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AAC's Mini4

We often get asked questions about sound suppressors, the laws regarding their legal ownership, and why you would want one.  Let's explore some information about them.

  • While often called "silencers", sound suppressors do not completely silence a firearm, or even make it as quiet as the laser-like "pew pew" heard in movies.  The community of people that own suppressors take offense to calling them "silencers", and instead prefer "sound suppressor", "suppressor", or "can" for short.  Don't be confused by the terminology for sound suppressors and flash suppressors, even though they may both be called "suppressors" in context.  Often, rifle sound suppressors mount with a special "quick detach" flash suppressor.
  • Suppressors are commonly called "Class 3" firearms, because a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealer must hold a current Class 3 (dealer) Special Occupational Tax (SOT) receipt in order to deal in them.  So "Class 3" is a bit of a misnomer.  Another, more correct, term for suppressors, as well as short barreled rifles, is "NFA".  NFA refers to the National Firearms Act of 1934, which first instituted the rules for owning such items.
  • Owning a suppressor is legal in 39/50 states, including Colorado.  There is no "license" needed to own one.  In order to take possession of one, from a dealer or private seller, you must submit paperwork and fingerprints to the ATF for a background check, and pay them a $200 "stamp" tax for their effort.  This $200 is in addition to the cost of the suppressor itself.  The paperwork routinely takes 3-8 months to be completed, and you can not take possession until then.  The paperwork requires that the "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" (CLEO, e.g. police chief or sheriff) sign, basically as a '60s era background check, to attest to you not being a criminal prohibited of owning such a thing.  However, in liberal areas (e.g. Denver), CLEOs will simply refuse to sign the paper, on principle, and you must move up the chain of command.
  • Quality modern suppressors typically reduce the sound level of a firearm by 30-37 dB.  To put this in perspective, most shooters' hearing protection products muffle the sound 19-33dB.
  • There are two major causes of firearms report: the rapid "uncorking" of high pressure gas from the muzzle, and the supersonic boom of the high velocity projectile.  Suppressors only reduce the sound of the expanding gases.
  • Suppressors usually reduce felt recoil, and improve accuracy.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Win-Win.
  • In some European countries, it's actually considered rude to shoot without using a suppressor.  In those places, while owning firearms isn't very common, a large portion of those who do also own suppressors.

A resource to get some more information is Advanced Armament Corps.' (AAC's) excellent website CanU: Silencer University.

Paladin Lead Delivery Systems is an FFL and Class 3 SOT holder.  We deal in the full line of sound suppression products from popular manufacturers such as Yankee Hill Machine, AAC, AWC, and Surefire, as well as many others.

Getting a copy of the Hazard Vulnerability Assesment (HVA) for your community allows you to focus disaster preparation priorities on threats known to affect your area.  It helps to know what to prepare for, right?  Local municipalities often take advantage of expensive professionals to analyze pertinent threats in your area, and compile these reports.  And you can often get access to this quality information, for free!

Just contact your Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for your town or community.  For our company, that was contacting our local police chief.  While our town didn't have an HVA by name, the chief was able to provide us with the following, which is a portion of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for Firestone, CO.  Notice all the threats they depict, that you may not have thought of before!

[blockquote class="default"]Vulnerability Statement:

Geography- The Carbon Valley communities are located in the northeastern plains of Colorado, in the southwestern quadrant of Weld County. Major bodies of water in the Carbon Valley communities include the St. Vrain River, Milavec Lake, Little Dry Creek (seasonal), St. Vrains State Park. Major transportation routes include Interstate 25 and State Highways 52 and 119. Future Colorado Department of Transportation construction plans will create an expansion of County Road 13/Colorado Blvd into a major arterial route. There are a significant number of abandoned mine shafts throughout the region at varying depths beneath the surface. Natural gas and oil drilling sites and pipelines, both active and inactive, permeate the Carbon Valley communities.

Demographics- An estimated 17,000 people live in the Carbon Valley communities. In addition, Interstate 25 functions as a major north-south transportation route for commercial interstate trucking and commuter traffic to Denver metropolitan area to the south and Longmont/Loveland/Fort Collins region to the north.

