You just bought your very first air gun, and you can’t wait to begin practising with it. However, one thing that’s holding you back is the potential for noise. Are you going to get complaints from your neighbours if you do target practice in the backyard? Do air guns make noise or are they quiet?
Air guns definitely make noise, generally between 74 to 90 decibels, although some models are admittedly quieter than others. For the louder guns, it’s the compressed air getting quickly pushed out of the gun that causes the noise. The speed the pellets travel as well as cleaning your air gun with a petroleum lubricant can also contribute to those unwanted sounds, resulting in a noisier gun.
In this article, we’ll go much more in-depth on airgun noise, including what you hear and why you do. We’ll also share some quieter air gun models if you’re looking for one as well as what you can do with your own airgun to quieten it.
Quieter than a Fire arm
One of the reasons that compelled you to try an air gun was because you thought it’d be quieter than a traditional gun. After all, firearms rely on a type of chemical reaction known as exothermic oxidation when they fire. The propellant, or the bullet, destroys molecular bonds and makes energy that propels it forward.
Air guns have no chemicals, that’s true. Instead, with air guns it’s pressurized gas or air that launches the pellet from the gun. This form of pneumatics maybe doesn’t sound as loud as a gunshot from a traditional firearm, but it has some oomph to it. When you fire a pellet from your air gun, the people next door would hear it as a cracking sound.
Now, air guns aren’t excessively loud, about 74 to 90 decibels depending on the model. For comparison’s sake, a typical conversation you have with a friend, family member, or coworker is between 60 and 70 decibels. A phone’s dial tone is 80 decibels and a train whistle that’s 500 feet away will sound off at 90 decibels.
While it’s true that any sound greater than 75 decibels could lead to hearing loss with enough exposure, not all air guns meet those requirements.
What Causes Air Guns to Be So Loud?
Okay, so we’ve already established that air guns aren’t silent. If you’re worried about your neighbors hearing you fire, they probably would. Whether they call and make a complaint will depend on how often you use your air gun and how cool your neighbors are. Some won’t mind while others might ask that you find somewhere else to practice.
You may wonder, what exactly is that it makes air guns so loud? Let’s go back to what we discussed in the intro to answer that question.
Air guns, as we already explained, uses pneumatics to push the pellet out of the gun. The pneumatics in this case are compressed air. In many other applications that use it, compressed air isn’t quiet, and the same goes for air guns.
Compressed air has pressure that’s measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. If the compressed air is even 40 PSI, it could lead to injuries to the ear through misuse. For example, if you fired your gun too close to your ears, like four inches away, you could suffer eardrum rupturing and brain damage (in some cases) from compressed air. Some air guns fire at 60 PSI, so the air can be fast, dangerous, and yes, loud.
In fact, when the compressed air exits your gun, it makes a blast wave. This occurs when the compressed air meets the ambient air of your backyard or other shooting environment. Many air gun owners liken the phenomenon to what happens when a champagne bottle’s cork pops off from too much pressure. The cork can go flying, almost like a projectile. That’s due to the compressed air in the bottle.
Popping a champagne cork isn’t particularly loud, but that’s because the air pressure is nowhere near the 40 or 60 PSI an air gun is operating on.
Pellet Traveling Speed
Even if you lessened that PSI, your air gun might still make noise. You see, when you fire the air gun and the pellet exits the barrel, that’s not exactly quiet either. The speed of sound travels at 1,125 feet each second. Your air gun pellets may move at 1,100 feet each second. That’s almost the speed of sound, creating a sonic boom (not a big one, but it does still happen). You’re certainly going to hear that.
Using the Wrong Cleaning Products
You also have to carefully read over the ingredients for the cleaning products you use on your air gun. For instance, if your cleaner has a lubricant with petroleum in it, firing your air gun will be louder than usual. That’s due to the lubricant’s flammability. Now, when the air pushes the pellet out of the gun, detonations can occur on a very small scale. This is known as dieseling and we really don’t recommend it.
Can You Reduce the Noise Your Air Gun Makes?
If you’re tired of the neighbors banging on your door and threatening to call the cops if you continue to use your air gun, you’re not completely out of options. Now that you understand what makes your air gun so loud, you can take proactive steps to reduce the noise.
One thing we recommend is an accessory known as a muzzle break or silencer. This cuts down on the compressed air so it can’t make quite as much noise when you fire your air gun. It’s worth trying, even if the effects can be negligible, say some air gun owners.
By shooting off at least 75 pellets before you want to begin truly firing, you might clear the air gun of any lubricants you used before that you shouldn’t have. That said, firing off that many shots in rapid succession could still lead to a knock on your door from your neighbors, so tread carefully.
Again, please don’t use lubricants with petroleum in them, as they won’t help your air gun nearly as much as you’re thinking. As we said, those lubricants will only make the gun noisier. Sure, it’s clean, but it’s loud, too.
What Are the Quietest Air Guns on the Market?
The biggest change you can make that will deliver the best results is to get a new, quieter air gun. Older air guns might not come with a muzzle, but many newer models do, and it’s built right in. Further, today’s manufacturers design their guns with quietness in mind.
Which of these more silent air guns do we recommend? Here are a few of our top picks.
Renowned for making less noise, the Benjamin Marauder is a much beloved pick among air gun enthusiasts. It’s pre-charged for quieter use right out of the gate. Further contributing to its quietness is that the pellets exit the gun through discharged air instead of compressed air. There’s also resonance dampening through the shrouded barrel for less noisy shots.
Air Arms TX200 MkIII
The TX200 MkIII from Air Arms has silencing technology in the form of a barrel baffled shroud. This moves the air elsewhere so you don’t hear it each time you use the air gun. Besides its appealing rifle styling, this air gun is designed in such a way to muffle the sounds of pellets.
You should also consider the Stoeger X20S if you’re still looking for an air gun. It has a suppressor feature with two stages for superior quietness. You get an internal air regulator ring as well as dampening baffles. The ring provides insulation to the air in the gun so it’s not quite as loud. Some users have complained about the breech tightness, so keep in mind that might be something you face when using this gun.
When choosing an air gun, always make sure you consider the factors that matter to you most. While the three guns we suggested are quiet, as we said, the Stoeger X20S has breech issues according to some. Also, other air gun owners say the Air Arms TX200 MkIII isn’t an ideal hunting gun.
Silence may be golden, but don’t sacrifice the features you love in the process of finding a quieter gun!
Air guns might not trigger a chemical reaction like traditional firearms, but the air pressure pneumatics are anything but quiet. Considering that the pellets can travel at close to the speed of sound, you’re going to hear them. The same is true of the air leaving the gun. Using the wrong type of cleaner can only amplify the noise.
While muzzles and proper cleaning products can quieten your air gun somewhat, your best bet is to get a newer, less noisy model if that’s in the budget. Air guns will never be totally silent, but a quieter gun should keep the neighbors off your back. Good luck!