The silencer, range time, and metering equipment for this review were provided by Capitol Armory based in Cedar Park, Texas
Last month, I published a review of Dead Air’s Sandman S. As I alluded to in that review, Dead Air made their initial offering to the market with a series of .30 caliber silencers. Instead of offering a modular silencer, a trend that seems to be all the rage these days, Dead Air chose to release a direct thread model made of titanium, and a set of quick detach stainless steel silencers available in either a short or long configuration. This review focuses on the long version of the Sandman quick detach series.
Torrey spends a lot of time shooting and abusing silencers, and has found the Sandman series of silencers to be robust. As TTAG doesn’t have its own FFL, we don’t get to test silencers for long term durability unless we go through the arduous process of buying them outright, so second hand information is valuable. At the time of our test, Torrey had just returned from a machine gun shoot where he’d put the Dead Air silencers, along with quite a few others, through their paces. The L model shows the telltale color changes to indicate that it had been run hard.
Given their all-steel construction, the Sandman series is built like a tank. The baffles on both the Sandman S and L are constructed completely of Stellite while the outer tube is made of precipitation hardened Stainless Steel. Like the Sandman S, the L model is no flyweight owing to its all steel construction, and longer length.
Dead Air claims the L model weighs 21.8 oz, 3.3 oz more than the S model. My scale had it as 23.55 oz, where the S model has been at 18.6 oz. The outer tube is the exact same size, but as the name would suggest, the L model is 8.9 inches versus 6.8 inches for the S model. The muzzle devices add a few ounces as well, so call the whole package ~25 oz. As the S model did, the L model fundamentally changes the balance of whatever rifle you’re putting it on. Not surprising given that screwing the L model to the end adds another 1/3 of a pound and two inches to the deal. This is less of an issue on a shorter gun like a SBR 300 BLK, but on the end of a twenty two to twenty six inch precision rifle barrel, it starts to matter.
Like the S model, the L uses the exact same keymount brake attach system that locks the silencer up against a tapered shoulder. This is the industry standard for ensuring that the silencer hanging off the end of the muzzle doesn’t seriously affect accuracy and that any point of impact shift is repeatable. As I’d mentioned on the other review, this system allows for a full length rail over the silencer on something like a short barreled AR 15. Unlike the 51T mount on AAC’s silencers, there’s no secondary latch to goof with when you want to remove the silencer. Simply twist it counter clockwise to disengage the lock, and pull it off the end.
As I did with the S model, I tested point of impact shift by affixing the Sandman to Bergara’s LRP Elite in 6.5 Creedmoor. I shot a five round group without the silencer, torqued the silencer as tight as I could, shot another five round group, and then removed and reinstalled it with a less superhuman level of strength, and shot one more five shot group. The targets are below.
As you can see, I yanked one right off the side on my first shot of the day, making it a 1.12 MOA five shot group or a .36 MOA four shot group. I elected to kick out the called flier for the purposes of testing. I had every intention of shooting a better target without the silencer, but Texas’ famously fickle spring weather popped up, and our range day was cut short by rain. Unfortunately, I had to work with what I had. Below are the group sizes and their location from the point of aim (the bottom of the 1 inch circle).
There are three things I’m very interested in when it comes to screwing a silencer to the end of a rifle. The first is the effect on the accuracy of the rifle. There’s no point in spending big money on a precision rifle if screwing a can to the end makes it shoot like a cheap Wally World special. The second thing I look for is change in the point of impact from a bare muzzle. There’s no getting around the fact that adding a weight to the end of the barrel will cause the barrel to “bow” ever so slightly causing the shots to hit low. This is magnified by usage on thinner, “whippier” barrels. The last thing I look for, and one that is tied to the second very closely is to see if any change in point of impact is repeatable with removal and installation. Given the cost and paperwork associated with acquiring a silencer, it will likely be doing double (or triple) duty on multiple rifles. Point of impact shift doesn’t have to be bad if you can reliably be compensated for it.
Based on my testing at 100 yards, it was immediately apparent that I had a bad day of shooting. Where I kept most of the groups for the LRP in the ~.7 MOA range, I naturally pulled one on the second group with the L model in place, opening my five shot maximum spread to .995 MOA. What was also apparent was that the L model seemed to shift the groups about the same as the S model. My testing of the S model showed that it shifted point of impact down by 1.94 MOA. the L model only moved it 1.74 MOA. It an interesting anomaly, and goes to show that sometimes what you expect to happen doesn’t. These results will vary gun to gun, so if you’re planning on shooting with a silencer, be sure to know what sort of point of impact shift you can expect in real world conditions.
