Quiet guns, sans suppressors?


August 8, 2006, 12:10 AM
Until an ADA lawsuit makes noise suppressors mandatory (or at least sanely, straightforwardly legal) and beyond the reach of confiscatory, mendacious, opportunistic taxation by bullying revenuers, I'm wondering if there are legal, sane ways to shoot guns more quietly.

Not that I plan to ever shoot sans ear protection*, but are there significantly quieter loads / powders which would make shooting a less jarring experience, for new shooters especially? I have never handloaded (though I have on a handful of occasions fired others' handloads happily), but this is one reason I'd be interested in getting into reloading.

Are there guns shooting standard calibers which are by dint of their design quieter than similar-sized / similar-performing competitors? (Part of me says "silly! It's the cartridge that determines the sound, not the gun!" but I know many gun reviews talk about an especially loud / blast-heavy gun, so why not the opposite?)

I'd love to be able to shoot my .45 at lower volume (even slightly lower), for the sake of my ears long-term -- is that a pipedream?


* a single .22LR shot from a pistol was plenty loud enough, when I forgot that my earmuffs were still around my neck rather than replaced on my ears!

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August 8, 2006, 12:17 AM
Well, a long-barrel rifle in .38 special (we're talking 36"+) is quiet. Same for smaller pistol cartridges like that. :)

bad LT
August 8, 2006, 12:19 AM
22 shorts in a singleshot or bolt action rilfe

August 8, 2006, 12:20 AM
Aquila Colibris are about the only round I would consider to be especially quiet. They are a .22lr cartridge, with a 20 grain bullet, with no gunpowder, relying on the primer alone to fire the bullet. You can actually watch the bullet fly downrange. Obviously, it's not much more than a plinking round. About the only living thing I'd try to kill with a Colibri is maybe a squirrel from less than 10 meters.

August 8, 2006, 12:21 AM
A .22LR rifle firing subsonic ammo is pretty quiet, as in I can hear the bolt cycling over the light muzzle report. I've had a new shooter who was momentarily unsure whether the rifle actually fired.

August 8, 2006, 12:23 AM
I've had good luck using a ranger semi auto .22 (that has a locking breach and can be used bolt action) if you have a good long barrel, and you use subsonic ammo, (Aguilla SSS is good stuff) you can make it real quiet.

August 8, 2006, 12:42 AM
Until an ADA lawsuit makes noise suppressors mandatory

What would the ADA have to do with it?:scrutiny:

August 8, 2006, 12:59 AM
I had a Uberti Remington Baby Rolling Block clone chambered in 357 Mag. (one of the ones I kick myself for getting rid of:banghead: ) that shot .38 special wadcutters spooky quiet. Quieter then a .22 rifle shooting shorts. The bullets hitting a target nailed to a tree was louder..... It was my racoon medicine. The flat faced bullets hit with authority.

A H&R Handirifle chambered in .357 Mag. would probally do the same.

August 8, 2006, 01:18 AM
One of the primary reasons that people handload ammunition is to tailor the ammunition to their own needs. Making quieter ammunition is your need and that need can be readily addressed by handloading.
This always involves shooting reduced loads. This has been discussed plenty on this board as well as others. Do a search for "cats sneeze" loads.

August 8, 2006, 08:18 AM
Apparently Finn handloaders occasionally do this, for plinking or small-game hunting sans earmuffs. I accidentally came across this Finn page (English translation?) a few years ago when researching chamber pressure levels, and it was interesting enough that I was able to find it again after a few minutes of Googling:

http://guns.connect.fi/gow/arcane1.html (1st of 3 pages)

Disclaimer: I am not a handloader, so I have absolutely no idea if what he says makes sense or not. Use your judgement.

