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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lou Salseda

Lou Salseda

Lou Salseda is a retired LAPD sergeant with 34 years of law enforcement experience. He is the chief instructor of TAC-1 Defensive Firearms Training in Santa Clarita, Calif., and is a consultant for law enforcement training and litigation.

Nick Jacobellis

Nick Jacobellis

Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former New York police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent.

Why Patrol Rifles Need a Suppressor

Non-suppressed AR rifles in close quarters may cause hearing loss by officers.

July 16, 2013  |  by Lou Salseda - Also by this author

Daniel Defense's DDM4 ISR.
Daniel Defense's DDM4 ISR.
The 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery identified a need in law enforcement agencies for an AR-type patrol rifle in an urban environment.

Since that incident, active shooters and counter-terrorism threats presented in the 2008 Mumbai attacks have increased the need for AR-type weapons for basic patrol operations. In January, Daniel Defense introduced the ISR (Integrated Suppressed Rifle), a production AR-platform DDM4 chambered in .300 Blackout.

Historically, suppressed rifle systems in law enforcement have been reserved for SWAT operators. SWAT teams once used a H&K MP5 for entry situations; these were often equipped with a suppressor. SWAT teams started changing over to the AR platform in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  However, very few of these AR-equipped SWAT teams had suppressed ARs in their inventory. Perhaps, because many SWAT teams use some type of communication system that also protects their ears, they didn't identify a need.

Now that many patrol officers are commonly equipped with the AR platform, these officers and their trainers have identified a valid concern for high frequency decibel gunfire generated by these weapons. The basic 18-inch M16/M4 produces about 160-165 decibels of peak noise. This is especially concerning in confined spaces such as a police car, urban business building, or residence because that high-decibel muzzle blast is reflected and increased with multiple shots fired. Any exposure to noise over 140db causes immediate and irreparable hearing loss, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

In 2009, the most common impairment for military veterans was hearing loss with annual payments that exceed $1.1 billion, according to the January 2011 GAO Report to Congressional Committees.

Responding patrol personnel typically do not use range-type hearing protection when they don personal protective equipment (PPE). Anyone without hearing protection who has experienced the muzzle blast of an AR platform in close proximity knows it can be extremely loud and painful.  Continued firing in a confined area will certainly have a negative impact on your hearing.

To prevent hearing loss, a few progressive law enforcement agencies have equipped their patrol officers with suppressed AR platforms. The Tempe (Ariz.) Police Department was a leader in this area in 2008 when they started to equip all their patrol rifles with suppressors. A large agency in southern California is now considering allowing its AR-equipped officers to purchase their own suppressor with the primary intent of preventing hearing loss.

Law enforcement agencies provide many types of PPE to their officers, including body armor, ballistic helmets, ballistic door panels, and air purifying respirators. It's time to seriously consider providing officers an AR suppressor to protect their officers' hearing.

Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Hanzo @ 7/22/2013 8:52 PM

I agree on the need for suppressors for AR's and other type of rifles used in LE. Why didn't we think of that earlier? Perhaps stigma of ninja style covert operation? Fear of losing ballistic performance (velocity and distance)? There are good products out there and consideration is long over due...

Rick @ 7/23/2013 3:35 PM

Since it protects hearing, why limit such items to only LE and the military? Civilians in many states cannot obtain suppressors. This would help reduce medical costs from civilian shooters and hunters by saving their hearing.

Matt @ 7/23/2013 7:11 PM

Anyone have reference to any case law or OSHA or workmans comp payouts for hearing loss that would help get can's for duty rifles?

Same with any policy's on this.


Capt. Crunch @ 7/23/2013 9:44 PM

Real good idea I would like to see them on small arms also.

Bob @ VA @ 7/24/2013 5:50 AM

Suppressors are commonly used for hunting in parts of Europe. Here in the US, we make laws based on myths and movies rather than reality. Suppressors should be treated no differently than any other firearm accessory. Every patrol rifle should be so equipped.

JC308 @ 7/24/2013 7:52 PM

I have one on my patrol rifle and it was money well spent. My agency allows personally owned weapons however I now use a department issued AR. I got some strange looks from different deputies and agents when I got it out on a drug raid. After some fellow deputies heard the reduction of sound using full power loads, they were impressed to say the least. Most suppressors don't add much length to the weapon to cause any clearance issues. You can find a good can for around $600.00 plus $200.00 tax stamp. Recommended fast attach style. Stay safe.

Bob LaBlaugh @ 8/1/2013 10:20 PM

Couldn't agree more. Moreover, current US law on suppressors -- like so many other laws -- is indeed based on Hollyweird myths. But then, analysis, critical thinking and reason have never been a strong suit amongst the political class.

RPG @ 8/8/2013 6:25 PM

I have a suppressor on my AR. I recommend them for patrol rifles pinned to barrels up to 12" You'll find that barrel lengths of 10-12" have little ballistic effect on rifle trajectory out to 200 meters.

JG @ 9/8/2013 9:11 PM

Come on Lou, what don't you say the "large Southern California agency" is LAPD?

Doc @ 10/2/2013 5:21 AM

I have carried a Patrol Rifle since the early 80s, and it was NOT a very popular thing back then, but the times I needed to pull it out, I was glad to have it.
The issue of suppressors is past due, and I'm glad that some departments are Not letting Political Correctness get in the way.
There are some departments in this day and age, where they won't allow officers to have Rifles or Shotguns.......... All in the name of Political Correctness. The people in charge are complete idiots, and officer safety comes last.

RealAmerican @ 11/19/2014 8:13 PM

Do police departments have to pay the NFA stamp tax or is it waived?

Bill @ 11/7/2015 12:20 AM

Now that is some craziness, I love all those guns.

- Bill |

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