First Shots: SureFire SOCOM556-RC3 Suppressor

A ruggedly built, high-performance suppressor that's easy on your lungs.

by
posted on October 18, 2023

Unless you’ve been living inside your gun safe and haven’t noticed what’s going on in the world of firearms, suppressors are a hot commodity right now. More and more people are starting to realize the benefits of reducing the noise of gunfire, and they generally fall into one of three types of suppressor owners:

  • People who buy suppressors because they make shooting a gun a lot more fun
  • People who buy suppressors for hunting rifle
  • People who buy suppressors because they improve the performance of their gun. 

The last group is the ideal market for the new SureFire SOCOM556-RC3 suppressor. SureFire has been a leader in suppressors for military and law enforcement, creating products which are in constant use in the worst conditions possible, all over the world. The new SOCOM556-RC3 is an evolved version of their RC2 suppressor, which is known and trusted by some of our nation’s most elite troops, who saw the need for something like the RC2, but with less blowback of noxious gasses and unburnt powder into the operator’s face. SureFire took those requirements and put them into the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software running on the most powerful computers available in order to find out how propellant gasses move through a suppressor when a gun is fired. 

The result is the SOCOM556-RC3, a suppressor which uses a modified version of the baffles inside an RC2 suppressor, but with a barrel and end cap design which significantly reduces the  amount of noxious fumes blown back into the face of the person shooting the rifle.  

How much reduction are we talking about? Glad you asked. According to SureFire, the human nose can identify a smell if there are 300 parts per million (PPM) of any substance in the air. The vast majority of gasses in an unsuppressed rifle go flying out the muzzle, which results in about 120 PPM of particulates and gasses hanging around the ejection port when fired. A typical traditional suppressor leaves about 450-500 PPM of noxious stuff lingering around your face, however, the RC3 suppressor, with it’s high bypass, low blowback design, leaves only 200 PPM worth of unpleasantness to be sucked into your nasal cavities after firing. 

All this is academic, though, so SureFire gave us a chance to feel what it’s like using the new SOCOM556-RC3 for an extended length of time, during a two-day carbine class with Matt Pranka of XRay Alpha. Matt is recently retired from one of the country’s most-elite fighting units, and his instruction pushed our skills and our equipment to the limits. The tough, all-Iconel construction of the SOCOM556-RC3 stood up to hundreds and hundreds of rounds going downrange over the course of the class. I’m cross-eye dominant, and shoot rifles left-handed. As a result, the ejection port is right there, in front of my face when I shoot an AR-15. Because of this, I notice much more quickly than others, just how much gas and noxious fumes are being blown back in my face. As for the effects of the new high bypass design of the RC3, all I can say is, when the class was over, it didn’t feel like I had been in a two day class with a suppressed rifle, it felt like I had been in a two-day class with just a regular rifle. That’s a standard that very few suppressors can boast about. 

MSRP for the SOCOM556-RC3 is $1,799, and more information on this suppressor and other gear from SureFire is available at surefire.com

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