and rifle calibers which can be effectively suppressed. Our goal is to discuss a few popular calibers and a few of their aspects and traits, particularly when it comes to suppression. Without further ado, let’s get into it.


Why Suppress a Firearm?

There are many benefits to suppressing a firearm. When an appropriate firearm is paired with the right suppressor and an optimal loading, one will achieve hearing safe volumes. Depending on one’s specific situation and circumstances, one can forgo the use of hearing protection. If you are on a hunt, one could benefit from the use of a suppressor and forgoing the use of hearing protection to increase one’s situational awareness. Obviously, a suppressor will only suppress the firearm it is currently on. Just because you have a suppressed firearm, that doesn’t mean you will be protected from hearing damage incurred by other firearms around you. Simply put, if others are shooting unsuppressed around you, you should still wear hearing protection.


Hearing Safe or Not?

It is important to recognize that not all ammunition fired through a suppressor is hearing safe. If hearing protection is not used, one runs the risk of potentially damaging their hearing, even if a suppressor is used. One will find that a number of variables can determine how well a suppressor reduces noise signature. Barrel length, type of firearm, type of suppressor, and the type of ammunition used are some of the biggest factors to consider. To optimize one’s shooting experience, one should try to ensure they are using a firearm well-suited to suppression. As far as ammunition goes, one could buy subsonic ammunition to enhance their suppressed shooting experience.


Subsonic Ammunition/Subsonic Velocities

Any caliber one intends on suppressing will benefit from the use of subsonic ammunition. These are loadings which will not break the sound barrier due as they are not traveling at supersonic velocities. Generally speaking, 1,100 feet per second (FPS) is the threshold at which ammunition becomes supersonic. Everything below this velocity is effectively subsonic.

Supersonic ammunition experiences a degree of suppression when paired with a suppressor but to a lesser degree. For optimal suppression, one should be utilizing ammunition which is subsonic and travels at a velocity which does not break the sound barrier. Typically, subsonic ammunition will not generate enough impulse to cycle the slide or bolt on a semi-automatic firearm. The additional backpressure granted by a suppressor aids in cycling with subsonic ammunition.

PMC Bronze 9mm
PMC Bronze 9mm
Speer .45 ACP
Speer .45 ACP

.22 Long Rifle

The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is an exceptionally easy round to suppress, both in pistol and rifle form. The round is particularly optimal for suppression when used in a pistol with a 4.4” barrel or shorter. This also holds true with rifles in the caliber as well. Most standard velocity ammunition will travel at velocities under 1,100 FPS, making it subsonic.

Essentially, even if a box is labeled as “standard velocity,” it will likely be traveling at subsonic velocities. These velocities will typically be around 1,050 FPS. Subsonic loadings are available and feature velocities considerably lower than 1,100 FPS. These specialized subsonic loadings, often called “quiets” will typically be around 900 FPS. Higher velocity ammunition will still suppress decently due to the smallbore and low impulse nature of the round. All in all, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is an excellent cartridge to suppress in pistols and rifles alike.


9mm Luger

One can find a variety of 9mm Luger loadings and firearms optimized for suppressor use. Subsonic loadings will typically feature heavier projectiles, often in 147 or 150 grain form. These subsonic loadings can be had from a variety of manufacturers such as Magtech and Sellier & Bellot. 9mm Luger is one of the most common handgun cartridges in circulation today. A variety of pistols in the caliber are marketed as “tactical” and “suppressor ready” models. Examples include the FN 509 Tactical and the Heckler & Koch VP9 Tactical. These pistols will feature threaded barrels to accommodate a suppressor and can feature recoil spring assemblies optimized for suppressed use. The commonality and availability of the 9mm Luger make it an excellent choice for suppression in both pistol and pistol caliber carbine (PCC) use.