The difference in accuracy between my silenced groups was .34 MOA, quite a bit more than I saw with the S model (.09 MOA), but that was all due to the trigger puller. As you can see in the table above, there is a distinct amount of shift between running a bare muzzle or the Sandman L on the end, but it seems to be very repeatable and falls within the background noise of group size.
For sound testing, Torrey and I used a yet to be reviewed FN SPR in .308 WIN fitted with a twenty four inch barrel. We shot Federal Gold Medal 168 gr. to ensure consistency. The testing was done with Capitol Armory’s sound metering gear used for their series of review videos.
I mentioned that it was raining during a portion of our test, so it should come as no surprise that when I recorded our environmental data for the test using a Kestrel Sportsman, the humidity was pegged at 100%. Barometric pressure was 28.39 in Hg, and the temperature was 68.5 degrees. Unsuppressed, the 24″ FN turned in a reading of 172.8 dB.
With the L model affixed to the end, that number was brought down to 136 dB on average. The loudest shot was the last one at 138.4 and the quietest was the first at 135.4 dB. That is a 36 dB reduction, six more dB than the S model produced off the exact same rifle in almost identical weather using ammo from the same lot. While we can never recommend firing a rifle without hearing protection, I did find it to be relatively comfortable to fire sans ear plugs on both the 6.5 Creedmoor chambered LRP and the .308 WIN chambered SPR. Without firing two identical rifle back to back, one with the S and one with the L, I had a hard time distinguishing the sound between the two. Six decibels is nothing to sneeze at, but I was hard pressed to find a big difference between the two.
As I did with the S model, I hooked up a MagnetoSpeed chronograph to the end to see if there was any change in muzzle velocity between silenced and bare muzzle. I found an ~18 fps drop in velocity with the can affixed. Without the silencer, a five shot string of the same Federal Gold Medal turned in an average velocity of 2629 fps with a SD of 10.7. With the Sandman L screwed to the end, a similar five shot string dropped to 2611 fps on average with a SD of 7.4.
Specifications: Dead Air Sandman S
Rating: Multi – Up to .300 Win Mag
Min. Barrel Length: No Restrictions
Weight: 21.8 oz (advertised) – actual was 23.55 oz
Finish: Cerakote body, nitrided muzzle device
Muzzle Devices: 1/2″-28 or 5/8″-24 flash hider or muzzle brake – $85 each
MSRP: $1,199 ($965 through Capitol Armory)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ratings (out of fiver stars):
Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
Like the S model I tested, the L model clearly hadn’t been babied, something that Torrey from Capitol Armory confirmed. They’ve run this silencer on machine guns, 300 Win Mags, and everything else under the sun. It’s certainly scuffed and nicked, but built like a tank, and the CA crew indicates that they’ve never had any issues with the mounting system coming loose or breaking on their cans or their customers’.
Point of Impact Shift * * * * *
Given how heavy this silencer is, some point of impact shift is to be expected. I expected that the extra ounces of the L model would have more of an effect on point of impact shift than the lighter S model, but real world testing did not bear that out. My holds for 600 yards were identical between the S and L models. As I’d mentioned in my review, the shift was so predictable that I could take a five shots at 600, screw the S off, put the L on, and fire five more without any misses.
Sound Suppression * * * * *
The L model dropped another 6 dB off what the S model was able to produce showing that the extra weight and length does materially impact sound performance. To my calibrated ear, the sound on both the .308 and the 6.5 Creedmoor was definitely tolerable without hearing protection, both as the shooter and as a spotter. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Sandman L out on a hunt while leaving my ear plugs behind.
Modularity * * * * *
While we’d all love to have the ability to own a silencer for each gun in the safe, the truth is that silencers are expensive and the paperwork and wait time make them onerous to acquire. So a silencer will be used across multiple guns and needs to be as versatile as possible. The S model from Dead Air has the ability to work on 5/8″-24 and 1/2″-28 threaded muzzles thanks to the quick detach brake system, and further sound moderation can be had on 5.56 guns thanks to the replaceable end cap with a smaller aperture that is available for $55.
Overall * * * * *
If you value rock solid lockup with hell-and-back durability, you’d be hard pressed to find a better platform than the Sandman series. If you’re looking for maximum sound suppression, the L model is the all-star standout in the lineup at the cost of a little more length and weight. As I’m a guy willing to deal with a bit more noise for better maneuverability in vehicles and blinds, and less weight, for me the L model will always play second fiddle to the shorter, lighter S model. That said, if you’re looking to tame down some subsonic 300 BLK ammo, this would probably work very well. Either way, it doesn’t fundamentally affect accuracy, and it showed off repeatable point of impact shift. Stout, full auto rated, and capable of taming .308 WIN down to the mid 130 dB range, the Sandman L is an impressive silencer.