Most people have seen suppressors in movies. Some people have seen or held an actual suppressor. Even fewer have actually shot a suppressed gun.
As such, there’s a bit of confusion about what suppressors actually sound like, and what they’re used for.
We’ll clear that up real quick before we get into our coverage of the best AR 15 suppressors in 2020.
First, the sound. Real suppressors sound much different in real life than they do in the movies. A suppressor doesn’t make your gun silent. A suppressor just reduces the sound enough that you can safely shoot without hearing protection.
However, it’s still loud. And, you must use subsonic ammunition to guarantee that it’s quiet enough to be safe without protecting your ears.
Second, suppressors have a very legitimate utility for civilians: home defense. Shooting a gun inside a house is super loud. And if you need to hop out of bed in your underwear to grab your gun, you probably won’t grab your earplugs.
Using a suppressor on your home defense gun enables you to defend your home and your family with a firearm without losing your hearing.
Suppressors are also handy for hunting. However, concealing your position may not be as important as protecting your and your family’s hearing (but put a suppressor on your hunting rifle anyway).
So, it’s totally reasonable to buy a suppressor, even if you’re not a stealth assassin.
With that out of the way, if you’re ready to buy a suppressor for your carbine right now, grab the SilencerCo Specwar 556 Suppressor. The sound reduction is excellent (we’ll show you how much in the full review), and the price is hard to beat.
If you’re still weighing your options, keep reading. We’ll help you decide.
The Top AR-15 Suppressors Today
Top 7 Best AR 15 Suppressor Reviews (Updated 2020)
Here the top suppressors which you should consider buying today:
- SilencerCo Specwar 556 - Best Overall AR-15 Suppressor
- Advanced Armament 556-SD - Best Budget Suppressor
- Advanced Armament SR5 - Best Value Suppressor
- SilencerCo Omega - Best for Multi-Caliber Shooting
- SilencerCo Saker 556 - Versatile Suppressor
- Surefire SOCOM 556 Mini 2 - Compact Suppressor
- Operators Suppressor Systems HELIX 5.56 - Best High-End Suppressor
As usual, we’ll kick things off with our winner, and move on in order of price. The most affordable suppressors at at the top. Scroll down for the pricier offerings.
As a note: noise reduction numbers are not available for every suppressor. If we have it, we’ll include it.
1. SilencerCo Specwar 556 - Best Overall AR-15 Suppressor
The primary mission of a suppressor is to reduce the report when you fire your rifle. That’s where the SilencerCo Specwar 556 Suppressor really excels. That’s why we like it so much.
In testing, this suppressor reduced gunshot noise by 33.9 decibels, on average. It’s not the best, but it’s close. Just 3 decibels behind the leader.
And, considering that this is one of the most affordable suppressors on the market, this suppressor is an excellent piece of gear.
Additionally, it features SilencerCo’s unique Active Spring Retention system for quick attachment and removal.
SilencerCo also builds this model using their TrueBore manufacturing process, which ensures near perfect bore alignment.
So, this silencer has very little effect on your rifle’s accuracy.
It would be nice if this were a multi-caliber suppressor. But, 5.56mm and .223 only.
The only other (minor) complaint about this suppressor is that it’s rather plain. If you’re into the simple cylinder aesthetics, it’s fine. But, if you want a suppressor that matches your mean looking carbine, this one might not be your style.
However, the performance is there. This is easily the best suppressor if you consider both the noise reduction and the price.
2. Advanced Armament 556-SD - Budget Suppressor
Suppressors are a fairly pricey muzzle device. So, saying “budget suppressor” might be a bit of an oxymoron. However, the Advanced Armament 556-SD Suppressor is a great deal, and it offers solid performance.
The noise reduction averages 31 decibels, which is respectable. Just a few decibels behind the most effective suppressor in this article, and a few hundred dollars easier on your wallet.
This model uses the 51T Ratchet Mount system. This makes for fast attachment and removal.
The baffles are wrapped in a nice can, with some decent aesthetic touches, and a rounded off muzzle for easier handling.
This suppressor is also rated for fully automatic fire, which is impressive, given the price point.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a multi-caliber suppressor. However, Advanced Armament does offer a 7.62 NATO variant, which can be used as a multi-caliber suppressor for smaller rounds like 5.56mm/.223 and .300 Blackout.
But, the performance and price point make this an excellent suppressor for the shooter who wants solid sound suppression for less than the cost of a new rifle.
3. Advanced Armament SR5 - Value Suppressor
The Advanced Armament SR5 Suppressor trades a bit of affordability for better performance. It’s essentially an upgraded version of the 556-SD.
This model bumps the noise reduction as high as 34 decibels. That places it in the top 3 highest performing suppressors in this article.
Given that it only costs about half as much as the most expensive suppressor, this model offers some of the best value on the market.
Additionally, this suppressor is equipped with a 90-tooth ratcheting quick attachment system that enables shooters to attach and remove this suppressor in just a few seconds.
The attachment systems also offers excellent bore alignment. So, this suppressor has a very minimal impact on your rifle’s accuracy.
It’s only a single-caliber suppressor. However, there is a 7.62 NATO model that handles multiple calibers.
But, the aesthetics are clean, with a utilitarian touch.
But, overall, the noise-reduction-per-dollar is what makes this model a standout in our book.