August 8, 2006, 12:41 PM
dang! now i just got to get a lever action .357 mag rifle ;)

though i suppose a rifle chambered in .45 colt would also be pretty quiet with standard pressure (subsonic 750-90fps) rounds :confused:

August 8, 2006, 01:33 PM
Quieter handgun loads are often achieved by:

1. Heavier bullet
2. Faster powder
3. Reduced powder charge

I've used a book load (verify on Hodgdon's website) in 9mm:

147gr berry's bullet
3.2gr Hodgdon's Titegroup
Federal small pistol primer
mixed brass
1.130" cartridge overall length

I get accused of shooting .22 all the time with this load. (It even makes minor PF out of a Glock 34.) That said, I still have to wear hearing protection with it.

I know some guys who use a faster powder still, although there's no listed load for it, so I will not be promulgating it here. I've heard it shot, and you could honestly probably get away with no hearing protection with it. I worry about the pressure spike with that load though.

Bottom line, less powder and faster powder will give you less noise/flash. At very reduced loads you will have a difficult time getting a semi-auto to cycle.

Flintlock Tom
August 8, 2006, 01:53 PM
Does the Aquila Colibris, sub-sonic, .22 round generate enough recoil to cycle a semi-auto like a Ruger 10/22?

August 8, 2006, 02:11 PM
Colubri's wouldn't, since they are primer powered only (no powder). Aguila makes a heavy-bullet subsonic load for the .22 that uses something like a 60-grain bullet that may or may not cycle a semiauto, but I'm sure a Colubri wouldn't.

August 8, 2006, 03:39 PM
What about that neat stuff that the russians were making? The cartridges used an internal piston that contained the "explosion" and hence the noise. The piston then pushed forward to launch the projectile.

More info here, http://world.guns.ru/ammo/am05-e.htm

Although I am sure that this is completley unavailable and not what you are looking for. Very cool though.

pete f
August 8, 2006, 04:26 PM
My brother bought a 1894 marlin in 357 a couple of years ago from a friend in money trouble, it was a "cowboy special" with a 24-26 inch barrel. I never saw it in the catalogs but it was a oct. barrel and full magazine tube. We tried it several times with .357's and it was tame as could be, then we had run out of mag loads and dropped some 148 DEWC on about 3.4 grains of bullseye and man that was amazing. ittybitty groups at 50 yards, more of a "bloop" sound when you shot it. and NO recoil. really fun toy, he uses it to pop squirrels at the bird feeder in a suburban setting, (he has a big hill behind his house for the backstop and no one has complained yet about the noise.)

August 8, 2006, 04:31 PM
Colibris are by far the quietest, The SSS are nice and quiet enough to occasionally shoot without protection*, and pack a mean punch on woodchucks, I might add.

I might have to look into a .357 lever action....;)

* Not Recommended

Jesse H
August 8, 2006, 04:35 PM
Does the Aquila Colibris, sub-sonic, .22 round generate enough recoil to cycle a semi-auto like a Ruger 10/22?

They don't cycle my 22/45.

Whatever you do, make darn sure you don't have any 'normal' .22 rounds mixed up in there. I don't know how but I did and that was the loudest sound in the world.

August 8, 2006, 04:39 PM
Aguillla SSS does cycle the 10/22 (although some guns which are dirty won't work quite as well) and I know it works in my buddys ruger mk1.

they won't cycle my prewar colt woodsman however.

August 8, 2006, 04:45 PM
I'm really amazed how quiet my new .38 Special is.


August 8, 2006, 04:51 PM
I know this isn't what you were asking, but it really isn't that hard to just buy a suppresor.

August 8, 2006, 04:57 PM
in michigan you still cannot have suppressors. I have a mossberg 331SL and it is spooky quiet with CCI standard velocity.

August 8, 2006, 05:22 PM
All my guns are really, really loud, but Michael_aos, I gotta say that that's a nice lookin' levergun.


August 8, 2006, 05:33 PM
I was once near a 'rather quiet' gun... think it was a lever gun with a full length barrel in 32-20.

