Nobody really talks about the obstacles of owning a suppressor AFTER all the red tape and legal hurdles. There's not like a brochure out there telling you what to expect after getting your Form 4 back and using the can, its just "put it on, shoot quieter... take it off, shoot louder." If you are careful enough to read the instructions that should have came with your muzzle muffler, you'd read it says IT GETS HOT after medium to heavy use. It only takes about 140 degrees Fahrenheit to start causing tissue damage to your skin. After rapid firing a mag or two worth of 5.56, that can is gonna be hot to the touch, and if your smart enough to not handle it with bare hands but set it in your case, in a rifle bag, or let any fabric touch the can, it will melt.
This happens a lot more than you think. It really depends on the caliber you are suppressing, and the amount of consecutive shots fired without letting the can cool down. Even on a .308 bolt gun, the can will get pretty warm after 6-8 rounds fired without a cool down. Yes, you could just wear gloves which is recommended anyway, but the heat radiating from the suppressor also has another biproduct: mirage.
Mirage is an optical illusion caused by the refraction of light by heated air. It's something long range shooters learn to manage when it occurs between your position and the target. However when there's a hot tube on the end of your barrel, it will produce a mirage right in front of your scope, obscuring your view of your target through an optic. There are two ways to deal with it: Let your rifle and suppressor cool down more frequently between shots, or get a cover for your can that will help insulate and disperse the heat.
In researching whats out there on the market, seeing prices, scooping my jaw off the desk, and then selecting a cover that will best suit my needs (.308 bolt gun, at most firing strings of 5-6 rounds within a minute or so) I opted for the TAB Gear SASR Suppressor Cover. It was in the lower price range of the other systems that are out there, and the size was customizable. I noticed some others come in pre sized lengths and diameters, none of which would have fit my AAC Cyclone.
The SASR is sewn with NOMEX Thread 1000 D Cordura and is claimed to withstand 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. There really is no front or rear to the cover, so it can be installed in either direction and work equally well. The TAB GEAR SASR cover can be slid either to the rear, or off the front of the can to allow faster cooling.
The SASR cover can be ordered to cover only as much of the can as needed. If there is a quick release mechanism that the you want to leave exposed for quick access, you simply list the length desired when placing your order. The preset lengths on the website aren't 100% accurate so TAB encourages you to leave the exact manufacturer specs (length and outer diameter) in the notes of your order. You also get to choose how it secures, either velcro or bungee cordage. I went with the cordage, as it could be adjusted and really tightened down, plus if you need to conceal it with foliage you could weave greenery around it.
Okay fine, it looks more tactical... you got me!
One important fact is TAB Gear will by default subtract 1/4" off the size you specify. The reason is after use, heating up, and removal/reinstallation of the cover over time, it has been known to stretch that much. Also its good to leave some margin at the front in case you don't have the cover tightened enough, and it inches forward under recoil. If the cover protrudes past the muzzle of the suppressor either from incorrect length ordered or stretching (or under recoil it shifts forward) you can actually shred the inner material of the cover, or even better launch the cover downrange. As hilarious as that would be to watch (someone else do it) thats a waste of your investment.
That said, the SASR cover has held up well on my Cyclone. It helps hinder mirage especially on hot sunny days with direct sunlight right on the can. It also helps keep your can from taking surface damage, either from rolling around the bench onto the ground, or when you shove it into your safe. I wish suppressor companies would provide a cover pro-bono as part of your investment, but the TAB SASR is reasonable in price to pick up anyway.
You can choose between colors of the standard tactical rainbow: Black, OD Green, Coyote Brown, Kryptek, and Multicam. There can be a long period of waiting for your order since each one is fabricated from scratch to fit your specs, so if you are ordering for multiple cans, I would be prepared to be patient. My order of just one only took about 7 business days, and I was pleased.
Note: TAB Gear specifically warns .223/5.56 cal users that their current products are not recommended for long strings or rapid fire! They are in the process of developing new products that will meet the needs of this type of operation. I can think of two reasons why, no "recoil shelf" to ensure the cover won't slip off during rapid fire. And to, it can get very very hot and you can get to a point of failure if you try hard enough/have enough ammo to blow through. To understand better, watch this video. You may not be shooting a full auto SAW, but its not difficult to dump a bunch of mags in a row and get the can hot enough to sizzle.
Also be aware that with shorter barrel AR pistols or SBRs, the heat factor will also be increased.
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Protects you, your can, and your equipment while preventing mirage from obscuring your site picture after multiple shots
Target Market: Suppressor owners
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product)
- Custom crafted to fit your specific suppressor
- Sewn with NOMEX Thread 1000 D Cordura Outer Shell Inner shell to withstand 1800 degrees Fahrenheit
- Choice of bungee cord or velcro for fastening
What others are saying?: "The reason the TAB cover melts is because the outer fabric is Cordura. I melted one years ago and Tony replaced it, no questions asked, but shortly after he let everyone know that the cover was not adequate for rapid fire/full-auto with 5.56. I think with some effort you could get the same results in semi auto .308 as well. I don't know anything about the Bowers cover but if you eliminate the Cordura it won't melt. Unfortunately, without the Cordura you won't get the Multicam NAMBLA love fest at the range. " Ian187 AR15.com User
- MSRP: $68.00
I need it now! Availability: Readily available at TAB Gear
- Price is competitive enough for my intended use on a bolt action .308, maybe some 300 blackout from an AR Pistol.
- Insulation keeps can safe to handle even when bare metal of suppressor is too hot to touch.
- TAB has good customer service, if you order the wrong size or melt the cover under normal operation (not bumpfiring your 7 inch SBR for 5-7 magazines) they will take care of you
- Not rated for rapid fire of .223 / 5.56 (possible overheat and melting, slipping off muzzle and getting shot, or both)
- Cordura material seems to have lower melting point than other materials you'll see on the market (silicone)
Score: 7.0 Good