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What is Sound?

The sound from a firearm is in fact a combination of the following five sounds:

  • The powder gases leaving the barrel
  • The supersonic boom of the bullet
  • The mechanical sound from the firing action
  • The bullet flying through the air
  • The bullet impacting the target (Ambient effects, such as echo also affect the perception of sound)

Compared with many animals, the human ear is relatively undeveloped. This means that our ability to detect sounds is relatively limited. Long-term exposure to noise and age also affect the ability to detect sounds, and to varying degrees we are also affected diffrerently by different sound frequencies. Ambient weather conditions and the type of terrain the shooter finds themself in also affect the perceived sound, sometimes quite radically.

What sound can sound suppressors reduce?

If we analyse the five sounds listed above, the loudest sound produced by the firing of a firearm is that of the powder gases escaping the barrel – which is precisely what a sound suppressor is able to reduce.

As well as suppressing sound, a sound suppressor also significantly reduces recoil and muzzle blast, which has a positive effect on the shooter's aiming accuracy.

Are there any disadvantages to using a sound suppressor?

There are many benefits to using a sound suppressor, though it’s also important to understand what other factors come into play when using a sound suppressor, namely impact shift, the need to recalibrate the sight, the added weight and length of the firearm, and the additional wear on full and semi automatic firearms due to increased pressure during repetition firing.


Sound is typically measured using the dBa scale. However, though many scientists believe this scale is less useful for extremely short, high-impact sounds than certain other methods, this method continues to be generally the only one in use. This is particularly relevant when it comes to measuring the relative performance of sound suppressors, as a simple dBA value encompasses only part of our complex understanding of sound.

We at SAI have tested every known measuring method. To give you an idea of how complex our understanding of sound is, we have included test results involving our SAI SB9pe Bodyguard sound suppressor for a specific cartridge type under specific aerial conditions.

The graph shows frequency in Hz along the x-axis and sound exposure in dBa on the y-axis. Note that the frequency is exponential, meaning that around a 3 dB reduction results in a perceived reduction of 50%.

The task of a sound suppressor is to reduce the frequencies that affect the human ear most of all - we simply don’t experience sound in the lower and upper areas of the curves.

What you should consider

Modern sound measuring technology has far exceeded the human ear’s ability to determine the relative performance of the many different sound suppressors on the market today. Once you have defined your requirement, we therefore recommend trying out our products for yourself.

To the right we have included a summary of the types of things that you should consider when investing in a sound suppressor.

We are always on hand to assist with any questions you have relating to our product range.