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Testing the Dedicated 5.56 Suppressor

The firearms industry has experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade. There has been a sizeable increase in not only the number and types of guns being made but also in the number of new companies. One area that has caught the attention of many people is the growth in the suppressor industry. Once, it was the realm of only a few big players, and the pricing reflected it. Then for some reason, one company after another started entering the suppressor market with new products—some good and some less than stellar. It was a boom of great cans at better prices. One of the companies that rose to the top during this growth is Dead Air Suppressors. Founded in 2014 by Mike Pappas and Todd Magee, they quickly became a premier manufacturer of both rifle and pistol suppressors. They continue to make exceptional suppressors and have now released their latest can—the Dead Air Sierra-5.

No Compromises: The Dead Air Sierra-5

The Sierra-5 is a 5.56 suppressor with serious design features and is a full-auto-rated suppressor with no barrel length restrictions. To get that ability, Dead Air uses fully welded construction and all-Stellite baffles with full-penetration, laser welding to ensure a robust and solid, monolithic core structure. Dead Air then welds it to the outer tube for additional strength and durability.

The Sierra-5 comes optimized specifically for high performance out of the 5.56 platform for both sound and flash suppression. It maintains a low blowback and short pressure impulse. The Sierra-5 has a very utilitarian design.The knurled outer tube provides a strong purchase for securing and removing the silencer. It also serves extremely well in securing heat-protective wraps. The Sierra-5 also boasts heavy lug tooling features, allowing for secure tightening and loosening adapters with included tools.

Two Sierra-5 Options

Dead Air looked at the project in totality and wanted to offer people options in mounting. It is offering the Sierra-5 in two different configurations. The suppressor’s variants include the Sierra-5 Xeno and Sierra-5 KeyMo. As the name implies, each ships with the respective flash hider mount and adaptor. The larger size of the KeyMo adaptor is what makes that version about a half-inch longer than the Xeno model, but both feature the same minimalist profile and tube diameter. With adaptors attached, the KeyMo Sierra-5 weighs slightly more as well.

The Sierra-5 also has interchangeable front caps. Dead Air states that the suppressor is compatible with all their R-Series front caps, including their E-Brake. A dedicated 5.56 suppressor, the Sierra-5’s design runs supremely quite, even during sustained fire. Mike Pappas of Dead Air noted, “We’ve been working on this for a while. We’ve designed the Sierra-5 from the ground up to be a dedicated 5.56 suppressor. It sounds amazing. It’s lightweight and has uncompromising durability for the professional…We really feel this combination alone will appeal to hunters and tactical shooters alike.”

Business End

To say that I am a fan of suppressors is like saying Selma Hayek is just cute. My toothbrush is even suppressed. Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I believe suppressors add to the shooting experience while making it safer. The lunacy of a bureaucracy that thinks they need to be regulated is the content of a completely separate article. I was offered an opportunity to get some range time with the Sierra–5 and I jumped at it. My good friend and director of Marketing for Dead Air, Tony Tarantino, made the long drive to the range to give me that chance. For this range session, we would be running the Sierra-5 on a 16-inch Blackout Defense Quantum rifle as well as a POF Renegade Plus so we could use both mounts. 

My first impressions of the suppressor were very positive. I really like the knurling on the can, and honestly, it gives it a more serious vibe. That is hard to quantify, but in the end, the Sierra-5 looks like it is meant for serious business. Once mounted, I went to work.

To most people, the dB or sound rating of a suppressor is all they look at. However, that can be very misleading. When you fire an AR, you get three different sounds. The muzzle blast, the sound of the supersonic bullet breaking the sound barrier, and the mechanical noise of the weapon cycling after each shot. The purpose of a suppressor is to trap the expanding gasses from the end of the muzzle and allow them to cool and decelerate in a series of chambers. Along with this, the decibel level is reduced. Even with this you still have the supersonic crack and action noise. If all you look at is decibel reduction, you are missing something more important—tone. 

Tone & Recoil Reduction

The tone is the relative pitch and strength of the sound that the suppressor produces. I’ve run many suppressors that claim a very hearty dB reduction only to be minimally effective on the range. Suppressors with good tone control sound quieter when they are fired. An additional point on suppressors is that they trap a ton of gas. This in turn increases the dwell time and ultimately ends up pushing that gas through the back of your gun and into your eyes. This is especially true when running full-auto. A couple of mags through a less-than-stellar can and you will think you are developing black lung from the blowback.

My experience with the Sierra-5 touched on all those points. The first is that the can has an excellent tone. More specifically it had a deeper and less harsh tone than other suppressors on the market. It also strikes what I consider to be the perfect balance in size. The blast chamber is large enough to provide some venting while not being too big.

As with all suppressors, and especially the Sierra-5, I experienced a significant reduction in recoil. The added weight of the can along with slowing the gasses made my times on multiple targets fast. Some argue that the extra weight is a burden, but I whole heartily disagree. The benefits of running suppressed are really a totality of all that it brings to the plate. While a suppressed AR will never be Hollywood quiet, it is quieter and that matters in the long term. It also makes the shooting experience more enjoyable.

Two variants on the Dead Air Sierra-5.

Final Notes

The Dead Air Sierra-5 is one of the best 5.56 suppressors I have had the chance to run. It is obvious that the suppressor is designed by professionals for professionals. Dead Air has built a reputation for making exceptional suppressors for serious shooters. This can is something I would highly encourage you to look at if you are entering the suppressor market. I even suggest that seasoned students of quiet look at this can. Fairly light, compact and bringing serious performance to the table, the Sierra-5 is a winner without question. For more information, visit deadairsilencers.com.

SPECIFICATIONS: Dead Air Sierra-5 Suppressor

  • Caliber: 5.56mm/.224 Valkyrie
  • Energy Rating: 2,200-plus foot-pounds.
  • Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Length: 6.27 inches
  • Diameter: 1.55 inches
  • Materials: Stellite baffles, 17-4 PH stainless steel
  • Finish: High-temp Cerakote, Nitride adapter and mount
  • MSRP: $859

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