August 8, 2006, 06:43 PM
Get an NEF (or similar) break-open 12ga. Stuff a .45 ACP chamber insert from http://www.mcace.com/shotguninserts.htm in there, and Loc-Tite it in place.

About as loud as dropping a phone book, or so I'm told. :)

Edit: I wonder if installing an extra-full turkey choke would get it even quieter? :confused:

August 8, 2006, 06:49 PM
If you can get one in your part of the world, try a .310 Cadet.

Stop Laughing you lot! I like the Cadet!

August 8, 2006, 08:38 PM
I've seen loadings for 32-20 that were listed as 'very quiet' and 'nearly silent, check barrel before next shot!'

I'll see if I can google them up

something similar in 38 special

My requirement was to develop one load which I could stock in quantity for use in any .38 Special revolver or "Cowboy Rifle." In my testing with current production Alliant Bullseye power, the lowest charge with the Remington, factory-swged, soft lead 158-gr. semi-wadcutter bullet which would exit the barrel every time (100 rounds, 50 each in rifle and revolver) was 1.2 grains of Bullseye, but only when used with a 3mm diameter enlarged flash hole.

This is about as large as you can go in a case which uses the small size (.175" / 4.45mm) primer. This charge didn't always exist when using a the unmodified 0.078"-0.082" (1.98-2.08mm) flash hole, 2 bullets out of 50 rounds fired in the 18" Marlin carbine lodged within 3" of the muzzle.

The load was "plinking accurate in the basement at 25 feet, but at 50 yards in the Marlin groups strung vertically over a foot! NOT acceptable! Velocity averaged 300 f .p .s . in the 6" Ruger Security Six and 480 fps in the 18" Marlin, but velocity standard Sd was over 100, which set off alarm bells! Had I taken the velocities first I would have quit sooner... Just plain lucky I guess!

All test loads used the Lee Factory Crimp die to hold bullets securely in the case against telescoping from compression of the tubular magazine spring in the Marlin 1894 carbine. I have found that this also improves velocity uniformity, as it seems to prevent the primer blast from dislodging the bullet before powder ignition in light loads. Of course, the powder must be suitable. I have limited myself to Alliant Bullseye so far, because I have it on hand and it would appear satisfactory.

A charge of 2 grains of Bullseye very satisfactory, but much louder (500 f.p.s. in the revolver ) . Point of impact was 6" low at 25 yards, producing a loose 4" group with noticeable projectile yaw from the 18-3/4" twist . Velocities were more uniform and entirely acceptable. Noise-wise in the revolver it was more quiet than a factory-loaded target 148-gr. wadcutter.

In the 18" Marlin it was fairly quiet, producing a satisfying "thunk" rather than a crack, rather like firing standard velocity .22 LR match ammunitionfrom a short-barreled sporting rifle. Not, however, like the "Cat's Sneeze" equivalent of Eley Tenex fired from a long barreled target rifle. The velocityaveraged about 700 f.p.s., point of impact was useful for plainking with iron sights at 25-50 yards plinking without changing the sights from my regular carbine zero for 158-gr. factory .357 Magnum softpoints at 100 yards. I got 2" round groups at 25 yards, larger than I expect with the best loads, but reasonable.

As the powder charge was increased above 2 grains velocities became more uniform and accuracy improved. Using Alliant Bullseye of current manufacture it takes 3.8 grains with the Remington 158-gr. lead SWC to approximate the velocity of factory standard velocity lead-bullet .38 Special loads averaging 800 +/- 20 f.p.s. in a 6" revolver and 950 +/- 20 in the Marlin.

Normal extreme spread of these loads with iron sights is "one inch per ten" (yards) in a handgun and "one inch per 25" in the Marlin, out to 100 yards. I used Norma 158-gr. lead RN factory ammunition as a benchmark. It is repeatable at these velocity ranges and gives 1.5" ten-shot groups at 25 yards from the 6" Ruger Security Six revolver and approximately the same at 50 yards from the Marlin carbine.

