Given the price tag of a suppressor plus the $200 tax plus the 9- to 12-month wait time for approval, there’s a lot of appeal to buying a silencer that can be used on as many guns as possible. This is the goal of Dead Air’s new Primal, a .46 caliber can that’s ready for use with any cartridge firing a bullet that fits through its bore.
In the video embedded above (or click HERE to view it on Rumble), I hit the range with one of the first production Primals, which was loaned to me by Silencer Shop (they make the silencer buying process as smooth and easy as it can be!), and put it through its paces by shooting a handful of rifle and pistol calibers through it. A neat trick, to be sure, as I could count on one hand (and have fingers left over) all of the silencers on the market that work with all of the firearms I shot.
My goal was to move from large caliber to small, which I screwed up fairly quickly because I can’t math, but it meant starting out with an FNX-45 Tactical in good ol’ .45 ACP.
Thanks to the 1.375×24 (1-3/8×24) “universal” thread size at the base of the Primal, nearly every suppressor company in the U.S. makes mounts and adapters that fit. I grabbed a SilencerCo pistol booster and piston, screwed it into the Primal, and hit the range.
At 7.9 inches long and 16.5 ounces (plus booster), the Primal is large compared to most pistol cans. But obviously it ain’t just a pistol can.
On the FN firing el cheapo 230 grain .45 ACP slugs, the Primal sounded fantastic. This was one of the quieter .45 ACP setups I’ve shot, and blowback was fairly minimal; about average. In the past, when I’ve run rifle suppressors on semi-auto pistols, I’ve found that they typically result in more gas and debris blowback that can be felt on my face.
This wasn’t the case with the Primal, and it was dang quiet. It also ran without a hitch.
Next up was a Black Collar Arms Pork Sword, in this case a 12-inch SBR with an early Black Collar Arms Stock Option mounted at the rear of the Chassis, chambered in the absolute hammer that is 375 Raptor.
I fired some 235 grain supersonic rounds (~2,365 FPS) and some 400 grain subsonic rounds (~1,050 FPS) through the Primal after installing the 5/8×24 direct thread mount that ships with the Primal (it also ships with a HUB to P-Series mount adapter).
Ultimately I’d say, with its .46 cal bore on a 12-inch barrel firing punchy .375 cal bullets, the Primal was slightly louder than a top performing, dedicated .375 silencer, but not by much. I was generally impressed by the suppression and recoil reduction, and this setup would be comfortable and welcome in any hunting blind or out on the range. Shooting those 400 grain expanding subs, it’s quiet enough that feral hogs would be confused as to what’s going on and where they should run.
This is where my math went sideways and I jumped next to .308 Winchester. Using the same 5/8×24 fixed mount, I threaded the Primal onto my CZ 557 Urban Counter Sniper and shot some standard supersonic hunting ammunition.
While not quite uncomfortable to my ears, this was the one case where running a bore so much larger than the projectile hindered ultimate suppression performance. It’s still more than quiet enough to go without hearing protection for limited use such as hunting (rather than high-round-count use such as a day on the range), as I’m fairly confident it’s under the “hearing safe” threshold at the shooter’s ear even on this 16-inch setup. But I suspect it’s close.
Dead Air’s Nomad line are some of the very quietest .30 cal silencers on the market, despite being smaller and lighter than the Primal. On the flip side, their .30 cal bore drastically limits their utility compared to the Primal. Trade-offs, right?
At the end of the day, the Primal is quiet enough on this 16-inch .308 setup to gladly and confidently and proudly use it, even if a dedicated .30 cal can is often quieter. After a few years of shooting suppressed, I migrated, as almost everyone does, from trying to find the quietest to seeking out the form factor and utility I desired with the only suppression requirement being sub-140 dB performance at the shooter’s ear. I think we’re good here.
