Do Silencers make the same sound as in the movies?

Did you hear that?

For those that have not the privilege to shoot a suppressed firearm. Some of our readers wanted to know if there is much differences in the actual sound of suppressed versus what you hear in the movies.

Mythbusters steps up to the plate to test this out. The following is from one of their series Episode: “Blow Your Own Sail”. In this video they lightly touch on-the-how a silencer work to decrease the sound. Eventually, getting into the nitty gritty of testing the sound of unsuppressed vs suppressed. The results are.

For the suppressor owners, you already know its a huge differences. When suppressed its safe to say the sound was from “dangerous to your hearing to safe”. As for the suppressed silencer that you hear in the movies, well with a little bit of sound effects, it just makes it sound cooler.

There are other benefits to the silencer gun, such as:

  • The extra weight reduces both muzzle lift and the recoil
  • Reduce the sound and the concussion– the blast of the bullet
  • Reduces the muzzle flash to zero

All of these benefits makes the silencer a safer gun to play with.

Video Transcription

Narrator: The next classic Hollywood sound effect to get the Mythbusters treatment is the gun silencer. And down at the South San Francisco Police Department shooting range, the boys mean business. Cue Myers Sound Senior Audio Scientist, Doctor Roger Schwenke. With several previous appearances on the show, he gets the much sought-after title of Honorary Mythbuster. And today, he’s brought along his labratory-grade recording and analysis equipment.

Jaime: We wanna see whether these things actually make the same sounds in real life that they do in the movies. Or do they make any sound at all? How do these silencers work? Well, they’re kinda like mufflers on cars. They’ve got a series of baffles in them that sort of slow down and re-direct the gasses that’re passing through, and absorb a lot of the energy in the sound.

Narrator: That’s how silencers silence, but outside a movie theater, what exactly are they used for?

Adam: Look, we would be remiss if we didn’t explain that this is not an assassin’s tool. Actually, military and law enforcement love suppressors for four main reasons. The extra weight out at the front of the gun actually reduces both muzzle lift and the recoil of the gun, making it easier to aim and stay on target. It does actually reduce the sound and the concussion– the blast of the bullet, and it also reduces the muzzle flash to zero; all of which makes this a safer and easier weapon to use.

Narrator: Right. Let’s get down to testing. First up, Adam and Jaime take aim at a baseline.

Adam: First, we are going to fire an unmodified pistol at the target.

Adam: Aaand three, two, one!


Adam: Then we’re going to put a silencer on that gun and shoot again at the target, and compare the silenced round sound to the original gun sound and to the movie sound effect of the silencer.

[more gunshots]

Adam: I’m holding a silenced pistol! It’s just as cool as you think it is.

Narrator: Now for the suppressor. Is the movie version anything like reality? Do silencers work as well in real life as they do on film?


Jaime: That’s nice!

Adam: That was pretty cool! That seemed a lot quieter than I thought it would!

Narrator: And Jaime’s nine-milimeter pistol is equally surprising.


Narrator: It’s an impressive improvement, but for analysis, let’s hear from our expert acoustician. First, decibels. A measure of the intensity of the sound pressure.

Roger: So, we go from a hundred-sixty-one and then suppressed we go down to 128.

[Adam whistles]

Roger: That’s a big change. That goes from dangerous to your hearing to safe.

Narrator: But it’s not just the power, the texture and time signature of the sound is also altered.

Adam: Can we hear ’em?

Assistant: Here’s unsuppressed. [Sound]

Adam: Ok, now let’s hear suppressed. [Sound]

[Adam laughs]

Jaime: Yeah, that tells the story.

Narrator: And it’s a story worth hearing again. A story with a surprise ending!

Adam: I swear I went into this one thinking it would be completely busted, I’m kinda blown away.

Narrator: But what about the all-important movie version? How does that stack up?

Adam: Can we hear the Hollywood sound?

Roger: Sure.

[Pew!] [Adam laughs]

Adam: Dude, that is far out.

Narrator: Far out indeed, but although it’s not quite identical, the real-life suppressor does reduce the volume of the gunshot to Hollywood levels. And that’s enough to impress Adam. A lot.

Adam: One of the most common questions we get is ‘Are we surprised by the results that we come up with on the show’. Today? Monstrously surprised. I arrived at work this morning expecting that we would completely bust the myth that you could possibly suppress the sound of a bullet anywhere close to what the movies would lead you to believe, and I leave today being a convert to the idea. This thing’s totally plausible! The only reason I’m not calling it a ‘confirmed’, is instead of a ‘Pew, pew!’ sound like they do in the movies (I’m shooting my cameraman’s knees out, here) it’s more of a ‘PShEW, PShEW’ sound. But that is picking nits as far as I’m concerned! This is astonishing!

by J Hines

Sources: DrGl0ck23 Youtube, Mythbusters, Discovery Channel

Looking to get some Ammo, have a look below.