April 24, 2009
Petzal: Silence is Golden
By David E. Petzal
I recently returned from the wilds of New Zealand, where things are done somewhat differently. For example, it is perfectly legal for shooters to own suppressed (silenced) firearms. In the USA, if you want to hang a can on the end of your barrel, you need a Class III license or else you go to prison.
This grim-looking fellow—normally he smiles a lot--was my guide. His name is David Blayney, and if he looks military it’s because he was a professional soldier for a number of years. David’s rifle started life as a Tikka, and was converted to a cartridge called the .338 Murmur (or as it’s known in some parts, the .338 BR). This is a 7mm Remington BR case necked up to .338 and loaded with 300-grain bullets loaded to about 1,000 fps. The speed of sound is 1,125 fps, so if the slugs are traveling at less than that, you avoid not only the muzzle blast, but the supersonic crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier.
The conversion is relatively simple: Your gunsmith saws off the factory barrel to about 12 inches, threads the end, and screws on the silencer. The latter lasts indefinitely, and the only problem associated with it is the gas that’s directed backward onto the barrel’s exterior. You have to unscrew the thing after use and wipe off the powder fouling. Accuracy is extremely good. David showed me a group he’d fired at 200 yards with all three shots touching; it looked like ½-inch to me.
The Murmur also kills animals just fine as long as you observe its range limitations, but since most shots here are taken at 200 yards or less, this is not a problem. How loud is it? I didn’t get to fire the Murmur, but I did shoot a supressed .223 and it had about the report of a .22 LR.