Nothing in recent times causes more controversy than rifle shooters discussing whether sound moderators (suppressors) are legal or not in our neighbouring countries. Fact is, there’s much confusion, largely due to the complexity of varying laws across Europe. Let us clear some things up, once and for all.
(image contribution by Swedish born huntress, Alexandra Hellström – Rifle: Browning X-Bolt 30.06)
The purchase or possession of a suppressor (sound moderator) is strictly prohibited according that of the Austrian Weapons Law in which Silencers fall under Category A – forbidden weapons.
Suppressors are, according to the Weapons and Ammunition Law, considered an A-class weapon, which means a special exception is needed to possess them. This makes suppressors illegal for any practical purpose.
Under the Danish Weapons & Explosives Law the unlicensed possession of a suppressor is illegal. It is legal to buy and use suppressors in Denmark if you have a valid gun license. Since 7 May 2014 it is legal to own and use suppressors for hunting.
A firearm suppressor is classified as a firearm part by law. The purchasing/usage of a suppressor requires a firearm ownership permit.
Legal and unregulated – free to buy ‘over the counter’.
Suppressors are to be handled in the same way as the guns they are intended to be equipped with. Which is, if a firearm requires a specific permit, the corresponding suppressor requires the identical permit as well.
Sound moderators require a “legal need” to own them, just like the firearms they are designed for.
Sound moderators are currently legal to use in Bavaria and also legal for professionals in the Schleswig-Holstein region.
The purchase or possession of a suppressor is prohibited for civilians.
Suppressors are strictly prohibited
Suppressors are only legal if used for airguns. All other civilian use and ownership is strictly prohibited by law.
Suppressors are not regulated and thus can be bought by anyone.
Suppressors are not classified as “important weapon parts”. Therefore, they are completely legal in all calibres, requiring no registration or permit. You can own, buy, sell, and manufacture suppressors. However, the Polish Firearms and Ammunition Act states that firearms ownership approval cannot be issued for firearms equipped with silencer or adapted to be used with silencer. This law however is not enforced, sport shooters, hunters or gun collectors own many firearms which are factory adapted to be used with suppressors.
The purchase or possession of suppressors is illegal for civilians. Only military and law enforcement personnel are authorized to use them.
Suppressors for specified calibres are legal for hunting purposes and a license is required
Civilian purchase, sale or possession of suppressors is strictly prohibited, with possible jail terms of up to 25 years if convicted.
For a small-or full-bore rifle, the firearm certificate (FAC) will need to show permission for the purchase of a suppressor and also the firearm for which it is intended. All firearms certificates have the firearm and calibre approved by the police and annotated to the document before a suppressor may be purchased.
Suppressors are legal and not regulated.
As a hunter in the UK, usually applications for a suppressor, for hunting and target shooting purposes, is straight forward. The risks of litigation for personal injury, especially high-tone deafness directly as a result from shooting-induced hearing loss, are significant; and noise pollution in general is a problem for shooting sports close to built up areas – for these reasons, sound moderators are almost seen as a common courtesy to have.
It would be interesting to hear your opinions on sound moderators in your own country, whether they offer real benefit if legal or not?
Feel free to start a discussion below…