When we run into an entrenched, bureaucratic problem, the easiest way out is to find someone who has been through the maze. Even better is to find someone who has made it his mission to guide you through the maze. When it comes to buying suppressors, Brandon L. Maddox, founder of Silencer Central, is such a sage.
Maddox is a pharmacist with an MBA who got into varmint hunting when he moved to South Dakota years ago. He found that using a suppressor upped his game, but he had trouble navigating the system to get one. He also wasn’t happy with the product that was then available to him. So he built Silencer Central.
I spoke with Maddox recently to question him on behalf of gun owners and hunters who aspire to acquire a suppressor.
In spite of the fact media and many politicians label suppressors as tools of assassins, suppressors basically just make guns a little more polite. The silencer market is still relatively “new” and small, he said, with about 150,000 sold annually. When Maddox first started working gun shows about 15 years ago, 95 percent of attendees he encountered thought suppressors were illegal.
This lack of exposure equals lack of education. Politicians, he said, will need further exposure to the benefits of suppressors before we see major positive changes in law related to them. In the short term, Maddox would like to see a mandated timeline for suppressor approvals. To get a federal firearm license, the government must respond within 60 days; Maddox would like to see that cut to 30 days for those who wish to purchase a suppressor.
Here’s what else he shared with me.
Miniter: How does a pharmacist become not only interested in suppressors, but the founder of Silencer Central?
Maddox: Like most things in life, all by accident! I was raised in the Southeast but was transplanted to South Dakota, as my wife is from South Dakota. I was a regional manager for a pharmaceutical company and started hunting prairie dogs as I traveled the vast prairie region. Like all hunters, I was always in search of the ultimate advantage to enhance my prairie dog hunting hobby. I decided a sound suppressor might be the advantage I was looking for.
The first time I went prairie dog hunting with a silencer, I ran out of ammo. I quickly became obsessed with hunting suppressed. The recoil reduction, the ability to talk with others in the hunting party, the reduced worry about having your ears on made prairie dog hunting a lot more satisfying.
When I bought my first silencer, the purchase process was beyond painful. A severely flawed buying experience set the stage for getting licensed to sell suppressors and creating what is now Silencer Central. I was fortunate my father-in-law had a federal firearms license in his local pharmacy, so my wife was very familiar with, and accepting of, firearms. I honestly started in the silencer business primarily to simplify life for myself and a small group of relatives.
I found that the entire process was a mystery. Everything I read online was conflicting and inaccurate.
I hired former ATF employees and read everything I could find on silencer laws. I even bought the domain class3.com. I started attending firearms compliance conferences. I sat in the front row and asked the actual regulators questions to fully understand the entire National Firearms Act (NFA) process.
I have worked closely with state and federal regulators over the last 15 years to thoroughly understand the laws and ensure we are compliant. We ask the ATF for guidance when we are unsure how they interpret the laws.
It’s probably hard to see the connection between silencers and the pharmacy, but medicine involves both state and federal law, and requires an extremely high level of attention to detail; the silencer process requires many of the same skills. I am fortunate to be licensed to practice pharmacy in three states, but even more fortunate to be licensed to sell silencers in 42 states.
Miniter: Silencer Central will actually thread customers’ barrels for suppressors. How does this process work, and how much does this cost?
Maddox: In our quest to removing barriers to making silencer ownership simple since 2005, we built a machine shop to thread barrels. We purchased a new CNC lathe. Our goal was to be able to accommodate high volume, to have the highest level of precision and to keep the price affordable. We average 75 rifles per day for 200 days per year.
Our contactless process has been wildly popular, especially during COVID-19. You can purchase a 360-shipping package on our website. We send you an empty gun case with return postage paid to send the rifle to us. We thread the rifle and ship it back to your front door. Threading is $79.99 and a high-end thread protector is $19.99.
Miniter: What differentiates your suppressors from competitors?
Maddox: When I first started selling silencers, I quickly realized all silencers on the market at that time were focused on the “tactical” market. I live in the middle of a prairie; tactical is cool, but not what our customers were seeking. Our customers demanded a few key things that were not available: hunter quiet, titanium light and a silencer that comes apart to clean (user-serviceable for centerfires).
Our customers were hunters; to get the additional coyote or prairie dog, it had to be quiet! This is why we focus solely on being the quietest silencer on the market. The Banish silencers are always leading the class on sound reduction. We use 100 percent titanium in our rifle silencers because weight matters.
Miniter: Suppressors are currently regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. To legally purchase or possess a suppressor you must live in an area that allows them to be sold then pay fees and wait for approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). How do you help gun owners navigate this gauntlet?
Maddox: This is what we do all day, so this has become our focused area of expertise.
Silencer Central has worked to become an expert on the state and federal laws regulating our business. We attend compliance events hosted by the ATF, we hire attorneys with expertise in firearms statutes and more.
We started working with politicians to change and enhance laws that impact our business. We learned a lot about the process to change firearm-related laws. We even helped to change several state laws impacting our business.
Silencer Central has kept educating consumers. We work hundreds of trade shows a year and, by actively educating those who come to our booth, we have become a major influencer.
Silencer Central takes ownership of the entire process. We manage the entire process from start to finish and keep the customer updated throughout the entire process. We have an entire software suite that manages the process, a process we have fine-tuned over the last 15 years.
Silencer Central offers flexible payment plans with no fees or interest. It is the concept of, “We are in the boat with you,” so we want this approved quickly as well. Silencer Central also offers to mail your silencer purchase(s) to your front door once approved. Being licensed in all 42 states where silencers are legal also provides advantages to a customer that might be moving.
Brandon Maddox is an NRA member and American Hunter reader. See for yourself how easy Silencer Central makes the process of buying a suppressor. For more information, visit silencercentral.com or call 888-781-8778.