3 Ring Silencer Review – Budget Suppressors That Work

3 Ring Silencer Corporation, based out of Tullytown, PA, offers quality suppressors that won't break your budget. Patrick Sweeney reviews a handful of models.

Like so many other American companies, 3 Ring Silencer came to make silencers by being manufacturers who liked to shoot. And, dissatisfied with the options they found, decided to make their own. That defines a large part of the suppressor industry, as silencers were neglected for a long time, put in the firearms ghetto of “not hunting enough for us good guys.”

This lead to a curious phenomenon: high costs for simple products. Oh, until modern manufacturing entered the production landscape, suppressors were simple to the point of “Really, that’s it?.” And expensive because the buyers were law enforcement (some few) and military units (with big budgets, no price pain, and a penchant for secrecy, often well needed).

You can look at some of the strange designs and simplistic parts sets of early silencers, and think “I can do better, and that’s easy to make.” And it was true.

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The 3-­Ring Silencer lineup tested for Firearms News. Left to right: the 175-­9-­556R, the 150-­9-­9P, 200-­7-­556R, 200-­12-­762R, and in front the OTB-­200-­5-­6-­556R.

And so, it was with 3 Ring Silencer Corp.


However, instead of trying to dress up the design with hi-­tech mounts, or cutting-­edge additive manufacturing technology, 3 Ring opted instead to produce a quiet, quality product, in a relatively simple design, and offer it at a price point well below the gold-­plated prices for the “silencers SEALs use” crowd.


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The flash hider or muzzle brake comes with washers to let you time the mount and lock it in place. And if your barrel just won’t cooperate, standard flat washers will also do the trick.

When we’re reading magazines about firearms or automobiles, we like to read about Ferraris, Maseratis, muscle cars, and the firearms equivalents. (To steal a line from Kelly LeBrock; “Don’t hate me because I’ve driven all those, or shot the firearms equivalents.”)

And to add to the line, 3 Ring also makes your suppressor to order, in the length and with the features you want, in two styles: standard and over-­the-­barrel.

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3-­ring makes pistol silencers, complete with boosters, in 9mm and .45. Their .22LR pistol silencers don’t have boosters because they don’t need them.

The standard is easy: it is simply a direct-­thread suppressor, with appropriate thread pitch for the caliber it is meant for, onto the 3-­Ring supplied flash hider for that caliber. Each rifle-­caliber silencer comes with a flash hider or muzzle brake for that caliber, and is the silencer mount. In 5.56 you get a choice, in 7.62, it comes as a brake. The over-­the-­barrel design is also known as a reflex design.

Here, the thread mount onto the flash hider (3 Ring doesn’t make any QD mounts or suppressors using them) is part of the way up inside of the suppressor tube. The tube volume extends to the rear cap of the tube, so you don’t lose any volume this way, just overall length.


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The 9mm silencer being put through its paces.

Well, you do lose some volume, because the barrel takes up space, but the reflex design lets you gain volume without adding a lot of extra length.

To test the 3 Ring lineup, I had them send me an array of suppressors, in 9mm, 223 and 7.62. They are, in the order in which I pulled them out of the shipping box:

  • 150-­9-­9P
  • 200-­12-­762R
  • 200-­7-­556R
  • 175-­9-­55ww6R
  • OTB-­200-­5-­6-­556R
3-Ring-Silencers-Review
If you don’t clean your rimfire or pistol suppressor, it will get gunked up like this one. 3-­Ring Silencers can all be taken apart for cleaning.

Before we go detailing each, let’s unpack the model designations that 3-­Ring uses.


Okay, the first numerical set is the diameter of the tube in inches. So, the “150” is 1.50 inches in diameter, the “200” is 2.0 inches in diameter, and so-­on. The second numerical set is the length in inches. That should be easy. Next is the caliber designation, so “9” is 9mm, “556” is 5.56, and so-­on. The model number is the collected details of the specific silencer you order. You can have them long or short (within the order parameters, don’t go asking for a two-­inch-­long silencer) skinny or fat, it is all there in the model number.

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The thread protector off of the pistol barrel, and the rear cap of the 3-­Ring silencer unscrewed, to show the booster and spring.

The “OTB” prefix indicates it is an “over the barrel” design, and that then leads us to the extra designation in-­between OTB and the caliber. The dual numbers indicate, in order, the length over the barrel, and the second the length past the barrel. So, in our test sample here, the OTB model tested has five inches over the barrel and six inches past the barrel. And the last alphanumeric detail? That tells you if it is a pistol or a rifle suppressor.