At longer ranges I can reliably keep 10 out of 12 shots on a 12" steel gong at 100 yards from the 6" Ruger revolver and expoect the same when plinking at 200 yards with my Marlin Cowboy Carbine. I do not change the sights, but use "Tennessee elevation" (centering the "ghost image " of the gong in my other eye between bottom of front sight bead and the sight dovetail base behind the slimmed portion of the front sight blade).

I didn't load any test increments between 1.2 grains and 2 grains of Bullseye. I need to do that, will do so and report. The 2 grain loads I tested here had unmodified, standard flash holes. My next step is to load samples at 1.5, 1.7 and 2.0 grains, with enlarged flash holes and see how they do.

August 8, 2006, 09:16 PM
I know this isn't what you were asking, but it really isn't that hard to just buy a suppresor.

Uhmm... with all due respect that depends on where you live. Some states do not allow suppresors at all. Such as Illinois.


August 8, 2006, 09:34 PM
Some other stuff to research:

Chamber Adapters: http://www.eabco.com/sale8.html

Hammond Game Getter: http://www3.telus.net/gamegetter/

Lots of good stuff here: http://guns.connect.fi/gow/ed.html

There used to be a number of very good articles on "Silent Loads" written by Paco Kelly on Sixgunner.com but I have no idea if they are still available.

I have tried everything listed above many times. Then, I just bought a number of real suppressors.

August 8, 2006, 10:14 PM
.22LR subsonic rounds through my old winchester semi-auto sound like a childs cap gun.

Another thought...pellet gun. My son and I shot about 60 pellets at targets out back last night. I use old license plates as targets so they make a nice sound when you hit them. Cheap, quiet, fun, can shoot inside the city limits.

August 9, 2006, 02:01 AM
For .22 rifles, you can counterbore a 22"-24" barrel to 17". Bore to .250" or larger. Scarey quiet and perfectly legal.

For .30 cal the Finn website has some good info. Do a Google for "cat's whisper".

Nail Shooter
August 9, 2006, 03:18 AM
My old Mossberg bolt 22 (bbl length is at least 26" I think) is quieter w/ CCI CB's than my .177 RWS pellet rifle.


August 9, 2006, 04:02 AM
"For .22 rifles, you can counterbore a 22"-24" barrel to 17". Bore to .250" or larger. Scarey quiet and perfectly legal."

Pardon my ignorance, but would you mind explaining that a bit more?

a) could you explain what counterboring is?
b) same question, I guess, but -- by what means does it make things quieter? :)

Thanks for any insight!


August 9, 2006, 10:26 AM
If you have a 22" barrel, he's saying get a .250" diameter reamer and ream out the barrel from the muzzle end to .250" diameter for 5 inches, so you end up with 17" of .22 caliber barrel and 5 inches of .250" diameter expansion area. That allows the gas to expand, slow, and cool some before exiting the muzzle.

August 9, 2006, 11:31 AM
I guess it all depends on what one means by "quiet" ...

A normal .22 out of a rifle isn't too bad, but it still has a supersonic crack

A unmodified lever action loaded with .38 specials seems like a nifty combination for shooting porcupines or other vermin - not silent but it appears that the sound probably wouldn't be recognized as a gunshot beyond my 40 acres. Not that it matters - I can shoot whatever I want here - but it would be handy for late night or early morning shooting.

August 9, 2006, 12:35 PM
NukemJim, true, but I've heard many misconceptions from shooters in free states that think it is some sort of impossible task. I feel bad for people in non-NFA states, but for the rest of us, it isn't as hard to get as some people seem to believe.

August 9, 2006, 01:12 PM
Just as a point of fact (sort of off-topic): I own a few decent pellet rifles that I shoot in the house and yard. Beeman R1, RWS 45, and a steroid Benjamn/Sheridan. I also have one of those Russian pistols IZH45 ? and a Beeman P1 pistol. All of them are SIGNIFICANTLY louder than my suppressed Glock 34, let alone my suppressed .22s. This pump-up Benjamn is as loud as a regular .22, or so it's seems when you fire it in the house. I sometimes shoot my suppressed Ruger Mk.II in the house and all I hear is a sharp clang when the bullet hits the bullet trap.

