Traditionally, suppressors are designed with a relatively narrow set of focuses. In an ideal world, we’d like every suppressor to withstand incredible levels of heat and pressure while being quiet as a mouse fart, light as a feather, usable for every caliber under the sun, and shorter than a teenager’s attention span.
The reality in engineering and physics is quite different, and some level of compromise is always necessary. Much like the crazy/hot index (pun intended), you must sacrifice some things to see gains in other areas.
Thunder Beast knows precisely where they stand in that index as a company. They have actively chosen to reduce sound signature to a bare minimum, leading them to produce some of the lightest and most repeatable suppressors on the market. They cut their teeth in the precision rifle world and have been a mainstay for competitive bolt gun shooters worldwide for years.
They’re also absolute mad scientists when it comes to cans. I was fortunate enough at SHOT this past year to have a ninety-minute clinic with one of their engineers and left positively crammed with new knowledge, and it was one of the best experiences of the show.
At that time, they were showing off their brand-new offering, and we were fortunate to spend more time with it at CanCon Arizona 2023.
For those of you who’ve ever fired a .50 caliber rifle, there’s a good chance it was one of two models, either the Armalite AR-50 or a variant of the venerable Barrett M82. Both are respectable firearms in their own ways, but Thunder Beast took a different approach.
In general, .50 as a round is not exactly known for extreme precision. It was created as an anti-materiel round, meaning it must put big holes in hard things from afar. It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that companies like Hornady started taking .50 seriously as a precision round, and companies like Accuracy International started building rifles with that purpose in mind.
When you combine those two factors, the AX-ELR from Accuracy International is practically begging to be suppressed.
THUNDER BEAST’S UNIQUE APPROACH
What makes the Thunder Beast .50 cal suppressor unique is multifaceted. The current crop of cans that punch up to its level tends to be heavy and not overly quiet. Yes, you’re pushing 750gr or more of a bullet, but it doesn’t mean it has to sound like a tank firing every time.
And of the current crop, only one builds in a muzzle brake at the end of the can to handle the felt recoil a bit better. So, there’s some room for improvement. Thunder Beast accomplishes this task through a few means.
First and foremost, it’s a modular suppressor. Due to a request from a particular group of people with a specific need, it was designed around the idea of having a short .50 bolt gun with a shorter and lighter suppressor. If you’re the person who needs to carry a carbine plus a .50 cal rifle, you’ll surely appreciate this approach.
Or if you just like lightweight and quality, it’s hard not to love this can for its purpose. So, minimal suppression to accomplish the goal — no need to be whisper quiet in this case.
Should you need to reduce the decibel level more, the suppressor has an extension. The included brake can be attached in either configuration at the end of the muzzle or swapped to a standard endcap if you’re concerned with signature via dust or other environmentals. The can is composed primarily of titanium, so it’s exceptionally light for its size.
By comparison, most suppressors that can handle the vaunted .50 are composed of steel, meaning they are heavy. Remember, the focus here for Thunder Beast is precision and weight. With that in mind, titanium is a beautiful medium to work with despite its raw cost and difficulty to machine.
Functionally, the can feels like a dream to shoot! Thunder Beast has an AX-ELR set up in the configuration the can was designed for, and by comparison to its contemporaries, it’s a joy to shoot. Typically, .50s punch like an amateur boxer.
On the other hand, this one was more akin to a 6.5 Creedmoor offhand. Follow-up shots with proper body position came with relative ease, and there was no felt concussion to the face, which is a marked improvement over previous experiences with other .50 cal cans.
I got a feel for all of the configurations of the suppressor and quickly realized it was something special. Their .50 is like no other suppressor in its category on the market. It mounts using their tapered shoulder and tooth muzzle device, allowing for a solid lockup and ease of removal.
Thunder Beast has chosen a Morse 7-degree taper to simplify removing the can and reduce carbon lock as much as possible. Another notable and interesting feature is that the brake at the end of the suppressor is timeable. That feature is necessary because you can run the brake on either length configuration. These choices come from their proven track record in the precision rifle game, and it shows.
The one downside is, as you might imagine, all these features don’t come cheap. With a street price proportional to its size, this is the suppressor for someone who wants to see what they can get a 750gr AMAX to do.
Titanium itself isn’t inexpensive, nor is the tooling necessary to work it into such a fine specimen of suppression. The plus side is that the price includes everything you’ll need to run the suppressor, including muzzle device, body extension, and muzzle brake.
Not all suppressors are created equal or created with the entire market in mind. The Thunder Beast .50 is intended for a uniquely specific use, but it excels at that beyond what many would think is possible. This is what advanced engineering and understanding are capable of from people who shoot a lot.
The crew at Thunder Beast also practice what they preach, and I can say that from first-hand experience. Having them out at CanCon Arizona was a fantastic experience for us and the attendees as well. Getting hands-on experiences like this outside an entirely suppressed range day would be difficult, if not impossible.
If you’re looking for the coolest addition to your .50 rifle, you’ll be hard-pressed to get much better than the Thunder Beast .50 cal suppressor.