150-­9-­9P

This is a tube an inch and a half in diameter, nine inches long, made for the 9mm Parabellum, and meant for pistols. Not pistol-­caliber carbines, as they do not need a piston, and this one is piston-­equipped. All the pistol suppressors come with a piston, except for the .22 LR ones, since the latter don’t need one. The 9P sent to me is in black anodizing and weighs just under 15 ounces. The nine-­inch tube is assembled with a pair of end caps, each knurled on the rims, and unscrewing them is simplicity. Inside, the 9P has an aluminum monocore baffle stack of elegant simplicity. My hat is off to 3 Ring for making it clean, plain and simple, which holds down cost and yet does not hinder performance.

Taking a pistol-­caliber suppressor apart is important, because handguns are incredibly dirty. Even more so when they are rimfires, but you can easily get either/both so packed with powder residue and lead shavings, etc. that they don’t come apart.

The test gun was a CZ P-­10, suppressor-­ready model.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
A 7.62 rifle produces a lot more gas, because it is burning more powder and pushing a heavier bullet. So, you need a bigger silencer than a 5.56 carbine needs. Even so, a silencer built to handle a 300 RUM is bigger than a 7.62 NATO rifle needs. Quiet, though.

200-­12-­762R

This is a honking big suppressor. It has to be, if it is going to handle cartridge up to .300 RUM, which is what it is rated for. I do not own a rifle chambered in that beast, so I had to look it up. Holy frak, Batman! Based on the .404 Jeffrey cartridge, it expects to get a 200-­grain bullet up past 3,000 fps, and not by a small margin. No wonder I don’t own one, I have no need of that much wallet, shoulder and ear-­busting horsepower. And if you expect to take the steam out of such a cartridge, noise-­wise, then you need a big suppressor.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
The big boy 762 silencer, and its muzzle brake mount.

Fed just a .308 Winchester, it should be very much quieter. The baffle design of the 200 is also a simple and straight-­forward design, but with more volume (obviously) and a built-­in blast chamber to handle the uncorking of the .30 cartridges it is meant to handle. The blast chamber is stainless steel, but the sound baffle stack is aluminum, for light weight. The rear cap is threaded to fit onto the supplied muzzle brake.

Since orientation matters, the 200 (and the other rifle-­caliber suppressors) came with a set of washers, so you can torque the flash hider or muzzle brake up properly oriented.

I mounted the 200-­12 on my Armalite AR-­10 and parked a Primary Arms scope in a Geissele mount on top. I used Federal XM-­80 149-­grain-­FMJ ammo, just because it is common.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
Both the 2-­inch and the 1.75 inch 3-­Ring silencers were tested on a Colt carbine.

200-­7-­556R

The 556 “200” is your basic short, fat suppressor for those wishing to keep overall length of their ARs down as much as possible. The two-­inch diameter offers more volume than a 1.75-­inch tube would, and this also keeps the balance point from getting too far out front.

As with the other models, the aluminum and stainless steel construction keeps the weight down, along with the size, and the baffle stack (another monocore design) is easy to remove and clean. And this is interesting, because all the 3-­Ring suppressors, even the rifle ones, can be taken apart and cleaned. Many rifle suppressors are sealed, that is, welded into a single piece, and you “clean” them by running them so hot you burn out whatever residue there might be there. With the 3-­Ring you can take it apart and scrub it or ultrasonically clean it. This means that you can use a regular rifle suppressor on a rimfire and be certain that you can get it clean again. Using a sealed unit, you dare not run rimfire ammo through it because getting the gunk out isn’t easy. As above, your only option is to burn out the .22 LR residue, and if that fails, you are SOL.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
Here is the 175-­9 rifle silencer, and the flash hider that comes with it. The silencer threads onto the flash hider with the threads you see, so make sure your flash hider is locked down with Rocksett.

To test the 200, I grabbed a plain Colt M4 clone with a 16-­inch barrel out of the rack. In deference to the EOTech on it, I didn’t test it at 100 yards (that, and the 90 degrees, 90% humidity day, I didn’t feel like the trek to the 100-­yard line, again and again) so I shot it at 50 yards. The test ammo is Federal “green tip” XM-­855, something everyone probably has some of, judging by how much of it Federal has made in recent decades.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
The difference in diameters and lengths end up making them different in volume by a very small margin.

175-­9-­556R

The “175” is the other approach to making a quiet 556 suppressor: Keep it slim, and let it be as long as it needs to be. Now this can work just fine on an SBR or a pistol. And 3-­Ring tells me that they are OK with their 556 suppressors going onto barrels as short as 7.5 inches, so adding a nine-­inch suppressor onto a shortie (SBR or pistol) with an eleven-­inch barrel gets you a full-­up length the same as a full-­sized rifle. But a lot quieter.

