April 28, 2020
By Patrick Sweeney
Okay, when pistol suppressors come up as a subject of discussion, we almost always hear about 9mm, but not the .45. Why? Part of that is due to the owners. The owners of the host firearms, that is. Someone with a steamer trunk full of 9mm polymer-framed pistols is going to be buying 9mm suppressors. It is mostly the old guys who stick with .45, and old guys apparently don’t have beards, ink, or suppressors. (I had a beard before people associated it with tactical. I’m not getting ink/tattoos. I have .45 suppressors.) But a properly-built .45 suppressor can do things a 9mm suppressor cannot.
The Rugged Suppressors Obsidian is a .45 ACP silencer, but it is built for more than just the slow, fat product of American pistol technology of the Edwardian Era.
The baffle stack is composed of a design I call “funnel” or “cone.” The traditional or historical baffles are usually called the “K” and “M” designs, where the cross-section of each looks like the letter naming them. The funnel design is just that, a cylindrical section that is the tube-bearing portion, and then a funnel or cone to the gas diverter. The Rugged Obsidian baffles also have a notch machined into the clearance hole. This is to generate turbulence in the gas flow, and keep it from simply squirting out behind the bullet. By slowing gases you decrease decibels.
The baffle stack is composed of a stack of these individual coned baffles, made of 17-4 stainless steel. Each baffle has a pair of flat milled into the clipping edge, and a matching machine step on the inside of the next, so you can only assemble them in the correct orientation.
The baffles, CNC machined from bar stock, are fitted tightly enough that the amount of gas and carbon debris that gets out of the baffle stack, and subsequently between the stack and the tube, is minimized. I’ve had baffles that didn’t do that on other tubes, and if you shot them too much without regular cleaning, you needed a sturdy dowel and a hammer to get the stack out of the tube. Not so, Rugged Obsidian.
The tube is hard-anodized aluminum, and the exterior is given a matte black Cerakote finish. With all of the baffle stack assembled, and both tube segments screwed together, the full assembly, ready for pistol use, tips the scales at just over twelve and a half ounces. “All the baffle stack?” “Both tube segments?” “What kind of crazy talk are you giving us, Sweeney?” Simple. The Obsidian is an adaptable beast. You can assemble the whole thing, both tubes and all baffles, and have the full effect of its suppression, plus the weight. Or you can take the front assembly off (put the front cap back on) and have a lighter suppressor.
Yes, that will be a bit louder, but this means you have choices. The Obsidian, for those times when it will be going on a pistol, has to have a booster. This permits the pistol to work even when there are twelve ounces of extra weight hanging off of the muzzle. Boosters are also a source of blowback. The system has to slide, there are gaps, and booster pistons are often slotted as well. The slots allow for blowback. Obsidian uses a non-slotted piston, and as a result they assert there is much less gas and debris blown back your way.
Then Rugged goes and does something eye-opening. The mount for the Obsidian is machined from 17-4 stainless, like the baffles. And then Rugged engraves the serial number of the Obsidian across the mount, at the thickest and thus sturdiest part. What does this mean? It means the tube isn’t the suppressor. The mount is. If your tube gets damaged, you can easily have it replaced or repaired. The mount is the controlled item. Also, the tube, being aluminum, is the weaker of the two, tube and mount. If you are going to get ham-handed and cross-thread something it is mostly likely going to be the tube. (Good luck trying to cross-thread hardened 17-4 stainless, using an aluminum tube). In the times I’ve used it, and in photographing it I had noticed the name and serial number, but hadn’t thought of the ramifications. Thank you, Rugged.
That reminds me of a description of engineering practice. A savvy American car designer will make a ball joint where the difficult-to-replace part is the best possible steel, and the easy-to-replace part is common steel. When it wears out in 75,000 miles, it is a $500 fix. A Japanese designer will make both parts out of the best possible steel, and it will last 150,000 miles, but cost $4,000 to replace. The German designer will design it to have seven parts, none of which can be purchased individually. The Italian designer will make it out of whatever steel is available, simply install zerk fittings and tell you to lube it every 500 miles.
The Rugged Obsidian is clearly an American approach. And as if that wasn’t enough, the mount is compatible with the Rugged Obsidian 9. So those pistons, fixed mounts barrel spacers and 3-lug mounts will all snug with the Obsidian .45. This all sounds too good to be true, but there’s more. The Obsidian is full-auto rated. Now, there are caveats. I mean, you aren’t going to find any love if you somehow fit this to your select-fire SCAR SBR and thrash it to flinders. But within the expected limits, you can buzz for fun.
The Obsidian .45 is rated, obviously for .45 ACP. That, and any lesser/smaller pistol calibers, you’re good as gold. So if you want to put your Obsidian .45 on a 9mm subgun and have fun, well, have fun. You can also do the same with .300 Blackout, provided you shoot subsonic and the barrel is eight inches or more. I said there were limits. If you want more caliber coverage than that, you’ll have to pay the weight penalty, and go massively over twelve ounces.
