Last week, SilencerCo dropped a tantalizing video, showing off their next product: the muzzleloading Maxim 50, a unique weapon that circumvents all suppressor legislation, making it suitable for a simple purchase in all 50 states.
The company is no stranger to suppressed weapons; the 50 will go to retail alongside the Maxim 9 integrally suppressed pistol. But the 50 is special in its own right: SilencerCo claims that “The Maxim 50 is 100% legal for civilian ownership in all 50 states” and also provides “hearing-saving suppression at a reasonable price point.” SilencerCo achieved this by exploiting a legal loophole in how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defines suppressors.
Like machine-guns and short-barrel shotguns, suppressors are “NFA weapons,” with their purchase and possession highly regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act. The BATFE definition states that a silencer or suppressor is a “device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm…” As a result, a suppressor is only a suppressor if it’s fitted to a firearm.
The Maxim 50 is a muzzleloader — a weapon that the BATFE does not consider to be a firearm. All muzzleloaders, regardless of whether they were made in 1780 or 2017, are classified as “antique firearms.” The Maxim 50 can be purchased direct online with no regulations: no 4473 form, tax stamp, photographs or fingerprints have to be supplied and processed. That also means no months-long wait for the BATFE to process your paperwork.
The Utah-based company has been working on the project for several years now, partnering with Traditions Firearms to fulfill their dream of a firearm-and-suppressor combination unregulated by the NFA. “It took a lot of creativity to arrive at this solution, we have been working on this product for three years,” Josh Waldron, SilencerCo’s CEO, said in a press release. Waldron added that most of this time was spent waiting for a ruling from the BATFE on how the federal agency would classify the Maxim 50.
The Maxim 50 is based on the Traditions Vortek Strikerfire Muzzleloader. The Vortek Strikefire is a modern sporting muzzleloader that doesn’t use flint or percussion locks for ignition. Instead, the weapon has a break action that allows a primer to be placed at the rear of the rifle. A striker is then cocked, and the weapon is ready to fire.
If you’re wondering exactly how such a modern muzzle-loading rifle works, here’s a video from Traditions Firearms explaining how to load and fire one of their break-action muzzleloaders — using the same principles as the new Maxim 50:
The Maxim 50’s suppressor is pinned onto the barrel and can’t be removed. One downside to this is that it appears there’s no room to store a ramrod below the barrel. It also remains to be seen how the suppressor will cope with the dirt and carbon caused by black-powder firing, and how the weapon will be cleaned. Muzzleloaders also use sabots, small pieces of card or plastic that help bullets engage with rifling. These leave the barrel as debris, and it remains to be see how the Maxim 50’s suppressor will cope with these, as it uses a traditional baffle system.
SilencerCo hopes for the muzzleloader hunting market to snatch up a quiet weapon that can be used without excessive ear protection. The company also claims that the Maxim 50’s suppressor will reduce the smoke produced from firing by up to 60%. This should allow hunters to keep their eyes on game. Most importantly, though, the Maxim 50 finally enables residents of regulation-heavy states like California, Illinois, and New York to own a firearm with a suppressor.
While not everyone might be into black-powder muzzleloader-shooting, the ability to own a suppressor without having the pay the mandatory $200 NFA tax stamp might well change the minds of plenty of hunters and hobbyists across the country.