The 175 uses the same direct-­thread-­onto-­a-­flash-­hider approach as the previous rifle suppressors, and so I simply swapped the 175 onto the same test carbine as I had used for the 200. I also did this, so I could test the sound reduction of each against the other, to see if the minor difference in volume had any effect.

For those who are math-­challenged, the potential volume difference between the 200-­7 and the 175-­9 is two and a half percent. In favor of the 200, if you care, but the difference in volume should have no apparent effect on effectiveness as a suppressor.

The 175-­9 is listed as being approved for limited full-­auto fire. Now, limited means you can’t shoot it until it is glowing red, and expect it to cool off and be like it was. If you want that, you’re going to have to expect to spend three or four times as much for a suppressor as the 3-­Ring silencers run you. OK, show of hands; how many of you have access to a select-­fire 5.56 carbine? That’s what I thought. So, it isn’t like you are giving up anything, not having the full giggle-­fest of full-­auto capability in your suppressor.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
The OTB, over the barrel, silencer keeps a carbine compact, even with a lot of internal volume.

OTB-­200-­5-­6-­556R

The over-­the-­barrel design has the threads for the mount up inside the suppressor. The part of the suppressor that hangs back over the barrel is hollow, adding expansion volume to the assembly. The only drawback I can see to this approach is if you are not careful in mounting the flash hider. (So, be careful, right?) If you do not make the flash hider tighter to the barrel than the suppressor is to the flash hider, then you could remove the silencer after a range session, only to find that the flash hider is still up in the suppressor.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
You can see how much the OTB comes back over the barrel, with the silencer next to the barrel.

In fact, since all the rifle silencers mount onto the flash hider or muzzle brake, you really should do a thorough and proper Rocksett installation with any or all of them.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
Here is the rear half of the OTB silencer taken apart, to show the barrel overhang, and the area you can clean, when you need to.

My suggestion is that after you figure out what shim you need to properly time the flash hider (If you care) you properly and diligently degrease the threads on the barrel and the flash hider, use Rocksett, and let it cure for the recommended 24 hours.

An interesting detail on the 3-­ring OTB, the rear half of the silencer assembly can be removed, separately from the rest of it. This allows you to clean the expansion chamber there and scrub out the gunk that collects.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
An alignment check, on the 200 and 175 556 silencers, both produced perfect alignment.

As a change of pace, and to see how the 3-­Ring suppressors (well, this one) performed with a piston-­driven carbine, I pulled a “project” gun out of the rack. It is an assembly of carbine parts, with a 16-­inch barrel, and an Adams Arms piston installed on top. I built it up a decade ago, and it was part of the abuse tests I did back then. It functioned properly after being buried, dunked in water, had the piston system doused with 10W30 oil and had sand poured on it, nothing kept it from working.

So, into the war wagon it went, and off to the range.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
As with the others, the 762 silencer alignment was perfect.

Testing

Testing was simple. I checked zero for each rifle, and then shot a group for record. I then installed the suppressor and after checking for proper alignment, re-­shot a group, to see if there was a shift in point of impact. To no great surprise, there was not. It has been a long time since silencer makers were making cans that shifted point of impact. I always check for alignment, just because it is better to find out the easy way, than finding out the hard way. Then it was time to set up the Larson-­Davis sound meter, and record decibels for un-­suppressed and suppressed shots.

I tested the 200-­7 and the 175-­9 on the Colt, to see how they compared to each other. I also put the 200-­7 on the piston gun, (and shot it bare for a baseline as well) to see if DI or piston had an effect of sound levels.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
The 762 muzzle brake in place, ready for the silencer mounting.

The interesting thing about the 200-­7 vs. the 175-­9 test was that while the decibel levels did not differ in any meaningful way, the sound sounded … different. There was a qualitative difference in the sound, with the 175-­9 having a burp that was lower in register than the 200-­7. You had to listen for it, and if the guys on ranges on either side of me were shooting, I couldn’t tell if there was a difference. But given a quiet period, and quickly swapping from one to the other, I could hear something.

The dual-­cap design, with each cap threaded into the tube, makes for an involved assembly. This is not unique to 3-­Ring. You hand-­tighten everything on, and then shoot a few rounds, and the suppressor feels loose. What’s up? Simple: the expansion heat has made the fit a bit loose. So, you simply wear a glove or use a heat pad, shoot half a dozen rounds, and then re-­tighten everything. This will keep the fit tight through the rest of your shooting.

Of course, when it cools, everything will be gorilla-­tight. You might have to end the session by firing a half a dozen rounds to warm up the tube, just so you can unscrew it to take it all home.

3-Ring-Silencers-Review
With a 3-­Ring Silencer suppressor, you can afford a whole lot of practice ammo. Practice ammo is good, and you will be a much better shooter if you shoot, instead of just brag about your mondo-­expensive silencer.

