The right to either harvest game or control invasive species via hunting while using a suppressed firearm is recognized in no less than 41 states – and for good reason. 

With the first commercially successful firearm suppressor – Hiram Percy Maxim's "Silencer" – hitting the market around 1902, the devices drew initial praise from outdoorsmen. That old "Bull Moose" Teddy Roosevelt loved them and even corresponded directly with Maxim on the subject.

Then, these simple gun mufflers went to being unfairly criticized and then outrageously regulated by Congress in 1934 under the National Firearms Act. At around the same time as the NFA was enacted, many states placed local bans on the legal possession and use of the devices, a punitive reaction based largely on misinformation. In short, people became irrationally afraid of something that was both inherently useful and misunderstood at the same time and reacted by getting the government involved.

However, in the past couple of decades, better education and advocacy have led to state after state repealing misguided restrictions. Today, the devices are legal for consumers to possess in at least 43 states and can be used by sportsmen in the field in most. Since 2011 alone, the American Suppressor Association points out that four states have legalized suppressor ownership and 18 have legalized hunting with the devices. 

Hunting states with suppressors chart
Most of the country agrees that suppressors are both legal and can be used for at least some hunting purposes. (Chart: American Suppressor Association) 

The organization, the trade group for the American suppressor industry, points out there are many benefits to using a suppressor in the field, including hearing protection and safer hunting due to the fact that as many as 70 percent of sportsmen eschew the use of ear protection in the field, a reduction in noise complaints from those who live near hunting lands, and an increase in accuracy that translates to more humane hunts.

Check out these info-graphics from the ASA, breaking down just how loud unsuppressed firearms can be, and how suppressors can help bring them down to safe levels: 

American Suppressor Association chart on sound levels
(Chart: American Suppressor Association) 
American Suppressor Association chart on sound levels
(Chart: American Suppressor Association) 

Statistics published by federal regulators put the number of NFA-registered suppressors nationwide as of May 2021 at no less than 2,664,774. This is up from just over 900,000 in 2016 and only 285,000 in 2010. 

Banner image: A Marlin M1895 in .45-70 fitted with a SilencerCo Hybrid 46M suppressor.

revolver barrel loading graphic