Hazard Analysis:

A disaster can occur at anytime within the jurisdictions of Weld County and any of its municipalities. All areas of Weld County are at risk for three types of emergencies:

  • Natural Disasters – Weld County is at risk from tornadoes; floods; severe storms (e.g. snow, rain, hail); urban and wild land fires; drought; and power failure.
  • Technological Incidents – In addition to natural disasters, Weld County is at risk for man-made, or technological, disasters such as dam failures, hazardous materials incidents along transportation routes or industrial areas; civil unrest; major air and ground transportation accidents; and attack by a foreign enemy or terrorist organization in the form of chemical, biological, nuclear weapons.
  • Man-Made Hazards - Possible man-made disasters which could create an emergency response include transportation incidents involving hazardous substances, major air and ground transportation accidents, civil disturbances, terrorists or bomb threats, and conventional, nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Local government has the responsibility to protect life and property from the effects of hazardous incidents or events, as much as possible. This is accomplished by use of government and volunteer agencies which have the capability of providing emergency services resources.

  • Floods – Floods present a risk to life and property, including buildings, their contents, and their use. Floods can affect crops and livestock. Floods can also affect lifeline utilities (e.g., water, sewerage, and power), transportation, jobs, tourism, the environment, and the local and regional economies.

    The principal cause for flooding in Weld County is intense rainfall which normally occurs in the period of May through September. A historical analysis of rainfall patterns along the Front Range has shown that probable maximum amounts of 20 inches of rainfall can occur in a given 24 hour period. The likelihood of flooding is also increased May and June as a result of spring runoff from winter snow pack.

    Although dam failures are rare events, they occasionally occur due to a variety of causes, including overtopping during flooding, improper maintenance or operation, earthquakes, and (potentially) acts of sabotage. As dams age and the water demands of a growing population increase, the dam failure hazard also increases, compounded by new development in dam failure flood inundation zones.
  • Blizzard & Winter Storms – Blizzards and severe winter storms cover large land areas, impacting multiple counties concurrently. The impacts throughout the Planning area are generally the same. Interstates and secondary roads are often closed because the road crews cannot “keep up” with the rate of snowfall; to prevent motorists from being stranded and necessitating rescue efforts; and to maintain the safety of the road crews.

    When the Interstate highways are closed, this action cuts the provision of primary supplies (gasoline and food) to the communities, and also strands thousands of motorists who were “passing through” for up to several days. In many cases, when the hotel rooms in one community “fill up,” the interstates are then closed back to the next community with available lodging. This is to prevent over-burdening of communities already hosting motorists, and to keep those still enroute from becoming stranded “in between.”
  • Drought – Even in high moisture years, Colorado rainfall does not provide a consistent, dependable water supply throughout the year. Severe drought results in devastating economic consequences for agriculture, forestry, wildlife management, the environment and tourism.
  • Tornadoes – Tornadoes are rotating columns of air marked by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cumulonimbus cloud whirling at destructive speeds of up to 300 mph, usually accompanying a thunderstorm. (Hazards in Colorado)

    Each spring to mid summer, Weld County reports an average of five (5) tornado incidents per year. These are typically the F0 or F1 variety (on the Fujita Scale of tornado intensity of F0-F5). Large-scale destruction of homes, business, or other structures is minimal, due to the large areas of farm, rural, and undeveloped prairie. However, any tornado incident involving structures in this county would prove a formidable incident. The conventional wisdom is that tornadoes move from the west or southwest and that the mountains are insulated from the hazard.
  • Other Wind Hazards – Wind storm activity is well documented in Weld County and can occur anytime throughout the year. The most notable wind events however are those associated with down slope, “Chinook” wind storms and can produce gusts in excess of 100 mph. As with tornado, the principal danger to persons in this situation is injury from flying debris. Any such winds are also capable of inflicting great damage to property.

