For official release:
Back in October, the suppressor industry was abuzz with news that former SilencerCo mastermind, Mike Pappas, would be returning with a new company, Dead Air Armament. At the time, I speculated that Dead Air may eventually enlist Henry Graham, also formerly of SilencerCo and former owner of Southeastern Weaponry Research (SWR). Perhaps fortunately, it looks like I was wrong.
On December 31, news broke that Henry would be starting a new company named Rugged Suppressors to reassert himself in the suppressor industry. As a designer on some excellent suppressors such as the Specwar and Octane series of cans, Henry’s work is well known and he is credited with some of the quietest suppressors on the market. In the interest of full disclosure, I own an Octane 45 HD and have a Specwar 556 pending at my local dealer, but published numbers from reputable sources like Silencer Shop have consistently shown these suppressors to be some of the top performers in their respective classes. With the above in mind, it should be no surprise that Henry’s departure from SilencerCo fueled the internet gossip mill for weeks as enthusiasts speculated on his future.
As their first release with Rugged Suppressors, Henry and co-founder Michael Derdziak have announced the SURGE 762. This suppressor appears to be an evolution of the experience Henry gained while working on the popular SilencerCo Saker, with a similar removable end cap and full Stellite baffle stack, but should revolutionize the industry as the first adjustable length rifle suppressor. The mount is also unique in that it takes the taper mount concept further by having two taper surfaces, one that works in conjunction with the mount’s threads and another that helps to secure the locking device on the suppressor itself. MSRP on the SURGE 762 is $1300, but some dealers are reporting that the street price will be just under $1000. This should put the SURGE in a tight race with competition from Dead Air and SilencerCo.
While the company is extremely busy pumping out SURGE 762s, Henry sat down to answer some of the questions that this news brought to mind:
Modern Rifleman: How did you guys get involved in suppressors? What inspired you?
Henry Graham: Suppressors started as a hobby that became an obsession that became a business. I started out as a firearms dealer with a focus on NFA and suppressors. When Joe Gaddini retired from SWR, I had the opportunity to purchase the company along with Matthew Pallett and William Ellison. Together, we ran SWR for about 6 years before selling it to Silencerco. I moved to Utah to run SWR and which led to running the R&D and Operations for the company. When that ran its course, I moved back to South Carolina, joined Michael Derdziak and began Rugged Design.
I consider suppressors to be my calling. I’m a suppressor nerd and I love every part of it. I find the design side of it so rewarding but designing a more durable, quiet, or versatile suppressor is just one facet of it, really. The best design is nothing without the processes to actually make it on a large scale. The challenge is to make thousands of something in a niche industry, where many times no one else has done something the way you are proposing to do it, and make it perfect every time. It’s exciting, frustrating and surreal all at the same time.
MR: Has entering the industry changed since your SWR days? If so, in what ways?
HG: There is more competition for sure. The market has become like huge tree branches growing in every direction. There are multiple consumer choices in most segments of the market for modular 45 cans, or lightweight 308 cans, and of course 22 cans.
It’s really cool to see. Every time a new player gets in the market, the market just grows more to accept the products. The suppressor and general firearms industry is great because as an innovator, you can create your own market. For example, four years ago there was no market for user serviceable pistol cans. We were able to introduce a new product and create a market that now dominates that segment.
MR: Given tight competition, how do you see the Surge standing out from those made by companies like Dead Air and SilencerCo?
HG: I really enjoy making suppressors that give the user maximum versatility. So many people wrestle with the choice: Do I buy a longer, heavier, quieter suppressor or do it get the shorter, lighter, louder suppressor? Each choice has their benefits and drawbacks and each has role to play on a specific host rifle platform.
This is where the SURGE 762 shines. It is a short suppressor, which spec for spec rivals the market leaders in both lengths. In the 7.5″ length it offers similar sound reduction to existing suppressors in its length class. The SURGE 762 does this at a weight that is several ounces lighter than the competitors. The suppressor itself is only 17.5 oz. Most of the competing designs weigh in over 20 oz. In addition our muzzle brake is a full ounce lighter than competing designs. This makes the total system weight over 4 oz lighter than a Saker 762 or 762SDN6. Over half the length of the SURGE 762 is machined from one solid bar of 17-4PH stainless steel, and full circumference welded Stellite core so you do not give up one bit of durability or longevity.