.450 Bushmaster owners, the Obsidian .45 is good for barrels sixteen inches or more. Ditto those .45-70 owners desperate to suppress their buffalo guns. Me, I lack a select-fire 9mm, so buzzing wasn’t in the cards. I don’t have a .450 Bushmaster (how’d that happen?) so that’s off limits as well. My .458 Socom isn’t threaded, so there’s more fun left off the table.
So, that left me with .45 pistol fun and games. I went pawing through the safe and the drawers, and the first one I came up with was my Doublestar rail gun, with its Bar-Sto extended and threaded barrel. That’ll do.
I also found a 10mm pistol that had correct threads for suppressor mounting, and figured I’d check the claim it works with other calibers. (Not that I had any doubts about the 10mm, really.) The Obsidian spun right on, and the first thing I found was that it was very soft in recoil. The benefit of boosters is they keep the pistol from “stalling” from the added weight. The extra weight, out on the muzzle, can keep pistols from cycling. To avoid that, the booster stores energy on each shot and then delivers it back into the system, driving the pistol to cycle.
The usual result is that a pistol with the extra weight of a booster-equipped suppressor kicks more than it did before you put the suppressor on it. Yes, add (just to pick a number) 10 ounces to a 35-ounce pistol, and it kicks harder? That’s because of the added snap of the booster. It can feel sort of like the double-shuffle of an old Browning Auto-5 shotgun. Well, Rugged has done their homework with the Obsidian, because the 1911 did not kick harder when the suppressor was mounted. Also, there was no point of impact shift from having the suppressor mounted.
Quiet? Yes. The .45 is subsonic anyway, but I used some American Eagle suppressor-ready ammo, 230 hardball. While it wasn’t “Hollywood” quiet (almost nothing is except subsonic .22LR) it was quiet enough to shoot without hearing protection, and it would certainly qualify as “giggle-worthy” on a range session with new shooters.
One detail of the Obsidian that I noticed when I was taking it apart for photos is the front cap. It is a relatively simple threaded disk, and it is made out of aluminum. I thought “Oh, that would make it easy to swap, or replace, if you get a minor baffle strike. I’ll never need that.”
Of course, you know what happened. I was at the range, and letting a friend and new shooter have some giggle-worthy fun, shooting the Obsidian. For a new shooter he’s pretty accurate, if slow. He was chewing the center out of a target paster when a shot flew out of the group. It took me a moment to react, and before I could shout “Stop” he fired another shot. That one flew further out of the group. You guessed it. The Obsidian had loosened on the barrel, and the first shot out of the group was the result of the harmonics change created by the loose suppressor. The second shot grazed the front cap exit hole. No need to blame Rugged, and all the reason to learn from this. Yes, suppressors get hot, but once you’ve put a magazine through your pistol, check and snug the suppressor again. Do that once and any suppressor is likely to stay tight for the rest of your shooting. And they can all come loose if you don’t check.
And all credit to Rugged for making the design easy to repair. There’s also the aluminum aspect of it. Aluminum dings easily. Were the cap made out of steel, in addition to adding weight it would offer more resistance to a strike. Were it made of steel, you could, theoretically and practically, have a strike on the end cap that not only damaged the cap, but damaged the threads on the tube because the cap was so much stronger than aluminum. Once I dig out my card and make the call, a new cap will be easy to install. The Obsidian comes in a plastic storage case, a tube with a square cross-section, where the two halves slide together. This is a common approach for machine tool storage, and I like it. After all, this is a machine tool, right? There is also the instruction manual for the Obsidian.
Checking the Rugged info, I find that not only are there piston/booster mounts for pistols, but they offer a list of fixed-mount adapters. Swap out the booster for a fixed mount, and you can easily use the Obsidian .45 on other firearms, with eight thread-pitch options. And even a metric left-handed one, never easy to find.
So, if you have been looking for a .45 ACP suppressor, but you want it to be useful on more than just your 1911, then you have a choice. The Rugged Suppressors Obsidian .45 will cover half the firearms in your rack.
Rugged Suppressors Obsidian .45 Specs
- Caliber: .45 (Will work with any lesser/smaller diameter pistol calibers and some rifle calibers — see list*)
- Weight: 12.8 oz, or 10.7
- OAL: 8.6" or 6.7"
- Net length added to firearm: 8 inches
- Diameter: 1.37"
- Material: 17-4, aluminum
- Finish: Hard coat anodize, Cerakote
- Full-auto rated: Yes
- Mount system available: Direct thread, booster
- MSRP: $850
- Contact: Rugged Supressors, (864) 810-0513, RuggedSuppressors.com
*Complete List of Caliber Restrictions, as of the Moment:
- Belt Fed Rated for pistol calibers up to .45
- 460 Rowland (5" barrel or longer)
- .458 SOCOM subsonic (16" barrel or longer)
- .45-70 (16" barrel or longer)
- 450 Bushmaster (16" barrel or longer)
- 45 Super (5" barrel or longer)
- 44 Magnum (16" barrel or longer)
- .44 Special (6" barrel or longer)
- .357 Magnum (12" barrel or longer)
- .300 Blackout subsonic (8" barrel or longer)