Suppressor Myth #1 – Silencers Make Guns “Hollywood Assassin” Silent

Silencer Central

Almost everyone reading this knows that guns are loud. As we’ve discussed in articles previously, a single gunshot will cause permanent hearing damage. Will suppressors change that and make guns Hollywood quiet? 

Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). The measurement scale is logarithmic and the general rule of thumb is that every 3 dB is a doubling of sound intensity. So for example, if you were to compare a rifle that has a db reading of 145 dB vs one with 148 dB, the one with 148 dB gunshot would be twice as intense as the one with 145 dB. This is a difficult concept to put into practice as what each individual hears is somewhat subjective.

To make this easier, I created a scale of references for how the loud situations we commonly encounter actually register in dB’s. I thought about doing a video comparing different sounds, but video cameras have a difficult time showing the difference between sounds. They have built-in compression and limiters that tend to make all sounds similarly loud. They’re not a good reference for the comparison of suppressors or sounds. 

Any sound over 140 dB will cause pain and permanent ear injury at a minimum. If you limit it to an impulse or impact, 140 dB is the bare minimum that you could argue an impulse or gunshot might be hearing safe.  

Most firearms are between 140-175 dB

150 dB – Jet taking off at 25 meters 

140-150 dB – Firecrackers 

130 dB – Thunderclap 

120 dB – Chain saw

The CDC claims that constant sounds over 110 dB cause hearing loss in less than two minutes. 

110 dB – Shouting, Live rock concerts, Automobile horn at 1 meter, Steel mills, Riveting machines, Jackhammer

Sounds that are constant, like a stereo, and between 105 and 110 dB can cause hearing loss in less than 5 minutes.

105-110 dB – Snowmobiles, Jet flyover at 100 feet

The CDC says that sounds that are 100 dB cause hearing damage after 15 minutes. 

100 dB – Car horn at 16 feet, Stadium-style football games, Jet flyover at 1000 ft, Motorcycles, Farm tractor

90 dB – Boeing 737 at one nautical mile, Motorcycle at 25 feet

80 dB – Garbage disposal, Freight train at 15 meters, Propeller plane flyover at 1000 ft. 

70 dB – Freeway 50 ft from pavement edge at 10 a.m., Vacuum cleaner, washing machine

60 dB – Normal conversation

30 dB – A whisper

20 dB – Ticking watch

10 dB – Breathing 

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Those sounds should give you some reference for comparison purposes.

Earplugs and hearing muffs give NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) ratings. For example, many over-the-ear muffs are 22 dB NRR. That means that they reduce the noise by 22 dB. So a 16 inch AR-15 unsuppressed is 165 dB, then 165 – 22 = 143 dB. Still pretty loud and likely not enough to completely prevent hearing damage. 

According to the American Suppressor Association, most suppressors, on average, reduce decibels by between 20-35 dB (check the individual specs for each suppressor). 

A 16 inch AR-15 suppressed with supersonic ammunition will be around 132 dB which makes it impulse hearing safe but certainly not silent (thunderclap).

A 9mm pistol shooting 147g subsonic will be around 126 dB (chainsaw).

With the smallest and quietest calibers, like an integrally suppressed .22, you’re still going to be around 110 dB’s (auto horn or shouting). 

A lever action Red Ryder BB gun is 97 db. 

To answer the question, do silencers make guns silent, the answer is a resounding No. Even if you could get a suppressor to suppress to 100 dB, which would be pretty impressive, it would still be as loud as a jet flyover at 1000 feet. You’re certainly going to be able to hear it. 

The biggest and most important benefit of suppressors is to protect the hearing of the people shooting the guns. Silencers don’t make guns Hollywood whisper silent but they do drop them to levels that don’t instantly cause hearing damage. 

Interested in getting a suppressor?  Check out GunsAmerica’s Suppressor Academy. 

