Just a few days before SilencerCo released its new modular Hybrid 46M suppressor, I had the opportunity to travel with a small writing team to the company’s headquarters in Utah. We got to try out the new suppressor on several platforms with various calibers in the in-house indoor range as well as a local outdoor range.
We also got a tour of the state-of-the-art SilencerCo facility, including their armory – which, frankly, was awesome.
In full disclosure, I’m very new to suppressors, so this was the first time I ever shot a suppressed firearm. Although our family hunts, none of us owns a suppressor. It’s just not something we’ve really considered, with the legal gymnastics involved.
I do have a foggy memory of a conversation I had with my Grandpa the first time I heard the word ‘silencer’ when I was a kid. He was a true woodsman – an avid hunter/trapper/and fisherman, so my time spent with him almost always involved a rifle, a boat, the smell of fish, and/or stretched hides. I remember him telling me that silencers were illegal and somehow associated with criminals. And that’s where my impression of suppressors stayed until decades later when I entered this industry as a fledgling writer and editor.
Now, of course, I’ve become more educated about the historic stigma of silencers and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that they really ought to be seen in a more wholesome light. Simply put, they can help prevent hearing loss, which, to me, is a kind of PPE, and – well – it doesn’t make any sense to me why that could be a bad thing. Especially in this day and age when possession, or lack thereof, of PPE has practically become a social indicator. I’m preaching to the choir, I know, but law-abiding folks employing the legitimate use of firearms ought to be able to suppress their guns and save their hearing without excessive regulation and fees.
Ok, enough said about that. The real purpose of this article is to discuss this new suppressor, which is actually the world’s first and only truly modular large-bore suppressor.
How is the Hybrid 46M Different?
SilencerCo’s Communications Manager Matt Pinnell spent a lot of time with us over the weekend. He took a few moments to tell us all of the 46M features. He explained, “The Hybrid 46 was released about six years ago and it’s really been the go-to for the many-platform many-caliber shooter and we wanted to make something that was a little bit more user-friendly, user-serviceable. So, we took the technology behind this and brought in the Hybrid 46M.”
Holding up the 46M next to the Hybrid 46M, he went on, “You can see the 46 M is actually a little bit shorter than the original hybrid. But what makes it really unique is the fact that it’s modular so you can take the front piece off and the front cap re-attaches to the open area of the primary part to bring the suppressor down to the smaller size.”
“Another great thing about the 46M is that it’s not just a multi-caliber suppressor, it’s multi-platform. So you can use this on a variety of guns with a variety of attachments.”
The attachments he mentioned are the SilencerCo ASR mount, which is a quick-detach mount that screws into any of their ASR muzzle devices, whether it’s the brake or flash hider. The 46M is also pistol-compatible, so you can remove this section (shorter) and put a piston housing in and run it on a pistol. It’s also direct-thread compatible and three-lug compatible, so if you have an MP5 or anything 3-lug you can put the three-lug in there and run it on that.
“So, literally, any platform except 22, which is a dirty round so you don’t want to send that through a sealed can.”
What’s the benefit of the shorter configuration?
There are a couple of benefits to running it short: weight reduction and less length to get snagged in a hunting/shooting environment.
Matt gave us some example scenarios to explain. “Imagine that you’re out shooting and you have your pistol. Let’s say you have a 1911 (a very popular 45 caliber platform). If you have your 45 caliber and you want to suppress it, if you were putting a hybrid 46 on it, it’s going to add quite a bit of length to it and forward heavy weight. With the 46M, taking the front piece off of it, you’re cutting that weight and that extension down quite a bit so it makes the whole gun lighter in general.
“Also if you’ve ever been hunting and walked through miles and miles of brush, an extra 2.5” sticking off the end of your gun is going to make a big difference. You’re going to get caught on a lot less bushes. Even down to the weight of it. Take a little bit of the weight off and it’s going to make your whole experience a little bit better.”
What are the pros of the long configuration?
The sound suppression is increased in the longer configuration. Some calibers require both pieces together to reach hearing-safe sound levels.
“For example, 338 Lapua you can shoot through the short configuration, and it will be right on the threshold of 140db which is where hearing loss is possible. But if you’re shooting anything that’s a bigger round like a dangerous game round, anything like 45-70 and up, you want the full configuration just to have that added sound reduction benefit.”
The best thing about the new Hybrid 46M?
The user gets a choice! Whether you want the most sound suppression, the lightest weight, or the shortest length, you can choose which configuration will best meet your needs. So, according to Matt, “The Hybrid 46M is really the best of all worlds.”
Trying out the new suppressor
We started off in the on-site indoor range. Matt and R&D Manager Josh Sensinger demonstrated how their sound collection equipment works, and then we got to try the Hybrid 46M on a few different platforms and calibers.
The first firearm we shot in the indoor range was the Heckler and Kock HK45 suppressed with the new Hybrid 46M.
