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)

48 Comments

  1. 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.

    • I acquired a Maxim silencer for the .303 SMLE (British) rifle some years ago. It was the offset type and came in its factory box with instructions. Promptly got a .303 threaded, and went down the paddock to test it out, it was amazing, it didn’t silence the rifle but using military ammunition (aprox 2300fps) it was quite quiet and pulled the rifle foward so recoil was nearly eliminated. I believe that one of our (Australian ) snipers at Gallipoli (Billy Singh) used one to great effect.As they are illegal here in Australia, I got rid of it, but compared to the centre fire super sonic silencers I see advertised now, in New Zealand, that are quite long and seeem to require a lot of modification to the rifle, these ones are far superior, they were built to go onto the rifle with an interupted thread.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

    • 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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!

    • Jim,
      Did you ever find a coupler for the silencer? If not and you still have it I have a coupler on a 1903 Winchester I bought 6-7 years ago and had no idea what it was until today when I saw another on at a gun show.

      If you wish to sell it let me know. L

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. 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.

  13. HELLO
    JUST FOUND A ONE I FOUND IN A OLD HAT BOX UNDER THE BEAVER HAT. ITS IN GREAT SHAPE!!! JUST WANDERING THE HISTORY OF TIS AMAZING PIECE OF HISTORY

  14. 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.

    • I have a Winchester Model 94 30-30 with a threaded barrel for a Maxim suppressor. I would like to find an original Maxim to go with it. I understand it would need to be registered with the ATF (back in 1934 or 1968), and that finding a registered original is quite a challenge. I am happy to pay for the stamp and do the paperwork. I know it might prove expensive. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
      Thanks,
      Dick Richards

    • This is an old web string so probably you will not get this. I would like to but a Maxim .22 cal original silencer. I have a Stevens Tip Up with an original Scope that is fitted for one ( all the cards on the table:).
      A reasonable price for a registered one is all I want.
      Bruce L. Cohen

  15. DIRTY HARRY MOVIE : The Scorpio killer character in Clint Eastwood’s 1968 movie Dirty Harry used an off center Maxim silencer on his custom sporterized Japaneses WWII Arisaka break down rifle re-chambered in 30-06 . YouTube search the opening scene to see it and in another scene He is also on a roof top attempting to use it when a police helicopter spots the Scorpio killer ….cheers.

  16. All I had was a shipping tube in great condition, alignment tool and threaded coupler for a .22 Maxim Silencer. I have since sold the parts I had. Good Luck in your search for it!

  17. I didn’t find an original, yet had a coupler made for it. Even if I didn’t have the coupler, the family history story is to priceless to sell it.
    Good luck in your search.

  18. If you “found an original Maxim silencer”……..you are in illegal possession of a title 2 item. And are looking at massive legal expenses, if you get caught with it. You can only be in possession, after filing the proper transfer paperwork with ATF. Or….if you mean someone else is in “legal” possession of it….good luck in purchasing it.
    David

  19. I was watching a BF1 game play on youtube when i saw a Colt 1911 with what looks like a Maxim silencer,I looked around on-line but I couldn’t find any info. Is if possible to modify it to accept it and used or is it just a fantasy idea?

  20. Can anyone tell me the value of a complete silencer made in 1910 with original shipping container and owners manual intact in excellent condition?? Thanks..

  21. I would say all depends if it has the required paper work to be legal to own and use. Im sure collectors would probably pay 400 to 600.

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