While working my weekend job a few years back, I had the pleasure of speaking with a tourist from Sweden who was vacationing in Alaska. As we chatted about what guns we had in stock and the calibers available, he brought up that his personal Go-To rifle was a Weatherby Mark V in .340 Weatherby Magnum. I too have a special place in my heart for this brainchild of Roy Weatherby, so the tourist and I exchanged our inner most love of the caliber.
After an energetic conversation about our overwhelming lust for this cartridge, I mentioned how much I loved the sheer power of it, but felt that the recoil can be a little brisk at times. The tourist informed me that he had no problems with recoil because he has a lightweight sound suppressor affixed to his barrel. Now uncontrollably curious, I implored him to elaborate. He told me that it’s not uncommon in Sweden for gunsmiths to make sound suppressors and affix them to a customer’s barrel (in a process quite similar to how a gunsmith might thread and affix a muzzle brake to the end of a rifle). The suppressor not only muffles the mighty concussion of the rifle lighting off, but also reduces the recoil by (what he said) 40%. In fact, he had no idea why anyone would hunt without one… Which got me pondering the same question.
According to the tourist, there are several countries in Europe where using a sound suppressor for hunting is common practice. First, they believe hunting without one can be a health risk, as firing an unsuppressed firearm without hearing protection will permanently damage and impair your hearing. Secondly, it’s seen as polite because the sound and concussion of an unsuppressed gunshot can be disruptive and stressful to surrounding homeowners or livestock since a lot of hunting happens on farms and private land. This is a completely separate way of thinking from the common populous of the United States, who believe that sound suppressors are the tools of assassins and ‘clandestine-delta-force-black-ops-ninja tier-1 operators’. I’m not going to lie; I used to be one of those people, thinking that suppressors (and cardboard boxes) were just for tactical espionage operations.
Fast forward to 2015. Since my days of uneducated misconceptions about sound suppressors, I’ve grown to believe that anyone who hunts would benefit from a sound suppressor. The SilencerCo Harvester 30 just so happens to be marketed as a suppressor for the hunter. It boasts a light-weight construction, minimal (if any) point of impact shift, and is bored for and rated to withstand (with 100% confidence) full power .300 Winchester Magnum pressures. It being a .30 caliber suppressor, it can be used with any rifle cartridge utilizing projectiles of .308 diameter or smaller (although I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on rifles that shoot .311 diameter bullets) and of similar or less pressure than .300 Winchester Magnum.
This includes many American favorites!
-.300 AAC Blackout
-7mm Remington Magnum (not Ultra Mag)
-.223 Remington / 5.56×45 NATO
The suppressor itself is kind of long, sitting at a little under 9”, but it really doesn’t seem all that substantial. When I first got my hands on the Harvester 30, I was actually blown away by one other unfathomable characteristic: The weight. SilencerCo states that the suppressor weighs 11.3 ounces, which, I will admit, didn’t seem like a very impressive number on paper. However, once in your hands, it’s mind-blowing just how light this bugger is. On the front end of the suppressor, there is a funny looking stack of aluminum pancakes that SilencerCo calls an ‘Anchor Brake’. Considering the majority of propellant gases will be slowed considerably by the time it reaches the front end of the suppressor, I find this to be a silly idea. Albeit, SilencerCo states that it does actually help mitigate recoil, and since I can guarantee that their engineers are most likely more intelligent than I am, I won’t argue with them. Sadly, the ‘Anchor Brake’ is permanently affixed to the can… I sure wish it wasn’t.
Let’s look at the specifications from SilencerCo:
Model: Harvester 30
Caliber rating: 5.7x28mm – .300 Winchester Magnum
Outer Diameter: 1.37”
Average Decibel rating at Muzzle (supersonic ammunition):
- .223 Remington: 134.9 dB
- .308 Winchester: 136.4 dB
- .300 Winchester Magnum: 138.3 dB
Body Material: Aluminum
Baffle Material: Fully welded, hardened, tool-grade Stainless Steel
Attachment method: Direct barrel thread adapter (does not come with the suppressor – DICK MOVE)
Adapter threading: Available adapters in 1/2×28 tpi, 1/2×32 tpi, 5/8×24 tpi, 7/16×28 tpi, 9/16×24 tpi, M18x1 RH, and 3/4×24 tpi (all priced at $84 a pop).
MSRP: $704 (suppressor in this review was purchased for $549.99)
On the back end of the suppressor, you will find a place to thread in direct-to-barrel thread adapters. Does SilencerCo offer a fast attachment option for the Harvester 30? Nope. But, that might just be part of the weight savings… I suppose. In fact, when the Harvester 30 is threaded on the end of a barrel, the miniscule weight of the suppressor is almost non-existent. There are other sound suppressors out in the market rated for .300 Winchester Magnum, such as the SilencerCo Specwar 7.62, the AAC 762-SDN, and the Dead Air Armament Sandman Series, but they all weigh considerably more… And yet, the Harvester 30 is rated up to .300 Winchester Magn… Wait… that can’t be right? How exactly is that even possible? Well, SilencerCo, much like the Swedes, knows that it’s all about intended use and purpose.
SilencerCo developed this suppressor with the intention of it being put on hunting rifles (which are most often bolt action), taking slow, calculated, and spaced out shots, giving the suppressor time to cool between strings of fire. That only requires a fairly thin stainless steel baffle structure, which allows for a rather lightweight suppressor. So, why are the other suppressors so heavy then? Well, most sound suppressor manufacturers (SilencerCo included) cater toward the military, law enforcement, and private security market, so the majority of their cans carry an extra label of being ‘Full-Auto Rated’. Anyone who is familiar with fully automatic weapons (which I am NOT) knows that the heat and concussion of sustained rapid fire can be brutal on a gun, especially everything in front of the muzzle. To make something capable of withstanding such abuse, full auto rated sound suppressors often have thick primary blast baffles made up ridiculously hard and durable materials like Inconel, stellite, or titanium (well, titanium is lighter than steel, but you’ve got to use a lot of it for full auto rating), followed by a heavy duty baffle stack. This adds considerable weight to a suppressor. The Harvester 30 is not intended to be used for suppressive fire by tier 1 tactical spec-ops-erators, so it’s not full auto rated.
