Bourjaily: On Suppressors and Metro Barrels

As the guy in this video points out, suppressors are legal, widely available even, in several European countries.

F&S contributor Tom McIntyre once told me about a trip to Scotland. After stalking all day, he went out with the gamekeeper at night "lamping" (what we call jacklighting) rabbits. As Tom described it, they crept around the edge of town in a Land Rover, shooting rabbits out of people's front yards with a suppressed rifle. Rabbits are considered vermin in the U.K.

Having never seen anything like this back home, Tom finally asked the keeper: "Is this, you know, legal?"

To which the keeper replied in his thick burr: "Legal? Aye, it's encouraged!"
Here in the U.S. we can own suppressors in 38 states with the appropriate license. The only suppressed rifle I ever shot was a Browning Auto-22 semiauto. The clank of the bolt snapping shut was louder than the report. You could hear every shot thump into the backstop, too. It was fun to shoot, and very easy on the ears, too.

There is one "suppressor" you can buy over the counter in the US: the Metro barrel. Created by gunwriter L.P. Brezny for stealth crow shooting in the suburbs, the Metro barrel is a ported 36-inch barrel extension that screws into the choke threads of a shotgun barrel. It was sold through Hastings, which recently closed its doors afer taking a beating on the dollar-Euro exchange for its French-made barrels and chokes. Now Brezny is taking orders for them himself at metrogun.com. Because it's classed as a "barrel extension," not a "suppressor" the Metro Barrel is nothing more than a three-foot long choke tube in the eyes of the law.

It works, too. With subsonic ammunition, it makes a 12 gauge sound like a .22 lr. Of all the uses L.P. has told me for his invention, the one I like the best is the group of Louisiana waterfowlers who hunt with Metro Barrels so as not to give away the location of their public duck spots to other hunters.

On the one hand, Metro barrels and suppressors are a good thing because they make hunting and shooting possible where it would otherwise be prohibited due to noise concerns. On the other hand,the concern with such technology is that once it exists, it could be mandated. I would hate to be required by law to have to hang a suppressor on the barrels of any of my shotguns and shoot subsonic ammunition.