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