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The Vault

Maxim Silencer

The Maxim Silencer was the first commercially successful firearm sound suppressor. Developed by Hiram Percy Maxim (son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, who invented the Maxim machine gun) in tandem with the automobile muffler in the early 1900s, it was patented in 1909. The Maxim design was different than modern suppressors, as it used curved vanes to force muzzle gasses to spin in little vortices inside the device while they cooled, thus reducing their pressure. This design is expensive to manufacture and causes the silencer to heat up quickly. Modern designs use baffles to slow down gasses without absorbing too much heat.

Another feature of Maxim’s silencer was it’s off-center attachment to a rifle barrel. By placing the centerline of the suppressor below the muzzle of the firearm, stock iron sights on the weapon could still be used (concentric suppressors typically block the view through the sights).

The Maxim was designed for fixed-barrel rifles, as mounting one to a pistol barrel could often interfere with the proper functioning of the action, and would require lengthened barrels in many cases.

Sales Brochures (click to download in PDF format):

Maxim Silencer brochure

Patents

US Patent #916,885 (H. P. Maxim; Silent Firearm; March 30, 1909)

17 comments to Maxim Silencer

  • R.Blue

    Hey,
    Excellent information. I had no idea that they were marketed here in the U.S. to that extent. I have a Walther Model II .22 rifle that is threaded for the Maxim silencer. I have never seen one for sale but I would imagine that they would be fairly rare.

  • Unknowm

    I heard about the Maxim’s silencer, but I didn’t know it was this rare

  • Samuel Suggs

    what manufactureing process was used to create the baffels

    • Offhand, I’m not sure. I haven’t found much additional information on the Maxim silencers – since they effectively disappeared in 1934 with the NFA tax, there isn’t much knowledge of them still around.

  • E.Johnson

    My Grandfather purchased one in 1911. Its buried in his gun collection from years ago.

  • Bill Zaspel

    By any chance does anyone know what the threads measured on the inlet of the silencer? I have a Carcano rifle which is threaded for something and I am trying to figure out what.

  • Jim Morehead

    What would one of these silencers be worth in excellent condition if I was able to fine one somewhere? I buy lots of complete estates from the famlies where ma & pa or grandma & grandpa have past on. I find all kinds of old unusual items. So I was wondering if one of these ever turns up in an estate where would I go to sale it? Thanks for any info.

  • Bill Zaspel

    Found the information on the threads and guess what? My Carcano M38 short rifle has the right threads per inch and also the needed 1/32 set off of the threads too. It is Finnish property marked so maybe around WW2 the Finn’s had a silenced rifle?

    I would think knowing our current regime that silencer would be illegal to own or sell under current rules and would have to be licensed to the owner. I would love to find one just for a trial fit on the rifle to see if it actually does fit. What a hoot to history that would be if the Finn’s had a silenced rifle. Bill

    • Jim Morehead

      Bill I received your notes about the Maxim’s silencer. I do know where 1 is but the owner isn’t sure what he can do with it and stay with-in the law. It has the same tax on it as a machine gun. He has no use for it but doesn’t want to break the law or have someone else break the law by owning it. He is out on a limb. What do you think he should do with it? The original owner passed on many years ago and now there is no family left from the estate it came from. Open for any type advice.

  • Robert Bartley

    I have a fairly nice Maxim Silencer shipping tube with the Maxim logo on it with the silencer information printed on it with an alignment tool and the threaded coupling that would be secured on the muzzle end of the barrel if anyone is interested in it. I do not have the silencer/suppressor.
    Robert in Florida

  • Eric Johnson

    Robert: I may be interested in the Maxim shipping tube. you can contact me at Jetnjohnson@gmail.com.
    Thanks

  • Jim

    While wiring my Pap barn last weekend I found a maxim suppressor for a 22. The story that goes with it is that my Pap’s uncle Walt used it to poach squirels during the Great Depression to feed the family. I’m searching a coupler that has the correct threading to complete the restore to return it to my Pap, any leds greatly appreciated!

  • John

    I have a Maxim Silencer. My father had a octagon barreled 22 caliber rifle that was threaded just for it. Why I have no idea. The silencer however has a damaged baffle.

  • Marshall

    Just an FYI, silencers are required to be registered with ATF to be legal. There is a $200 tax for the registration and transfer of them. If someone were to “find” one and doesn’t have the registration, there is no legal way of possessing it. Since almost anything was legal to own without paperwork prior to 1934, lots of these silencers, MGs, etc. may be out there in someone’s attic without ever being registered.

    OTOH, if someone owns a registered one, transferring it to another person simply requires the submission of an ATF Form 4 and payment of the $200 tax. Many months later, ATF approves the form and affixes a cancelled tax stamp, the new owner then takes possession of it. Like any other property, they can also be passed on to an heir. This still requires a form from ATF to transfer, but the tax is waived.

    One thing to be aware of is the registration papers the .GOV has may not be accurate or even exist! The registrations were originally the responsability of the IRS, and they didn’t even have standardized forms for it until the 60s or so when ATF took over. Many of the early ones are just typed letters. So guard any original paperwrok on NFA items with your life, losing them may send you to jail if the .GOVs copy is lost too!

  • […] in 1909, suppressors have never been illegal under federal law, but since 1934 are required to be […]

  • ZACHRIAH

    can some one publish a picture of maxim silencer held with him

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