The Quietest Air Rifles

Air rifles have been increasing in popularity in recent years, due to their versatility and affordability. One benefit of air rifles is the low amounts of sound they produce upon firing. But how quiet are they? Find out in this post.

What Makes An Air Rifle Quiet?

There are multiple factors that affect the sound of an air rifle. These include:

  • The stored pressure in the C02 canister or air tank.
  • The number of pumps used during reloading.
  • The caliber size.
  • The design of the pellet.
  • Where the air rifle is being fired from.
  • Attached air rifle silencer (optional)

No Gunpowder

Precharged pneumatic (PCP), or C02 air rifles produce more sound than spring-loaded or pump air rifles. However, both types lack gunpowder so they do not produce a loud explosion to propel the round out of the barrel. This makes them significantly quieter than ordinary rifles.

Air rifles with a lot of stored pressure inside will make a louder pop when they fire their first few rounds. However, as these air rifles lose pressure, the sound of each following shot will decrease.

The Number of Pumps

Hand-pumped air rifles can produce varying levels of sound because the number of pumps can be controlled. Some air rifles are single-stroke and thus do not produce lots of compressed air. These types of air rifles are known for being quiet. But an air rifle that is loaded with many pumps will produce a higher sound level.

Small Caliber Size

Air guns use pellets and bbs that have a smaller caliber than most rifle rounds. However, larger caliber air rifles will tend to produce more noise because of the increased energy required to send the pellet out of the barrel at a high enough velocity.

Some air rifles have changeable barrels that allow for changing the caliber. So, if the air rifle is too loud, it can be decreased without having to buy a new gun. Just swap the barrel and pellets for a different size.

Pellet Design

The pellet design plays a crucial role in the sound level of an air gun. The weight of the pellet, the shape, and the material used in it all affect how much sound is produced upon firing. Heavier pellets make a louder sound upon impact than lighter pellets because of their higher kinetic energy.

The shape of the pellet can affect the noise level. Flathead pellets with cylindrical bodies are used for target shooting because they are quieter. However, it is important to note that the power source (compressed air or C02) plays a bigger role in the sound level of an air rifle than the pellet design.

Adjustable Power Dials

Some air rifles have adjustable power dials that allow the user to decrease the sound level upon firing. It also conserves air pressure within the gun so the user can shoot more shots before the pressure drops too low.

Where it is Fired From

Finally, where an air rifle is fired from can affect the amount of sound able to travel through the local area.

If the air rifle is fired in a basement or indoors, it will be quite loud but much of the sound will not leave the house. If an air rifle is fired in a secluded wooded area, the sound will bounce off the trees and not go very far.

The key here is to not have the muzzle exposed to open space where the sound can travel freely in any direction where others can easily hear it.

Attached Air Rifle Silencer (optional)

Air rifle silencers, also known as suppressors, can potentially decrease air rifle noise levels significantly. They work by limiting the air released out of the barrel by diverting it into a series of chambers and baffles. This slows and cools the hot gases released when the pellet is fired. The speed of the gases is also reduced, which helps lower the noise of the shot. Some silencers are also designed to redirect the expelled gases outward in such a way as to reduce the noise produced even further.

Quiet Air Rifle

Some air rifles come with air rifle sound moderators already attached, such as the Weihrauch HW 100KT air rifle.

Air rifle silencers are best used in small yards for target shooting or hunting mice or rats, so the neighbors do not notice the shot. They are also used in professional target shooting. However, silencers may reduce the overall power of the shot, diminishing its impact.

Air Rifle Decibel Levels

 Point Blank20-30 Yards
Air Rifle CaliberDecibels (dB)Decibels (dB)
Vs. .30-30 Rifle (Gun Powder)160140-150

As can be seen above, air rifles produce far fewer decibels than ordinary gunpowder rifles.

Of course, air rifles must be compared to other events that produce sound to get a better picture of how loud they really are. For more information on that, see our post How Quiet Are Air Guns?

What Are The Quietest Air Rifles?

The quietest air rifles are those that use spring-loading mechanisms. This is achieved using a break-barrel loading process. These tend to store less energy than PCP pneumatic air guns. The downside is that the initial shot is also less powerful. However, one of the most popular uses for air rifles is plinking, which can actually produce more sound upon hitting the target than the air gun itself!

Is A .177 Or .22 Air Rifle Quieter?

A .177 air rifle has a smaller bore than a .22 and can perform well in both target shooting and hunting small game. It is also quieter than a .22. Also, some city and state laws may make firing a .22 illegal, so a .177 allows shooters to practice in their backyards.

However, when hunting small game, a .177 may face limitations, some of which are not related to the caliber size. Its hitting power can be affected by the gun and pellet design, shooting style, and weather conditions. Much depends on how comfortable and skilled the shooter is when using certain ammunition in specific locations.

A .22 will pack a larger punch overall and make game hunting easier in this regard. It has a heavier pellet and requires more energy to send it down the barrel, which will also make the air rifle louder. However, many models of .177 air rifles can provide more accuracy, along with being quieter.

For more information on what makes pellet guns powerful, see our The Most Powerful Pellet Guns.

So, it is up to the shooter to make the final decision as to which caliber has the best combination of decreased sound level, accuracy, and hitting power.

To Close

Air rifles are known for being quiet in comparison to gunpowder firearms. However, silence can still be deadly as these weapons can cause serious injury to anyone caught in their line of fire. So, always keep safety at the top of your list whenever you handle an air rifle.

Lawrence the Airgun Ranger