Tag Archives: suppressor

Would a glass bottle actually suppress a gunshot?

No. We did a quick primer on suppressors awhile back. Pumping a round through a glass bottle would only delay the escaping gas for a fraction of a second, and shower everyone involved, including the shooter, in broken glass.

Depending on the bottle, it’s possible that you’d only lose a chunk off the end, but usually glass bottles tend to shatter pretty uniformly when they go. This is part of why the whole “breaking a bottle against the bar” trick doesn’t work in real life. The idiot who tried to break the bottle will end up with their hand full of shattered glass, blood, and screaming. I’d assume something similar would happen here (for slightly different reasons). But it’s not something I’m particularly inclined to test.

Either way, it wouldn’t work as a suppressor.


As always, with a question with suppressors, a Nagant revolver or any other revolver with a sealed chamber can actually become very quiet when fitted with a suppressor.

There’s was also a suppressed revolver issued to OSS Agents in the ’40s. I think that was by S&W, though I’m not completely sure. Silenced revolvers do exist, but, they’re a bit of a rarity. And retrofitting a revolver requires a lot more than just threading the barrel and calling it a day.

I didn’t really want to get into it in in because the post already had enough parenthetical tangents, but, since we’re here now. The major advantages are, revolvers can use a standard double action configuration, and there aren’t many moving parts that need to be muffled, unlike an automatic. The disadvantage is, they are harder to load, and have lower ammo capacities, you know, like normal revolvers.


Do you guys know anything about guns? I always wondered about the usefulness of silencers. I get that they don’t make the sound any quieter, just make it sound less like a gunshot, but how useful would that actually be?

Technically, suppressors do make gunshots quieter, as a relative statement. Okay, a bunch of things.

The term “silencer” is a misnomer, and one that entertainment media perpetuates. Some firearms can be fitted with suppressors, which will muffle sound it makes when fired. Or, more specifically, it will reduce the sound of the gunpowder igniting, that escapes through the barrel. That’s not the only way a gun makes noise, but it is the main source.

Most suppressors work by providing venting points which allow the gas to “escape” before the end of the barrel, effectively absorbing the sound someplace in that awkward looking barrel extension.

Improvised silencers work on basically the same principle, but with far less finesse, by firing through a medium that will absorb the sound of the gunshot without impairing the ballistics too much.

Suppressing a handgun by slapping a modification on the end of the barrel won’t do anything for the gases that escape when the slide cycles. Meaning, there’s still going to be a lot of noise, but not nearly as much as if you were firing the weapon unsuppressed. (Silenced revolvers do exist, but the entire weapon is built around the suppressor.)

This is also why revolvers can’t usually be suppressed, there’s a large enough gap between the cylinder and the barrel for gas to release, and if you slap a suppressor on it, the gas (and noise) will escape via that route instead of out the barrel.

There are also handguns, like the Makarov PB that can be fired while the slide is locked closed. This feature is specifically to further reduce the noise the gun makes while suppressed. That said, firing from a locked slide means the weapon has to be manually cycled after every shot. And, it’s still not going to be silent, just quieter.

(Also, for aspiring crime novelists out there, please stop using Warsaw pact weapons, those things do not use the same ammunition as NATO weapons. Just because it’s a 9mm pistol doesn’t mean it’s the same 9x19mm Parabellum you can buy in any gun store.)

Beyond this, there’s an additional issue with suppressing a firearm. The speed of sound is ~1116 feet/second, the average muzzle velocity of a handgun is close to that, and high powered rifles are well above it. What this means is, the bullet will create a miniature sonic boom as it passes through the air. This is what causes the distinctive crack of a rifle round at long ranges. You can’t actually hear the powder burning, but you can hear the round breaking the sound barrier.

This requires subsonic ammunition. These rounds sacrifice range and power to keep physics from betraying you. The result is a slower round that doesn’t hit as hard, and doesn’t have the range. When you’re talking about a suppressed handgun, range isn’t a huge issue, but with a rifle, it means that the bullet will be far more affected by drop.

Also, because of the ballistics, subsonic pistol ammo should be closer in power to normal ammo, while subsonic rifle ammo takes much a greater hit to get it’s speed out of the hypersonic range. I say “should” because this is an aspect of ballistics I’m not well versed in.

An interesting note: if you’re asking about snipers, they’re wouldn’t really need a suppressor, at ranges over a couple hundred feet, the gunshot itself won’t be audible, so all they really need is the subsonic rounds.