    Wind storm damage can be very widespread throughout the county compared with the greater but more geographically limited damage with tornadoes. With regard to windstorms, the principal response by the Carbon Valley will be damage assessment. Therefore, the goal of this section of the Emergency Operating Plan will be to describe roles and responsibilities during and after tornado events.
  • Hail & Summer Storms – Hail is associated with thunderstorms, and thunderstorms are a common occurrence throughout the area between early spring and late fall. In addition, hailstones are frequently thrown out miles in front of the storm producing them Hail, in northeastern Colorado, primarily causes crop damage. However, hailstorms in populated areas can cause significant damage to roofs, automobiles, and windows.
  • Wildland/Grassland Fires – Wildland and Grassland fires in Weld County are predominantly ignited by either lightening, sparks from braking trains, or cigarettes discarded from automobiles traversing the county roadways. There exists the risk of losses to homes, agriculture outbuildings, farm equipment, and storage tanks as a result of these fires. The risk of fires is amplified with the drought events.
  • Hazardous Materials Incident – The potential for spills, leaks, ruptures and/or fires involving hazardous materials in Weld County exists primarily through transportation accidents of surface, rail vehicles, pipeline and air. Interstate 25, State Highway 52, are heavily traveled by transports, which very frequently carry a wide variety of hazardous materials on any designated HazMat routes.

    Storage and transfer facilities are potential sources of leakage although spills are principally attributed to human error. As a result, the time and location of a likely occurrence cannot be specifically foreseen. Planning must therefore be directed toward a generalized and flexible response capability.
  • Radiological Incident – Radiological weapons threats may range from detonation of a complete weapons system from a nuclear arsenal to any explosive device packed with highly radiological material with the latter being the most likely method. The physiological impact of such a weapon can be far more devastating than the actual physical damage. Radiation is an invisible hazard. There are no initial characteristics or properties of radiation itself that are noticeable. Unless the nuclear/radiological material is marked to identify it as such, it may be some time before the hazard has been identified as radiological.[/blockquote]

[blockquote class="default"]Front sight focus, trigger squeeze.[/blockquote]

If you've had the fortune of attending one of our 100-level training courses, you'd know that there are 5 marksmanship fundamentals, and several best-practices.  Remembering all those things at once, to shoot your best, can be a daunting task, especially to a new shooter.  One way to approach this, is to simplify the problem, then work up in complexity.  Something that works good is an "80/20 solution".  Is there 20% of the problem that you can focus on, and get 80% of the results?

With shooting, a lot of this is embodied in the saying "Front sight focus, trigger squeeze."  It's probably a little more true of pistol shooting, than rifle shooting, but is a great start for both.  The two most critical tasks for shooting are sight alignment, and breaking the shot without disturbing your aim.  Focusing on the front sight post gives you the maximum opportunity to align the sights correctly, as opposed to focusing on the target for example.  Squeezing the trigger smoothly, straight to the rear, and with continuously increasing pressure until the gun fires by surprise, will make sure you do not disturb your aim with poor trigger manipulation.

Work on these two things first, and once you're comfortably doing them both well, without much thought, then add in other tasks, such as improving breath control or following through after each shot.  It's a great way to set yourself up for success.

Remember, "You don't rise to the occasion.  You fall to your level of training."

In the abstract, one thing I notice a lot is that people tend to bring way too much, both in weight and "creature comforts". It's really important to give a no-BS assessment of what you need, not just want. In the military we used the phrase "Travel light, and freeze at night", and even there we were constantly needing to re-evaluate and cut nonessentials out. In the civilian world (e.g. students in my survival courses), it's taken to a whole new level... people bring all kinds of things. A lot of the problem stems from people not actually using their gear in a realistic setting, so they have only hypothetical notions about what they need, how to use it, and how it will perform.

[blockquote class="alignright"]It seems hard to argue with the idea that more gear, meaning more capabilities, is better, but you must be ruthless in your pursuit of minimizing to the truly bare essentials.[/blockquote]

Unless you are training to carry your load-out, at least on a weekly basis of several miles, I suggest limiting your total From the Skin Out (FSO) load to no more than 30-40lb. That probably only leaves 20-30lb. of load in your pack, and in our climate 8lb (1 gallon) of that better be water. It seems hard to argue with the idea that more gear, meaning more capabilities, is better, but you must be ruthless in your pursuit of minimizing to the truly bare essentials.

