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935 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good evening to all,

One thing we all need to be concerned about is the noise our handguns put out.  I don't want to go deaf at all even though some of my favorite handguns are real boomers.  I thought I'd share some things that have reduced the overal noise level in the Magnums I shoot.  Since there is so much experience on this forum, I thought we might try to put all our collective knowlege about noise control in one place.  I don't have any brilliant revelations but I'll start with my own observations about how to reduce the noise of my boomers.

1.  Longer barrels shoot quieter than short barrels.
2.  Within pressure safety, heavier bullets shoot more quietly than lighter bullets.  They seem to make the powder burn more fully on magnum pressure guns.  This reduces the pressure of the gasses when they exit the barrel.
3.  Slower powders are louder than faster powders (though it's a price of performance)
4.  Of course, more powder is louder than less powder.  In items 1 thru 4 I got a great lesson last year.  I was working up some max loads for marshall's .432 250gr bullet with Lil Gun.  It uses way more powder than a non LBT 250 gr bullet would use.  It was very loud (tin roof & concrete floor) in the 7 1/2" and 5 1/2" barrels.  In my 4 5/8" SBH it about blew me off the bench with noise and blast.  In that enviroment, double muffs were no where near enough protection.  Light bullets, short barrels and lots of powder is a sure mix to kill your hearing under the roof.  I should think any of the big magnums with lots of slow burning powder and light bullets (max type loads) will give the same result in shorter barrels.  My 44 mag Redhawks are a lot louder with high end loads of 300 gr bullets than with 330 gr bullets.  30 grains less lead and 3 grains more powder adds up to a lot more blast.
5.  On a revolver, the bigger the cylinder gap, the louder the load in magnum pressures.  I suspect this is a nice advantage the Freedom Arms shooter have.  As people quiestion the idea of porting a revolver, nobody ever questions the REALLY LOUD PORT.  That is the big 360 degree hole known as the cylinder gap.  I think the gas pressure at the cylinder gap is 5 to 10 times the pressure at a port.  It only stands to reason that cylinder gap is the loudest port of all in factory revolvers.  If you doubt this, go shoot your best magnum load in the dark.  With a good load of H-110 it is not unusual to see a 36" fireball around the gun.   Single shot handguns have a lot of advantages here in higher velocities, or the same velocities and much lower pressure and no cylinder gap.
6.  The more unburnt powder that reaches the open air, the louder the load.  We are back here to short barrels and slow powders.  I believe seeking that last hundred feet per second can make a big difference is hurting your ears.  
7.  Shooting under a tin roof and over a concrete pad is super loud.  So is shooting off a typical bench.  This is real double muff territory.  I find it amazing how much quieter shooting with my knees drawn up, leaning back against the front of the bench (beyond the roof) is.  Through the muffs the sound seems to be literally half of shooting in the bench area under the roof.  It is even quieter shooting 20 feet up in a tree stand over a bed of briars and wet leaves.  
8. Max loads simply tend to be the loudest.
9.  Muzzle brakes vs porting.  Muzzle brakes work great and are just plain loud.  I am a big fan of porting (like Mag Na Porting) and I have never heard a difference when not under the tin roof and over the concrete floor.  Other will argue but I have not been able to hear it (through the muffs of course).  
10.  The quietest ear plugs I have ever used are the hot pink colored (not a very manly color) Norton "Ultra Noise Husher" foam ear plugs (throw away).  I get them from Walmart.  The have a NRR of 31 db and are easily the best (not the softest) for killing noise.  For ear muffs I like the ones with liquid ear seals and a strong spring.  I have never used Sonic ear valves.  

To quieten down a load, it's all about having low exhaust gas pressures with low volume.  Naturally this goes head to head with magnum power loads.  Still, if we go to heavier bullets, less than max loads, tight cylinder gaps and longer barrels, we can give the plugs and muffs an easier job.  There are also great advantages to shooting where less noise bounces back to the shooter.  

I wonder if perfection between power and ear safety lies with a 44 mag Contender shooting a 280gr LBT bullet with AA5 and doing 1250 fps off a tree stand?

Please take this with a open ear (yeah, bad pun) but we can do fairly simple things that make a load less punishing to the ears without compromising game taking ability.  

Those of you with thoughts, suggestions, corrections and knowledge, please jump in.  A lot of people think there is nothing to be done but it is just not true.

God bless..................  Bill M  

The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
38,507 Posts
Good one, Bill.

I had noticed that my .44's made a lot more noise than my .45's, with similar-performing loads (300 gr. .45's @1200fps vs. 280gr. .44's at 1350fps).  All guns 7.5" barrels & all loads with WW296.

Also, when I got around to trying some 340gr. .45 bullets, these seemed to cut the blast considerably.

Guess that mirrors your experience.  Nothing worse than a shooting bench with a tin roof.....  

52 Posts
Having crunched allot of math for accoustics, I thought I knew something unitl I saw the phenomina of the noisy 22" barrel and the quiet 24" barrel with Rem 22 CB longs.

I asked all over the internet from 1994 on until I walked into Lynwood Guns and Ammunition. The propretor is Randy Ketchum. He said it was the gas pressure behind the bullet at the time the bullet exited the barrel. If the pressure is high enough, the gas goes super sonic, it is much louder.

This turned out to be a very good explanation. The size of the gas ball at the point where the gas slows down to subsonic is proportional to the amplitude of the sound wave at some distance.

This, then also explains why a 44 magnum with short barrels are much louder than long barrels. It is not just becuse they muzzle is further away. The excaping gas is at higher pressure.
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