August 9, 2006, 11:26 PM
Well............... there's a bunch of threads currently running in the ammo forum found in www.rimfirecentral.com if you're okay with doing the .22 gig. Lots of discussions on what ammo's best, barrel length, what's subsonic versus supersonic, you name it, they're discussing it there. You can extrapolate a lot - I mean, velocity and mass, long versus short barrels, all stuff in excruciating detail. If quiet shooting is your thing, it's a place to get some new ideas. And you might just convince yourself you need ONE more firearm in the battery. :evil:

August 9, 2006, 11:58 PM
Perfect explanation! Use standard velocity ammo.
I have used a long shank drill bit in my Bridgeport mill to counterbore many rifles. Usually it is done to fix a barrel that is worn at the muzzle, from improper cleaning. Normal depth of my counterbores is about 2".

I was boring out the barrel on an old .22, to install a liner. I stopped at 16" and cleaned the barrel. I took it out and shot a few shots and it was extremely quiet.

August 10, 2006, 04:03 AM
NukemJim, true, but I've heard many misconceptions from shooters in free states that think it is some sort of impossible task. I feel bad for people in non-NFA states, but for the rest of us, it isn't as hard to get as some people seem to believe.

Even if I live in a free state(i.e. Texas) Why should I have to pay an extra $200 and fill out all kinds of paperwork and then wait a few months for permission?

Considering all the crap that goes on about how noisly gun ranges are, I should be able to just walk in and buy a suppressor.


August 10, 2006, 08:49 AM
Keep beating that drum.
See where it gets you.
Good Luck

Now onto something productive.
I bought this gun yesterday: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=214116

I decided I had to try it in the house using CB caps. It is very quiet. Far quieter (is that a word ?) than my air rifles. A friend has the same rifle and I was amazed at how quiet his was. Of course there is nothing special about it. Just a .22LR with a fairly long, heavy barrel.
Bottom line, it is a quiet gun sans suppressor.

Nathan Williams
August 10, 2006, 09:34 AM
My Glock 30 is among the loudest freakin guns I own. I dont know why you would bother with trying to quiet a 10/22, unless you are planning some clandestine activities ;) Do you really hate the neighbors cat that much? I shoot my little ruger all day with no plugs or muffs dont bother me a bit.

August 10, 2006, 09:41 AM
yeah, 444, but it CB caps also have less muzzle energy than your air rifles, no? :)

August 10, 2006, 09:47 AM
I don't know.
It is interesting that I never wondered what they velocity of a CB cap is. :uhoh:
The CB cap is definitely shooting a lot heavier bullet.

It doesn't matter for my needs. I am shooting them into a bullet trap at the end of the hallway. If I was actually trying to kill something I would use something bigger than either one of them: with a suppressor.

August 10, 2006, 09:53 AM
Bill, I agree. I should be able to buy suppresors with no fees or paperwork, and I should be able to carry a gun wherever I want without a permit, and I shouldn't have to fill out a 4473 to buy a gun, and I shouldn't have to pay income taxes, and I should be able to have multiple wives, while smoking pot, and barbequing endangered pandas. :)

In the meantime, if you want a suppresor, you have to play the game. However it isn't as hard as people on the internet make it out to be.

August 10, 2006, 11:09 AM
Yum! Panda! (In all seriousness, any animal whose penis is too small to procreate naturally should be allowed to die out.)

Make a range that fires through baffles, like old tires.

August 10, 2006, 05:37 PM
In the meantime, if you want a suppresor, you have to play the game. However it isn't as hard as people on the internet make it out to be.
It's pretty darned hard here in Minnesota, considering that the first step involves packing up and moving to a different state.

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