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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


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

33 comments to Maxim Silencer

  • R.Blue

    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.

    • Andrew C

      The maxium manual lists threads for different calibers in Inches, and Threads Per Inch. Your Carcano is most likely a metric threaded rifle, and would have to have an adapter made to replace the Standard English Threads. You can take a telescoping gage, and a micrometer, and measure the inside dia. of the suppressor, and count the Threads Per Inch. Try it in standard, and metric. The conversion factor to metric in case you don’t have a metric Mic. is .039370 of an inch, = 1mm Mike the threads on the rifle barrel, and get a major dia. then the pitch of the thread, and this will tell you if you need to machine an adaptor to fit the maxium suppressor to it. AC.

  • 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.

  • 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 […]


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

  • Paul Davidson

    Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out an ATF form 4, I found a blank form here http://goo.gl/a0efZE. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials how to fill it out and a few related ATF forms that you might find useful.

  • George Trapp

    There are a pretty fair # of Remington .22’s out there that have couplers and /or are threaded for Maxims. I have two or three Model 12 pumps and a Model 16 semi that are set up for Maxims. I have seen online a Model 14 pump in .30 Rem that has a factory threaded barrel which I assume was threaded for a Maxim. —- The factory threaded barrels, if I recall correctly, are slightly longer between the front sight and the muzzle allowing room for the threads.

  • Doug Fennema

    The murderer in Agatha Christie’s 1930 novel ,Murder at the.Vicarage ,used a Maxim.Silencer on a .25 Mauser to do the deed!

  • David Buehn

    Yes….beware of unregistered Maxim silencers. They cannot be registered today….as they were manufactured prior to 1968….when they could have been registered during the 30 day amnesty. I know….companies still manufacture silencers today, and register them. But….Maxims can’t. I have copies of 2 different Maxim Silencer catalogs….interesting. I’d post pics, if I could.
    Many years ago, I had a “concentric” silencer on a Pre-WWII Woodsman Target .22….and I could still use the original sights. And the gun functioned flawlessly with standard velocity ammo. The barrel was threaded….and had a knurled barrel protector. It could be cleaned by taking it apart. But the “off set” silencer is sealed and has to be cleaned using a chemical process.



  • Joe Toshinski

    I collect Maxim Silencers, mounts and paperwork. I have found out that in the beginning of the Maxim Silent Firearms Company, that Colt’s made the silencers in their old West Armory, which was demolished after WW2. As already stated, they were sold fairly heavily until the 1934 laws, and they were fitted to 22 pistols through the Thompson 1921 submachinegun. Some Maxims were actually designed to fire larger caliber weapons during WW2 up to 20mm.

  • tony

    I purchased a 1909 Maxim .22 cal. Silencer with original box and papers. Email me if anyone is interested in purchasing. Tonyl66@hotmail.com

  • Robert Bartley

    Send me your e-mail and I will send you pictures of what I have, we can decide a value for it.
    Robert in Florida

  • Robert Bartley

    Jim Binford-
    Here is my e-mail, bartley138@bellsouth.net E-mail me and we can discuss you getting the shipping tube, tool and coupler.
    Robert Bartley

  • Robert Bartley

    not sure, I can send pictures and dimensions, send me your e-mail or send a message to me.

  • tim

    My question to everyone is what’s it worth?

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