Ordering

OK, first, pick rifle or pistol. That’s easy, as you either go “R” or “P”. Oh, wait, there’s also the shotgun series. 12 gauge, and you get to pick diameter and length, but have to specify what the thread pattern is for the silencer to screw into. I had enough work to do with the rifle and pistol silencers tested, I’ll leave the shotgun tests for a later time.

Pistol, you pick 22LR, 9mm or .45, and the diameter and length.

For rifle, you have to pick regular or OTB, then 5.56 or 7.62 (there is also a .50 BMG option) and then select diameter and length.

I pored over the order data, and came up with 63 different combinations of caliber, diameter and length. And since you can have your 3-­Ring Silencer in anodized black or silver, that means well over 100 choices. And there is always the option of paint, should you want something other than black or silver.

The basic 3-­Ring Silencer runs $395, and the “expensive” ones are all of $495. Oh wait, there’s the .50 BMG silencer, which runs $ 1,795. This is simply because the .50 BMG is such a beast. The “short” silencer here is ten inches, on a tube 2.75 inches in diameter, and you can go up to sixteen inches.

The latest calibers 3-­ring is handling include the .300 Blackout and .338 Lapua Magnum, and I can’t imagine 3-­ring is neglecting the various 6.5 offerings as well. Sometimes it is hard to keep up, but they certainly doing all they can.

Everything is made right here in the USA, in Tullytown, PA.

Half a lifetime ago, I drove various Ford sedans during the week. On the weekends, I drove and street-­raced a slew of expensive, high-­performance cars, stuff people gushed over and lusted after when they saw them. I didn’t own any of them. The sedans were leased from Ford, and the racers were checked out of the Ford test-­pool.

When I finally had to reach into my own pocket and buy a set of wheels, it was for one of the least-­expensive cars Ford made. It fit my budget, and it wasn’t going to get lusted after. Well, the 3-­Ring silencer line of suppressors does the same thing. They will fit your budget. After all, you can buy a 3-­Ring silencer, and with the money left that could have gotten you “a silencer like the ones SEALs use” you’ll have 2–­3,000 rounds of practice ammo. Now that’s a deal.

Decibel Meter Testing

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The human ear can distinguish about a 3 dB difference in volume. So the 2.7 dB difference between the two silencers might account for the difference in tone, or the different internal shapes mght be shifting the frequencies.
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Clearly, a piston system, bare, is no different n sound than a DI carbine. The 200-7 and the OTB are a decibel apart in noise reduction, not a real difference, but the OTB is shorter overall.
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The 115 FMJ is still supersonic out of the 150-9-9P, and that accounts for the slightly higher decibel reading. To get the full effect of a pistol silencer, you need to use subsonic ammo, but many shooters depend greatly on plain old 115 FMJs.
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A big silencer is going to tame a moderate cartridge like the 762 NATO, even out of a carbine-­length barrel.

3-­Ring Silencer Model 150-­9-­9P Specs

  • OAL: 9 in.
  • Diameter: 1.5 in.
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
  • Weight: 14.7 oz
  • Finish: Anodized aluminum
  • Calibers available: 9mm lesser calibers
  • Full-­auto rated: No
  • Mount system available: Booster
  • MSRP: $395

3-­Ring Silencer Model 200-­7-­556R Specs

  • OAL: 7 in.
  • Diameter: 2.0 in.
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
  • Weight: 20 oz.
  • Finish: Anodized aluminum
  • Calibers available: Up to 5.56
  • Full-­auto rated: No
  • Mount system available: Direct thread to flash hider
  • MSRP: $395

3-­Ring Silencer Model 200-­12-­762R Specs

  • OAL: 12 in.
  • Diameter: 2.0 in.
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
  • Weight: 33.6 oz
  • Finish: Anodized aluminum
  • Calibers available: .17 rimfire to .300 RUM
  • Full-­auto rated: No
  • Mount system available: Direct thread, muzzle brake mount
  • MSRP: $395

3-­Ring Silencer Model 175-­9-­556R Specs

  • OAL: 9 in.
  • Diameter: 1.75 in.
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
  • Weight: 18.6 oz
  • Finish: Anodized aluminum
  • Calibers available: Up to 5.56
  • Full-­auto rated: No
  • Mount system available: Direct thread to flash hider
  • MSRP: $495

3-­Ring Silencer Model OTB-­200-­5-­6-­556R Specs

  • OAL: 11.5 in.
  • Diameter: 2.0 in.
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
  • Weight: 27.1 oz
  • Finish: Anodized aluminum
  • Calibers available: Up to 5.56
  • Full-­auto rated: No
  • Mount system available: Direct thread to flash hider
  • MSRP: $495

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