Is it legal to hunt in Texas with a silencer? What do you need to know?
First and foremost, yes, it IS legal to hunt native game effective March 30th 2012.
Per the Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations:
- Silencers may be used to take any wildlife resource; however, all federal, state and local laws continue to apply.
Previously it had only been legal to hunt non native species such as wild hogs.
What are the benefits? Myths and misconceptions.
Let’s address a few items.
You have to go through the proper procedures to legally possess a silencer. I am not going to go into great detail here but in short, you must be legally able to possess, same as with any firearm. You basically buy the silencer at a dealer, pay the $200 tax stamp, the “paper work” gets submitted to the ATF and you sit back and wait to get “approved”. Once you do the dealer releases the silencer to you. It gets a little more complicated dependant upon where you live. The top local law enforcement officer in your county must sign off on a form, some will not do this. If you are in one of these counties then what most people do is form a trust wherein the trust is the legal entity that owns the silencer and you as a responsible party as named in the trust can legally posses the silencer.
What is hunting with a silencer like?
Ok, this isn’t Hollywood, a rifle with a silencer is NOT silent like in the movies. The silencer makes it a LOT quieter, it will take a 308 and make it sound about like a 22. So, a good silencer is relatively hearing safe provided the end of the silencer is outside. Don’t shoot one with the end of the silencer inside the deer blind! You still have the bullet travelling in excess of the speed of sound making the sonic boom. There is a lot of talk about running subsonic ammo which is VERY quiet, especially out of a bolt action. (the action of a semi auto makes noise ) You can run something like a 300 Blackout with subsonic ammo but be aware that the standard ammo you can buy does not have bullets that will expand at subsonic velocities. Meaning if you want to reliably and cleanly kill something you need to make a shot into the brain, through the spine or through the heart. I do NOT recommend for deer hunting. You can buy either bullets themselves that do expand or buy loaded ammo but it is very expensive. You also need to stay within very close range. Also note that even with subsonic ammo most often if there are multiple animals out in from out of you they will run off at the sound of the shot. However, they can’t tell where it came from and often times don’t run far. Also, animals a few hundred yards away will be oblivious. The biggest advantage really is that you can leave the hearing protection in your range bag and be able to talk quietly with someone else. This is really nice if you are hunting with your kid or a buddy in a blind. I also think it makes it much easier for a new shooter to develop good shooting habits. Without that big concussive blast and dramatically reduced recoil that running a silencer provides it makes them much less likely to develop a flinch.
What do I buy?
There are a LOT of options out there and I am not going to get into all of them. But if you are buying your first silencer it is probably wise to buy a .30 caliber model. You can also use it on a 22 caliber rifle like an AR15 in 556, 300 Blackout or 6.8 SPC. There are different price points, sizes and attachment methods. I tend to like hunting with the shortest and lightest I can (I run a Templar Tactical CRUX Nemesis30 which is a 6″ 10oz Titanium model). Be aware that the longer silencers ARE a bit quieter but they are also a bit more of a pain getting in and out of a truck/ATV/blind. You can buy a direct thread on model or one that attaches to a muzzle device like a flashhider or brake that is sold by the manufacturer of the silencer. Some companies offer an adapter that will allow you to run a standard flashhider in conjunction with the mount. If you have a rifle that isn’t already threaded you need to be be aware that not all barrels can be threaded properly if they are too thin of a profile. There are some smiths that will thread a lightweight profile and then use a thread adapter that will then accept a muzzle device or direct thread. Direct thread silencers are generally thought to be better for ultimate accuracy as a mount can introduce some slight play that detracts from utmost accuracy. Having said that, with the good ones on the market that is not an issue and the “quick detach” type generally offers more flexibility for different weapons. I have both and there is no loss of accuracy with the QD types.
Is it worth the hassle and expense?
Well, put it this way, every single person I know that stared running a silencer has bought more and greatly prefers to hunt with a silencer. I won’t buy a non threaded gun anymore and have cleared out a few of the safe.