Mucky Muffler Mangling

Trying — And Failing — To Kill A Surefire Suppressor
; .

Will’s tricked-out HK416 assault rifle is the apex predator among black guns.
It comes standard with the SureFire FA556-212 suppressor, a truly unkillable can!

For a time when I was a soldier, I flew helicopters as part of the Lead the Fleet program with the U.S. Army Aviation Test Activity. These were the most high-time aircraft in the inventory. Our mission was to rag these planes out mercilessly. If something was destined to fail, it should fail with us first — at least this was the theory.

I’ve never had such fun. Second only to writing for GUNS Magazine, it was the coolest job I’ve ever had. As an aside, a sister organization was called the Airframe Qualification and Test Directorate (AQTD). They actually answered the phone “Aqua-Toad.”

Uncle Sam invests a great deal of effort and treasure doing destructive testing on the gear our warriors will use to smite the enemies of our great nation. I also recently verified — inadvertently — military test protocols indeed result in nearly bulletproof gear, at least with snuffers.


The big dent is a mystery. Will has no idea where it came
from and was already present when he bought it.

Satan’s Sound Suppressor

The SureFire FA556-212 is the sound suppressor to the stars in a modern gun world covered in a thin patina of snuffers. I have a business building them myself. If you want to eat at the cool kids’ table at your local shooting range, you’d better have something sexy and cylindrical hanging off the snout of your favorite gat. Amidst all those many-splendored cans, the FA556-212 reliably stands apart.

The FA556-212 is a paltry 6″ long and weighs an even pound. It was designed specifically to complement the 10″ barreled HK 416. SureFire doesn’t make this can anymore, but they offer upgraded versions made with the same secret sauce.

These SureFire suppressors are the real freaking deal. U.S. Army Special Operations Forces took these cans to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are rugged enough to be left on the weapon all the time. Soldiers are trained to kill people and break things. They’re like big hairy toddlers with night vision goggles and automatic weapons. If Delta Force can’t destroy these suppressors, be assured we won’t either.


The business end of the FA556-212 after a year on the mucky bottom of the
lake and after going red-hot into the lake water quench instantly! A little
surface rust was the only apparent damage.

My FA556-212

I came into my FA556-212 via a circuitous route. My can was part of a package deal brokered by a dealer friend with a state police SWAT team. I bought this suppressor along with a de-milled high-mileage HK416 assault rifle. It cost considerably more than my first car, but there are a lot of things it will do my old car wouldn’t.

When I bought this rig, the upper half was caked in filth. The suppressor looked like it had been dragged behind the space shuttle. It took me an hour with my cleaning gear to uncover the gun underneath all that grunge. I imagine when they decided they were getting new weapons, these particular SWAT guys just went out and burned a tractor trailer-load of ammo through the guns before disposing of them as surplus. Once I had the parts cleaned and resurrected, I built them up on my old transferable M16 lower receiver (bought for the princely sum of $600 back in 1987).

The suppressor already had the finish cooked off. It also sported a massive dent in the side. If I had to guess at a lifetime round count for the thing I would conservatively estimate it to be about as much ammo as the U.S. Marine Corps burns in a fiscal quarter. All this happened before I even met it.


Aside from a little brown grunge on the near end (left), Will’s trusty SureFire can was no worse for the wear despite spending a year and a half underwater.

The Crucible

This thing is the Methuselah of cans. It’s been ridden relentlessly and put away dripping. With that as a foundation, I went to work.

This is a blasting gun — meaning an exclusive diet of the cheapest, filthiest steel-cased Russian ammo I can find. It is the star of the show when my kids’ college buddies come home to visit for the weekend. When unleashed with this rifle, my young friends run it like a hamster in a daycare.
This is the weapon designed specifically for Delta Force. It is the gun that killed Osama bin Laden. This is the most rarefied M4 variant in the world. It is the holy grail of black rifles. Its performance does not disappoint.

All up with the suppressor and a top-flight EOTech Holosight-cum-magnifier, the overall package is shockingly heavy. However, it keeps the weapon on target with minimal effort. On rock and roll it is also surprisingly fast. I’d guesstimate it runs 50 to 100 rounds per minute faster than a comparable GI M4. The spunky rate of fire combined with a bunch of uninhibited trigger fingers and a pile of cheap blasting ammo sourced pre-COVID equal simply breathtaking amounts of heat. We could have cooked pork chops on the suppressor.

At some point I took the can off, likely just to show the kids how it attached. These SureFire suppressors sport a cool quick-detach mounting system. You press in a spring-loaded catch and rotate a locking collar to release the suppressor. Then just give the can a quick tug and it pops right off. I had to wrap the thing in an old shirt lest it burn my skin off.

Once everyone got a peek at the muzzle I reattached the suppressor and passed the rifle to a buddy along with a freshly loaded magazine. The kid arrayed himself at our favorite firing point — a comfortable spot overlooking a modest lake with an uber-safe 65-foot backstop wrapping around like an amphitheater — and lined the weapon up on a target some 68 meters distant. He then squeezed the trigger and promptly shot the can off into the lake.
I had failed to secure the mount properly. The smoking hot suppressor plopped into the water maybe 15 feet from shore. The water is about 10 feet deep. There it sat undisturbed … for one and a half years.

Success! It took an hour underwater sifting through tons of muck,
but the can suffered no long-term ill effects.

The Rescue Operation

A friend with scuba gear finally came to the rescue. The whole operation took nearly an hour underwater. As soon as he touched the bottom, the whole lake silted in darker than Andrew Cuomo’s shriveled little heart.

We put my buddy on the end of a rope, got him arranged on the proper azimuth, and then let him feel his way through the bottom of the lake. There were stumps and natural debris aplenty. He found a couple of ventilated Coke cans, a broken industrial tape measure and about a zillion discarded shell casings. He also eventually found my sound suppressor underneath about 10″ of silty mud slurry on the lake bottom.


The Verdict

So what adverse effects did unimaginably violent heat transients followed by 18 months underwater have on my trusty SureFire can? Absolutely nothing. I shook the mud and water out, latched it securely onto the muzzle of my rifle, and blasted another 30 rounds downrange on rock and roll.

I’m 55 years old and well past my prime. My days of legit action and adventure are but a vague memory. I’ll never have call to use such a weapon for real again. However, if I do, I can assure you this SureFire suppressor is undeniably up to the task — that thing is frankly unkillable.

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