We offer an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty on every product we make. Our website warranty page is perhaps the emptiest page on our site. If you have a problem with your RUGGED product we will repair or replace it. That’s all. No conditions, no disclaimers, and no asterisks. It’s just a plain statement, in actual English words, that states we will take care of you whatever happens. If you don’t think that is a big deal, cruise over to any competitor’s website and read through their multi paragraph warranty statements with various disclaimers which state your warranty only exists so long as they say it does.
MR: Let’s talk about the Dual Taper Locking System; how does it work and what are the advantages?
HG: The Dual Taper Locking System incorporates some really useful features and addresses some problems that I have observed over the years.
First of all, the SURGE 762 uses no locking teeth, on either the suppressor body or the muzzle device. Timing the rotational of the mount with the lock of the teeth has plagued various mounts since the beginning. When you tighten a suppressor on, it is held on either directly or indirectly by locking teeth. If the timing is just slightly off, the lever does not make it to the next tooth. Your locking mechanism backs off a few degrees, and now your can is loose. That sucks!
The Dual Taper Locking System uses spring pressure against a taper to both provide anti-rotational force to the suppressor and keep the locking mechanism closed. Think of it as a lock nut. The nut prevents rotation by limiting the outward travel of the bolt, not by trying to prevent the bolt from rotating, but by preventing outward travel you have also locked the rotation.
The effects of thermal expansion and contraction are also mitigated by the Dual Taper Locking System. The spring arms provide constant force compressing the suppressor mount against the muzzle device. As the mount heats up, the metal expands. The spring arms take up this slop by pushing on the rear taper to keep the forward taper of the muzzle device driven into the corresponding taper on the mount.
The spring arms alone are very stout. You’ll have trouble moving the arms much at all with just your hand pressure. That’s where the locking collar comes into play. The rotation of the collar enables the long cam surface machined in the inside of the collar to drive the spring arms into against the rear taper of the muzzle device. The arms are driven down and to the rear. All of that torque you have imparted is now stored in the spring arms to push against the rear taper.
MR: After developing a high performance suppressor, how do you then return to the drawing board to build on that success/performance? Is a successful release followed by a sort of “engineer’s block”?
HG: Brainstorming with others helps a great deal. I’m a suppressor junkie so most all of my designs stem from features and attributes that I want in a product for myself.
MR: We’ve seen companies come out with lighter, tougher, and more versatile suppressors. Do you think we are reaching the limits as far as suppression is concerned?
HG: I have thought maybe we are reaching the limits a few times before and then the industry surpasses the limits and keeps going. So no, I think there will also be new products taking it further in every direction. New materials, manufacturing methods, and off the wall ideas will keep it fresh.
MR: The Surge 762 is one of only a few adaptable length suppressors and the first of its kind for rifles. Has the ATF changed its position on adaptable suppressors or is it a feature that simply was not fully fleshed out from an implementation/regulatory perspective until recently?
HG: Well from a regulatory perspective there is nothing to address. The SURGE 762 ships as a 9″ suppressor that can be made shorter and then returned to its original 9″ configuration. Nothing controversial or odd about that really.
MR: Beyond the Surge 762, can you clue us in on any other upcoming products from Rugged Suppressors?
HG: We are developing a full line of suppressors
MR: Will we be seeing Henry’s SWR-esque testing videos on YouTube?
HG: Yes, I enjoy the testing videos and it is such an effective way to get the info out to everyone.
MR: Last fall, we saw some amazing deals and promotions on suppressors. What was the driving force behind these historically low prices?
HG: The entire firearms industry was in a deep spending hangover from several years of panic buying. People blew their “gun money” on whatever thing might get banned and that affected the broader firearms market. Incentives kept the sales flowing. Definitely get those deals while they last, as I do not think we will see those incentives again for a while.
Rugged Suppressors SURGE 762 Preview:
Rugged Suppressors Website: http://www.ruggedsuppressors.com