Right off the bat, I learned something.
Does a Suppressor Interfere with the Sight Picture?
I am a Gen Xer, so I’ve got old(er) eyes. On top of that, I have always had astigmatism and now, as an editor and writer who spends a heck of a lot of time in front of a screen, I wear glasses with tri-focal lenses. Yeah, yeah….so what, you’re thinking…
Well, when I focused my view down the HK45, equipped with iron sights and the Hybrid 46M suppressor, I totally struggled to visualize the target, whether I tried with one eye shut or with both eyes open. My shots were off, and I set the gun down feeling startled and frustrated. How was I going to be able to appreciate the suppressor if I couldn’t even get a grip on my sight picture?
It didn’t take long before I understood the solution, though.
In between the HK45 and the next few guns, I looked around inside the armory and my eyes landed on the Maxim 9. I remember when that was released several years ago, and back then I thought the integral suppressor design was an interesting concept. It’s a whole suppressed system with the suppressor built into the firearm, under the barrel, so when you aim, you’re just looking down the iron sights without anything interrupting the view.
With the experience that I just had with a suppressor interrupting my sight picture, I asked Matt if I could try out the Maxim 9. He said, “Sure!” and before I even took the first shot with it, I understood why I had trouble with the HK45. With the Maxim 9, I was able to look down the iron sights and visualize the target like usual.
Getting a good sight picture with trifocal, bi-focal, or progressive lenses can be challenging on its own, but for me, putting a suppressor in front of the sights threw a whole new wrench into the process. And, since I only had a little bit of time with the HK45, I really didn’t have time to experiment with different methods to overcome the issue. I was glad I had tried the Maxim 9, but I was somewhat concerned about my ability to work with the rest of the platforms we were going to try out that day.
I need not have worried, however. The rest of the firearms we were able to shoot had optics on them that stood taller than the suppressor. Problem solved! Whether a red dot or a scope, either took care of that sight picture problem.
So, for future reference, if your eyes are as jacked up as mine, there are four options to solve this issue.
- Be sure to use an optic that stands taller than your suppressor,
- Install some suppressor sights,
- Consider using the SilencerCo Osprey, or maybe
- Try out the Maxim 9. (yes, they do have a holster for it.)
Personally, I appreciate the optics.
Outdoor Range Time with the Hybrid 46M
At the outdoor range, we shot several different firearms with different calibers, all without hearing protection. The sound levels were never even close to uncomfortable, and the range of calibers that this suppressor is compatible with is very impressive.
I had never really given much thought to how sound levels impact the quality of time spent at the range or in the field. After this experience, I’m convinced of the value that a suppressor has to offer. In the back of my mind throughout the day, I kept thinking about how my grandpa (back then), my brother, my sons, …well, all of us could better maintain our hearing health with one of these. And that’s the biggest thing I came away from this with. The people I care about could maintain a part of the quality of their lives, with this equipment. Seriously! I imagine my sons as older men who can’t hear their wives….you get the drift.
So what did we shoot?
.With all of these, the sound levels didn’t even come close to uncomfortable. It was impressive. To put it simply, it was a heck of a lot of fun shooting that big-bore brass downrange.
As I mentioned before, I am new to suppressors. I went on the trip to learn more about them and I was excited to try one out. After our time at the range was over, I found myself thinking it doesn’t make sense to not use a suppressor.
Touring the Facility
Supersonic vs Subsonic Ammo ?
Since this trip, I was asked whether or not it was the use of subsonic ammo that made such a difference in sound reduction. And really, that was a pretty good question. Subsonic ammo is quieter than regular supersonic, which is what most ammo is, so it does behave differently when suppressed. Two of the loads we shot were subsonic, the .45 ACP and the 300 Blackout. However, the .338 Lapua was not, it was supersonic. (We’re not sure, in hindsight, about the .45-70.) All of it was hearing safe with the Hybrid 46M. I didn’t flinch at the sound once through the whole day.
Hybrid 46M Specs
- Caliber compatibility: 9mm to 45 ACP / 5.56 NATO to 45-70 Gov, and up to 338 LM
- Total length: 5.78-9.0”
- Weight 12.2-19.9 oz
- Diameter: 1.57”
- Made with titanium, Inconel, and 17-4 heat-treated steel
- Finish: Black Cerakote
- MSRP: $1,117
- Includes Charlie ASR Mount and Charlie .30 cal front cap. Compatible with the Charlie ASR Mount, all Charlie Direct Thread Mounts, Charlie Piston Mount, all Charlie Front Caps, all ASR Muzzle Devices, Pistons and Tri-Lug.
- Rated for all centerfire pistol and rifle calibers including 45 Auto, 10mm, 450 Bushmaster, 459 SOCOM, 45-70, 338 LM, and up to 460 Weatherby Magnum.
- Full-Auto rated.