About the author: True Pearce is the Managing Editor at GunsAmerica. He’s a competitive shooter, hunter, instructor & attorney. You can see and follow his adventures on Instagram. @true1911 https://www.instagram.com/true1911/

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Billy M June 29, 2022, 7:42 am

    I am a bit confused about the author’s numbers, If my ear muffs do not reduce the sound enough to prevent hearing loss, what good are they and why should I use them? I use electronic plugs and muffs that stop the impulse noise of shooting. My hearing aids actually block out the report form 9mm. And I agree with another commenter, I had a friend with an integral suppressor on a Ruger 10/22 and all you heard was the bolt moving. And I have heard there are 9mm rounds, suppressors, and guns that are whisper quiet but are quire limited in distance and accuracy

  • GIdeon D.Asche June 28, 2022, 10:05 am

    I don’t know what style suppressors you use but…

    There are plenty of supressors around that will quiet 9-mm to almost Hollywood levels. My Issue weapon was quiet enough that the loudest sound you heard was the projectile hitting the target. – (GSG-9 issued supressed MP-5)

    One of my Issue MP-5 , it was seriously quiet
    Interestingly enough, The GLocks wouldn’t rechamber if you tried to suppress them. – we ended up using Baretta for suppressed sidearms.

  • Robert Rzodkiewicz June 16, 2022, 10:21 pm

    “…, most suppressors, on average, reduce decibels by between 20-35 dB “ FYI an average is one number, not a range of numbers!

  • Bemused Berserker June 16, 2022, 10:52 am

    The 1934 NFA and all subsequent legislation has been Unconstitutional from the very start. Congress placed Limits on a Right, a Right that says it “Shall Not Be Infringed.” In effect, they Amended an Amendment. Something Congress does not have the power to do per Article V. By a 2/3rds vote of the House, an Amendment is proposed, but it cannot become Law until the proposed amendment is “ratified by 3/4ths of the State’s Legislatures.” That part of the Amending process was bypassed, and whichever SCOTUS court(s) that’s upheld the NFA and all subsequent legislation is fundamentally and legally wrong. It’s that simple. In upholding the illegal Congressional Acts, the Judiciary has acted against the Constitution, as has the Executive, by signing the Acts into US Code.

    We really should have revolted in 1934, 1968, 1986, 1994 and especially now, if that Demented Dipschitt in the Oval Office signs any Gun Control Legislation.

    • GIdeon D.Asche June 28, 2022, 10:20 am

      Not technically true – the NFA does not ban any weapon – it requires a tax stamp…
      all federal gun laws fall under either tax or H&S provisions and therefore – DO not technically violate the 2nd. the right to bear arms is not infringed.

      – it is a fine line but one that passed legal muster,

      the 2nd does not cover supressors, bump stocks, or any non-OEM part of a weapon.

      If you get arrested for possessing an automatic weapon you are not charged with possession of the weapon, under NFA , that is just one element of the crime. the actual crime is violating the tax stamp requirement,

      by the same token – states can pass any anti-gun law they want and it does not violate the 2nd. The 10th gives that power to the states, the feds have nothing to say about it, that’s why NY and CA can enforce gun bans with impunity.

      Gun control never works, why do you think TYrants never use it? Hell, Hitler rescinded all gun control in NAZI Germany in 1934 and never allowed any gun control laws to be enacted again.

  • Charlie June 15, 2022, 10:14 am

    Tinnitus is no joke ! I’d love to put Bluetooth headphones on lefties with 1175hz. frequency (my tinnitus ringing frequency) transmitted from a frequency generator app pumped into their ears 24/7 and see how long they last.

  • Elmer Fudd June 14, 2022, 6:01 pm

    Own a .22 suppressor. It’s Hollywood quiet with CCI standard velocity ammunition. I have two more suppressors in NFA jail and can’t wait to get them. One is a multi-cal and the other is 9mm. It will cover me for all my shooting needs. I have the bug.

    It’s bad manners not to use a suppressor, you wouldn’t drive a car with no muffler, would you?

    The way I understand why they were added to the NFA was due to the fear of poachers using them during the Great Depression. James Bond, etc. came 30 years later.

    • James June 15, 2022, 2:44 pm

      Back a 100 some years ago, a special interest group wanted to ban all alcohol in America ( sound familiar?) So they convinced the politiicians to ban all alcohol.

      People still wanted to dri k. Even the politiicians who voted for probition went to unground bars. It became a big joke
      . Bootleggers and booze runners popped up bringing in liquor fro Mexico and Canada.
      There was a lot of money to be made smuggling in liquor. Soon the mob got into it.
      Then there were shoot outs over money and turf.

      Bank robberies increased.

