Decibel loudness comparison of various guns?


:( I live in Cali :( :(
March 1, 2012, 06:05 PM
Hey guys,

Over the years, I have seen lots of people make casual mentions of how some specific guns are much louder or quieter than each other, depending on the model.

For example, I have seen a lot of people say that the absolute loudest gun they've ever shot was some specific model of Mosin-Nagant. I have also seen various other specific guns be touted as being abnormally loud/quiet compared to various comparable firearms, etc.

So, what I was wondering is, does anyone know of any actual lists of different specific models of firearm being tested with an actual electronic decibel-meter device, to see exactly how loud various different specific guns actually are, with their actual decibel measurement numbers listed so you can see how various different gun models compare to each other in terms of loudness?

I have already seen a bunch of those generic lists where they list "typical" decibel levels of various objects, like a balloon popping, a jet engine at takeoff, a "gun" firing (they often don't even specify what type of gun let alone specific model), a space shuttle lifting off, etc etc, but, that's not what I'm asking about here.

Rather, I am asking if any of you have ever seen a list where it was strictly just various specific types/models of firearms being tested, and the decibel measurements of each being listed, so you could compare how loud the various different guns are compared to each other.

And, if such a thing does not exist, then, perhaps my best bet might be something along the lines of, if there was ever a thread or article somewhere about people trying to fabricate various custom suppressors for various guns, and maybe they tested them out to see how quiet they could get it, something like that might have the before-and-after decibel measurements for various types of guns?

But, like I said, the best would be if there's just a straight up comparison of non-suppressed various models of guns compared to each other just for the sake of seeing which ones are the loudest/quietest, if such a thing exists. Anyone know? thanks

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March 1, 2012, 06:27 PM
Here's a site with some information:


.410 Bore 28" barrel 150dB
26" barrel 150.25dB
18 " barrel 156.30dB
20 Gauge 28" barrel 152.50dB
22" barrel 154.75dB
12 Gauge 28" barrel 151.50dB
26" barrel 156.10dB
18 " barrel 161.50dB


.223, 55GR. Commercial load 18 " barrel 155.5dB
.243 in 22" barrel 155.9dB
.30-30 in 20" barrel 156.0dB
7mm Magnum in 20" barrel 157.5dB
.308 in 24" barrel 156.2dB
.30-06 in 24" barrel 158.5dB
.30-06 in 18 " barrel 163.2dB
.375 18" barrel with muzzle brake 170 dB


.25 ACP 155.0 dB
.32 LONG 152.4 dB
.32 ACP 153.5 dB
.380 157.7 dB
9mm 159.8 dB
.38 S&W 153.5 dB
.38 Spl 156.3 dB
.357 Magnum 164.3 dB
.41 Magnum 163.2 dB
.44 Spl 155.9 dB
.45 ACP 157.0 dB
.45 COLT 154.7 dB

March 2, 2012, 12:33 PM
I think there is a lot more to it than the actual decibel rating in terms of how loud a gun sounds. Probably things like frequency, duration, etc come into play. Because according to that chart .45acp and 9mm is quite a bit louder than a .223, however if you fire all 3 without ears on I bet you wouldn't think that.

March 2, 2012, 12:39 PM
Fire a .22 WMR next to a .45 Colt.
Tell me the .45 Colt is louder.

The degree of Hurts to me is determined by the operating pressure of the cartridge, and to some extent by the caliber.

For instance, a .357 mag runs about the same pressure as the .30 Carbine in a Ruger Blackhawk.
They even burn similiar charges of the same powder.

The .357 hurts.
The .30 Carbine is ear splitting painful.


March 2, 2012, 05:24 PM
My sister had a .30 Carbine Ruger revolver many years ago, I walked out in the pasture one day to shoot an armadillo with it without any hearing protection, it was awful. It's not just the pure volume, it has a "crack" to it that just bores right through you.

March 2, 2012, 05:36 PM
When I was a young man I was shooting my Ruger Single Six 22 Mag. revolver without ear protection.Bad move,it was ear splitting.Every shot made the loud ringing pitch higher and higher.:banghead:

March 2, 2012, 06:21 PM
it depends on where the microphone if mounted, and what kind of microphone. Also, if they used a commercial sound meter (like the ones used for general OSHA inspections), they aren't fast enough to measure the actual sound, which would result in a much lower data point than actual.

March 2, 2012, 07:15 PM
My .380 Ruger LCP hurts my ears more than my Para Ordnance .45.

March 2, 2012, 09:43 PM
its kinda funny but i swear my king cobra is louder than my black hawk even though both are .357 and both have 6" barrels.

:( I live in Cali :( :(
March 2, 2012, 11:17 PM
Thanks Jerry, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

According to that data, it looks like barrel length is the most important factor, even more so than how big/strong of a caliber it is, which I somewhat expected, but didn't realize it would be an even more dramatic factor than even the caliber/powder force of the rounds themselves, which seem about 1/10th as important as the barrel length, comparatively, in terms of measured loudnesss.

That said, I am curious about what Owen said, cuz it seems like based on a lot of people's responses, the data suggested by the decibel chart doesn't seem to be in line with, at least the perceived loudness, if not the actual peak loudness, of some of these guns. Perhaps it could actually be what Owen mentioned about the decibel meter not being a fast enough/correct type to measure the peak amplitude measurement of a gun blast, compared to a longer-lasting type of sound of say, a jet engine or whatever it is normally used for measuring where the peak noise lasts for a lot longer than just a tiny fraction of a fraction of a second or whatever. If so, then, that could explain why the various calibers are scrunched so close together in terms of decibel readings per equivalent barrel lengths, compared to how most of us probably would've expected the results to be.

I know personally whenever I was at the outdoor gun range when I was a kid, I remember that some of the various guns on the centerfire rifle range were VAAAAASTLY louder than others, and it sure as hell didn't seem to be a mere 5-10 decibel difference. More like a 20-30 decibel variation between some of the guns. I could be wrong though, but, that's definitely how I remember it, so, I wonder if perhaps Owen might be right about there being some difficulties as far as the technical aspect of measuring the actual peak decibel readings for the absolute peak of a typical gun blast.

March 2, 2012, 11:29 PM
With handguns I know that barrel length make a good bit of difference. Shorter is definitely louder with the same cartridge. It also makes a difference in the action. I've noticed that snubby revolvers seem louder to me than similar sized cartridges shot through an autoloader. I think some of that is the cylinder gap.
At my gun club we fire .22 in Bullseye practice and .22 in adult rimfire rifle. Both are done indoors most of the year. I can vouch that the pistols sure sound louder than rifles in .22LR.

March 3, 2012, 01:53 AM
Some of my research at work involves investigating sound signatures emitted by vehicles, engines, tires, hybrid cars, etc... I have taken my decibel meter to the range and here is what I know:

- I've fired .22lr, .38 special, .357 magnum, .380 ACP, .45 ACP, .32 ACP, 12 guage, and 7mm-08 rounds with the decibel meter running. The decibel meter always peaked at sound pressure levels (dBA) that involve hearing damage.

- The sounds peak for a split second, and do not stay at that volume. So there is no sustained exposure to those sound pressure levels. Instead you get repeated momentary exposure. But overall it doesn't matter too much whether its sustained or repeated doses of split-second noise because your ears will experience damage if exposed enough.

There are differences due to barrel length and caliber. But they are all loud enough to hurt your ears. Wear ear protection! I personally wear earplugs under my main ear protection.

And don't forget about your eyes.

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