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Do Gun Silencers Really Work?

Do Gun Silencers Really Work?

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Do Gun Silencers Really Work?

Kat Ainsworth Stevens

Kat Ainsworth Stevens

For decades, silencers have been portrayed by Hollywood as something only used by elite assassins and military snipers after high-value targets. In the eyes of Hollywood, silencers make loud guns into silent pea shooters. The reality is less cinematic, but far more useful for the daily shooter.

Silencers have numerous uses in daily gun life, and we’re going to explain all the hows and whys in this article. If you want to learn why a silencer is a good idea to add to your arsenal and if they really work, you’re in the right place.

What is a silencer?

A silencer is an object attached to the muzzle of a gun for the purpose of making shots fired quieter. Silencers don’t suppress sound as dramatically as the movies make it appear, but they do reduce the decibels to a level that is safer for your ears.

Do gun silencers really work?

Yes, gun silencers make gun shots quieter, but not inaudible. Surprisingly, the real purpose of silencers is hearing protection. Silencers are meant to be used to reduce hearing damage from long term and short term use, especially when paired with other hearing protection. 

How does a silencer reduce sound?

Silencers are usually cylindrical tubes that screw onto the threaded barrel of a gun. Internally, the silencer contains a series of chambers that redirect the heat and gases produced by live fire, reducing the decibels. The chambers are typically created using pieces called baffles, although certain designs use flat inserts called wipes. Baffles are better than wipes when it comes to accuracy, longevity, and overall noise suppression. 

Internal baffles arranged on the outside of a SilencerCo Octane 9 suppressor
Silencers function thanks to the baffles, seen here in the Octane 9, that help redirect the gases and heat created by live fire.

How effective are silencers at noise suppression?

Generally speaking, silencers drop the sound level by around 25 to 30 decibels, but it can vary quite a bit.  Exactly how much a silencer suppresses gunshots depends on a few things including the silencer’s design and the caliber being fired.  A good example is 300 Winchester Magnum, a cartridge that can produce more than 170 decibels. The SilencerCo Harvester EVO can reduce the decibels of 300 Winchester Magnum to around 136 decibels, depending on the gun and ammunition being used.

The bottom line is that silencers are designed to reduce the noise level of gunshots to the point that wearing hearing protection becomes optional. We recommend still wearing ear protection when shooting suppressed. The combination of our silencers and over-the-ear protection can revolutionize your shooting experience.

Woman with suppressed rifle slung over shoulder in front of a saddled horse
Using a silencer is a good way to protect your hearing and the hearing of those around you.

Do silencers make gunshots silent?

No, silencers do not cancel out the sound of live fire into a quiet hiss or barely-audible pop. What they do is drop the decibels to a far safer level for your hearing. The gunshots are still audible, just quieter than without a silencer being used. 

Why should I use a silencer?

Silencers are great for protecting your hearing, with or without over-the-ear protection. Suppressed live fire is better for everyone. And when you’re shooting suppressed, it’s a lot easier to carry on a conversation and give instructions than when wearing bulky ear protection.

There are also other reasons to use a silencer beyond hearing protection. If you’re a hunter, silencers reduce the noise level in the area, making it far less likely you’ll shoot out an area and scare off other game. Also, if you’re hunting a species such as feral hog where you’re likely to want to take multiple shots to drop several animals in a row, a silencer can make that easier to accomplish.

On the tactical side, silencers reduce the noise level so the sounds of live fire aren’t nearly so audible to other shooters or people who live in the area surrounding the range. In addition, silencers can reduce felt recoil for a more comfortable shooting experience, which translates to improved accuracy and performance. 

Harvester Evo suppressor
Suppressing your rifle is a fantastic way to minimize your sound footprint while hunting or target shooting outdoors.

Do silencers work on handguns?

Silencers work well on handguns, though you’re not likely suppress a daily concealed carry pistol. The SilencerCo Octane 9 can reduce the noise level of 9mm—which can be around 160 decibels—down to approximately 127 decibels.

If you prefer 45 ACP, the SilencerCo Octane 45 drops the sound of unsuppressed 45 ACP, which is typically around 160 decibels to approximately 132 decibels. Keep in mind that the gun and ammunition being used plays a role and that using subsonic ammunition can lessen the decibels as well, making it a great idea to use subsonic ammo in conjunction with a silencer.

Glock handgun with SilencerCo Octane 9 suppressor attached
Using a silencer on your handgun not only reduces decibels but can help mitigate felt recoil and muzzle rise.

Do silencers work on shotguns?

Silencers work with shotguns too, though shotguns might not be the first firearm platform you think of suppressing, but with the SilencerCo Salvo 12, shotguns can be quiet too. The Salvo 12 was the first shotgun silencer to be made commercially available, and it remains a stellar option for shotgunners. The decibels produced by shotguns vary by specific load, but if your 12 gauge is loaded with #7 shot, the Salvo 12 can reduce it to approximately 136 decibels. The Salvo 12 silencer is made to be used in varying lengths depending on application but must be used with a choke adapter.

truck shotgun with SilencerCo Salvo 12 silencer attached
Yes, your 12-gauge shotgun can be suppressed, thanks to the Salvo 12.

Do silencers really protect your hearing?

Yes, they do. According to the American Suppressor Association, the proper use of a silencer reduces the decibel levels of live fire about as low as wearing good hearing protection does. This means that use of a silencer without wearing ear protection can have approximately the same effect as wearing ear protection while shooting unsuppressed. And if you choose to shoot suppressed while also wearing hearing protection, you will protect your hearing even more.

Not only do silencers work, they have practical applications outside hearing protection. Whether your focusing is hunting, target shooting, or tactical training, there’s a silencer for you. Isn’t your hearing worth it?

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