That’s right! SilencerCo finally did what many of us wanted to see and suppressed a muzzleloader. What surprises me most, though, is the fact that it’s 50-state legal. Anyone over 18 years old and otherwise legally able to purchase a muzzleloader can purchase the Maxim 50 online.
How did they do it? It’s because gun laws are dumb, but sometimes that works in our favor. I’ll walk you through the logic:
1. According to the law, a silencer is only a silencer if it can silence a firearm.
2. According to the law, a muzzleloader is not a firearm. That’s why we can buy them online without a NICS check.
3. By welding the silencer to the muzzle, Silencerco ensures that the silencer cannot be used to silence anything other than the Maxim 50 it’s welded to.
4. Therefore, the Maxim 50 is neither a firearm nor a silencer and can be purchased without paying a $200 tax stamp or going to an FFL.
The Maxim 50 starts with a Traditions Vortek Strikerfire .50 caliber muzzleloader, which normally retails for $550 just by itself. The barrel is cut to 20″, then the 9″ silencer is welded onto the end. That means the silencer and all of the additional work attaching it to the muzzle is only adding $450 to the price tag. That puts the silencer in the price range of many rimfire cans and nowhere near the price of a typical rifle caliber silencer.
How good is the suppression? I haven’t seen any numbers, but SilencerCo claims the Maxim 50 is “hearing safe,” which generally means maximum impulse is under 140dB. Two other benefits are also claimed and might be just as important: reduced recoil and reduced smoke cloud after firing.
Even “magnum” loads in a muzzleloader tend to create a hard shove to your shoulder versus a punch, but that doesn’t mean that reducing that shove would be unappreciated. Some of the effect certainly comes from the added weight, but recoil reduction is a known benefit of silencers on centerfire rifles and is not unexpected to find with the Maxim 50.
The reduction of the smoke cloud is actually a pretty big deal, depending on how much it’s reduced. Anyone who has taken game with a muzzleloader knows the panic experienced between pulling the trigger and finally getting to see whether or not your dropped the animal. Even solidly hit animals can cover a lot of ground in its last few seconds of life, and often, the smoke cloud obscures any sight of where it runs.
The suppressor does come with some restrictions on powder and projectile. First, only 100gr of Blackhorn 209 loose powder is currently approved, so no “magnum” loads with the Maxim 50. Second, no sabots or belted bullets or anything that can separate into multiple pieces in the bore. SilencerCo recommends Federal B.O.R. Lock Z or Hornady FPB bullets for best results.
The silencer does not disassemble for cleaning, though cleaning brushes are included with the Maxim 50. Blackhorn 209 is similar to other modern muzzleloader propellants in that hot water is usually all that is needed to dissolve and clean a bore, so hopefully the silencer is easily cleaned with a bit of a dip into a bucket and some brushing. SilencerCo also recommends the application of a rust inhibitor after cleaning, just as you should do with any muzzleloader.
If the Maxim 50 allows a hunter to see his or her hit on game and spares the shoulder while sparing the ears, it will likely sell as fast as they can make them. For more information on the Maxim 50 or to buy one, visit: Silencerco Maxim 50 Suppressed Muzzleloader