Best Suppressed Calibers For Home Defense Weapon | Ammunition Depot
The Best Suppressed Calibers for Home Defense
Let's talk about suppressors, shall we? Largely ignored as a home defense item, suppressors are generally thought of either negatively or as a novelty item for the range. Because of that, there's often a bit of confusion and misinformation surrounding suppressors, especially for home defense.
What Are Suppressors?
A suppressor is a device that attaches to the muzzle of your firearm to reduce the sound the weapon makes when firing. Also referred to as silencers, suppressors work similarly to how car mufflers operate. As the round is fired and the explosion takes place, the round and gases that push it forward make a loud noise as they exit the barrel of the gun. Suppressors dissipate that expulsion of gases, which greatly reduces the sound profile of firing your gun.
What Aren't Suppressors?
Despite being commonly referred to as silencers, suppressors don't actually silence your gun. It's nothing like in the movies; there's still a very audible noise that occurs, and in most cases, it's still very obvious that a gun is being fired. This is why the term suppressor is more accurate. They suppress the noise of the gun; they don't eliminate it. You'll still want to use hearing protection with a suppressed gun.
Why Use a Suppressor for Home Defense?
The most obvious reason for using a suppressor in home defense is to muffle the sound. Gunshots are loud in the great outdoors; it becomes even worse in confined spaces. Firing a gun without hearing protection, which you likely won't have time to worry about in a home defense situation, inside your home can do permanent damage to your hearing.
In addition, the increase of the sound and pressure of a gunshot can be disorienting. That's particularly true if you've never fired your gun without hearing protection before. That disorientation, even if only momentary, could be enough to give home invaders the upper hand. Utilizing a suppressor helps soften the impact of the shot within your home, allowing you to better function in the stress of a defense situation — especially if you're using subsonic ammunition.
The added weight of a suppressor can help with recoil mitigation as well. This enables you to fire more shots faster and more accurately, which, in the stressful environment of a home defense scenario, can really pay dividends. Accuracy in a home defense setting is of the utmost importance, because you don't want to miss a target who is intending to harm you or shoot through your walls to the neighbor's house.
Why Wouldn't You Use a Suppressor for Home Defense?
Sometimes something that is a mark in favor of an item is also a detractor, and this is true for suppressors with regard to weight. Adding bulk to your firearm is not always a great idea. Making your gun heavier does not make for easier wielding and can make it harder to carry your weapon and maneuver through your home. In most cases, this is not a huge factor, but certainly one worthy of consideration.
Speaking of bulk, when you add a suppressor to your gun, you're not just adding weight. You're also adding length. This can also hinder maneuverability, especially if your primary home defense firearm is a rifle. If you aren't using a short barreled rifle (SBR) for home defense, adding an additional 6 inches or more to the end of your rifle could make it considerably more difficult to operate when moving around inside your home. Also, if you do have an SBR, adding a suppressor makes it essentially a normal sized rifle, which obviously changes how it feels to carry. That impacts how you manipulate the gun.
Additionally, whenever the topic of suppression for home defense arises, there are those who suggest using a suppressor will cause you legal problems. The idea behind this is actually a combination of a couple ideas. First, some people believe that using a suppressor might create conditions for unfair treatment by law enforcement. That's because they're so heavily regulated and will warrant more scrutiny, at the least.
Second, there's the argument that a suppressor will negate your court assertion that you acted in self-defense because there are negative stereotypes associated with suppressors. There are many legal opinions on this if you want to look into them. We're not legal experts and don't offer legal advice, but of all the factors to consider, this probably one of the lowest on the list of negatives. However, if you're concerned, you should definitely contact a local attorney for legal advice.
If you've considered all the options and have decided that you do want to use a suppressor on your home defense rifle, you need to consider ammunition type. While there's nothing saying you can't use regular supersonic ammunition, it's much better to use subsonic ammunition when shooting suppressed.