Using this "backward planning" method, starting at the end (e.g. max weight) and working backwards, you only have 12-22lb of gear. Anywhere else, I would suggest carrying two ponchos (one to wear, one as a shelter), but it rains so little here in Colorado that you could get away with just one that you use for both purposes. A poncho liner ("woobie"), combined with a military casualty blanket (nearly identical to the "Space brand" survival blanket - not the same as the paper-thin $3 "survival blankets") makes the good old "Ranger Taco" sleep system (can also be folded in your second poncho), good down to near freezing. Add 2-4 pairs of good "military boot socks" (the aftermarket type are far better than the issue variety), because most of us wear cotton athletic socks daily which are basically worthless for maintaining the integrity of your feet. An extra pair of pants, a fleece jacket, and in the winter, thermal underlayers, are next. A shemagh, sniper veil, or scarf is a fairly important tool in our desert environment. Toss in a couple pounds of high-energy snacks, and the ubiquitous "firestarter-pocketknife-compass-red flashlight" survival items, and we're at max capacity.

You should carry at least one canteen and canteen cup combo (they also make canteen cups for Nalgene bottles, which is the same idea), so that you always have a metal cup for heating and eating food, boiling water, transporting coals for fires, digging, etc.

Depending on how you envision a bug-out scenario, I am a big fan of the entrenching tool. Buy a real GI one (e.g. NSN: 5120-00-878-5932), not a cheap knock-off or Glock/Fiskars brand plastic imitation. Digging "Ranger Grave" hasty fighting emplacements (7'L x 2'W x 1'D), including for sleeping in, digging a pit for hiding your cooking fires, etc. are all activities you will likely need to engage in, and are at a severe disadvantage without the requisite tool. The downside is that it's heavy.

You should tier these items. You should have some basic survival items that you carry in your pockets everyday... swiss army knife, lighter, flashlight, etc. Your next tier would be your equivalent of a military "fighting load"... your web gear, fanny pack, etc. that has redundant and improved versions of your basic pocket survival tools (e.g. firestarter, water, snacks, poncho, etc.), plus mission essentials (e.g. maps, ammo, etc.). Your pack then steps up another level, with another set of survival tools, but then also longer term sustainment items (e.g. poncho for shelter, extra clothes, etc.). This way, you can ditch levels of gear, and still be capable.

The final item I like to include is sunglasses. If you always wear sunglasses, even better (keep a little soft cloth protective bag in your pocket then). If not, include them. Not only is it very sunny here, and you have a danger of snow blindness in the winter, but they add a powerful psychological tool when encountering people under the circumstances of questionable and stressful events.

Are you considering purchasing a gas mask, called a promask (short for Protective Mask) by professionals, as part of your survival preparations?  It may be more useful than you imagined.

For what they cost, they are an effective tool required to deal with a spectrum of threats that would otherwise be difficult to address without one. Most people weigh the decision from the context of some kind of extreme terrorist nerve gas attack, or similar event, which is realistically one of the least likely occurrences. However, if you live in a [sub]urban environment, or near any major shipping/transportation arteries (e.g. rivers, railroad tracks, highways), you could be aided by a Protective Mask (ProMask) to combat threats such as riot control agents, hazardous chemical spills, wildfire smoke, or other toxic or irritating agents.

If you've ever watched the Bio channel's show "I Survived...", they have had a number of episodes that demonstrate clear cases, not related to the worst-case uses, where a promask would have greatly and positively influenced the timeline of events. Here is one example, when a train full of chlorine gas derailed nearby: http://www.biography.com/tv/i-survived/episodes/06-wayne-maryhollylinda

I recommend the Scott M98 CBRN promask (formerly NBC "Promask 40"). It has several excellent features:

  • Full-view polycarbonate visor, not individual eye lenses
  • Is available in both a Medium/Large size (full size adults, most males) and S size (smaller adults, women, teenagers)
  • Uses NATO-standard 40mm threaded canisters, which are likely to be used by professional first responders and military personnel
  • Can attach the canister to either side, which also aids in weapons sighting, or use two simultaneously, for less breathing resistance
  • Has a voice modulator assembly, to aid verbal communications
  • Is available with an (optional) drinking tube
  • Costs around $125.

I would also recommend a quality carrier, to protect your mask, and keep in handy in the event of an imminent emergency. The Blackhawk Omega Elite gas mask carrier has both a shoulder strap and belt/thigh straps, and costs about $65.

For the contextually low price, and range of flexible capabilities that a pro mask offers, I find it a wise addition to any serious preparedness load-out.

NOTE: CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) is a modernized standard of the previous generation NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) terminology and certifications.