January 26, 2012: During the last decade "silencers" for all sorts of weapons (from pistols to 7.62mm machine-guns) have become increasingly popular on the battlefield. Actually, calling these devices silencers is a misnomer. The sound of a gun firing is not silenced but it is significantly reduced, or suppressed, by these tube like devices that are screwed onto the front of the barrel. The more common term these days is "suppressor" (of sound, recoil, and hot gasses blown back into the face of the shooter).
This suppression is useful on the battlefield as it confuses the enemy as to where the fire is coming from. This is often a matter of life or death for snipers, who sometimes use suppressors when the targets are relatively close. Machine-guns will sometimes use suppressors (which have recently become available for these weapons), not just to confuse the enemy but to make it easier to aim the fire. The suppressor reduces recoil and the hot gasses that are blown back into the face of the gunner. Both of these items make it difficult to carefully aim the machine-gun.
The pistol suppressors have been around the longest and are mainly used by special operations troops. But sometimes regular infantry will use them for raids that require that sort of thing.