      Soon people were yelling for the government to do something. ( Sound familiar?). So the FDR administration came up with the idea of the 1934 gangster gun control act.
      Some in the administration also wanted to ban all handguns.

      One of the senator working on this illegal bill, had a friend in the Fish & Game department, who told him to add sound suppressor to the bill to stop all poaching. This had nothing to do with stopping bootlegger and bank robbers. So he added sound suppressor to the bill to supposedly stop poaching.

      I read a article awhile back that said many senators were confused by parts of the bill. Many of these senators at that time never even finished school!
      The bill banned sawed off shotgun a, a favorite of the mob, then a senator added sawed off rifles ( which were rarely ever used in crimes). to the bill. This did not make any sense as many lever action rifles had “trapper” barrels of 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″ barrels.
      If they come from the factory with this barrel length, how can they be considered “sawed off rifles.”?

      And this bill make handguns with shoulder stock sawed off rifles. That didn’t make any sense at all. Many models of handguns were available with shoulder stocks, 1896 Mauser,
      Colt revolvers, 1911 Govt. Models, Browning High Power. Make it legal again to put a shoulder stock on a handgun!

      The politiicians said this bill would stop all Bootleggers and bank robbers. Did it? .Of course not. The only thing that stopped them was they either got arrested or shot and killed.

      But unfortunately this illegal 1934 gun control bill is still on the books. We do not have bank robbers riding on sideboards of cars robbing banks anymore.
      Today they use computers.

      Repeal the illegal 1934 gun control act now!

      There are several far leftist politicians who make rediculus claims that if silencers were available, all kinds of ” hitmen” would be roaming America shooting people.
      I think that they have been playing too many video games and watching way too many Hollywood violent movies.

      Sound suppressor came out to help shooters hearing as guns are very loud. But these gun banning politicians don’t care if hunters, plinkers and target shooters loose their hearing.

      The gun banning far leftist politicians are always saying that if they can pass another gun restriction law that all crime will stop. Really?

      Maybe if these demoncrap run cities would stop listening to a bunch of loud mouth criminals, rioters, looters protesters and arsonist and stopped trying to defund-abolish the police and let the police go out and arrest these criminals and put them in prison for long sentences then the crime rate will go down. It’s as simple as that.

      In commiefornia, criminals break into railroad cars and steal merchandise and if and when they are ever caught, they are not charged with any crime and are let go because they are “poor and a minority”.

      In commiefornia, shoplifter’s walk into clothing stores and grab arm fulls of clothes off the racks and walk out to a waiting car and drive off. No one does anything to stop them execpt film it on their cell phones and post it on YouTube.

      In NYC, crazy people go on subway cars and stab subway riders and they have even thrown people in front of incoming subway trains. If and when they are ever caught, they are not charged with a crime and are let go because they are ” poor and homeless”.

      The far leftist politicians say you don’t need a gun for home protection as you will get ” confused” and shoot yourself or your family members. Huh??

      These gun banning groups and hunting banning groups are run and funded by Micheal Bloomberg, George Soros, the Chinese government, Russia, the U.N.,. North korea and Mexico.

      China wants Australia, New Zealand and America.

      China and Saudi Arabia are spending billions buying up American farmland and ranch land and no one seems to care. The politiicians won’t pass any laws to stop them. What happens when they have bought up all of America’s farmland and there’s no food for Americans?

      China is using it’s umbrella companies to purchase TV stations and newspapers in America.

      During WW2, Germany and Japan had plans to invade the east coast and west coast of America and they wanted Mexico to invade the southern states promising Mexico to give them Arizona, New Mexico and Texas but they were afraid of all the Americans who owned guns who would fight them off. Nowadays they are joining up to ban all firearms in America!

      Russia, Iran, North Korea and Cuba are sending military vechiles, soldiers and advisors to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Mexico. Mexico has thousands of Russian government officials and soldiers in their country. And it’s right next to America.

      Does anyone remember the 1984 movie “Red Dawn”? Russia did the exact same thing in the movie!

      The far leftist politicians say the police will protect you. No they won’t. The police are there to solve crimes and arrest criminals. That’s all.