At this point, there is someone reading this and saying, “Why would I even want this suppressor if I can’t shoot my guns full auto through it?” Well, before they school me with their armchair operator ‘facts’, allow me to enlighten them using the following flow chart:
The majority of us peon civilians will never own or even touch a fully automatic weapon in our life, and I can guarantee that the Harvester 30 will hold up just fine under common at-the-range shooting practices. However, if you feel like you ‘need’ something full auto rated, buy a different suppressor.
Now, since the suppressor isn’t full auto rated, does that mean you can’t put the Harvester on an AR-15 or AR-10 and use it effectively? OF COURSE YOU CAN! It works beautifully as an AR suppressor; you just have to avoid that uncontrollable urge to unload your 30-caliber-magazine-clip in one dump when using the Harvester (you redneck). In fact, the lack of weight the Harvester adds to the front of your gun makes it an exceptional .300 Blackout pistol suppressor. You can shoot supersonic ammunition just fine, but like all suppressors, it really shines when you shoot subsonic ammunition (see video below for demonstration).
When shooting subsonic .300 Blackout through the Harvester, it’s exceptionally quiet. How quiet? Quiet enough for you to reprimand people for talking because you can’t hear your gunshots over their loud yammering. And when you shoot it through a bolt action .300 Blackout rifle, people next to you at the range say, “That’s just WRONG.” Let’s take a look and listen, shall we?
Truth be told, subsonic ammunition is really just a novelty, and not really useful in hunting. Why? Because (Energy) = ½(mass) x (velocity)². If you want to perform a quick and humane kill, you need to transfer as much energy into the animal as possible, in sight of pulverizing vital organs to make the animal’s suffering as short as possible.
A subsonic 230gr projectile doing 1050 fps will generate about 563 ft-lbs of energy
A supersonic 110gr projectile doing 2250 fps will generate about 1236 ft-lbs of energy
Don’t be a dick to the animal; use supersonic ammunition.
So, if we shouldn’t hunt with subsonic ammunition, what’s it like shooting supersonic ammunition through the Harvester without ear pro? I’ll tell you that it isn’t something I’d do when out shooting hundreds of rounds with my bros at the range. I’m a classically trained musician and I’m very protective of my hearing, so I’m very particular about what I expose my ears to. I’ve taken one shot in my life without hearing protection (a .357 magnum single action revolver) and it was both painful and disorienting. When I took a shot through the Harvester using supersonic ammunition from my AR-15, it was sharp and uncomfortable, but not painful or overtly damaging. You’ll get a slight ring upon breaking the shot, but it will fade within a few seconds. I will say that extended exposure to it will still damage your hearing over time (as in hearing loss of high frequencies above 15,000Hz), but that loss over a lifetime is still nowhere near the damage you will get from a single gunshot without hearing protection. Truthfully, the supersonic crack is what makes the slight ring in your ears, and the intensity of that crack at your ear will depend upon your surroundings and the length of your barrel. If you are in an open field and take a shot with a fairly long barrel, you probably won’t feel the adverse effects of the supersonic crack at all. Amidst woods or other surfaces for sound to bounce off of, the crack will sound amplified at your ear.
Aside from the novelty of shooting subsonic ammunition through the Harvester 30, its intended purpose is to be a suppressor option for hunters. So why should any hunter invest in a suppressor? This answer is simple: Your hearing is a finite resource that is easily lost, and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. I live up in Alaska, and there are people that hunt every year, not for sport or pleasure, but for sustenance and survival. Many of the old timers that have hunted for most of their lives all suffer from impaired hearing from exposure to unsuppressed gun fire. The simplest solution would be to wear hearing protection when you hunt, right? Well, as easy as that sounds, I don’t know a single hunter that will wear hearing protection. Why? Because unobstructed hearing is a large part of perceiving our surroundings, and having a keen perception of our surroundings is an important aspect of hunting. So why can’t they walk around with the ear pro off and when they find an animal, throw it on? Because the time it takes to throw on ear pro can be the difference between filling your freezer and going hungry. Sadly, this unfortunate choice to forgo ear pro will only disable them further with every shot fired. It’s a catch-22, but it doesn’t have to be. Since it is 100% legal to hunt with a sound suppressor in Alaska, I honestly don’t see why anyone would hunt without a suppressor.
Selling the idea to hunters has been a difficult task for a few reasons. To begin with, suppressors can be a pain to obtain and the wait time is lengthy (and we all know that the age of internet access has made the concept of patience non-existent to most Americans – myself included). If I can find someone who has enough patience to listen to my spiel about suppressors, the next difficulty is selling the hunter on what has to be done to their rifle in order to accept a suppressor. Fortunately, hunting rifle manufacturers are starting to sell rifles with factory threaded barrels, which will only help in making suppressors a common item among hunters. Finally, most hunters don’t want to have to get fingerprinted and photographed (trusts included), pay an extra $200 for a tax stamp, and wait four to six months before being able to take the suppressor home. Hopefully the American people can band together and work to make suppressors more accessible to hunters in the future.
To conclude, at a street price under $600, the Harvester 30 is an excellent procurement for anyone looking for a hunting or light use suppressor. It’s light, slim, and strong enough to handle up to .300 Winchester Magnum. If you are having qualms about buying the Harvester 30, you can buy with confidence.