4. SilencerCo Omega - Multi-Caliber Suppressor
Yes, we’ve offer the 7.62 NATO variants as multi-caliber options. However, larger caliber suppressors only work with smaller rounds because the bore is big enough for the bullet to pass through (heads up: it doesn’t work the other way around!). The SilencerCo Omega Suppressor is designed to be truly multi-caliber.
This suppressor works on cartridges from 5.56mm to 7.62 NATO and 300 Winchester Magnum. And the sound suppression with 5.56mm rounds is outstanding. This suppressor offers 36.9 decibels of noise reduction. It’s the most effective suppressor in this article.
It’s also equipped with a muzzle brake to aid with recoil reduction. The muzzle brake isn’t as effective as a dedicated muzzle brake. But, it helps.
This model features SilencerCo’s Active Spring Retention system for quick attachment and removal.
It also comes with the Specwar ASR muzzle brake to help with recoil reduction when you’re shooting unsuppressed.
As if all this weren’t enough. This is also a fully-auto rated suppressor. For those that have an FFL.
The performance and features are nice. However, it takes a bit of space to get everything in. So, this isn’t the most compact suppressor. At 7 inches, it runs about an inch longer than the average 5.56mm suppressor.
Also, there are complete AR-15 rifles that cost less than this suppressor. So, you’ve gotta pay to play.
But, it’s an outstanding suppressor for any shooter who prioritizes sound suppression over everything else, even if you’re only shooting one caliber.
5. SilencerCo Saker 556 - Versatile Suppressor
Who says you can only use one muzzle device at a time? The SilencerCo Saker 556 Suppressor is designed to offer sound suppression without giving up the benefit of your other muzzle devices.
First, this model reduces noise by 33 decibels, which is solid performance for any suppressor.
However, the muzzle end cap is interchangeable. So, you can add an integrated muzzle brake or flash hider, if that’s what you’re into.
The MAAD mounting system offers quick attachment and detachment capabilities. The mounting system is compatible with the Trifecta muzzle brake and the Trifecta flash hider. However, only the Trifecta flash hider is included with the suppressor.
This model is rated for full-auto fire. So, it’ll easily hold up to semi-auto rapid fire.
Additionally, the aesthetics are excellent. The lines are clean, and the checkering in the middle of the body also helps you grip and twist the suppressor.
As is becoming the trend at this end of the spectrum, this suppressor is also pretty pricey. It’s an excellent silencer. But, you pay for the performance.
Even at this price, this is an excellent suppressor for those who want sound suppression without compromising on overall performance.
6. Surefire SOCOM 556 Mini 2 - Compact Suppressor
Compact suppressors are excellent for short-barreled rifles and CQB carbines where maneuverability in tight spaces is important. The Surefire SOCOM 556 Mini 2 Suppressor is a super compact suppressor that’s based on the Surefire suppressor that was tested and adopted by the U.S. SOCOM command in 2015.
There’s no documentation on how much noise reduction this suppressor actually provides. But, compact suppressors don’t reduce noise as much as full-size suppressors. So, it’s likely that this model doesn’t perform as its larger brethren.
Some say that this silencer doesn’t reduce the sound enough to be hearing safe without hearing protection. However, these reports are unverified. Just know that this suppressor will make your rifle much quieter. Just not as quiet as a full-size can.
On the bright side, it comes it at just 5 inches in total length. If you have an SBR, you could easily add this suppressor without turning your SBR into a standard carbine.
This suppressor is equipped with a fast-attach system for quick attachment and removal. Additionally, the attachment system is compatible with the Surefire SOCOM 3-prong flash hider, the Surefire SOCOM muzzle brake, and the Surefire WARCOMP flash hider.
Attaching the suppressor to a Surefire muzzle device also improves the bore alignment. So, your suppressor only minimally affects your rifle’s point of impact.
Last thing: the price point for this suppressor is fairly high. So, it’s best for shooters who really prioritize keeping their rifle compact.
7. Operators Suppressor Systems HELIX 5.56 - High-End Suppressor
One of the troubles with suppressors is blowback. Many suppressors vent gas toward the shooter. The Operators Suppressor Systems HELIX 5.56 is designed to solve that issue.
First, the sound suppression on this one is excellent. This model offers 35 decibels of noise reduction. Not quite at the top of the heap, but close.
The flush mount system regulates backpressure and vents gas away from the shooter. So, you get less blowback in your face.
Additionally, the IFM6 construction reduces heat buildup and expels carbon to reduce the need for cleaning. This increases the service life and makes for easier handling after shooting.
The mounting system is a traditional thread, which isn’t as fast as competing quick detach systems.
However, the included STS Muzzle Brake features self-tightening threads, which make it impossible for your suppressor to loosen as you shoot.
There’s no hiding this part: this suppressor from Operators Suppressor Systems is expensive.
However, this is a great option for those who use an optic or a short-barreled rifle, since you’ll get less carbon fouling on your lenses and on your face.
That’s our short list of suppressors. If you use a carbine for home defense, a suppressor is a smart investment for you and your family—especially if you use a short-barreled rifle. SBRs are loud.
If you want a suppressor that just works, and won’t drain your bank account, get the SilencerCo Specwar 556 Suppressor. The performance and price combo is top notch.
That’s how you protect your hearing while you protect your home. So, get a suppressor, and keep things quiet.
James Miller is a defensive firearms coach, certified through the ICE Training Company. He teaches Intuitive Defensive Shooting fundamentals and tactics to shooters of all skill levels. He lives, writes, and skis in Reno, Nevada.