      Many of these demoncrap run cities have so called ” gun buy backs”, where people turn in guns and get a $50 gift certificate to purchase tennis shoes.
      If anyone has a gun they don’t want, they can take it to a gun shop and sell it and get more money for it.
      At these ” gun buy backs”, the police will have a undercover agent in disguise putting guns on the tables to make the ” get n buy back ” look good.
      Also at these “gun buy backs”, the police will have surveillance vans with cameras and videos taking pictures of everyone who shows up and of their cars and license plates. They may even if fact pay a visit to the people some night checking what other guns they may have that weren’t turned in.

      The administration is having sections of the border wall taken down and sold off for scrap. This allows the cartels, M 13 gang members, M 18 gang members, drug dealers, murderers, felons, terrorists spies criminals and prostitutes to cross the border and the administration welcomes them and the crime that they bring.

      American cannot become the dumping ground for all the world’s poor, unemployed and criminals.

      Do we really want America to end up like India with over a billion people living on the streets, alleys sidewalks, gutters and having to eat garbage out of dumpsters just to survive?

      Finish the border wall now!

      AOC and the squad and Letitia James want to repeal the 2nd amendment.
      AOC and the squad want to replace the Constitution and Bill of Rights with something out of Castro and Stalin handbook and turn America into a ” communist workers paradise”!
      AOC and the squad want to replace the American flag too!

      Heres how to stop school shootings. Stop all this useless foreign aid to countries that hate America. Instead, use these billions to put either police and soldiers at every school in America and if anyone tries to shoot up a school, they will shoot them on sight.

      Also, arrest the parents of these school shootings, they raised them like this, they are responsible for them! Put the parents in jail!

      These gun banning groups and gun banning politicians want to ban all semi auto firearms. Then what is next? They will want to ban all pump action shotgun, bolt action rifles, lever action rifles, so the only thing that will be left are single shot firearms.

      The gun banning groups and gun banning politicians want to ban all magazines over 10 rounds. I’ve read that next on their list is to ban all magazines over 7 rounds, then ban all magazines over 5 rounds .

      The gun banning groups and gun banning politicians want 30, 60 or even 90 day waiting period to purchase any firearms, always claiming this will ” stop crime” and stop suicides.

      Criminals do not go into gun stores to purchase guns. They either steal them or buy them off the black market just like they buy illegal drugs off the black market.

      Rifles are used in only 400 shootings a year.
      Animal attacks kill over 2,000 a year.

      Fist and feet kill over 2,000 a year.
      Train accidents kill over 2,000 a year.
      Guns kill 25,000 a year.
      Knives kill over 25,000 a year.
      Car accidents kill over 50,000 a year.
      Doctors kill over 100,000 patients a year in malpractice.
      Illegal drugs kill over 110,000 a year.
      Lung cancer from cigarettes kill 450,000 a year.
      Heart attacks kill over 1 million a year.

      Why is it that back in the 1950’s, one could walk into a hardware store, gun shop or mail order all kinds of firearms with no background check, no federal forms to fill out, and no waiting period and crime was much lower back then?

      Why is it that back in the 1950’s, people left their front door unlocked, left keys in their cars. You couldn’t do that today, with home invasion and car jackings being common.

      Support and join pro gun groups and pro hunting groups!

      Don’t let the far leftist, Satan worshipping, power crazed politicians to restrict and ban firearms in America.

      Support and protect your right to keep and own all types of firearms and accessories.

      Buy more guns, ammo magazines and accessories now before it’s too late!

      Legalize sound suppressors, short barreled lever action rifles, and shoulder stocks for handguns!

  • Ej harbet June 14, 2022, 7:32 am

    This truth needs to find more eyes and ears. Suppressors increase the enjoyment of shooting to a high degree and make it more popular.
    The last thing the tyrants among us want is for weapons possession and recreational use to be fun. Because they want harmless slaves.

  • Jerald Koester June 13, 2022, 9:46 pm

    Good article about the sound of muzzle blast. But there w also the sound of the bullet braking the sound barrier. To many people still think a muzzle suppressor makes the bullet sound less. Not so, the crack of a bullet passing over is a sound one never forgets.

  • Michael J June 13, 2022, 10:27 am

    More Hollywood propaganda that dumbass politicians and bureaucrats swallow to prevent suppressors from being allowed without government restrictions.

  • Let's go Brandon, FJB June 13, 2022, 10:04 am

    It doesn’t matter what evidence you show to a deranged leftie; they don’t want anyone have a firearm or accessories. FJB, Si Vis Pacem Parabellum.

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