Hiram Percy Maxim died in 1936. His company began to move away from firearms-silencers in 1925, instead concentrating on industrial and automotive sound moderators. Public interest in firearm suppressors was quashed by the 1934 National Firearms Act, which required a prohibitively expensive $200 tax stamp — approximately $3,500 today.
The younger Maxim developed the first viable firearm suppressors at the turn of the 20th century, securing a series of patents between 1909 and 1920. He sold his designs through the Maxim Silent Firearms Company, which would eventually become the Maxim Silencer Company.
Maxim began his work in 1906, experimenting with different designs theoretically capable of moderating sound. He tried valves, vents and bypass devices, and came to believe that the propellant gases leaving a firearm’s muzzle could be whirled to create a vortex, thereby slowing them sufficiently to prevent them making noise as they left the muzzle.
Maxim’s first experimental silencer, pictured at left, used an offset snailshell-shaped chamber and valve to trap and swirl the muzzle gases in an effort to slow their travel. Maxim’s results with this design were…
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