As everyone else seems to be jumping onto the juicy details and videos in the ongoing debate [exaggeration] involving OSS and the company that starts with an ‘S’ but isn’t Silencer Co.
As someone who actually likes the technical side of things, the OSS design intrigues me. Potentially less gasses returning to the shooter, a baffle less design based on radically new ideas, and so on. Even their latest stuff seems to have abandoned aluminum and steel to go for stainless steel and ‘Cobalt’. That seems a little odd, Cobalt is technically the main part of Stellite, but they don’t say Stellite. Silencer Co says they use Stellite, some other places say they use Inconel, and in both cases it’s not unknown which are the most likely alloys used. It’s not really a super top secret which metal is used, the properties and spec sheets are easily found, and cross referencing the requirements of the silencer to the metal information sheet will pretty easily give you a few possible choices. It’s interesting then that OSS doesn’t even slightly narrow it down to a family of stainless alloys or what Cobalt alloy they are using. Did they not get permission to use the Stellite name?
Flow through suppression; now that is a cool concept. Give an expanding gas path that redirects the flow without truly capturing it in the way baffles seem like they would. It’s like the exhaust side of a gas turbine engine, but without moving parts. Surely, with all the firearm innovations that have happened, someone has tried this or a variation of it before, right? Is the OSS that radically new of an idea that came completely out of nowhere?
The short answer is “probably not”. There have been some interesting designs, namely ball and flap suppressor ends that would seal off the silencer while pressure drops while still letting the bullet exit. Then there was the Kitzmann gas tong design that used… well, tongs to seal off the suppressor. Lock the gasses inside it and let them expand in a controlled direction and you’d reduce bolt velocity and gas blowback and various other things, in theory it’s a functional idea. If someone invented valves to make shots quieter, surely someone made what is functionally a helical baffle, right?
Brugger + Thomet and KAC both had helical baffle designs in the 90’s, but as you may note, neither does anymore. The newest B+T VP9 still uses wipes, and those are not exactly new or revolutionary compared to stamped metal baffles. What if we look at something that is not a Welrod in disguise? In that case, we end up at SIONICS, and a little suppressor called the ‘M14SS’ and their later ‘MAW-A1’. Anyone thinking the model numbers of those have something to due with the rifles they were for, you’re spot on. What if I then told you it had helical baffling that was replaceable, was rated for full auto fire and early models had a pressure valve to vent the gas in a specific direction? Well, they did, and they are amazing for their time. If anything, SIONICS seems to have developed the prototype of what OSS refined and made it functional. It’s a shame how unknown they seem, even in car circles at least people know of Turbonique; although the metaphor breaks down in SIONICS seems sane, just revolutionary. MAC-10, 10/22, M14, M16 and many more variants made, and SIONICS is barely known. Perhaps some old collector has a stash, and is waiting a few more years to make a killing on selling them.
And yet, we still use baffles and in a design that remains relatively unchanged. Apart from the occasional monoblock CNC design or oil filter, most of the companies are sticking with baffles. It will be interesting when (if) OSS starts shipping how they truly compare. Maybe this time a helical/flow through design will work. Maybe there is a reason several companies tried and abandoned it. Maybe those companies spent too much money on product development instead of just convincing people their stuff was the greatest ever.