The new age of silencers is here! (for real this time)

On a .50BMG, the vast majority of the boom is caused by the rapidly expanding gasses that push the bullet down the barrel. It takes a lot of energy to move a 750gr bullet from 0 to 2.5x the speed of sound over 29". A suppressor works just like the muffler on your car by giving that energy a place to expand and dissipate before entering the environment in the form of sound.

The point of a suppressor on a .50BMG is not to make it silent. With a rifle that size, your choices are either muzzle break or suppressor. Both devices reduce recoil by controlling and redirecting the energy leaving the barrel, but with a muzzle break, the energy is directed out to the sides and back into the shooter's face. That much energy is going to kick up any loose dirt, snow, leaves, grass, etc. in about a 4 foot radius from the end of the barrel. It's also going to prevent your spotter from setting up next to the shooter. Muzzle breaks also have a tendency to make the shot louder. With a suppressor, the energy is directed forward after being able to slow down and dissipate. This reduces the sound of the shot, the disturbance to the environment around the shooter and the amount of gas that gets blown back into the shooter's face. It also allows the spotter to set up in his ideal position, next to the shooter. All of this works to reduce the chances the enemy has to locate the shooter. No 180db boom that cuts through the chaos of a combat zone, no bright flash that briefly illuminates your surroundings and no large, lingering cloud of dust to pinpoint your exact location. Just the minor crack of the sound barrier (which can be hard to estimate it's point of origin if you're in an area that echos) and then silence.

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