.38 Special

While often used in revolvers, the .38 Special is actually an exceptional cartridge to suppress when used in a long gun. Most standard velocity .38 Special loadings will be subsonic, even when fired out of a rifle length barrel. The .38 Special cartridge is also quite prevalent and can be found at most places where ammunition is sold. The common 158 grain loadings one will encounter in the caliber are more than sufficient for suppressed use.

The most optimal and common suppressor hosts for the .38 Special cartridge will typically be in the form of a .357 Magnum chambered lever action rifle. Lever action rifles ready for suppressor use can be found from companies such as Henry and Marlin. These rifles will feature threaded barrels, making them able to accept suppressors and other muzzle devices. The manual action of these firearms means that one will not have to worry about whether or not their rifle will cycle subsonic ammunition. When paired with an appropriate suppressor, the .38 Special is able to achieve near “Hollywood quiet” performance. At the end of the day, the .38 Special cartridge is an excellent round to suppress.


.45 ACP

The .45 ACP is one of the easiest centerfire cartridges to suppress. Like the .38 Special, the .45 ACP benefits from the fact that most loadings one will find are naturally subsonic. One will be hard-pressed to find a loading in this caliber which breaks the sound barrier. Loadings can be acquired from a variety of companies such as Federal, Remington, and PMC just to name a few.

Many firearms chambered in .45 ACP are optimized for suppression. Popular examples of .45 ACP suppressor-ready pistols include the Heckler & Koch HK45 Tactical line and FNH’s FNX-45 Tactical offerings. Like the aforementioned pistols in the 9mm Luger section, these pistols will also feature threaded barrels and can feature components tuned for suppressor use. The cartridge is common and one will not have to go out of their way to acquire ammunition sufficient for suppressor use. At the end of the day, one will find the .45 ACP to be an enjoyable and efficient cartridge for suppressed shooting.


.300 Blackout

This cartridge is well-known for its performance when suppressed. The .300 Blackout was borne from a desire to replace the 5.56x45mm NATO during the early 2000’s. The cartridge was designed to be usable in a standard M4/AR-15 platform and can be found in both subsonic and supersonic loadings. The cartridge is optimal when used in barrels between 7” and 9” in length as well. With the proper subsonic loadings, the .300 Blackout cartridge is one of the quietest centerfire rifle rounds in existence in both semi-automatic and bolt action rifles.

While the cartridge has wildcat origins, loadings in this caliber have become increasingly more prevalent throughout recent years. One will have no problem finding loadings from companies such as Armscor, Sellier & Bellot, and Sig Sauer to name a few. At the end of the day, the cartridge is well-suited for suppressor use and is deserving of its reputation.


8.6 Blackout

This relatively new cartridge has also been designed from the ground up to be suppressed. The 8.6 Blackout was developed with the intent of being a big brother to the .300 Blackout cartridge. The cartridge utilizes a .338 diameter projectile with a modified 6.5 Creedmoor casing and is available in both subsonic and supersonic loadings. The cartridge is optimized for shorter barrels around the 12” mark but will also be effective in 8” and 16” barrels. Heavy projectiles coupled with the low velocities of subsonic loadings for the caliber make the cartridge exceptionally quiet when suppressed.

The cartridge was designed to be effective for hunting usage even when subsonic loadings are utilized. Notably, Kevin Brittingham of Q LLC, the creator of the round, dispatched a wide variety of game with the 8.6 Blackout. During a hunt in Africa, Brittingham found that the cartridge effectively dispatches larger game such as Cape buffalo. The cartridge is growing in popularity with the supply of ammunition and firearms following suit. The 8.6 Blackout is a promising new round which excels when suppressed.

S&B .300 BLK Subsonic
S&B .300 BLK Subsonic


All in all, these calibers will be great options for suppression. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of calibers which can be effectively suppressed. The range of cartridges we went over today cover handgun and pistol calibers and are popular among suppressed shooters. We here at True Shot carry each of the calibers covered on this list in addition to a wide variety of other calibers. Whether you are after something on this list or another caliber entirely, we have you covered. 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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