After this I fired some subsonic 300 Blackout through the Primal, installed on a prototype gun that I couldn’t show on video. With less pressure and gas behind 300 BLK than .308 WIN, the Primal’s performance here was stellar even with the large bore.
In fact, it was about as quiet as a 300 BLK gets. The length, diameter, and general efficiency of the Primal were on full display as it crushed the sound of this subsonic ammo from a 6.5-inch barrel extremely well. A little bit of first round pop — no surprise given the air volume inside the suppressor — and then about as quiet as it gets after that.
Finally, I shot the Dead Air Primal on a couple of 9mms. I have it on good authority that 9mm is a .355 caliber bullet, so this is why my big-to-small plan went awry.
I probably don’t even have to say it, but, yes, the Primal is super quiet on 9mm. It’s a lot of suppressor for 9mm. Despite the large bore and baffles that I believe are geared more toward rifle cartridges than pistol cartridges, it’s super dang quiet on 9x19mm.
With a 1/2×28 fixed mount, I threaded the Primal directly onto the fixed 5-inch barrel of my CMMG Banshee 300 upper with its radial delayed blowback action. Installed, naturally, on a machine gun lower.
Thwack, thwack, thwack…a few semi-auto rounds to establish that, indeed, it’s really quiet with 147 grain Armscor subsonic ammo. Heck, a massive chunk of the sound I hear as the shooter — if not most of the sound — is from the action cycling. Then brrrrrraaaaaap as another 20-ish rounds go downrange full auto. It sounded and functioned great (see video).
Finally, I used the HUB to P-Series adapter and installed a Dead Air pistol booster with 1/2×28 piston and shot the Primal on my SIG P365 with threaded barrel.
Though it dwarfs the little SIG, it ran a-okay and was insanely quiet. Super, crazy quiet. In this case I felt no blowback at all. The 9mm pills sneak down that .46 cal bore along with, apparently, any unburned powder and other debris, which kept it off my face. At the same time, all the noise seemed to say inside the Primal.
Up front, the Primal is compatible with Dead Air’s existing front caps. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test this, but it means the user can swap the front cap to match the caliber being shot. For instance, installing a cap with a smaller bore for .30 cal or .223 cal use, etc. This often reduces volume level by a couple dB as it traps more gas inside the suppressor when sending a smaller projectile through the bore.
In the box, the Primal ships with two wrenches, a 5/8×24 fixed mount, and the HUB to P-Series adapters. Seen above is a smattering of other muzzle devices and mounts from Dead Air that can be run with the Primal, including XENO, Keymo, 3-Lug, pistol boosters, and more.
Combined with mounts from dozens of other companies that fit the 1.375×24 base threads, options are practically limitless.
In the market for a suppressor that you can run on practically every firearm you own? I suppose with the $200 tax and almost year-long wait, we probably all are. It took a while for Dead Air to dive into this segment, but I’m glad they did. The .45 cal Primal is a great silencer that works on almost everything.
Specifications: Dead Air Primal
Caliber: .46 caliber (if it fires a 0.46-inch or smaller projectile, you’re almost certainly good to go…including .338 Lapua Mag and much more)
Length: 7.9 inches
Weight: 16.5 ounces
Diameter: 1.618 inches
Material: 17-4 stainless steel
Finish: Cerakote high temp
MSRP: $929 (find it for less at Silencer Shop)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Utility * * * * *
A large bore suppressor with a universal mount system gets a firm five stars here, no question.
Form Factor * * *
I mean, it’s really well made and the laser welds look great, but it’s a fairly standard can shaped can, right? Three stars is average, so I’m calling it average.
Suppression * * * *
Pretty dang impressive overall. It’s hard to make a large bore suppressor quiet on small bore projectiles, and the Primal does a great job.
Overall * * * *
Tons of utility and value from a single, really good suppressor. It’s quieter than the leading .46 caliber suppressor and it’s rated for basically anything that fits down the bore. The Dead Air Primal is an awesome silencer that’s a great fit in anyone’s collection.