SmarterEveryDay has set the bar for infotainment pretty high. The crew uses high-speed cameras to capture super slow-motion video of some crazy things, all in the name of science (or in this case, science’s second cousin: engineering). Today they’re shooting some suppressors, but there’s a twist. You can see through these cans.
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So let’s begin with a basic primer on why guns make noise. The controlled ignition of the powder wants to expand. Steel (the gun) surrounds the explosion on all sides, except one: the side blocked by the bullet. This energy pushes the bullet up the barrel becasue that is the path of least resistance.
As the bullet leaves the barrel, you hear the sound of the expanding gases. If the bullet is traveling at supersonic speeds, you will also hear a micro-sonic boom. It is a high-pitched crack. The boom and crack often ring out together, or so it seems to the human ear, and become indistinguishable.
A suppressor, or silencer, or can… whatever you want to call it, works to take away the boom. It does this by redirecting the gasses and capturing them, momentarily, or slowing them down. There are numerous ways to design the internals of a can.
Until now, the most effective way to judge how well they work was to listen. If you wanted to see wear and tear, you had to take them apart or cut them in half. There was no way to watch one work as the internals had to be contained in a skin of titanium or steel.
Not anymore. Soteria Suppressors came up with a way to cast acrylic sleeves for their suppressors. This video serves as a proof of concept for some of them, and as a good teaching tool for the ones that fail.
And the failures are fun, too. The acrylic seems to be able to take the pressure from a .223 round. The larger .308 poses more of a challenge. The cans fail when the pressure swells the can and weakens the bond between the threaded connections at the rear. This results in sleeves shooting off, or splitting. One that was only meant for display purposes simply shatters.
Watch the video. Even if you aren’t into guns, the physics on display are utterly fascinating.