Whether you want to call them silencers or suppressors, they all work the same. In fact, suppressors work just like the muffler on a car, reducing the sound to a manageable level; suppressors do not eliminate the sound of a gun, which is just one of the numerous suppressor myths that many folks still believe. People are absolutely wrong when they believe these myths, but just like legends, myths never seem to die.
Part of the reason that these myths just won’t go away is promotion via movies and television. This is especially true regarding the term “silencer.” Hollywoods seems to believe that threading on a long tube virtually eliminates the sound of a shot. This, of course, is completely wrong. On average, a 9mm round produces 150 to 160 decibels when it leaves the barrel. Most suppressors reduce sound by around 30 to 40 decibels. So basically, a suppressor reduces the sound a gunshot down to a thunderclap, from 160 decibels to 120 decibels. This is a far cry from the “cough” of a silencer promoted by many.
Even one of the quietest rounds available — the .22 LR — can only be suppressed down to around 110 decibels, or around the level of a live rock band, while subsonic .300 Blackout loads can only be suppressed down to around 100 decibels. This is around the same amount of noise as a lawn mower.
Other Suppressor Myths
As a product manager for SIG Sauer, John Hollister know suppressors. In fact, he has worked with suppressors in various capacities for a very long time. Because of this, he is a good source for information about suppressors, including the urban legends that have been passed around at gun stores and shows for decades.
Some of these myths include loss of Fourth Amendment rights, and decreased accuracy and velocity. Hollister dispels these myths with complete knowledge of the facts, so maybe we can finally put them in the trash were they belong.