In a surprising reversal of a nearly two-decades-old policy, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has notified suppressor manufacturer Dead Air Silencers that it now considers suppressor wipes — such as the one for Dead Air’s Ghost-M suppressor — to be a “silencer” part.
As The Truth About Guns points out, bullet wipes were popular in early silencer designs, which usually featured excessively wide metal baffle stack openings to prevent baffle strikes from the bullet passing through. Manufacturers tried to make a tighter and quieter can by adding a wipe to the path of the bullet. The bullet would rub against the wipe when going through the can, thereby “providing a much narrower passage while not harming the internal components of the silencer.”
But wipes wear out fast and therefore need to be replaced.
According to The Firearm Blog, the ATF previously stated in a 1999 opinion letter that it didn’t consider wipes made of rubber and other disposable materials to be silencer parts, thus making them replaceable by the end user. Replacing actual silencer parts — a category that the ATF now apparently believes wipes fall under — can only be done by a FFL/SOT. Thus, the ATF’s decision could have major implications for the average consumer.
Dead Air Silencers first broke the news on their Facebook page. Read the full post below.
Valued Dead Air customers, dealers and wholesalers,
Last week, we were notified by the BATFE that they consider the accessory aperture wipe on our Ghost 45M suppressor to be a “silencer” part. We presented them with the Bardwell ATF opinion letter (http://www.titleii.com/bardwell/atf_letter66.txt)* that is commonly used as justification for the use of wipes and replacement of wipes in silencers by their owners. This morning, we were informally notified that the BATFE FTB does not share the opinion of the Bardwell letter regarding wipes not being silencer parts, and asked that we take immediate corrective action. As such we are immediately discontinuing the sale of accessory wipes for that product. The aperture wipe for the Ghost has always been an optional use item. We have consciously decided NOT to pursue the issue with FTB, as the resulting opinion letter, based on the informal notification to us, may have a potential negative impact on ALL owners of suppressors that utilize wipes in the design.
Moving forward we are conducting research on a wipe constructed of a more durable material, that will be included with the Ghost 45M. Extra or additional wipes will not be available for sale. Other options and clarifications are being sought as well.
Dead Air has developed and will release a new linear compensator product for handguns and submachine guns that will lead to cross compatibility with some Ghost accessories, including pistons, fixed mounts and caliber specific caps.
We appreciate the support of our customer, dealers and wholesalers, and will continue to bring innovative, quality products to the market. If there are any questions regarding this issue or any questions about our products, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Director of Sales
Dead Air Silencers