How Quiet Are Air Guns?

Air guns are known for being quiet which is one reason they are fun for target shooting. But how quiet are they? Find out below.

Are Air Guns Quiet?

Yes, air guns are considered quiet in comparison to gunpowder firearms.

Some air guns are so quiet they can barely be heard by the shooter. In fact, the sound of the bb or pellet striking the target may be louder than the gun itself!

The loudness of an airgun is mostly tied to its level of power output. However, the louder an airgun is, the more recoil it will generally have.

Airgun Decibel Levels

In general, airguns produce sound levels that are lower than other firearms. That being said, the specific decibel levels will vary depending on the airgun’s design and power. For a comparison with other sources of sound, see the following chart:

Source Of SoundDecibel Level
Air guns65 – 90 dB
Doorbell ringing70 dB
Battery power drill70 – 80 dB
Jet engine120 -140 dB
.22 caliber rifle120 dB
.357 magnum caliber handgun165 dB
Normal conversation60 dB

The best way to know exactly how loud an air gun is is by looking at the decibel level provided in the gun’s documentation or on the packaging. An airgun’s decibel level can also be measured with a sound meter.

Airgun Decibels

The more powerful the airgun is, the louder it will likely be. To learn more about powerful airguns, see our post The Most Powerful Air Guns.

Why Are Air Guns Quiet?

Air guns are quiet for a number of reasons. These include factors such as:

  • Distance to the nearest bystanders
  • Air pressure released from the muzzle
  • The pellet design
  • Subsonic or supersonic ammunition
  • An attached air gun suppressor

Distances to nearby bystanders also play a role in how loud an air gun will be. If an airgun is shot point-blank at a target and a person is standing right next to it, the decibel level can reach up to 90 dB. However, if it is shot at a faraway target, and bystanders are not nearby, the decibels heard will be lower.

The air pressure that comes out of the muzzle affects how loud the gun is. This also influences the speed of the pellet or bb being fired. The more air pressure is released, the louder the air gun is.

Different pellet designs create different levels of sound. A major factor is pellet weight. A heavier pellet will be quieter than a lighter pellet due to the slower speed it travels. For ordinary home target practice, a heavy pellet will help keep the noise level down.

Subsonic ammunition can also decrease the sound level of the air gun. This means the pellet or bb will not break the sound barrier. Most subsonic ammunition travels around 1000 ft/s, which is just below the speed of sound which is 1125 ft/s. Supersonic pellets tend to not have as good of accuracy as subsonic ones due to the decrease in stability they suffer at higher speeds. This is why most air gun target shooters choose subsonic ammunition.

Air gun suppressors can also effectively decrease the sound level of air guns. These suppressors can be added by the owner and will make the gun quieter when it shoots.

Airgun Suppressors

Noise-Dampening Air Guns

Air guns can be designed in such a way as to decrease the level of noise they produce. This can be achieved by adding features and using materials that absorb sound. For example, air chambers and baffles can be incorporated that decrease the sound the gun makes. Air guns can also be fitted with silencers, which work to muffle the noise of the firing mechanism.

Noise-dampening air guns are a great choice for anyone who wants to shoot without disturbing their neighbors.

To Close

Air guns are a fun way to shoot targets or rid your yard of varmints. They are also fairly quiet and will not cause much fuss with the neighbors due to the low levels of noise they produce.

To learn how to make your own air gun shooting range, see our post How To Make Your Own Air Gun Range.

Lawrence the Airgun Ranger