Subsonic ammunition is designed so that the round never breaks the sound barrier. By staying below the sound barrier (hence the name subsonic) the round never produces the sonic boom. That makes it a much quieter round than standard ammunition by default. Pairing the lack of pop from breaching the sound barrier with the reduced sound profile of the initial suppressed explosion can actually change the sound profile dramatically. In certain calibers and conditions, it can change it enough that it doesn't sound like a gunshot at all — just an odd loud noise.
The decision to use suppression in your home defense gun does have an effect on which type of gun and caliber you use. When deciding on the best gun for home defense, the decision can change completely once suppression is added in. What's good with suppression may not necessarily be your top choice for unsuppressed and vice versa. It's a good idea, then, to gain an understanding of what calibers work best with suppression.
When it comes to rifles, there are realistically only two calibers to deal with. Those are the .223/5.56 and .300 AAC Blackout (.300blk). Obviously, there exists subsonic ammunition and suppressors for a variety of rifles, but the majority of those kinds of rifles are insufficient for home defense. As we have previously discussed, hunting rifles and other larger long guns are not necessarily good choices for a home defense gun. The process of elimination essentially leaves the AR platform as the only real viable platform for rifle suppression. With that being the case, we are then left with the standard .223/5.56 rounds and .300blk to use for suppression.
The .223/5.56 round is the standard round for the AR platform, and as such, is the most common. While there are some drawbacks to using subsonic in this caliber, most of the drawbacks come at distances. It does lose some of its ability to transfer energy into the target when traveling subsonic, but at the short distances of home defense, this is a negligible trade-off. If you were already considering an AR for your home defense weapon, there is no reason not to change it from the standard caliber for suppression — unless you were considering getting one in .300 Blackout.
.300 AAC Blackout
When it comes to subsonic rounds, the .300blk is by far the superior choice. It was specifically designed to be used with suppression, and it shows. Designed to have a similar ballistic profile to a 7.62x39 round but in a standard-style AR, it maintains its lethality and energy transfer much better than 5.56 does. This ballistic profile makes for more knockdown power directed at your would-be attacker without the risks of using the powerful 7.62 round. When it comes to suppressed rifle calibers, the .300blk is clearly king.
Handguns present much more variety in terms of options for caliber and gun styles than rifles do when it comes to suppression. Finding suppressor-ready barrels for handguns is usually much easier than rifles, and because of this, there are many options for subsonic rounds. In all actuality, you can likely find your favorite ammo in a subsonic format as well as a suppressor to fit your pistol, so the choice is really up to you. But with that in mind, there are some calibers that are better suited for suppression than others.
Most guns chambered in .380 ACP are small and light. This is a huge plus when adding a suppressor, as it can still be fairly easy to use and maneuver. In addition, the .380 ACP is subsonic by default. This means the standard ammunition you bought for it will work great with suppression. That's a huge plus because you don't have to buy special ammo for suppression — instead, you can just use your regular defensive ammo. Simplicity is always a good thing, especially when planning for home defense.
Just like the .380, .45 ACP ammunition is subsonic by default. But unlike .380, the .45 is a massive round. It's a big chunk of lead and copper with a ballistic profile known for its stopping power, which is a large reason that it was used so much in two world wars and why it continues to be a popular self-defense option. It can be a source of infinite debate, but with suppression in a handgun, it's a top-of-the-line choice.
With 9mm pistols and rifles alike both highly prevalent on the market, we would be remiss not to discuss this caliber as a contender. Either can be suppressed using 147 grain or larger 9mm, and given the availability and ease of use, it’s possible that this ends up being the best fit for you.
No matter what you ultimately decide, remember to weigh all the possibilities in advance so you aren't surprised by anything when it's time to use the gun. Whether suppressed or unsuppressed, know what your firearm can do. Take the time to train with it, and make sure your home defense plan accounts for your equipment and intended use. Most importantly though, have fun and stay safe.