Dead Air Sandman-S Suppressor Review

By JohnyMac

Many folks have asked me, “why plop down $1,000- or so for a suppressor?” You will read in a future article published at American Partisan on the suppressor buying experience for you readers who would like to go down that path; However, in the meantime, I would like to share with you my review on the suppressor I chose to buy. Keep in mind the initial investment is only part of the expense. You also must pay for a $200- NFA stamp (National Firearm Amendment 1934) which could take up to 18-months to acquire IF you are approved. Then there is the time that your expensive investment sits in a Class III dealers safe waiting for the approved transfer. Bottom-line, in my case it was my failing hearing that prodded me to go down this path.

Many states now permit and even in a few cases, encourage the use of a suppressor for center fire hunting with rifles and handguns during big game season (s). To be honest, I do not know why other than to protect snow flakes  from the sound of gunfire during hunting season; However, for folks like me who are trying to protect what hearing they have left it is a God send. Pennsylvania, my AO-state is one of the few northeastern states that allow the use of a suppressor as of 2012. Check your states hunting regulations to see where you stand.

Last, I would have to point to the “cool factor”. However as stated earlier, that is low on my “need to have” excuse Vs. keeping the remaining hearing I do have. If I can protect my hearing so I can listen to some more Blue Oyster Cult, at full volume, then I am all in.

With all of that written in order to set the stage for this review lets chat about the Dead Air Sandman-S suppressor.

Here are the spec’s:

Length 6.8-inches Caliber 17 hornet thru .300 Winchester Magnum
Weight 17.7 ounces Diameter 1.5-inches
Finish – Cerakote Barrel length restrictions – None
Automatic fire rated – Yes MSRP $1,049- Many dealers around $900-
Attachment to barrel, QD Keymount Muzzle Break System


While I waited for my NFA transfer paperwork to come back with my stamp, my Class III buddy would take the suppressor out of his safe so we could test it on a various selection of rifles. We would play with it on semi-auto and  bolt action rifles up to and including his Remington-700, 7.62×51 Nato (.308 Winchester for you Joe Biden supporters). In the beginning we were not impressed with db (Decibel) reduction. Jump ahead 25 or so rounds while we had the Sandman-S on a bolt action rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoore, we noticed a dramatic reduction in db. At that point my usually empty dome remembered reading in the instructions that over a period, the db levels would drop. Well for me it was 25-rounds.

Last week, I dropped into my AR a Geissele SSA trigger. I used the Sandman -S suppressor exclusively for a review of that trigger which you can read by going here. During that shoot I did not use any hearing protection with no ill effects. Yes, there was the usual sonic crack as the bullets were traveling around 3,000 fps but that crack happened further down range rather than right in front of my face.

The Sandman-S uses a quick detach procedure called the QD Keymount Muzzle Break System. This system is a proprietary muzzle break. Line up the keyway on the suppressor with the keyway mark on the muzzle break; pull down the suppressor on the muzzle break and with a clock-wise turn of about one complete turn you are locked on the rifle. To take the suppressor off you reverse this procedure.

QD Keymount Muzzle Break on my AR and Suppressor

I bought two 1/2 x 28 tpi. QD Keymount Muzzle Break’s for my AR-15’s and one 5/8 x 24 tpi. for my .30-caliber rifles. With the muzzle breaks came shims of different thicknesses to align the keyway on the muzzle break to the center of your barrel. Once I removed my OEM muzzle break I played with the different thicknesses of shims till I got the keyway of the muzzle break aligned with the top of my rifle barrel. I removed the muzzle break and applied Rocksett to the threads and then re-seated the muzzle break, using about 20-pounds of torque.

As stated earlier, during the wait time I took my Sandman-S suppressor out of my Class III’s holding cell safe and tried it out on different rifles. The first thing I experienced was at times, the bolt of my AR-15 would not remain open after the last round was stripped from the magazine and shot. Another observation was the expended brass would not eject the same distance as before the suppressor was installed. We solved this dilemma by installing a lighter buffer weight. The OEM buffer weight on my AR was 3.8-ounces. I replaced that buffer weight with a 3-ounce buffer. This seemed to fix the bolt periodically staying closed after the last round was discharged. I also noticed that the ejected brass was back to its normal distance from the rifle after discharge. This is unusual as when using a suppressor on an AR you typically need to increase the weight of the buffer. Oh well, every rifle is different.

The end cap of the Sandman-S was ordered in .30-caliber. You can order ones designated for the caliber you are using. If I had swapped the 30-caliber with a 5.56-caliber end cap I am sure the db level would be reduced even more. However, I will be the first to admit that there would be a time I would forget to take off the 5.56-caliber end cap, replace with a .30-caliber end cap and attach the suppressor to one of my .30-caliber rifles and with a squeeze of the trigger screw up a $1K piece of equipment.

One day playing with the rifle, my buddy handed me a fistful of sub-sonic 5.56 Nato ammo he had rolled himself. Although the subsonic ammunition fired with the suppressor on greatly reduced the db it was not powerful enough to cycle the bolt. I did some research and found a company that claimed to sell subsonic 5.56 Nato that would cycle. The name of the ammo was Atomic 5.56×45 Tactical Cycle Subsonic. Purchased a box from MidwayUSA and a couple of days after it arrived, I gave it a test. My first rounds put through the rifle my bolt would not cycle properly and would not remain open upon the last round being stripped from the magazine and sent down range. The ammo wasn’t as quiet as my friends reloads and it wouldn’t cycle – Bummer. Just for kicks and giggles I swapped out the Falcom 37 charging handle to my AR-15 for a Raptor Charging handle I had in my miscellaneous AR parts box. Well the Atomic ammo cycled flawlessly. The db level was about half of what I heard firing standard 5.56 Nato ammo with the suppressor on. Comparatively speaking, the db level was equal to firing a non-suppressed .22LR round through my rifle. Still not bad.

Not unlike having different hammers for different DIY projects around the cabin I also have AR’s set up for different tasks. I think my CQB AR is going to be set up with my Dead Air Sandman-S suppressor, my EOtech XPS2 optic, and loaded with the Atomic subsonic ammunition. With the reduced db output, I would be able to take on any job inside a closed structure. Unwanted visitors beware!

CQB Rifle ready to go – Colt 6920, EOTech XPS2 optic, DeadAir Sandman-S suppressor, ProTac-Streamlight, and Atomic Subsonic Ammunition

In closing, was the cost and wait for the suppressor worth the efforts? ABSOLUTELY! In the end, the total cost from my dealer was, $926- (Includes sales tax) and $200- for the NFA Stamp. So, for $1,126- and a personal investment of 354-days waiting for my paperwork from the BATF&E, I am very happy with my Dead Air Sandman-S suppressor.

Freedom Through Self-Reliance©

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