Since their invention over 100 years ago, silencers have been at the forefront (quite literally) of guns and their evolution. Initially designed in 1902, with the first patent being issued in 1909, Hiram Stevens Maxim created something that would come to revolutionise weaponry.

Since then, their inclusion in military operations, law enforcement and even films, TV and video games has made them an unmistakable object, even for those with little to no gun knowledge. But, what place do they have in the world of air rifles?

Air rifle silencers are incredibly useful pieces of kit for hunters and target shooters. Here, we consider everything you need to know about how to use them and why they can be game-changers.

What Do Gun Silencers Do?

Silencers, often referred to as suppressors, sound suppressors or moderators, are designed to limit the noise that’s produced when a gun is fired as much as possible. Often, this is the bang that emanates from the muzzle of the weapon.

In real firearms, this noise is produced when the bullet is struck by the hammer causing the gunpowder to combust inside the chamber. When caught in slow motion, it is possible to see the flames of the explosion come out of the end of the gun.

The suppressor works by capturing this explosion of gas inside a chamber and dispersing it before allowing the gas to escape from the gun in a controlled manner. Although they are called silencers, they do not make a gun completely silent, rather limit the noise emitted when fired.

Machine gun with focus on silencer

What is an Air Rifle Silencer?

This concept is the same when applied to air rifles. Air rifle silencers are accessories that can be added to the end of your air rifle to limit the sound emitted from gunfire.

Some air rifles can be almost as loud as firearms, although they are typically quieter as they use different firing mechanisms. With PCP rifles, for instance, compressed air drives the projectile from the barrel, which can cause quite a loud bang.

So if air rifles tend to be quieter, why would you want to use a silencer, and are they necessary?

The Benefits of Using an Air Rifle Silencer

The primary reasons for using an air rifle are:

  • - Hunting
  • - Target shooting and practice

Being quieter in both of these scenarios can be desirable.

When hunting, you’ll want to remain stealthy and hidden from your targets. Any help in reducing the level of noise from your vicinity is a bonus. With a silencer, you’ll be able to conceal your position more effectively and make cleaner shots.

Similarly, if you’re a backyard target shooter, a silencer can be helpful in that it reduces your chances of alarming or annoying your neighbours with the sound of shots.

Do Air Rifle Silencers Work?

Some silencers/moderators work on some air guns better than others. For instance, PCP air rifles can be more effectively moderated than spring-loaded air rifles.

PCP air rifles make the most noise when the compressed air exits the barrel, which can be quietened effectively by fitting a silencer. Spring-powered air guns are trickier to quieten because a lot of the noise they produce comes from the mechanical sounds of the expanding spring and piston movement, rather than coming from the muzzle.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while adding a silencer to your air rifle might not make an immediate difference from your shooting position, it can help reduce the noise from further away.

A moderator can also make the sound directional, meaning the sound of the shot is explicitly channelled to the target, which is useful for hunting, even at closer range.

Air rifle with iron sights

How to Fit a Silencer to an Air Rifle

If you decide a silencer is right for your setup, fitting them is usually relatively straightforward – you just screw the silencer onto the muzzle. However, you must be very careful when doing so. If it isn’t properly aligned and skews off-centre, your shot can go off-course.

Most silencers are threaded with a ½ inch UNF fitting, which makes getting one that’ll suit your air rifle pretty convenient. There are also various moderator adapters to fit your gun and silencer. Many of our adapters require a decent level of technical skill to properly fit, so we’d recommend having this overseen by a technician.

Are Air Rifle Silencers Calibre Specific?

You can get both calibre-specific and non-calibre-specific air rifle silencers. Calibre-specific options generally offer better performance and accuracy as you can achieve better bore alignment.

Does an Air Rifle Silencer Reduce Power?

Providing your silencer is fitted properly, you should see no noticeable difference in your gun’s power and accuracy.

Do Air Rifle Silencers Need to Be Cleaned?

This can be a fairly divisive one as some users like to clean them while others say it’s not really necessary. It may depend on the type of silencer you get, so check if the manufacturer has any specific recommendations. Moderators are designed to be taken apart and cleaned, so it’s easy enough if you want to do so. You can use a non-corrosive solvent to get rid of any dirt that’s built up.

Air rifle maintenance and cleaning tips

How to Make an Air Rifle Silencer

You’ll come across countless YouTube videos teaching you how to make your own silencers, but we recommend sticking to the real things. Fashioning something homemade can easily result in hurting yourself or someone else.

These days, you can find a diverse range of silencers at affordable prices, so you’re sure to find something to suit your rifle, without resorting to making your own!

If you’re in the market for a new air gun entirely, check out our guide to the quietest air rifles – ideal for keeping things quiet from the get-go.

What is the quietest air rifle?